A valuable footnote to our discussion yesterday of Fred Clark's take on the shenanigans of those trying to rescue the white evangelical brand from Trumpism: in that posting, I cited a series of tweets by Anthea Butler in which she asserts that "for American Evangelicalism, Trump has severed and destroyed their message, movement, and future." Yesterday, The Guardian published an essay by Anthea Butler in which she develops this assertion.
As she explains, she sees the strong commitment of white evangelicals to Donald Trump in this election as a "mismatch" that threatens to "break apart the movement's political influence." She writes,
I believe that the various coalitions under the evangelical umbrella will be in disarray [i.e., after this election]. Evangelicals will fade in political and social clout on the national stage regarding religious liberty, abortion and the coveted replacement of Antonin Scalia on the US supreme court. Supporting Trump on election day may have many evangelicals gritting their teeth in the ballot box, but it is nothing compared to the aftermath if their "King David" loses.
As Anthea notes, this election — and the question of Trump — have exposed internal divisions and frictions within U.S. evangelicalism. For instance, "Evangelical women are upset about Trump and the accusations of sexual and verbal abuse of women, and many are angered that their male counterparts have been silent about it." In addition:
Similarly, younger evangelicals and evangelicals of color are very opposed to Trump. Jim Wallis of Sojourners is very vocal that "not all evangelicals" support Trump, but only white evangelicals are being polled about their political support, not African Americans or Latinos. This brings up the biggest issue that evangelicals face with their support of Trump: that they will be seen as agreeing with Trump’s "alt right" contingent that is not interested in religion, but rather in white nationalism and the restoration of white America. As a result, evangelicals who have claimed to be "colorblind" find themselves aligning with hate groups who support Trump and are also against Jews and Israel, both important to evangelicals and their beliefs.
I think Anthea's right. And I recommend her essay to you for its sharp take on questions we've been discussing throughout the election here.
Anthea Butler is an associate professor and chair of graduate studies in the Department of Religious Studies of University of Pennsylvania. The photo is from her faculty page at UPenn.