Trump’s Bitter Enders: White Evangelicals

The only poll I’ve seen about the phony national emergency, by NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist, says that the public disapproves of Trump’s phony national emergency declaration by 61 to 39 percent. “Nearly 6-in-10 also don’t believe there is an emergency at the southern border and that the president is misusing his presidential authority. They also believe that his decision should be challenged in court,” NPR reports. Here is a more detailed demographic breakdown.

Republicans, naturally, are more approving of the declaration than the public at large. But Paul Waldman points out that this isn’t necessarily good news for Trump.

The question is whether he can duplicate his 2016 electoral college hat trick by dramatically energizing noncollege whites again, and by winning independents and others who decide they don’t like either candidate (as Trump did in 2016).

And among those groups, the poll finds surprising levels of opposition. Large majorities of independents tilt against Trump on these questions. And non-college-educated whites disapprove of the national emergency declaration by 53 to 43; they lean slightly against the idea that there’s even any emergency (49-47); and even marginally say that it makes them less likely to vote for Trump (46-41).

However, there is one demographic that’s still in the tank for Trump.

White evangelical Christians. They approve of the declaration by 67 to 26; think there is a national emergency on the border by 70 to 22; say he’s properly using his powers by 69-23; and say this makes them more likely to vote for him by 60 to 22..

I have to say that even I am a bit nonplussed by the white evangellical Christians, even though as a child of the Bible Belt I suppose they shouldn’t surprise me.

There was a very disturbing op ed in the New York Times a couple of months ago that relates to this — “Why Trump Reigns as King Cyrus” by Katherine Stewart. There’s a big chunk of white evangelicals — a not insubstantial part of the population — that sincerely wants Trump or somebody like him to seize power and establish a right-wing theocracy. That’s more important to them than those piddly theological concerns such as morality and Jesus.

Today’s Christian nationalists talk a good game about respecting the Constitution and America’s founders, but at bottom they sound as if they prefer autocrats to democrats. In fact, what they really want is a king. “It is God that raises up a king,” according to Paula White, a prosperity gospel preacher who has advised Mr. Trump.

Ralph Drollinger, who has led weekly Bible study groups in the White House attended by Vice President Mike Pence and many other cabinet members, likes the word “king” so much that he frequently turns it into a verb. “Get ready to king in our future lives,” he tells his followers. “Christian believers will — soon, I hope — become the consummate, perfect governing authorities!”

The great thing about kings like Cyrus, as far as today’s Christian nationalists are concerned, is that they don’t have to follow rules. They are the law. This makes them ideal leaders in paranoid times.

“When are they going to start rolling out the boxcars to start hauling off Christians?” Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, asked in 2016. If you’re hearing those boxcars pulling up in the distance, as it were, you don’t merely overlook the antisocial qualities of a prospective leader, you embrace them as virtues.

See also this discussion on white Christian evangelicals and Christian nationalism at Vox. White evangelicals have a long history of cherry-picking scripture to support whatever they want to believe, going back to their antebellum support for slavery in the South.

You never hear devout evangelicals say that God raised up Trump to punish or chastise evangelicals for placing too much of their hope in power politics or political strongmen. Evangelicals are modern people — they believe in certainty and often insist that they know the exact will of God on all matters. In other words, they do not share the Catholic or Orthodox idea of the “mystery of faith.” They also have a long history of cherry-picking from the Bible to justify their politics.

Some believe that Trump, like King Cyrus, is delivering them from the “captivity” of the Obama administration. Bible verses calling for obedience to government are used to justify immigration policies that seem to contradict the teachings of the Scriptures in relation to refugees and “strangers.” They find some verses useful and ignore others.

If the Obama Administration is their idea of “captivity,” obviously there’s no reasoning with these people. They are nuttier than a Payday bar. But this also explains the Trump/Republican bizarre obsequiousness to Bibi Netanyahu and their conflation of being anti-government of Israel with anti-Semitism. White evangelicals are anti-Semitic lovers of Israel because Israel fits into Dispensationalist ideas of prophecy; see Nancy LeTourneau, “A More Twisted Form of Anti-Semitism.” They’ve figured out a way to complain about alleged rising anti-Semitism on the Left while absolving themselves of the same sin.

