Many evangelicals don’t know it but what they are doing now in backing Trump unconditionally — no matter what he does — was advocated long before Trump came on the scene by a movement most Americans–including the people who run the so-called mainstream media–have never heard of.
White evangelical voters support Trump because they have been conditioned by their religious beliefs to be irrational. Their support is religion-based not fact based.
This is what new research published in the Journal of Religion and Health suggests. Evangelicals, particularly those in the so-called Pentecostal movements, are inherently allergic to empirical reality and reason. Today this frightening irrationality extends to rejection of climate change science, evolution, the true dangers of multiplying gun hoarding, the “role” of women, and attitudes about gays, transgender folk and lesbians, let alone other religions.
The road that led to Trump getting white evangelical’s support was built by the “Reconstructionist” movement. I was involved with that movement. So was my evangelist father.
In its modern American incarnation, which hardened into a twentieth century movement in the 1960s and became widespread in the 1970s, Reconstructionism was propagated by people I knew personally and worked with closely when I too was both a Jesus Victim and a Jesus Predator claiming God’s special favor. I too believed that God had chosen America as his new Israel as it were.
Trump shares the evangelical/fundamentalist/Pentecostal antagonism to reason, facts and evidence long since espoused by evangelicals. But the deeper reason they embrace him is because of the groundwork laid by the Reconstructionists. Being irrational was made into a doctrine. Embracing “biblical law” was the alternative to reason.
When evangelicals looked at candidate Trump, they didn’t see someone who shared their Christian beliefs. They saw someone who they thought could force their religious beliefs on the nation no matter how far the woman-molesting conman fell from grace or sincerity. In fact they said Trump was bad but God had sent him to save America anyway… just like King Cyrus the Great of the Bible.
Evangelical leader and author Lance Wallnau believes Trump is like the Persian King Cyrus the Great.
“It’s not a normal election and so we — it’s — we almost need a different kind of candidate,” Wallnau told CBN News. “Trump has the Cyrus anointing to navigate in chaos.”
According to the Bible, Cyrus ruled over ancient Babylon and made a decree that the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem should be rebuilt. He also allowed Jews to return to Jerusalem to help in the rebuilding.
“He came in, this king, as a secular ruler and decreed for the building of the house of the Lord. He literally made it possible for the Jews to end the captivity,” he explained.
Wallnau wrote a book about this Cyrus connection called God’s Chaos Candidate. “I literally wrote the book for a 30-day purpose,” he said. “It’s like a sacrifice. I wrote the book for this election so that believers could know what to do.”
This aversion to reality is conditioned into evangelicals … from birth …
It is the flip side of believing the unbelievable claims of the Bible are true whatever science, history and common sense might say. So to an evangelical an argument that Trump is just “like” some biblical figure is a “reasonable” argument not a risible delusion.
Trump and the evangelical sub-culture are a match made in a very particular hell of evangelical rejection of fact in favor of their certainty addiction and over-belief combined with Trump’s instinctive con-artist mindset. He sells himself with all the bluster of huckster.
Trump’s stock in trade demands that you believe in him in spite of all evidence. And that mindset—everything is “fake” news, or fake science, whatever, that contradicts the con-game or preacher is also what preachers teach… “Listen to me and the Bible, not to the world!”
Since the 1970s, when my late father Francis Schaeffer led much of the evangelical movement to reject science in favor of a “higher knowledge” of “revelation” American conservatism has exponentially embraced the reason-hating — and even education-fearing — traits of religious fundamentalism. Now Republican Party politics is itself a type of religion. Faith not fact is this religion’s creed.
The Republicans now combine the rituals of revelation of a higher knowledge into a type of mind-bending hallucinatory ideology.
Like evangelical faith this political religion also needs its preachers working outside the “system.” Enter Fox News and all the talk radio folk now speaking with a single voice alongside right wing preachers. Enter Donald Trump’s religious adviser who claimed God has given the president the authority to take on North Korea.
