In Donald Trump, Evangelicals Have Found Their President
February 25, 2018 7:59 AM   Subscribe

My reporting suggests Donald Trump is on a spiritual voyage . . . "This president’s effect on our cultural norms has been shocking. His critics would call it appalling; evangelicals say it’s immensely satisfying: They’ve seen a culture deteriorate quickly in the past decade, and they’re looking for a bold culture warrior to fight for them. Showing that God does indeed have a sense of humor, He gave them Mr. Trump. "

"Finally, why in the world wouldn’t evangelicals get behind and support a man who not only is in line with most of their agenda but also has delivered time and time again? The victories are numerous: the courts, pro-life policies, the coming Embassy in Jerusalem and religious liberty issues, just to name a few. He easily wins the unofficial label of “most evangelical-friendly United States president ever.”

Does Mr. Trump have moral failings? Yes. Critics will suggest a hypocrisy coming from evangelical leaders who are quick to denounce the ethical failings of others who don’t have an “R” next to their name. But the goal of evangelicals has always been winning the larger battle over control of the culture, not to get mired in the moral failings of each and every candidate. For evangelicals, voting in the macro is the moral thing to do, even if the candidate is morally flawed. Evangelicals have tried the “moral” candidate before.

Jimmy Carter was once the evangelical candidate. How did that work out in the macro? George W. Bush was the evangelical candidate in 2000: He pushed traditional conservative policies, but he doesn’t come close to Mr. Trump’s courageous blunt strokes in defense of evangelicals.

Evangelicals have found their man. It may seem mystifying to outsiders, but for someone like me, with a front-row seat to an inside view, it makes perfect sense. Maybe they’re taking their cue from Billy Graham, embracing presidents with moral failings rather than rejecting them."
posted by A. Davey (127 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
I am sorry, this is probably an interesting fpp but the only voyage I want to read about of Donald Trump's is if he is loaded on a rocket fired at the sun.
posted by adamvasco at 8:09 AM on February 25 [160 favorites]


By your fruits we will know you, motherfuckers.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:20 AM on February 25 [153 favorites]


BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD
posted by octobersurprise at 8:23 AM on February 25 [30 favorites]


Of *course* he would be embraced by a group that only faith, not works, is required for salvation.
posted by notsnot at 8:27 AM on February 25 [69 favorites]


In Donald Trump, Evangelicals Have Found Their Antichrist

FTFY.
posted by Catblack at 8:28 AM on February 25 [28 favorites]


It was a good piece even though I hate everything in it.
posted by Miko at 8:28 AM on February 25 [13 favorites]


Donald Trump is a genie.
posted by srboisvert at 8:32 AM on February 25 [1 favorite]


Only for Donald Trump could a reporter cite him giving someone a hug as evidence of compassionate, untold religious depths. Get the fuck out of here with that shit, NYT.
posted by marshmallow peep at 8:34 AM on February 25 [75 favorites]


.....also how many promised checks from DJT, and how many delivered?
posted by lalochezia at 8:36 AM on February 25 [8 favorites]


One of the most profound frustrations in my life is constantly being at odds politically with people who count themselves followers of Jesus Christ because I think we should help the poor, treat the sick, eschew violence, and find it in our hearts to rehabilitate prisoners.

This fascination evangelical Christians have with Trump on their end is not at all as flabbergasting as their total disinterest in Christ himself.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:38 AM on February 25 [211 favorites]


Just imagine if Barack Obama had waltzed into the White House and behaved the way Mr. Trump did this past year.
posted by davebush at 8:39 AM on February 25 [18 favorites]


A New York Times opinion piece normalizing the moral failures and hypocrisy of Trumpism.

But I repeat myself.
posted by yhbc at 8:41 AM on February 25 [81 favorites]


I've linked him here before, but historian John Fea might be of interest if you're following this unholy joining of conservative evangelicals/pro-Trump politics. He has a book coming out later this year and he is consistently critical of 45 and the Christian Right. (Central Pa. folks, meetup at Midtown Scholar for the book launch?)

