Monday, June 25, 2018

Another theory about why evangelicals like Trump

This article is another theory on the improbable alliance 
between evangelical Christians and Donald Trump, the 
formerly secular, thrice married, "baby Christian" who had 
affairs with porn stars: 

The article is by Paul Rosenberg, originally on  
It is a review of a book by a formerly evangelical historian 
names John Fea, called Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to 
Donald Trump

Fea argues that white evangelicals are concerned with power, 
nostalgia, and fear of the future.  He discusses the election of 
Trump on several timescales.  The most recent events leading
to the 2016 election caused the selection of Trump by 
evangelicals in spite of some much more likely candidates,
including Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, and 
Ted Cruz.  Fea argues that these likely candidates understood
evangelicals too well.  They tried very hard to frighten the 
evangelicals about the consequences of the Obama 
Administration and their loss of political power.  The 
evangelicals were so alarmed that they decided a strongman 
was needed to restore their power, and Trump fit the bill 
better than Rubio, Huckabee, Carson, or Cruz.  Trump also 
had the background of his birtherist attacks on Obama as a 
racist introduction.
Fea also discusses Christianity as it's evolved from further 
into the past.  Rosenberg adds comments from Seth Dowland 
from his essay for Christian Century, “American 
evangelicalism and the politics of whiteness.”  American 
Christianity was deeply divided by the Civil War, and it 
remains divided.  The church became segregated and 
divided between northern white Christians, southern white 
Christians, and the black churches.  Each strain developed its 
own culture and concerns.  Black Christians were more 
interested in Christian hope.  Whites, especially southerners, 
gravitated toward fear.  They felt that they needed political 
and financial power, and they didn't seem to trust God to sort 
out human affairs.
Rosenberg points out that Fea's book seems to disregard that 
evangelical leaders have learned that politics and religion 
don't go well together.  This is something that the American 
Founders tried to guarantee with the First Amendment.  But 
white evangelicals still seem to be trying to hang on to 
political power, regardless. 

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Rob Boston on the Founders

Rob Boston is director of communications at Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and he is a long-time member and friend of WASH.  He recently wrote an article on the religious beliefs of the Founders, including the first four presidents and Thomas Paine:

Here Are 5 Founding Fathers Whose Skepticism About Christianity Would Make Them Unelectable Today


He argues that the beliefs of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Paine would make them unelectable in today's political climate. 

He is probably right, but this issue points out that the political and religious climate of the Founders was radically different from the one today. For example, in the days of the Founders, they expected to make intellectual judgements about their beliefs as a matter of integrity an honesty. So they questioned the odd, supernatural dogma of Christianity, such as the Trinity, the virgin birth, and the resurrection. 

Today, many Christians seem to be unaware of the odd things that they claim to believe. (However, it is quite possible that the common people in the time of the Founders were also largely unaware of the odd aspects of Christianity or that they refused to ask troublesome questions.) The main attraction of Christianity comes from the nostalgia value of growing up with it, and the feeling of belonging to a congregation. These emotional connections are exploited by the Religious Right in their effort to influence the political decisions of voters, even at the expense of solving their own personal concerns.