Is there anything Trump could do to shake their faith? Maybe if it was proved he had paid mistresses to get abortions, but I doubt even that would do it. However, as Paul Waldman says, there aren’t enough of them to re-elect Trump by themselves.

Carlo Allegri/Reuters

26 thoughts on “Trump’s Bitter Enders: White Evangelicals

  1. My sister (who lives in Indiana) is a southern baptist which I believe qualifies her as an evangelical.  Her personality is that she does not make any decisions on her own but depends on the church and her husband to tell her what to believe.  The thing with evangelicals is that they call the Bible the word of God and there is no arguing or discussion with that.  They really do not know anything about the history of Christianity and how it became a religion.  The Bible was originally written in Hebrew then later translated into Greek and then into English.  Languages develop reflecting the culture they represent so translation is difficult and something is always lost.  Take into account the Council of Nicea in which writings from the time of Christ were reviewed, some were kept and some were discarded.  The ones that were kept became the Bible.  Humans made these decisions not God.  Once upon a time, I considered myself a Christian but over time and a lot of reading and a lot of experience have decided that I cannot accept the belief system of Christianity.  I believe there is a lot of truth in the Bible but also in a lot of other books.  That is my personal decision and others can believe what they want.  It makes no never mind to me.  All I ask is  that they stay out of my face with their preaching.

      • I like the performers in the trees.  You probably already know that some of the late 1800s end-times preachers had their followers give away e

        and sit in trees so they would be nearer to heaven, thus raptured up first.  There were a few disappointments, I am sure. But this video spoke that delusion quite clearly.

        • I had no idea why they were in the trees? Makes sense, Thank you!I confess almost complete ignorance when it comes to "church" doctrine or fantasy or whatever they call it. I just like the tune and the lyrical message?

  2. It’s a shame.  Back when America was socialist (by their definition), it was also a far more Christian nation.  But today most of the academics and scientists have left the faith.  And the humanists are leaving.  Soon it’ll only be traditional tribal thinkers left.  And their kind loves a good authoritarian, a belief-need that only gets worse as economic anxieties increase because of the policies they vote for. 

    The Spanish already tried this route.  Franco, not known to be very Christian, used military, business, and Catholic support to prop up his 40 year dictatorship after the Depression.  Believers rationalized and aided his policy of disappearing thousands of atheists and leftists, believing that with them gone their children’s lives would be better.

    Today those children are all grown up and Francoism is gone.  But Spain is now a typical secular European center-leftist country, with only 3% claiming that Christian faith is the most important thing in their lives.  And Spain is doing better economically than it had during Franco. 

    I’d call that a major fail.  That Christians won’t just do as Jesus recommended (using works to entice outsiders to join the faith) is really sad to watch.

  3. 'For unto them, a bigoted orange moron was born…'

    Isaiah 9:6 – In extra innings.

    And yes, these ignorant/stupid and bigoted "Christians" do want a King.  One who will be be powerful, and even more ignorant/stupid and bigoted than they are!

     Regarding tRUMP's hold on this these feckin' eedjit's, to quote the great (and corrupt) LA Governor, Edwin Edwards:  "The only way I can lose this election is if I get caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy."  

    And why is it that I suspect that even if tRUMP is found in bed with either of those, these faux-"Christians" will forgive him – just as long as asks "JAYZOOZ!" for forgiveness, and promises to double-up on his hatred, fear and bigotry!

    Was it always thus with America's Evangelical "Christians?" (Yeah, probably…).

    And people ask me why, while I may believe in a "Higher Being," I don't believe in religion?

    ANY RELIGION! 

    Because outside of Buddhism (which, from what I remember from my exploration of various religions decades ago, is more a philosophy than a religion – but I defer to maha on this subject), religions are all about misogyny, and hate and fear of other's who are not like them.

    Evangelical "Christians" haven't just been brainwashed, they've had brain-extractions.  All they have left between their ears are involuntary reptilian fight or flight reflexes.  And the desire for someone/something  that gives them hope that everyone and everything isn't just the result of a "Big Bang" – with these particular physical laws – time, and evolution.