Robert Jeffress–one of Trump’s top religious aides–said in comments carried by The Hill that Trump was given “full power” to fight evil, including North Korea.
“When it comes to how we should deal with evildoers, the Bible, in the book of Romans, is very clear: God has endowed rulers full power to use whatever means necessary, including war, to stop evil,” Jeffress, the pastor of an evangelical megachurch, said in a statement carried by the political website.
“In the case of North Korea, God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un,” he added.
Jeffress’s comments came following comments from the president promising to respond to nuclear threats from North Korea with “fire and fury.”
This has become a form of political cultism; its power and hold over those caught in its ecstasy and passion cannot be easily broken.
And this Siamese twin bond between white evangelicals and the far right shows up in surprising and even what might be called “Christ-denying” ways. Jesus was on the side of the poor, right? Not so fast.
A new poll from The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation shows just how tight the hold of the Republican Party over right-wing Christian evangelicals is even to the extent of reversing the pro-poor views of the Bible. It showed that 53 percent of white evangelicals said that “lack of effort” was “generally to blame” for the economic condition of poor people. The Koch brothers (and Ayn Rand) couldn’t have said it better.
(Americans who were atheist, agnostic or had no religious affiliation, on the other hand, overwhelmingly said that “difficult circumstances” were more to blame for a person’s poverty, by a margin of 65 percent to 31 percent.)
People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch this month published an important report by Religion Dispatches contributor Peter Montgomery, offering a compelling portrait of a group that calls itself POTUS Shield (which also stands for “Prophetic Order of the United States”).
The report itself is required reading for anyone interested in better understanding the contours of the unflinching support President Trump continues to enjoy from right-wing conservative Christians, especially white evangelicals.
This so-called POTUS Shield’s roots in the New Apostolic Reformation, the alliance between more traditional religious right groups and the Pentecostal leaders of POTUS Shield, and is one reason why–despite Trump’s moral depravity– these “prayer warriors” still stand shoulder to shoulder with Trump.
As Peter Montgomery notes in a Religion Dispatches interview:
The first time that I noticed traditional religious right organizations pairing up with the New Apostolic Reformation types, [was] in the lead-up to Obama’s election and during the Obama administration. They really united in their opposition to Obama. There was a God TV special before the election that had both traditionally religious right people and people like Cindy Jacobs, on it that was reaching across the evangelical, Pentecostal world. Then once [Obama] got elected, there was a new coalition formed called the Freedom Federation that also bridged the traditional religious right with groups led by Cindy Jacobs and Rick Joyner, who were part of this prophetic scene. They joined together against a common enemy: Barack Obama.
… The Apostolic Reformation folks are not waiting for a rapture. They think that rapture theology encourages Christians to be passive and wait for God to fix things. Their theology is: Christ will only come back for a triumphant, dominion-taking church. They see their political activism as necessary to bring about Christ’s return.
… Some of them talk about how they get invited to come to the White House. Cindy Jacobs, who’s one of the elders that we study in the report, was on the White House lawn when Trump announced his executive order on religious liberty. They’re certainly in the circles of the religious-right leaders that are infusing the White House.
…[T]hey all work together… a lot of their networks are overlapping, [those combined efforts] certainly help feed people into the kind of political organizing that other religious right groups are doing. I think about all the work, all the preaching, that the POTUS Shield folks are doing on their television programs and their networks, saying, “This is God’s will to be engaged in politics. Donald Trump has been anointed by God. We need to protect him. We need to support him.”
I think the influence that the POTUS Shield folks have is not only via their own direct contacts with the White House, which they didn’t have in other administrations, but also that they’re part of this larger religious right infrastructure.
…The other thing is to look at the access that they’re being given by the Trump-Pence White House, and how that’s playing out in policy. Trump really offered the religious right—and this goes for evangelicals and the apostolic folks—he made them a deal. It was very straightforward.
