Eugene Peterson: Donald Trump is 'The Enemy' Who Has 'No Morals or Integrity'

Jul 12, 2017 10:09 AM EDT

Retired Presbyterian Pastor Eugene Peterson issued a stinging criticism of Donald Trump, saying the U.S. President is "the enemy" who has "no morals" and "no integrity".

The scholar and author of popular book The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language, was recently asked by Jonathan Merritt of Religion News Service to share his thoughts on Trump and the "political mood animating our world."

Peterson, 84, did not mince words in his response.

"I think we're in a bad situation. I really do," he said. "Donald Trump is the enemy as far as I'm concerned. He has no morals. He has no integrity."

He added, "But I have good friends who think he's wonderful. But I think they put up with it less and less. People are getting pretty tired of him, I think. Some of us were tired of him before he was elected. I think we can put up with it, though. I don't think it's the end of the road."

During the presidential election, Trump garnered major endorsements within the evangelical community, including Paula White, a televangelist and pastor of mega-church New Destiny Christian Center in Florida, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., and Robert Jeffress, the pastor First Baptist Church-Dallas. Overall, white evangelical voters voted in high numbers for Trump, with 81 percent, according to exit poll results

However, other evangelical leaders, like Desiring God author John Piper, Russell Moore, who presides over the political arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, and evangelical theologian Wayne Grudem actively spoke out against Trump's campaign, policies, and tactics.

Peterson, who pastored Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air for twenty-nine years, said he believes there's a "whole part" of the Christian church that "operates out of fear."

"It's a negative kind of gospel, which I think is quite contrary to the Gospel that Jesus brought to us," he said. "I'm not happy with that. As with Trump, I think we can survive that too. Overall, I'm optimistic. That's the short answer."

Earlier this year, Peterson teamed up with U2 frontman Bono and retired Presbyterian to release a documentary about the book of Psalms and is currently finishing his final book, "As Kingfishers Catch Fire: A Conversation on the Ways of God Formed by the Words of God."

In his interview with RNS, Peterson shared his thoughts on homosexuality, telling the outlet that if he were stll pastoring, he would perform a same-sex wedding if asked. Merritt notes that in "The Message," Peterson doesn't use the word "homosexual" and "homosexuality" in key texts. 

The popular author also said he doesn't believe pastors today are "doing their job", as many churches are more concerned with increasing the number of attendees than ministering to individuals.

"I think the thing that's most disturbing is the megachurch because megachurches are not churches," he said. "My feeling is that when you're a pastor, you know the people's names. When 5,000 people come into the church, you don't know anybody's name. I don't think you can be a pastor with just a bunch of anonymous people out there. In the megachurch, well, there's no relationship with anybody. I think the nature of the church is relational. If you don't know these people that you're praying with and talking with and listening to, what do you have? I feel pretty strongly about that."

He added that overall he isn't "disheartened" by the state of the church, but is "upset by the fad-ism of the megachurch."

"I just don't think they're churches," he said. "They're entertainment places."