According to Jerry Falwell Jr., evangelicals have “found their dream president,” in Trump. That says something about the current quality of evangelical “dreams” not to mention character and beliefs. Whatever evangelicals are these days, they aren’t Christians.
In covering for and enabling Trump, evangelical leaders including Dobson, Falwell, Graham, Jeffress, Metaxas, Perkins and Ralph Reed are doing to decency what Hugh Hefner did to modesty 50 years ago. Dobson, Falwell, Graham, Jeffress, Metaxas, Perkins, Reed are the new pornographers.
Evangelical “morals” look more like Hugh Hefner’s late great Hefner Mansion parties than church these days. Trump’s white evangelicals have made a national joke of moral standards that were once, theoretically, deeply held. White evangelical Trump-enablers are just another tribal group among many fighting for power at the expense of others. This is not a religious movement any longer but a coup against even the idea of transcendent meaning.
As Michael Gerson points out in “The Last Temptation” in the Atlantic (I’m borrowing from it heavily in this blog) white evangelicals “depict themselves as a mistreated minority,” in need of a defender who is a thug capable of deconstructing democracy so the godly persecuted true-believers can rule us all. Trump is thus an American Mullah, not a president.
White evangelicals are the most loyal element of the Trump coalition. They act as his shield. White evangelicals are Trump’s army of enablers. They are the enemies of American democracy and have become an apocalyptic cult running on the high octane of victimhood, fear and decline.
Trump’s legitimization of cruelty, prejudice, falsehood, and corruption is what religious people used to say they opposed. No more. America’s white evangelicals are the enablers of Trump’s demeaning of all our most cherished values Christian or otherwise.
Americans never insist on perfect virtue from our presidents. But there are values that are indispensable in order to lend authority to power: empathy, honesty, integrity, and self-restraint. In trashing those, Trump, the Republicans and their evangelical enablers have shriveled the presidency for a generation.
Here’s the strangest unthinkable question of the last 20 years: how did so many white evangelical Trump supporters lose their interest in decency virtually overnight? Put it this way: Dear white evangelical Trump supporters: For this man? For his cause? For Trump you sold your country and your soul?
Trump’s done more than make fools of evangelicals, he’s made them into traitors to themselves, to their heritage and to their country. Every white evangelical Trump supporter has decided that racism, abuse of women, lying, self-dealing and collusion with an enemy is not any longer a moral disqualification in the president of the United States. They have even betrayed their stated number one moral litmus test: Evangelical Trump-enabling leaders have been turning a blind eye to Trump’s exploitation of women in a way that does not help in making pro-life arguments. It materially undermines the pro-life movement in ways unthinkable even a year ago.
Dobson, Falwell, Graham, Jeffress, Metaxas, Perkins, and Ralph Reed are Trump’s enablers. They have basked in access to power and these religious leaders defend profanity, ridicule, and cruelty as hallmarks of authenticity and dismiss decency as the dead idiocy of liberals.
Blinded by hatred for their political opponents, Falwell, Graham and the other Trumped evangelical leaders can’t see they’ve undermined the causes to which they once dedicated their lives. Like the German churches after WWII, evangelicals will spend the next 50 years trying to make amends.
Mark 2018 as the year white evangelicals became a secular nationalist white cult with Trump as the head of this new “denomination.” The moral convictions of white evangelical leaders have become a function of their partisan identification only.
Evangelicals had a rich history that included abolitionists and social reformers to inspire them. Every time they cover for — and enable — Trump, evangelicals not only deny Jesus but the best of their own history. When white evangelical leaders can explain what Trump’s cruelty, abuse and mockery of human decency have to do with the Sermon on the Mount- I’m ready to listen.
Trump is the least Christian figure in temperament, behavior and belief to assume the presidency. He doesn’t even pretend. Yet it is to this whore-master that white evangelicals have sworn allegiance; denying Jesus and saying “May Jesus’ blood be on us, and our children!”
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