     

     

  4. " Is there anything Trump could do to shake their faith? "

    Sure he could appoint an African American Attorney General! At their core these white "evangelicals" are nothing more than white supremacists who drive nice cars and go to church on Sunday. They love Trump for the same reasons the rest of the dullards support him: he hate the same people they hate! Sort of related good old Bibi threw his hat in with the Jewish supremacists today, I always knew he was a NAZI at heart!

    https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-israel-election/netanyahu-makes-deal-with-far-right-party-ahead-of-israeli-election-idUSKCN1Q92GY

  5. If the Obama Administration is their idea of “captivity,” obviously there’s no reasoning with these people. They are nuttier than a Payday bar.

    They're not nutty, just immature, like five year olds. They have the critical thinking skills of young children. They want things in black and white, like young children.  They want a king, because they read about kings in the bible. It's the only thing they read.  They go blank when you try to discuss something else with them.

    There are stupid people everywhere, it's the USA's great misfortune that ours have so much power, out of proportion to their numbers.

  6. religions are all about misogyny, and hate and fear of other's who are not like them.

    There are levels of spiritual maturity. One of the baby levels is plugging into retail religion, whose members are often stuck at the level of tribalism, we vs them.

    As you become more mature, you realize that we're all in this together. You start to separate out the man-made junk taught by religions vs what the spiritual master behind this or that religion was trying to get across.

    Religions are like packaging around the spiritual master, whoever he or she is/was. To the degree that they help you connect with the master, and develop love toward this master, they're useful. Otherwise, just man made junk.

  7. If a random voice from the void can interject,  I'm not so sure about the non college educated.  I'm talking to one such guy, the son of an old freind, who still believes in birtherism and thinks Tucker Carlson is a real smart fella.  I mean it's good to see the poll numbers but the ones I know, like this one  (which is more than a few) seem unaffected by anything that comes out about Trump.  They're completely taken in by the right wing media and automatically reject anything from the mainstream press.  This is what worries me most.  

    The right has destroyed these people's ability to recognize, let alone consider any fact based reporting.  Especially if it casts a doubt on their faith in Trump but not even limited to Trump. Any facts at all.  Like flat Earthers,  they're a symptom of the internet age where every bullshit theory or opinion receives equal weight.  

    Reminds me of an old science fiction story by Larry Niven, can't remember the name  but the idea was, every time you walk into a fog, the world becomes fluid and shifts around you and you find you've slipped into a new reality.   

  8. I like the new look, it's easier to read and has a nice "open" quality.

    I've described my neighborhood before, it was founded by the members of a single church, which has some non-mainstream beliefs, by the way.  Most of my neighbors are not particularly political, but, they are definitely conservative, and would never vote for a Democrat in this lifetime. Our county went for Trump two to one.

     My wife and I run in different circles.  She is a CNM, so her main interaction is with medical professionals and mine is more with the good ol' boy crowd who work the farms, run the feed stores and swing the hammers.   Some of them graduated from college and some were homeschooled to a high school graduate level.  But, the support for Trump is pretty strong in both camps.   That's hard to understand, and the only way I can make sense of it is that the professionals inherited the same snake handler DNA as the workers.  They inhabit different levels in this vale of tears, but, they are all living in the same Biblical drama, and that drama is the real world, while life here is just a shadow.  I might be misled by the residue of the St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas that I read at school, but, not entirely.

    There is also another large group of people that seem the best to avoid.  We have a broad selection of yahoos.  These range from people who mount sheets of plywood around the bed of their pickups, painted* with Biblical verses and political fixations, to your standard gun enthusiast.  There is a lot of overlap.

    Contrary to what most people think, many of these people have curiosity and a desire to uncover life's mysteries.  But, these have led them to a very strange place. (Others don't have two brain cells to rub together, but, that's not a uniquely rural phenomenon.)  I tend to think that they would be in a different place if they had been introduced to logic or critical thinking, but, alas, we'll never know.

    My fear is about what happens when you roll all of these people together and inject a note of crisis, like the possibility that Trump might be removed from office.  The Christian Identity people and the Dominionists would almost certainly go off the rails.  That could be very unpleasant.

    *Some of the art is not half bad.  It's not easy to make someone look like both Obama and Satan at the same time, and Pelosi is even harder.

