Way down South in Dixie (and apparently everywhere else in America), some 75 percent of white evangelical Christians, inexplicably, continue to giddily support U.S. President Donald Trump.
The number represents “an all-time high,” according to a survey earlier this year by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), despite the president’s continuing and profligate amoral, un-Christian, even inhumane behavior that arguably has currently reached unprecedented levels of reprehensible awfulness in American presidential history.
Christians for reprobates
So there you have it. Americans who most visibly represent sin-loathing Christian devotion and morality in the U.S and literal interpretations of a Bible whose proclamations they view as absolute, overwhelmingly insist on standing by a patently unbiblical man who has exhaustively demonstrated at best a casual, even dismissive, relationship with morality and truth, much less religion. And an intimate, at times abusively carnal, relationship with heretical, mean-spirited mendacity. Not to mention racism-slicked meanness.
These so-called “godly” folks so enamored of Mr. Trump are an extra-conservative, white “nativist” (read “white rule”) group and a core part of the president’s vaunted “base” of supporters (by comparison a majority of all nonevangelical whites, 59 percent, voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election). And their love for this paragon of non-virtue seems to be growing.
Trump love increasing
PRRI reported that white evangelical backing of Trump, at about 50 percent early in the 2016 primary, jumped to 61 percent heading into the election, 68 percent by the inauguration and 74 percent just after. Despite fluctuations, it never fell below 65 percent, the institute reported, yet some 60 percent of all voters collectively disapprove of him. PRRI noted:
“Trump’s support among white evangelicals at this stage of his presidency is strikingly solid. While there are modest differences by gender, Trump’s favorability among white evangelical women is still a robust 71 percent, compared to 81 percent among white evangelical men. And Trump’s favorability is still a strong 68 percent among college-educated white evangelicals, compared to 78 percent among those without a college degree.”
The question is, “Why?”
The burning question is why, given this president’s multiple mistresses (and hush payments to hide them), his patently inhumane business practices (such as refusing to pay small contractors’ valid invoices, to get them to settle for pennies on the dollar), his seemingly pathological untruthfulness (stop with the four-dimensional chess analogy, please), his cuddling up to dictators of U.S. enemy nations, his casual throwing of close colleagues under buses, his wrenching of undocumented immigrant children from their parents, his overweaning pride, vanity and gluttony in all things.
Why, we might reasonably ask, would any Christian support such a grievously character-flawed person, much less extravagantly?
It’s all explained here
The best one-stop-shopping answer I’ve found to this question is provided by a first-rate article Saturday in The Washington Post by national affairs reporter Stephanie McCrummen. It’s titled, “Judgment days: In a small Alabama own, an evangelical congregation reckons with God, President Trump and the meaning of morality.”
What’s at once frightening and instructive about the article is the enormity of misguided, delusional and materially false assumptions closely held by members of the congregation of the First Baptist Church of Laverne, Alabama, population 2,700, in the heart of the Bible Belt. McCrummen wrote:
“In poll after poll, they have said that Trump has kept his promises to appoint conservative Supreme Court justices, fight for religious liberty, adopt pro-life policies and deliver on other issues that are high priorities for them.”
Yet, such conservative justices (they hope) will help dump abortion rights in the trash bin of American history, although the majority of the country supports abortion, now constitutionally legal, with rational restrictions. And the religious liberty they believe they are fighting for in practice aggressively restricts the liberties and trashes the rights of less doctrinaire Americans.
Trump ‘on the right side of God’
McCrummen wrote that Southern Baptist megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress insists President Trump “is on the right side of God … evangelicals know they are not compromising their beliefs in order to support this great president.” Franklin Graham, son of iconic American evangelist Billy Graham, said the only reason Trump ended up in the White House is “God put him there.”
Can’t even fact-check such ethereal statements.
One congregant said she believes the Lord provided America with Trump as “a second chance before End Times.” Others said any attack on Trump was an attack on America. Another said heaven is “15,000 miles wide and that high.” Some said the feelings generated by prayer, not factual evidence, were the only way to divine right from wrong. One man said Trump’s disparagement of people from “shithole” countries didn’t bother him, because Jesus came from Nazareth, which he said was a “shithole” town. The same man said people needn’t worry about politics anyway, because Jesus died so we would get “eternal life.”
The people of the congregation say they are aware of President Trump’s astounding flaws but then rationalize them. For example, they say other presidents had mistresses and lied, too.
“None of ’em are lily white,” said a guy named Jack.
At least he’s not unadulterated evil like Hillary Clinton, they say.
In conclusion: nothing
McCrummen’s Post nonetheless opens appropriately, with First Baptist pastor Crum lauching into one in a series of weekly sermons on the Ten Commandments. He opened his Bible to Exodus, Chapter 20, and read verse 14 regarding the seventh commandment:
“Thou shall not commit adultery,” he said.
The crux of the article is that Rev. Crum then went on to say absolutely nothing about the current president of America, whose close relationship with adultery is demonstratively well-known and very relevant to current political discussions.
The reverend chose, instead, to talk about the ancient sin as a kind of contractual breach of promise. He did not define it for it’s darkest aspect — a cold-eyed personal betrayal that usually inflicts agonizing emotional pain on someone the cheater supposedly cherishes and loves. Yet, the Rev. Crum told his congregation:
“Adultery, simply stated, is a breach of commitment. When one person turns their back on a commitment that they made and seeks out something else to fulfill themselves.”
He explained that the purpose of the commandment is “so we can see the sin, so we can repent of the sin and then fully experience the complete grace of god.”
McCrummen wrote in her article that the pastor by then was at the end of his sermon:
“If he was going to say anything about Trump, or presidents, or politicians, or how having a Christian character was important for the leader of the United States, now was the time. …
“He looked out at all the faces of people who felt threatened and despised in a changing America, who thought Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were sent by Satan to destroy them, and that Donald Trump was sent by God to protect them, and who could always count on Clay Crum to remind them of what they all believed to be the true meaning of Jesus Christ — that he died to forgive all of their sins, to save them from death and secure their salvation in a place that was 15,000 miles wide, full of gardens, appliances, and a floor of stars.”
But, as McCrummen reported, the good reverend closed his Bible and said, “Let us pray.”
“Amen,” someone responded.
What’s wrong with America then? Far too many of us dismiss common sense to embrace nonsense.
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