Both the New York Times and Washington Post have front-page headlines about how evangelical leaders now want to change the name “Evangelical” to something else post-Moore/Trump. My point is that the label isn’t the problem, it is the beliefs.
Call it what you want but fundamentalist faith, including anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-Muslim “absolutes” isn’t going to change perceptions of itself by taking on another name. Here’s a Tweet I just wrote about that:
Dear Evangelicals, Your problem isn’t the discredited post-Trump/Moore label “Evangelical.” Your problem is a literal belief system in stupid nonsense. That’s what leaves you open to following moron pastors & moron political leaders. You need truth-based beliefs- not new labels. pic.twitter.com/Fhl4eVodFs
— Frank Schaeffer (@Frank_Schaeffer) December 15, 2017
Having thrown away the gospel as it were on Trump, the leadership like Christianity Today magazine editor Mark Galli, is trying to change names without changing beliefs. This is like thinking that calling woman abuse “correction” instead of “beating,” fixes it.
Conservative columnist at the Washington Post, Michael Gerson, writes, “I find myself wandering in an unfamiliar place. As a pro-life conservative, I am honestly happy — no, positively elated — that pro-choice Democrat Doug Jones won Alabama’s U.S. Senate election.”
Gerson point out that Roy Mooreism was distilled Trumpism, flavored with some self-righteous moralism- in other words the essence of the white evangelical movement, whatever it calls itself!
What makes white American evangelicals the way they are and prepares them to support Trump or Moore? Aggressive ignorance, racial divisiveness, the disdain for governing, the contempt for truth: As in “The Bible is true- climate science is not!”
What is wrong with evangelicals that they voted for Roy Moore let alone Trump? Here’s a hint: the trashing of America in favor of Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay “morality”, the conspiracy theories, the sheer, destabilizing craziness of the average TV preacher.
Trump is not an evangelical aberration but the logical extension of centuries of folly. His white evangelical admirers are not just putting forth a new agenda; they are littering the civic arena with deception and cruelty. They are pro-billionaire and anti-child. They must be sent back to the Dark Ages in 2018.
As my friend Jeffrey Sodini, wrote to me in an email:
…The prominent American evangelical publication, Christianity Today, came out this week (See “The Biggest Loser in the Alabama Election” by Mark Galli) with a somewhat critical editorial admonishing Moore as well as those conservative Christians who gladly jumped on the Donald Trump band wagon.
That’s good. But wait a minute…they waited an awfully long time to point out the obvious.
Unfortunately, they were also quite critical of both secular and religiously left-leaning Christians who were apparently not understanding enough of their conservative mindset. This is a cop-out in my opinion and plays to the “persecution complex” syndrome- a canard used too often in the evangelical world.
On the other hand I suppose it must have been difficult for Christianity Today to do this piece in the first place since many evangelical organizations are funded by wealthy donors, who like Roy Moore, want to “Make America Great Again,” (in God’s image as they see it.) The DeVos family in Michigan, yes including Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos along with her brother Erik Prince of Blackwater fame, throw their wealth to organizations such as Tony Perkin’s Family Research Council, Heritage Foundation, Dobson’s Focus on the Family, as well as the Michigan and National Republican Party. Some tally the amount over 200 million dollars over the years.
White evangelical leaders like Mark Galli have already discredited even the good causes they claim to care about. Clinging to the theology of “the lost” and hell, they are condemning the country to durable social division.
In Trump’s GOP, loyalty requires corruption. In evangelical theology belief requires you become a self-willed judgmental moron who, like Galli, is convinced the problem lies not in your own stupid beliefs but in being misunderstood by liberals. It was ever thus from the time someone said “Scientists may say… but the Bible is truth so science is wrong!”
Trump has crossed line after line of decency and ethics with only scattered evangelical bleats of protest. Most white evangelicals like the GOP’s complicit leadership remains in loud silence.
The restoration of the Republican Party will require Republicans to lose elections. The restoration of Christianity will require white evangelical churches and organizations like Christianity Today magazine, to collapse.
This is what reformation for Republicans will look like: humbling repeated defeats. And recovery will be found only on the other side of loss for evangelicals too, whatever they call themselves. When their churches are empty and their young people are gone, just maybe then Jesus’ teaching might have a chance again- to touch and change lives.
Put it this way: It’s not the label or PR outreach failures that cripple evangelicals today– it’s the theology, stupid!