Interestingly, he blogs this review of Brody's book, from Erik Erickson (I know, I know): "Evangelicals Fell for It." Snippet: "So deluded and distracted are they by the trappings of power, they do not even see what Brody and Lamb see. “He’s the P. T. Barnum of the 21st century,” an anonymous banker in the book says of Donald Trump. These evangelical leaders have yet to realize that they are the suckers."
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:13 AM on February 25 [14 favorites]


My reporting suggests that if evangelicals think Trump is in line with most of their agenda, they are in for a rude shock of biblical proportions. Unless, of course, their agenda is not a Christian one after all ...
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:17 AM on February 25 [10 favorites]


“He’s the P. T. Barnum of the 21st century,”

So, when can we expect The Greatest Showman II, starring Hugh Jackman as Trump?
posted by thedward at 9:17 AM on February 25 [1 favorite]


One of the most profound frustrations in my life is constantly being at odds politically with people who count themselves followers of Jesus Christ because I think we should help the poor, treat the sick, eschew violence, and find it in our hearts to rehabilitate prisoners.

It kind of makes my brain hurt. I'm always wondering how anyone can read the New Testament, even selectively, without taking away some of those core messages.

Ignoring that basic issue, though I get the evangelical support for Trump, since he is (mostly) supporting their legislative agenda. My guess is that they are getting short term victories but in the long term will regret linking themselves to him, but really who knows and it might work out for them somehow.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:19 AM on February 25 [7 favorites]


I love Judo-Christian tradition because it's so brazenly humanistic. All the best old testament heroes were sinners who redeemed themselves (Noah was a drunk, Samson a horndog, Jonah was...um....low energy, Abraham was a henpecked horndog and potential child abuser). And Jesus's whole deal was, "I know, she's a whore. But the good news is: whores are cool now!" It's a document of corrections and excuses and passionate speeches. It is 6000 years of cognitive dissonance.

Of course these people can convince themselves Trump fits. They can convince themselves of anything, if they believe that the Bible is a source of proof.
posted by es_de_bah at 9:20 AM on February 25 [15 favorites]


Judo-Christian tradition

I like that famous painting of Christ in his gi, performing an arm lock on the money changers before throwing them to the floor of the temple.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:27 AM on February 25 [114 favorites]


Of course it's the NYT.
posted by Splunge at 9:31 AM on February 25 [7 favorites]


I think we're doing ourselves a disservice by politely omitting the "white" before the word "evangelical", because it does seem that it makes a difference in the aggregate.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:34 AM on February 25 [86 favorites]


I'd just like to point out Pater Alethias's reaction to this phenomenon way back in 2009, in a thread concerning an article called "The End of Christian America":
[T]he devil came to Jesus with three temptations... [T]o be comfortable, to be impressive, and to be powerful... [T]he American church was offered each of those and gladly accepted them. Christianity was the default religion for the world’s greatest superpower—a position that should have made us tremble with concern that we were in danger of sliding off the path of self-denial that leads to the cross—but it seemed to occur to very few people that having such a position could be spiritually problematic. We built impressive structures, including dining facilities, recreation and entertainment centers. We turned praise and worship into a profit and star-making industry, and we gladly took our place in the halls of power. It seems that Satan offered us the same things he offered Christ, but we responded “Yes! Yes! Yes!”
(From this comment.) Since then, the shouts of "yes!" have only grown louder.
posted by Zonker at 9:34 AM on February 25 [122 favorites]


best. typo. ever.
posted by es_de_bah at 9:37 AM on February 25 [7 favorites]


This sort of thing is only surprising if you have no experience with evangelicals. Having been raised as one I can say I wasn’t and am not surprised at all that evangelicals have embraced Trump. That’s because evangelicalism as it has been practiced since it’s big revival in the 1970s in the US has very little to do with the things we most associate with the teaching of Christ or the Bible and has been very much about creating and maintaining an alternative set of facts. DJT’s cries of “fake news” ring true to evangelicals because to them the news has been fake since Reagan took office.
My parents homeschooled me so they could inculcate me with this alternative world view - my first history text in home school was Peter Marshall’s The Light and the Glory which is part propoganda part fantasy from start to finish. We had biology texts that argued against evolution. The only thing that wasn’t propoganda was math, and that’s because we stopped at algebra. It took me decades to unlearn all of that.
Many evangelicals literally live in a completely different universe than the rest of humanity; for them, Trump is not only pushing their agenda but he thinks and talks so much like them that it doesn’t matter that he doesn’t attend church or believe in Jesus. The Jesus that evangelicals believe in is already so much like Trump and the pussy-grabbing side of Trump is so much like pretty much every famous evangelical pastor, that he fits right in.
posted by eustacescrubb at 9:40 AM on February 25 [111 favorites]


I am sorry, this is probably an interesting fpp but the only voyage I want to read about of Donald Trump's is if he is loaded on a rocket fired at the sun.
What has Apollo done to deserve treatment like that?
posted by b1tr0t at 9:44 AM on February 25 [14 favorites]


a couple of generations ago, evangelicals were warned by some elders that getting involved in politics was "worldly" and would corrupt christians

imagine that
posted by pyramid termite at 9:46 AM on February 25 [15 favorites]


