Saturday, January 11, 2020

"It Is Rarely Noted That Trump Was the Clear Choice of White America": Recent Commentary on White Evangelicals Continuing to Burn Hot for Trump

White evangelical Protestant attitudes about Donald Trump have moved through three distinct phases since PRRI has been tracking them beginning in 2015: 
1. Before Trump became the official Republican nominee for president in mid-2016, Trump's favorability never reached the majority among white evangelical Protestants. 
2. Between Trump's nomination and the inauguration, Trump’s favorability among white evangelical Protestants advanced past the 60-percent mark. 
3. By the time of his inauguration in early 2017, Trump's favorability among white evangelical Protestants jumped to nearly three quarters (74%). While Trump has struggled to lift his favorability numbers among the general population above the low-40-percent range, throughout his presidency, favorability of Trump among white evangelicals has remained exceptionally high, between 65% and 77% with an average favorability rating of 71%.

Nicole Narea, "One surprisingly simple reason evangelicals love Trump":

An October PRRI survey of more than 2,000 voters found that Republican white evangelical Protestants were 75 percent more likely than all Republicans to assert that "immigrants are invading American society."

The white Christian population's anxieties about the future as they lose traction in the present have created a nostalgia for the past that has fueled support for Trump's 'Make America Great Again' agenda, and not just among white evangelicals. Solid majorities of each white Christian subgroup voted for Trump in 2016 and, in the Public Religion Research Institute’s most recent American Values Survey, nearly 9 in 10 (88 percent) white evangelicals and approximately two-thirds of both white mainline Protestants (68 percent) and white Catholics (65 percent) oppose impeaching and removing him from office. 
White Christian America's attraction to Trump has little to do with his personality or character — a slim majority (52 percent) of white evangelicals, for example, say they wish his speech and behavior were more like previous presidents — and everything to do with something more important: their belief that 'making America great again' necessarily entails restoring white Christian demographic and political dominance.

It is rarely noted that Trump was the clear choice of white America. He won the white vote in the cities, the suburbs, the exurbs, the small towns and the whistle stops. Trump won decisively among white mainline Protestants and white Catholics. He triumphed among white women as well as white men. Trump was even supported by 41 percent of white millennial voters. 
Still, it was Trump's overwhelming victory among aging white evangelicals that delivered the keys to the White House…. 
As the impeachment process so clearly reveals, the GOP is now the party of Trump. But the power behind the throne is a band of aging white evangelicals, the most powerful people on earth, and therefore the most to be pitied. 
Like the biblical Samson, Trump will eventually bring the entire edifice of American conservatism crashing down around him. Some species of evangelical religion will ultimately rise from the rubble, but it will be greatly curtailed, politically irrelevant and, I pray, more recognizably Christian.

"MAGA Church," the first digital video from the Lincoln Project, a group of anti-Trump Republicans, takes aim at President Trump's standing with evangelical voters —interspersing clips of him talking about faith with videos of him speaking crudely. 
Why it matters: Trump has recently taken steps to shore up his evangelical base after an editorial in Christianity Today, a magazine founded by the late Rev. Billy Graham, attacked his "gross immorality and ethical incompetence." 
◦ His latest move was an "Evangelicals for Trump" event last weekend at one of the largest Latino evangelical churches in Miami. 
The state of play: In the video, the group warns evangelicals to "beware of false prophets." 

It's been said that Donald Trump didn't change America, he revealed America and I think the exact same thing is true of the evangelical church. Donald Trump didn't change evangelicalism, but he certainly revealed it and he surfaced some really, really troubling things. For folks like me you go, "man, the same people that led me to Jesus have led us to Donald Trump." To me, that's really problematic.

History will point to the shameful moral stain of Evangelical Christian leaders and of congregations who succumbed to Trump’s shrewd hypocrisy. They will be depicted as having compromised their spiritual path, moral compass and prophetic voices to a charlatan. Let’s pray and work to change this reality, and to transform the nation into one of just, humane and equitable democratic principles and values.

Generally, white evangelicals claim Scripture as the sole standard for measuring orthodoxy. They don’t admit, or don’t see, the white frame that informs their theology. 

Trump has simply revealed the large majority of white evangelical Christians for who they are: Not people motivated by sincere faith, but people who see "Christian" primarily as an identity marker that accompanies being white, a disdain for urban or metropolitan areas, and their self-identification as "conservative." All of which is used to justify their belief they and members of their tribe are the only legitimate Americans, and deserve to hold and wield a vastly disproportionate share of political power.

Tina Vasquez, "Republicans Want to Make White Grievance Genteel Again":

[F]or marginalized people who have been on the receiving end of the long-standing Republican racism and fury, Stevens's [i.e., Stuart Stevens, "Wake up, Republicans. Your party stands for all the wrong things now"] claims about a party set tragically adrift by a racist opportunist was a gross oversimplification of political reality. Trump’s particular style of white grievance may be different in presentation from what came before him, but the party Stevens is mourning spent decades building the scaffolding he used to climb to the presidency. Republicans like Stevens aren’t sounding the alarm on an emerging moral crisis—they’re fighting back a public relations nightmare.  
In her book White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Nation’s Divide, Dr. Carol Anderson wrote that white rage is not only about visible violence, "but rather it works its way through the courts, the legislatures, and a range of government bureaucracies. It wreaks havoc subtly, almost imperceptibly." Ever since the Dixiecrats switched allegiances, white grievance and anger have formed both the base and the primary political motivation of the Republican Party. Trump has decades of examples to draw from—and he has.  ...
Despite the relative toothlessness of Republican "dissent," this political moment can actually serve as a reckoning for conservatives—an opportunity to evaluate whether the racism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny that have become hallmarks of this administration are their true values after all. But it seems unlikely this reckoning will come, since the party was on this path long before Trump.  
As the world burns and Trump fundamentally changes the country, Republicans like Stevens and [Mark] Galli seem more concerned with their reputations and the optics of the party than with the people bearing the brunt of this administration’s brutality. That violence has always been present. And while Trump’s particular brand of white rage may be one of the basest and most vicious iterations yet, conservatives have spent decades perfecting this kind of cruelty—whether they’re willing to acknowledge that now or not. 

No comments: