Why Evangelicals—Still!—Support Trump

Mar 22, 2018

By Katha Pollitt

Say what you will about the terrible, terrifying Trump years, one good thing has already come out of them: the discrediting of evangelical Christianity. For decades, believers have boasted of their superior virtue, especially in matters of sex and marriage and parenting and social propriety. They’ve blasted premarital and extramarital sex, LGBTQ people, divorce, pornography, sex work, foul language, crude behavior, and not being a Christian—as they define “Christian”—blaming these things for everything from 9/11 to Hurricane Katrina. They never get tired of going after Bill Clinton for his infidelities and Hillary Clinton for “enabling” them. (How frustrating it must have been for them that Barack Obama, the Muslim Kenyan communist, spent eight years in the White House with nary a whiff of scandal!) Now they’ve sold their souls to Donald Trump, who has partaken freely of practically every vice and depravity known to man. Urged on by their leaders, 81 percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump—more than voted for George W. Bush, an actual evangelical—and now everyone is laughing at them. It’s about time.

In the latest issue of The Atlantic, Michael Gerson, a former Bush speechwriter and current Washington Post columnist, mourns the loss of evangelical credibility in an angry, eloquent essay, “The Last Temptation.” As Gerson writes: “The moral convictions of many evangelical leaders have become a function of their partisan identification. This is not mere gullibility; it is utter corruption.” An evangelical himself, Gerson excoriates those leaders who make outlandish excuses for Trump’s behavior (my personal favorite: James Dobson’s explanation that the president is a “baby Christian”). Evangelicals, he says, have been driven to a kind of paranoia by their loss of cultural hegemony: They fall into absurd and unnecessary battles over school prayer and creationism, and losing those battles has made them seem—or actually be—“negative, censorious, and oppositional.”

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2 comments on “Why Evangelicals—Still!—Support Trump

  • @OP – As Gerson writes: “The moral convictions of many evangelical leaders have become a function of their partisan identification.

    Surely, this is a core feature evangelical “faith-thinking”!
    The cognitive dissonance and compartmentalism which allows the Humpty Dumpty interpretation of texts and records, to spin tribalist identifications of in-crowd actions as “good”, regardless of facts or outcomes!

    These are the same “detached from reality” thought patterns, as those of fanatical political ideologists like Trump!

    This is not mere gullibility; it is utter corruption.

    Corruption of information to re-write and spin history, is fundamental to religious beliefs – across the board, from fake relics, acclaimed “miracles”, forged texts, demonising non-believers, and lying and covering up blunders and abuses!

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  • I don’t, and have not for a long time, believed that many if not most self professed deeply religious people in the USA are actually really religious. I think it’s a comforting label they like to pin on themselves to show they’re good and fit in with their peers in places where such peer pressure is still intense. However they certainly don’t behave like christians. They cherry pick which bits of the bible they want to use such as gays are evil but ignore Jesus telling them to love their neighbour like themselves.

    When religion indoctrinated the GOP in the Reagan era through Jerry Falwell and his cronies it gradually turned the GOP into a religious cult. However it worked just as much in the reverse direction – it politicised religion to the point where these people are now actually primarily rabid Republicans who demonise Democrats and like to call themselves christian rather than primarily christians who just happen to vote Republican. This allows them to maintain all their appalling traits like homophobia and racism while camaflaging themselves under their Harry Potter invisibility cloaks of religion and claiming to be “good people”.

    A survey of whose celebrity endorsements evangelicals take notice of is instructive.


    Donald Trump who is an atheist and an an objectively evil man is who they take the most notice of.

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