If anything, this arrangement offers real clarity within a large portion of the Evangelical movement but not all. By supporting Donald Trump, conservative Evangelicals finally, nakedly admit that the ends justify the means in achieving their goals.
I've had some discussions with some conservative friends where I've asked hypothetical questions of whether it is OK if Trump does "X" (with X being any example of a repugnant action or statement) but you get to have "Y" (with Y being something YOU want), and they generally go along to get "Y". It is usually prefaced with the phrase "Well, he isn't a politician..." or the classic "But Hillary.....insert and random, disjointed reason."
However, there are still some Evangelicals that stick to their ethos and just can't embrace Donald Trump. While I may disagree with some of their beliefs, I appreciate their resolute stance.
posted by Muncle at 9:49 AM on February 25 [5 favorites]


In the sense that the souls of the Damned are on a "spiritual voyage" as they descend into Hell, yes, Donald Trump is on a spiritual voyage.
posted by jamjam at 9:50 AM on February 25 [16 favorites]


Please don’t use the term “Judeo-Christian.” Judaism has almost no bearing whatsoever on modern Christianity. Please leave the Jews out of this. We are not “Christians but without the Jesus.” (Judo-Christianity, on the other hand...)
posted by shalom at 9:59 AM on February 25 [69 favorites]


Impressed by what Franklin Graham’s Christian ministry had done for flood victims, Mr. Trump told him that he was writing it a six-figure check...(citation needed)

Hanging out with Franklin Graham and his ilk really doesn't raise my opinion of Trump.
posted by TedW at 10:02 AM on February 25 [3 favorites]


BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD.

This - US evangelical Christianity is a death cult.
posted by ryanshepard at 10:06 AM on February 25 [36 favorites]


Did the check clear?
posted by sjswitzer at 10:07 AM on February 25 [15 favorites]


I studied Judo back in college, and IF it was a Judo-Christian heritage, I would hope it was a lot more peaceful, and then I remember that, IN THEORY, Christianity is all about Peace, as opposed to our Old Testament, Vengeful, G-d.
posted by mikelieman at 10:09 AM on February 25 [2 favorites]


White Evangelicals are used to lying to themselves and each other about the Bible, about Christ, about what they believe- why not cheerfully lie about Donald Trump?
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:18 AM on February 25 [11 favorites]


"I am sorry, this is probably an interesting fpp but the only voyage I want to read about of Donald Trump's is if he is loaded on a rocket fired at the sun." This, sad to say, is the only laugh I have had in weeks, weeks. But as far as a laugh goes, it was really a good one. No offense to Apollo, there is always the Gravity's Rainbow version of the rocket...targeting a landfill somewhere.
posted by Oyéah at 10:25 AM on February 25 [6 favorites]


Please don’t use the term “Judeo-Christian.” Judaism has almost no bearing whatsoever on modern Christianity. Please leave the Jews out of this. We are not “Christians but without the Jesus.” (Judo-Christianity, on the other hand...)
posted by shalom at 12:59 PM


Aren't the five books of Moses in the bible considered the Torah?
posted by Splunge at 10:26 AM on February 25 [2 favorites]


Aren't the five books of Moses in the bible considered the Torah?

Let's meet halfway. When Evangelicals stop sucking down bacon cheeseburgers they can call it Judeo-Christian again.
posted by Talez at 10:31 AM on February 25 [18 favorites]


Because seriously, apart from the MSM parts of Leviticus and convenient parts of the Ten Commandments, Evangelicals are perfectly happy to assume the Judeo parts don't exist.
posted by Talez at 10:32 AM on February 25 [23 favorites]


I recall reading that Trump support is higher among Evangelicals who don't attend church much. I wouldn't be surprised, though, if that difference is mostly explained by the higher proportion of women who attend compared to men.
posted by clawsoon at 10:41 AM on February 25 [4 favorites]


I always assumed "Judeo-Christian" was a term used by people who actually wanted to just say "Christian" but didn't want to be accused of anti-semitism.
posted by Ampersand692 at 10:46 AM on February 25 [54 favorites]


When Evangelicals stop sucking down bacon cheeseburgers they can call it Judeo-Christian again.

