By Anthea Butler
Liberals have a tendency to wring their hands at the strong support President Donald Trump — he of the three wives and multiple affairs, and a tendency to engage in exceedingly un-Christian-like behavior at the slightest provocation — continues to receive from the white evangelical community. White evangelical support for Donald Trump is still at 73 percent, and more than 80 percent of white evangelicals voted for him in 2016.
But focusing on the disconnect between Trump’s personal actions and the moral aspects of their faith misses the issue that keeps their support firm: racism. Modern evangelicals’ support for this president cannot be separated from the history of evangelicals’ participation in and support for racist structures in America.
Evangelicals, in religious terminology, believe that Jesus Christ is the savior of humanity. They have a long history in America, and include a number of different groups, including Baptists, Pentecostals, Methodists and nondenominational churches. After the schism among the Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians in the 1850s over slavery, conservative denominations like the Southern Baptists — who defended slavery through their readings of scripture — came into being. And because the primary schisms between northern and southern denominations was over the issues of slavery, in the pre- and post-Civil War years, African American Protestants formed their own denominations.
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