Saturday, November 12, 2016

Hook, Line And Sinker--How White Evangelicals Came To Support A Trumped-Up Nationalism

The consistent support of 81% of white evangelicals clearly gave Donald Trump the electoral college numbers he needed to win Tuesday's election. Never mind the fact that that many of Trump's policies, like those of most politicians, are diametrically opposed to the teachings of the gospel.

So how was he able to convince an overwhelming number of professed followers of Jesus to join his retro-revolutionary crusade?

1. The "Pro-Life/Anti-Abortion" Hook

In spite of Trump's past support of women's right to choose, evangelicals and others became convinced that a vote for Trump would reduce or eliminate the number of legal abortions performed in the US. On the other hand they were led to believe that a President Clinton would dramatically increase those numbers, and that she even favored "ripping babies out of mothers' wombs" through the ninth month of pregnancy.

Never mind the fact that this has never been Hillary's position. And never mind that legal abortion rates have been in steady decline under both Republican and Democratic administrations, and that even Roe v Wade excludes late term abortions except in the rarest and most extreme circumstances.

Such facts aside, saving babies always seemed to be the major reason cited by evangelicals for supporting the Trump ticket.

2. The "We've Got-To-Have-A-Completely-Conservative-Supreme-Court" Line

Evangelicals came to believe that a monolithic Supreme Court was necessary to make America right again. They failed to understand that regardless of the political philosophy of its seven justices, their decisions are always highly influenced by precedent, and that even its most conservative members, for better or worse, are unlikely to favor overturning rulings affecting existing civil rights, same sex marriage, abortion and similar issues already spoken to in previous Supreme Court rulings.

In addition, having justices who are ever more favorable to gun deregulation (a very odd issue for followers of a non-violent Jesus) somehow also came to be cited as a major concern for evangelicals.

3. The "Horrible-And-Utterly-Evil-Hillary" Sinker

Evangelical Trump supporters, like many others who favored him, came to demonize Hillary as the epitome of evil. It is of course true that as a life long professional politician, Clinton accumulated her full share of negative baggage in the form of multiple mistakes, missteps and misstatements.

So in spite of her having been been chosen as the most admired woman worldwide for a record-setting 20 consecutive years, and in spite of her having earned the majority of the popular vote, most Trump-inspired evangelicals found it impossible to see any redeemable quality in her.

As a result, all of the above appears to have made it possible for white evangelicals to swallow the right's hyper-nationalistic agenda "hook, line and sinker". History will judge the wisdom of the US going down that path, and God will judge whether followers of Jesus should have been supportive of a nation doing so.

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