According to a lengthy new article and a recent book, a driving force behind white evangelical support for Donald Trump was the preservation of white America. This factor, we are told, and not just Trump’s support for other causes of importance to white evangelicals, such as being pro-life and pro-Israel, helps explain why so many of these Christian conservatives got behind such an unlikely candidate. Is this true?
According to Sarah Posner in her book Unholy: Why White Evangelicals Worship at the Altar of Trump, a key factor in white evangelical support for Trump was “the realization that Trump was the strongman the Christian right had long been waiting for. They had been waiting for a leader unbowed, one who wasn’t afraid to attack, head-on, the legal, social, and cultural changes that had unleashed the racist grievances of the American right, beginning with Brown v. Board of Education and persisting through the 1960s and ’70s in opposition to school desegregation and government policies to promote it—long before evangelicals made opposing abortion their top issue.”
Sarah Jones, in her December 6 article for The Intelligencer, titled “White Evangelicals Made a Deal with the Devil. Now What?”, touched on this well. She wrote, “As hypocritical as white Evangelical support for Trump may look from the outside, the president actually understood his base quite well. Eight years of a Black, liberal president threatened their hegemony. So had the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.”
Jones agrees with Posner, who told her that, “that Trump managed to tap into two key Evangelical tendencies. ‘Those two things were the racial grievances of the white base of the Republican Party, and how televangelism had changed Evangelicalism from the 1970s onward,’ she said.”
To be sure, Posner and Jones are correct in pointing out how many evangelicals have looked to Trump as a savior figure of sorts, a strong man who, at last, will push back against the left. In Trump, we had our champion.
And Trump’s America-first nationalism appealed to many a white supremacist, including those on the alt-right. His rhetoric could easily be misinterpreted as being both xenophobic and racist.
But as a white evangelical supporter of Trump, as a good friend of a number of those in Trump’s inner faith circle, and as one who travels widely in evangelical circles, I can say that, overwhelmingly, the race-related charges of Posner and Jones are false. Patently, categorically false.
How can I be so dogmatic?
It’s because I know what is important to us. I live in this world. I interact in this world. I am not trying to understand a movement from the outside.
I preach in these churches and speak at these conferences. I do interviews on these radio and TV and internet outlets. These are my friends and co-workers.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Brown