US evangelicals always think the country is going to hell


John Fea, an evangelical and professor of American History and chairman of the Department of History at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, PA, has written an essay where he tries to understand why his fellow evangelicals have such a deep devotion to Donald Trump that they are willing to overlook and even celebrate actions that should revolt them because they contradict the basic values they claim to profess.

My distress about Trump’s election did not wane, but I should have seen this coming. Trump’s win was just the latest manifestation of a long-standing evangelical approach to politics.

Ever since World War II, white evangelicals in the United States have waged a desperate and largely failing war against thickening walls of separation between church and state, the removal of Christianity from public schools, the growing ethnic and religious diversity of the country, the intrusion of the federal government into their everyday lives (especially as it pertains to desegregation and civil rights), and legalized abortion.

But these anxieties extend even deeper into the American past. They are the logical result of 300 years — from the Puritans to the American Revolution, and from nativism to fundamentalism — of evangelical fears about the direction in which their “Christian nation” was moving.

Why do so many evangelicals believe in Donald Trump? Because they privilege fear over hope, power over humility, and nostalgia over history.

It has become a cottage industry to try and understand why evangelicals are devoted to Trump and why is a large degree of overlap between the racists, xenophobic, bigoted population of the US and evangelical Christians. But one thing is clear: whatever the reasons that are postulated, whether deep or shallow, Christianity does not come out looking good.

Comments

  1. says

    That is the essence of conservatism: nostalgic longing for the good old days of religious authoritarianism, autocracy, slavery, misogyny, and genocidal racism.

  2. wontbehere4long says

    Friendly reminder that it is officially LGBTQIA+ Wrath Month!

    Pass it on! =D

  3. Matt G says

    Nobody is doing more damage to Christianity than Christians. They parade their callousness, dishonesty, racism, etc. more brazenly than ever, and young people are taking note.

  4. machintelligence says

    Some folks just insist on viewing the world as a shitty place. There is a term for this: colospectve disorder.
    It comes from having your head wedged up your ass.

  5. alixmo says

    @Matt G, “young people are taking note.”

    But are they? I am often overwhelmed by how sneaky and effective the (religious) right is in changing public opinion. I admit, I am a chronic pessimist. But I have evidence. First an example that has little to do with religion: Libertarians were able to twist public opinion, changing minds about the state in general, taxes (“taxation is theft” etc), welfare, regulations (from the EPA etc). There are now many people demanding changes which would make their lives effectively more miserable!!

    And now the example of successful religious propaganda: The death of feminism and environmentalism. Well, at least in the public opinion.

    Have you ever noticed how little we talk about environmental problems? And that environmentalists are often derided as “anti-human”? Lots has to do with the topic of “human population growth” – which in turn leads to religion. Bear with me, please!

    I take you back in time to 1994 and the UN International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo, Egypt. QUOTE:
    ^Islamic leaders and the Vatican are joining forces to oppose a United Nations conference promoting birth control as the best remedy to limit population growth. (…) The unlikely allies have assailed a preliminary document that sets out remedies for curbing the world population explosion. (…) The document has set off a firestorm by calling for making contraceptives and family planning services available to adolescents and by suggesting that abortion should be permitted for reasons other than to save a woman’s life. “It seems one of the most important aims of the conference is to facilitate sex, to undermine its passive consequences and to encourage the use of condoms to prevent the transmission of diseases caused by illegal sexual relations,” said Sheik Mohammed al-Ghazali, a world-renowned Islamic scholar considered a religious moderate. (…) While Vatican officials have been conducting their campaign behind the scenes, Catholic clerics from Australia to the Philippines have gone public in vilifying the conference. As many as 200,000 turned out early this month for a church-sponsored rally in Manila, capital of the Philippines, denouncing condoms and other forms of birth control as sinful.”^ http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1994-08-26/news/1994238202_1_vatican-islamic-egypt

    Have you heard much about “population growth” since the ICPD in 1994? Likely it was in the context of smearing environmentalists as “eugenicists and racists” with “genocidal ideas”. And the “feminist” aspect of the problem is completely sidelined. If women`s reproductive rights are mentioned, be sure that Margaret Sanger`s “eugenicist ideas” are too, tainting “Planned Parenthood” (and giving out contraceptives) forever, regardless of their actual work for women in the here and now.

    Read the quote above again; what “feminists” and environmentalist hoped for in 1994 was merely “promoting birth control as the best remedy to limit population growth”! They called for “making contraceptives and family planning services available to adolescents” and suggested that “abortion should be permitted for reasons other than to save a woman’s life”. This all should be a HUMAN RIGHT anyway, environmentalism aside!

    Even the most “controversial” of this meek suggestions, namely that “abortion should be permitted for reasons other than to save a woman’s life” is correctly seen as a fundamental human right for women in Western countries! In Ireland there was just a referendum finally granting women this essential right, overturning the inhumane (Catholic) treatment of Irish (white!) women.

    There you have it! Religion was allowed to meddle freely with public opinion. The result:

    Feminism is absolutely hated by the right, the left sneers at it as “a white girls concept” and even many “regular” women distance themselves from the fight for their own basic rights.

    And nobody cares about the environment anymore. Well, maybe a few old geezers that the left derides as “entitled white bourgeois men” who “love animals and trees but hate humans”.

    I count that as a clear win for the religious right – especially among the younger generations.

    Propaganda works and the (religious) right is damn good at it. They know how to “press buttons”, even on young leftists.

  6. lanir says

    I honestly don’t really care what their reasons were because the majority are going to be dishonest about them anyway. There is absolutely no one who can claim that they walked into a polling booth well informed and honestly thought Donald Trump was well spoken, respected and valued women and minorities, or had clear and consistent values. It simply wasn’t possible to miss where he stood on all of those things.

    The last presidential election is over. I feel like the least useful thing anyone can do is ask Trump voters why they voted for him. This simply encourages them to make up even more stories about how they magically missed the overwhelmingly obvious, ugly truths about him and voted for him anyway. I think the only way to stop a second term of Trump is going to be pointing out where he’s lied to his base and where he’s openly supporting corruption and extremely fringe causes that most of them won’t be comfortable identifying with. You can’t really argue for anyone else or rally them to progressive causes or even stick them on any issues they aren’t ashamed of. Just contrast candidate Trump who wanted to drain the swamp and jail “crooked” Hillary with president Trump who backs corrupt politicians as long as they’re his friends, thinks he can pardon himself, and in full view of the public turned ICE into a taxpayer supported child trafficking ring. I’m sure we can all think of other issues he’s changed his mind on now that he’s in office.

  7. says

    The courts. Evangelical support for Donald has always been about the courts. This has never been a hugely complicated puzzle that needed solving.

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