    • Goat, you need to post some pics of this "Art"! I think it best if we beat Trump at the polls, I agree a premature removal of him by the "deep state" would trigger much unpleasantness. Why just yesterday they arrested some tRumper skin-head with a small armory and a list of "demo-rats" he had in his sights, I think there are thousands of these loons just waiting for the opportunity.

      https://www.npr.org/2019/02/20/696470366/arrested-coast-guard-officer-planned-mass-terrorist-attack-on-a-scale-rarely-see

       

      • I’ve seen white evangelicals in groups, city and country folk.  The behavior seems a somewhat more sophisticated version of the stressed pack of chimps that alternates between group hugs and shrieking crazily.  But I’ve also seen video footage of the smart chimp who stands apart when the virtue signaling activities go bad, even supporting the unfairly treated chimp.  Maybe we’re more like that one.  Sometimes I wish we were more like bonobos but that's probably beyond the scope of this blog.

  9. Oh, to rabbit hole dwellers who crave companionship.  They must cry forth and spread their superior belief system, and maybe drag you with them to the church of rabbit hole dwellers like them. It is the evangelical way.  In the United States, where obsession with sex and strange religion is considered a sign of vibrant and normal mental health, accepting such an invitation is quite risky. I have noticed those with the most peculiar beliefs seem to display the most extreme evangelical zealotry.  

    I can only imagine what a weird trip it would be into a rabbit hole religious bastion of Trump supporters.  I would guess you would have to check your BS meter at the door.  That door is an enter only one as are all others.  You would be surrounded by people avowing alternative facts and other people voicing unwavering agreement.  This will continue until you can take no more.  If you dare open your mouth in disagreement, you would quickly find your viewpoint quite unwelcome.   You may get some indications of polite tolerance to your views if you are wearing your new member button.  This façade of civility will not last long.  At this point best fake a quick conversion and find a way out of there.  They usually hide the exit behind the nativity scene with the sheep and dinosaurs around it.  Getting back to normal may take some time.  Bad trips are like that I hear.

  10. Well, it's beyond my comprehension to understand how anybody who holds themselves out as being a Christian can find Donald Trump acceptable in any capacity. Just a cursory reading of the bible would show what an abominable creature he is. And I would strongly suspect that any God who would use a vile lying dirtbag like Trump to further his or hers own intentions, might not be a God who should be pursued. I can afford a lot of latitude to God's purpose of doing things to the furtherance of his or her glory, but any God that would condone the forced and permanent separation of child from their mother kinda falls short by the Christian's own description of who their God is.

     

    • Swami, I'll take your word for it. I'm not a christian so I'm not exactly sure what one is supposed to be. I raised by a single mom who was thrown out of the church for getting a divorce so Christianity was never part of my upbringing. That and this guy is why I have choose to be "godless".

      • I liked the part where they were stirring the gruel with a trenching tool. Kinda adds to the survivalist flavor.

      • Holy mackerel!  He's gotten even stranger after the prison experience.   The shofars are a great touch, but, I miss Tammy Fae.

  11. White evangelicals are all about pants-shitting fear of the Other. Fear is the basis of their religion and their entire lives, why they cling to their fantasy world of superstition against reality, exalting obedient belief in authority. It doesn't surprise me at all that they would buy Trump's patent BS.

  12. Uncledad.  There is one especially striking example of the "billboard" pickup that  I see once in a while, and it has a definitely a subtext of "back off, I am batshit crazy."  About a month ago, I got my first glimpse at the driver and he was a weathered homunculus of a man.  That gave me something to build an hypothesis around.  He looked as if he had led a hardscrabble life with limited social activity.   Along with the anger and hostility, there was also a strong note of desperation.  I can't quite dismiss him so easily anymore.    

    The artwork is, as you might imagine, wildly emotional and childlike.  I have to admit it is better than I might accomplish myself, as I have a remarkable lack of talent for the visual arts.

    Sadly, on the last sighting, Obama and Pelosi were gone and he had moved on to a generic anti-abortion message.  But, I only saw two of the panels, so I am not giving up hope.

    • " generic anti-abortion message "

      I drove the parental unit down to her winter nest in Florida this winter, I saw some really disturbing "anti-abortion" billboards along 95, I would call them obscene? "Florida where the lakes are swamps and the hills are landfills"!

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