It was like, he knew they knew that he was not the kind of Christian they have always said America needed. He said, “I’ll give you what you want. I’ll give you the Supreme Court you want, I’ll do away with the Johnson amendment to make you more politically powerful. I’ll give you Mike Pence as a vice president. I’ll make abortion illegal. I’ll do all that for you.” And they took the deal.
… One of the things that’s interesting to me is that when Trump is on TV, he talks to them like the evangelists they’re used to listening to. These Pentecostal network guys have their own ministries in their own names, and they’re accountable to nobody except themselves—and that’s what Trump does. Trump has no real accountability to the Republican Party. He has his own media, he creates his own media. He relies on his own charismatic personality and the devotion of his followers. He’s functioning like one of these apostolic guys, but in his own realm.
As I noted at the start of this article: There is a direct link between the founders of the religious right and today’s white evangelical support of Trump. The Reconstruction Movement, led by Rousas Rushdoony is where we need to pin blame.
The leaders of the Reconstructionist movement included the late Rousas Rushdoony (Calvinist theologian, father of modern-era Christian Reconstructionism, patron saint to gold-hoarding Federal Reserve-haters, and creator of the modern Evangelical home-school movement), his son-in-law Gary North (an economist, gold-buff, publisher and leading conspiracy theorist), and David Chilton (ultra-Calvinist pastor and author.)
Reconstructionism, also called Theonomism, seeks to reconstruct “our fallen society.” Its worldview is best represented by the publications of the Chalcedon Foundation, which has been classified as an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. And they were the ones that said that ordinary evangelical “rapture theology” encourages Christians to be passive and wait for God to fix things.
Rushdoony’s theology was: Christ will only come back for a triumphant, dominion-taking church. He saw his political activism — including the application of biblical law, the execution of gays, the separation of the races, the subjugation of women–as necessary to bring about Christ’s return.
THIS and THIS Only is the root of the unequivocal bedrock white evangelical support for Trump. They see him as God’s imperfect but necessary instrument to create a “Christian America” worthy of Jesus’s “return.”
According to the Chalcedon Foundation website, the mission of the movement is to apply “the whole Word of God” to all aspects of human life: “It is not only our duty as individuals, families and churches to be Christian, but it is also the duty of the state, the school, the arts and sciences, law, economics, and every other sphere to be under Christ the King. Nothing is exempt from His dominion. We must live by His Word, not our own.”
Until Rushdoony, founder and late president of the Chalcedon Foundation, began writing in the 1960s, most American fundamentalists (including my parents) didn’t try to apply biblical laws about capital punishment, homosexuality, and divorce to the United States. Even the most conservative Evangelicals said they were “New-Testament Christians.” In other words, they believed that after the coming of Jesus, the harsher bits of the Bible had been (at least to some extent) transformed by the “New Covenant” of Jesus’ “Law of Love.”
By contrast, the leaders of Reconstructionism believed that Old Testament teachings—on everything from capital punishment for gays to the virtues of child beating—were still valid, because they are the inerrant Word and Will of God, and therefore should be enforced. Not only that, they said that Biblical Law should be imposed even on non-believers. This theology was the American version of the attempt in some Muslim countries to impose Shariah Law on all citizens, Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
It’s no coincidence that the rise of the Islamic Brotherhoods in Egypt and Syria and the rise of Reconstructionism took place in a twentieth-century time frame—as modernism, science and “permissiveness” collided with a frightened conservatism rooted in ignorant religion. The writings of people such as Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna and those of Rushdoony are virtually interchangeable when it comes to their goals of restoring God to His “rightful place” as He presides over law and morals. The Brotherhood’s goal, as stated by al-Banna, is that Islam enjoins man to strive for the segregation of male and female students, a separate curriculum for girls, the prohibition of dancing, and a campaign against “ostentation in dress and loose behavior.”
