One of the big stories of the 2016 election was that evangelicals went for so-called President Trump 80-16. In case you’re unclear, that’s a BIG margin.
This has been puzzling to a lot of people. After all, Trump is, aside from being a teetotaler (and many people have speculated that while he famously doesn’t drink, his behavior indicates that he does indulge in other illicit substances, cocaine I’m looking at you), famously libertine. He has five children by three different women, he’s had multiple affairs, he’s appeared in porn, he’s a compulsive liar and a thief, he’s boastful and vain – in fact, he often hits all seven of the deadly sins in one tweet.
How could the very same people who approved of impeaching a president over a consensual blow job vote for this guy?
Having been raised not just evangelical but fundamentalist, I’m not in the least bit surprised.
You thought Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale was dystopian fiction? These people view it as an aspirational goal.
The reason evangelicals freak out so much about “creeping Sharia” isn’t that they’re anti-theocracy or big supporters of the separation of church and state. Nope – they’re worried another religious group will beat them to the punch, and they won’t get the exact brand of theocracy they most prefer.
Far from fighting authoritarianism, their entire worldview encourages it. Don’t question, don’t think for yourself, just listen to authority (God, the minister, your father, your husband) and do what they say. Trump fits that mold PERFECTLY.
“Do good to those who hate you”?
No – they’re down with hating anyone who isn’t exactly like them.
“Love your enemies”?
Try: “From hell’s heart, I stab at thee; for hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee.”
“Blessed are the poor”?
No way, we now worship at the altar of Ayn Rand – it’s everyone for himself.
Evangelicals love to talk about Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, but when it comes down to what they do, it’s like they’ve never cracked open a bible or any other “holy” book. #FakeChristians.
(Rant interlude, where I have to give a huge shout-out to the good people of the christian left, like John Pavlovitz and Shannon Dingle, who are doing their best to try to salvage this. I’m pretty sure, with patriarchal religion, that the effort is futile, but I wish them the best in their attempts.)
And they’re now ascendant, and emboldened by having put their guy in the White House. The fact that he’s banning refugees and Muslims, nominating Neil Gorsuch for SCOTUS and Scott Pruitt for EPA, and condoning violence against transgender people is a FEATURE, not a bug.
“I’m a christian white person (well, I go to church on Christmas and Easter, anyway), though – I’ll be fine, right?”
Nope. Because in their minds, you AREN’T a christian. Do you like to have a beer or the occasional cigarette? Take the wife out dancing on a Saturday night? Go to the movies? Play gin rummy with your grandpa? Say something stronger than “fudge” when you hit your thumb with a hammer? Sorry – not a christian, at least not to them. We think the left has issues with “purity wars”? Evangelicals love to eat their young (particularly if they happen to be women) over “you’re not REALLY with us.”
And it’s all about the slippery slope with evangelicals. Take the purportedly “pro-life” (actually pro-BIRTH) movement. If you look back at the days of Operation Rescue’s Randall Terry, you’ll note that their rhetoric has changed dramatically: women are no longer “murderers” who deserve to be “punished” – women are now “being taken advantage of” while in a “confused” state. In some ways, the new rhetoric is actually worse, as it’s taken away women’s agency and positions us as fools and children who’ve been duped.
Here, Trump’s “slip” about abortion on the campaign trail, “there has to be some form of punishment,” is illuminating. Evangelicals might be using more “market-friendly” terms, but what they think at root hasn’t changed.
It looks like the beginnings of christian sharia (because that’s exactly what it is) will be assaults on women’s reproductive rights. And it’s insidious. Screaming “murderer” at women entering the local Planned Parenthood doesn’t poll well. But “doctors need admitting privileges at the nearest hospital or we’ll have to shut down the clinic to protect women’s health” or “we’re instituting a 72-hour waiting period to ensure women have really fully considered such a momentous decision” or “we only want to place limits on what’s allowed after viability” all sound so reasonable. But that’s not the end – that’s the beginning. Once they get that, all of a sudden “viability” is a lot earlier. And then it’s “heartbeat” bills. And then it’s “hormonal methods of birth control are actually abortifacients, so we need to outlaw them, too.” And then it’s “it’s immoral for unmarried people to have sex, so only married people can buy birth control – which, by the way, is now ONLY available as barrier methods.” Where does it end? Offred.
What’s next? My guess: LGBT rights, which has already started with overturning the Obama administration rule requiring schools to allow kids to use the correct bathroom that aligns with their gender identity. After that? Well, it’s still OK to discriminate against people in housing and employment based on sexual orientation in many areas, so the next step would be federal or state “preemption,” forbidding any jurisdiction under that authority from passing more progressive non-discrimination ordinances, as the state of North Carolina has already done in Charlotte. After that? Marriage equality is probably on the chopping bloc, and forbidding same-sex couples from adopting children. Re-criminalizing “sodomy” is probably up there. too. Pink triangles? It’s anyone’s guess, but I would say it’s not out of the question.
And it won’t stop there. Outlawing porn? A return to prohibition? Muslims as “infidels”? The Jews killed Jesus? It’s all on the table. You know, the bible talks an awful lot about slavery and the “sons of Ham”…
What you have to understand is that these people want their iPhones, internet, fast food, and HGTV, but other than that, they want to live in the ’50s – the 1850s.
That’s why our work is so important. That’s why we fight. That’s why #TheResistance. That’s why so many of us are willing to die on EVERY hill these days.
So be scared – you should be. Be angry. Be bold. Stand up. Fight back. The future depends on it.
Image found here.