Wednesday, March 22, 2017

"Alt-Right Supplied Trump with His Agenda; the Christian Right Supplied Him with His Votes": Trump, White Evangelicals and White Supremacy

Sarah Posner, "How Donald Trump Hijacked the Religious Right": 

There is no way of knowing how many Americans consider themselves to be alt-right Christians—the term is so new, even those who agree with Spencer and Griffin probably wouldn't use it to describe themselves. But there is plenty of evidence that white evangelical voters are more receptive than nonevangelicals to the ideas that drive the alt-right. According to an exit poll of Republican voters in the South Carolina primary, evangelicals were much more likely to support banning Muslims from the United States, creating a database of Muslim citizens, and flying the Confederate flag at the state capitol. Thirty-eight percent of evangelicals told pollsters that they wished the South had won the Civil War—more than twice the number of nonevangelicals who held that view. 
That's why white evangelicals were the key to Trump's victory—they provided the numbers that the alt-right lacks. Steve Bannon, Trump's most influential strategist, knows that the nationalist coalition alone isn't big enough "to ever compete against the progressive left"—which is why he made a point of winning over the religious right. If conservative Catholics and evangelicals "just want to focus on reading the Bible and being good Christians," Bannon told me last July, "there’s no chance we could ever get this country back on track again." The alt-right supplied Trump with his agenda; the Christian right supplied him with his votes.

Fred Clark, "The Audacious Claim That We Are Not Shaped by History": 

One of the fundamental precepts of white evangelical Christianity is so essential, foundational, integral, and pervasive that it never needs to be spoken of or even consciously acknowledged. Yet it is implicit in every facet of white evangelicalism. It is woven into every aspect of evangelical culture, theology, piety, practice, worship, hermeneutics, revivalism, biblicism, politics, and consumption. 
Every part of white evangelical Christianity in America as it currently exists is based on this belief. Every part depends on it. It is the bold claim that defines the tradition, the bedrock of everything that white evangelical Christianity is and strives to be. 
That claim is this: Hundreds of years of slavery and a century of Jim Crow oppression had no effect on the shape of American Christianity. 
It’s an astonishing, audacious idea. It’s an impossible idea.

David Roberts, "Donald Trump and the Rise of Tribal Epistemology": 

Over time, the right's base — unlike the left's fractious and heterogenous coalition of interest groups — has become increasingly homogenous (mostly white, non-urban, and Christian) and like-minded (traditionalist, zero-sum values). 
They are temperamentally prone to fear change, but a great deal of demographic and economic change has found them anyway. Their anxiety leaves them wanting clear answers and strong leaders. And under a steady diet of radicalizing media and tribal epistemology, their traditionalism has hardened into tribalism.  (If you haven't already, you must read Amanda Taub's "The rise of American authoritarianism.") 
Now the right-wing base has effectively taken over and is running the GOP. Republicans in Congress overwhelmingly come from safe districts and fear primaries from the right above all else. Trump is the base's unbounded id and, at least so far, the GOP is genuflecting before it. 
Trump's core supporters do not mind when he threatens the media, denigrates the courts, attacks intelligence agencies, dismisses the CBO, and treats the office of the presidency as a brand marketing opportunity. They have rejected the whole framework within which the two parties used to compete. They want to burn it all down.

Wendell Griffen, The Fierce Urgency of Prophetic Hope (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 2017):

"Good" white evangelicals and white supremacists like [David] Duke, [Thomas] Robb, and other white nationalists who claim to be followers of Jesus have supported the same race-baiting, patriarchal, militaristic, imperialistic, homophobic, sexist, materialistic, and xenophobic candidates for two generations — since President Lyndon B. Johnson pushed through the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968. President Trump’s personal and commercial racism, white male supremacy and patriarchy, racist and misogynist bigotry, xenophobia, and pathological penchant for violence, oppressiveness, and fear of others will shape US policy for one reason: because "good" white evangelical Christians and white supremacists — white Christian nationalists — embraced his candidacy and elected him (pp. 14-15). 

Michael Eric Dyson, Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America (NY: St. Martin's, 2017):

We have, in the span of a few years, elected the nation’s first black president and placed in the Oval Office the scariest racial demagogue in a generation. The two may not be unrelated. The remarkable progress we seemed to make with the former has brought out the peril of the latter. 
What, then, can we do? We must return to the moral and spiritual foundations of our country and grapple with the consequences of our original sin. To do that we need not share the same religion, worship the same God, or, truly, even be believers at all. For better and worse, our national moral landscape has been shaped by the dynamics of a Christianity that has from the start been deeply intertwined with religious mythology and cultural symbolism. The Founding Fathers did not for the most part believe what evangelical Christians believe now. Most believers today certainly do not share Thomas Jefferson’s view of the Bible. In his redacted version of the New Testament, Jefferson purged the miracles, Jesus’ divinity, and the Resurrection. But all of us, from agreeable agnostics to fire-and-brimstone Protestants, from devout Catholics to observant Jews, from devoted Muslims to those who claim no god at all, share a language of moral repair. That language is our common meeting ground, our tool of analysis, and, yes, our inspiration for repentance, our hope for redemption (pp. 3-4).

The photo is by Mark Wallheiser of Getty Images and is from an August 2015 Trump rally in Mobile, Alabama.

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