Islamic governments must eventually be unified in a theocratic worldwide Caliphate. Or as the late Reconstructionist/Calvinist theologian David Chilton (sounding startlingly al-Banna-like) explained:
The Great Commission to the Church does not end with simply witnessing to the nations…The kingdoms of the world are to become the kingdoms of Christ… This means that every aspect of life throughout the world is to be brought under the lordship of Jesus Christ: families, individuals, business, science, agriculture, the arts, law, education, economics, psychology, philosophy, and every other sphere of human activity. Nothing may be left out. Christ “must reign, until He has put all enemies under His feet” (1st Cor. 15:25)…. Our goal is a Christian world, made up of explicitly Christian nations. How could a Christian desire anything else?…. That is the only choice: pagan law or Christian law. God specifically forbids “pluralism.” God is not the least bit interested in sharing world dominion with Satan.
It was my old friend, the short, stocky bearded gnome-like Armenian-American Rousas Rushdoony – the Evangelical’s very own “al-Banna” — who, in 1973, most thoroughly laid out the Far Right/Religious Right agenda in his book The Institutes of Biblical Law. Rushdoony changed the definition of salvation, from the accepted Evangelical idea that it applies to individuals, by claiming that salvation is really about politics. With this re-definition, Rushdoony contradicted the usual reading of Jesus’ words by most Christians when in the Gospel of John, Jesus said that He had not come to this earth to be a political leader: “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).
In Rushdoony’s vision of biblical politics we are to forget the gospel of John and go with the other gospels that don’t mention Jesus saying that his kingdom is not of this earth.
So according to Rushdoony, all nations on Earth should be obedient to the ancient Jewish/Christian version of “God’s Law,” so that the world will experience “God’s blessings.” Biblical salvation will then turn back the consequences of the Fall, and we’ll be on our way to the new Eden. To achieve this “turning back,” coercion must be used to stop the evildoers who are, by definition, anyone not obeying all of God’s Laws — as defined by the Calvinist and Reconstructionist interpretation of the Bible.
When we talked Rushdoony always spoke as if he were assured that all of Evangelical America would soon follow him. He talked about “secular” America as if it were an enemy state, not our country. He talked about how “we” should all use cash, never credit cards, since cards would make it “easy for the government to track us.” Rushdoony spoke passionately about the virtues of gold, how very soon the conflict between the Soviet Union and America would lead to war, and out of the ruins, “our” new theocracy would emerge. On the other hand Rushdoony also noted that Vallecito, was “well located to survive the next war” given “the prevailing wind directions” and its water supply.
The bizarre scope of Reconstructionists’ ambition—“insanity,” as my father often called it, is clear in the table of contents of Rushdoony’s 890 page The Institutes of Biblical Law, wherein he commented on the world, its history and future in the light of what the Bible “says.” Rushdoony provided Reconstruction theory for law, politics, jurisprudence, and social morality, you name it, just about everything except a Reformed Calvinist recipe for chicken soup!
The message of Rushdoony’s work is best summed up in one of his innumerable Chalcedon Foundation position papers, “The Increase of His Government and Peace.” He writes: “[T]he ultimate and absolute government of all things shall belong to Christ.” In his book Thy Kingdom Come–using words that are similar to those the leaders of al Qaida would use decades later in reference to “true Islam” — Rushdoony argues that democracy and Christianity are incompatible: “Democracy is the great love of the failures and cowards of life,” he writes. “One [biblical] faith, one law and one standard of justice did not mean democracy. The heresy of democracy has since then worked havoc in church and state… Christianity and democracy are inevitably enemies.”
Mike Pence is one of Rushdoony’s children as it were.
He’s been “sent by God” to bring forth Christ’s kingdom on earth… or so the white evangelicals who support him believe.
Rushdoony would be thrilled.
There’s a logical reason why protesters dressed in red garb made famous by the novel and Hulu series “The Handmaid’s Tale” held signs in opposition to Vice President Mike Pence as the second to President Trump spoke at a Focus on the Family event in Colorado Springs.
Pence delivered remarks at the 40th anniversary of Focus on the Family, an organization that describes itself as “a global Christian ministry dedicated to helping families thrive.”
After the Colorado Springs protest, Occupy Democrats described “The Handmaid’s Tale” as a “dark, disturbing literary work that, as these women remind us, hits uncomfortably close to home in Trump and Pence’s America.” “I think people are finding it so relevant and so frightening [with] what’s happening now, is because it feels like those things are sort of being put into place,” said the show’s star, Elisabeth Moss, in an interview with Netflix talk-show host Chelsea Handler.
Footnotes “Theonomy” comes from two Greek words, “theos,” meaning God and “nomos,” meaning law.  In presenting a theonomic view of biblical law, the Chalcedon Foundation is often referred to as promoting theocracy and dominionism.” (See <www.chalcedon.edu/blog/blog.php>)  PARADISE RESTORED–A Biblical Theology of Dominion, David Chilton, Dominion Press, Tyler, Texas, 1st 1985 & 6th 1999 (PART 5) TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH chapter 24 p 271
 The Institutes of Biblical Law. Table of Contents– The Third Commandment . Swearing and Revolution . The Oath and Society . The Oath and Authority. The Fourth Commandment . The Sabbath and Work . The Sabbath and Law Appendix: The Economics of Sabbath keeping — by Gary North V. The Fifth Commandment . The Authority of the Family . The Economics of the Family. Education and the Family. The Family and Delinquency. The Sixth Commandment . The Death Penalty . Hybridization and Law . Abortion . Restitution or Restoration . Military Laws and Production . Taxation. Quarantine Laws. Dietary Rules. Social Inheritance: Landmarks. The Seventh Commandment. Marriage. Family Law. Marriage and Monogamy. Incest. Sex and Crime. Adultery. Divorce. Homosexuality. The Transvestite. Bestiality VIII. The Eighth Commandment. Dominion. Theft. Restitution and Forgiveness. Liability of the Bystander. Money and Measure. Usury. Landmarks and Land. The Virgin Birth and Property. Fraud. Eminent Domain. Labor Laws. Prison. The Rights of Strangers, Widows, and Orphans. The Ninth Commandment. Corroboration. Perjury. False Witness. Slander Within Marriage. Slander as Theft. Judges. The Responsibility of Judges and Rulers. The Court. The Procedure of the Court. The Judgment of the Court. The Tenth Commandment. Covetousness. Special Privilege. The System. Notes on Law in Western Society… etc. (December 1967)  Fairfax, VA: Thoburn Press, 1970.  Rushdoony, Rousas John. Thy Kingdom Come: Studies in Daniel and Revelation. Fairfax, VA: Thoburn Press, 1970 p 67.
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Once again Frank, from someone coming from this background, you nail it 100%!
The Reconstructionists got the order of events wrong. According to the Bible, the theocracy does not happen until Jesus returns to earth, after the Great Tribulation. So Frank, you don’t have to worry that Trump or Pence will bring in a theocracy. Instead, you have to worry about Jesus bringing it.
THANK YOU for posting this information! It is vitally needed in order for Americans to understand how we got into our current situation, the nature of the relationship between the GOP and the Religious Right, and the role of VP Pence. Will share on FB.
Excellent article, Frank. I’m watching “Handmaiden’s Tale” in a cold sweat…
“So Frank, you don’t have to worry that Trump or Pence will bring in a theocracy. Instead, you have to worry about Jesus bringing it.”
O Yawn. According to the Bible, Jesus was supposed to come back during the lifetime of his followers. Not surprisingly, Jesus is still dead.
Then Trump and Pence will have to bring in the theocracy. Won’t you be excited?
The US Constitution has a thing or so to say about that, Gary, so I’m not worried over the return of your neo gods..