Earlier this month, Jonathan Martin jotted off a sad tweet. “I’ve lost count of the number of people who say they’ve had ministry jobs threatened/been fired for speaking out in some way in this season,” the Christian author and speaker wrote. Confirmation rolled in: one story from a church planter in California, another from a former worship leader in Indiana. These are “not people who would historically self-identify as progressives, at all,” Martin told me later. They’re “people who see themselves as being very faithful evangelicals.”
Donald Trump has divided conservative Christian communities. Most white Christians support Trump, or at least voted for him. Some who have spoken out against his presidency or his policies, though, have encountered backlash. For a small group of people working in Christian ministry, music, and nonprofit advocacy, the consequences have been tangible: They’ve faced pressure from their employers, seen funds withdrawn from their mission work, or lost performing gigs because of their political beliefs.
Many of these stories suggest a generational divide in the church. Young Christians who describe themselves as theological conservatives don’t necessarily identify as political conservatives, although some who do are also horrified by Trump. The issues they’re passionate about—whether it’s racial reconciliation or refugee care—might not match the priorities of their elders. And the pushback often comes online: Posts on Facebook, Twitter, or personal blogs might prompt a text from the boss or an outraged message from a church friend. For Millennials used to speaking their minds on social media, institutional rules curtailing their freedom—whether they’re standard policies or not—might be jarring.