Sacred Name Movement
posted by XMLicious at 10:58 AM on February 25


TRUMP: The Magical Thinking Man's Magical Thinker...
posted by jim in austin at 11:05 AM on February 25 [9 favorites]


Why do I suddenly have 'Symphony of Destruction' playing in my head?
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 11:10 AM on February 25 [3 favorites]


Aren't the five books of Moses in the bible considered the Torah?

Not to start anything, but I've always believed that the 10 Commandments explicitly prohibited (a) the Trinity, and (b) idolatry of worshiping Jesus, Crucified, and that Christianity renounced the Torah.

Mileage varies. Professional Drivers on Closed Course. Do Not Try This At Home. Out.
posted by mikelieman at 11:23 AM on February 25 [8 favorites]


[Evangelicals have] seen a culture deteriorate quickly in the past decade...

Hey, now we all know how that feels.
posted by rokusan at 11:29 AM on February 25 [4 favorites]


It profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world...but for Wales?
posted by sgranade at 11:34 AM on February 25


“Evangelicals I interviewed said they believed that Mr. Trump was in the White House for a reason.”

But not Obama, no siree.
posted by carmicha at 11:35 AM on February 25 [11 favorites]


I agree with what Shalom mentioned above; the term "Judeo-christian" has got to go. Either we speak of Christians qua Christianity, or we can use the correct term, "Abrahamic". The use of the neologism "Judeo-christian" is relatively recent, and it was invented for the sole purpose of excluding Islam. I 'm no fan of Islam, but IMHO the difference between Christianity and Islam is one of degree, not of kind. IOW, they like to think they are different, but they are not that different concerning political agendas. The only reason they pretend to be inclusive with regard to Judaism, is because they need Jerusalem to exist in order that prophesy be fulfilled.
posted by ambulocetus at 11:45 AM on February 25 [43 favorites]


But even Christian is term so wide it's almost useless these days; I am sure there are many old-school Catholics, Episcopalians, Anglicans and others who very much do not want to be lumped in with the particular strain of Evangelicalism that is taking America by the throat these days. Politically, it's incredibly different variety, which means that socially it doesn't have much in common anymore, either. (Many Evangelicals don't even consider Catholics, for example, to be Christians at all.)

I'm with you on Abrahamic, though. That's a more accurate term and a more inclusive one, which is the sort of linguistic bedrock that might actually help us stabilize discourse a bit in the West.
posted by rokusan at 12:06 PM on February 25 [15 favorites]


I'm with you on Abrahamic, though

If so, we get to start saying Judeo-Christian-Islamic, which will make the right people froth.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:24 PM on February 25 [19 favorites]


According to Evangelicals, Catholics aren't Christians, except when it's useful.
posted by ambulocetus at 12:25 PM on February 25 [7 favorites]


ustsomebodythatyouusedtoknow: which will make the right people froth.

"Stigginit: A Bipartisan History of 21st-Century American Politics"
posted by clawsoon at 12:28 PM on February 25


Where's the link to the other promised article "Trump: Spiritual Voyeur Voyager or AntiChrist?"

I'm thinking the Rapture can't come fast enough so the rest of us can get on with it already.
posted by BlueHorse at 12:40 PM on February 25 [2 favorites]




Not to start anything, but I've always believed that the 10 Commandments explicitly prohibited (a) the Trinity, and (b) idolatry of worshiping Jesus, Crucified, and that Christianity renounced the Torah.

Well Jesus actually comes in with a brand new covenant but the point of evangelicalism at this point isn't to be a good NT or OT/NT person, it's to pick and choose which things from the buffet that can be used to justify bigotry and remain hegemonic at the top of the social order. Also, even if the 10C doesn't explicitly prohibit the worship of the holy trinity, the Catholic worship of saints has got to be and I never quite understood how they can reconcile it.
posted by Talez at 1:06 PM on February 25 [1 favorite]


If so, we get to start saying Judeo-Christian-Islamic, which will make the right people froth.

Children of Abraham indeed.
posted by Talez at 1:07 PM on February 25


Also, even if the 10C doesn't explicitly prohibit the worship of the holy trinity, the Catholic worship of saints has got to be and I never quite understood how they can reconcile it.

no - catholics do not worship saints - they honor them and plead with them to intercede to the almighty for various things

"Exactly as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ ..."

-- Catechism of the Catholic Church, 957
posted by pyramid termite at 1:19 PM on February 25 [14 favorites]


no - catholics do not worship saints - they honor them and plead with them to intercede to the almighty for various things

What's the functional difference between the two? With all due respect, they look a lot like minor deities/demigods if they have contnuing existence, agency and the power to intervene. I would find this argument more convincing if we were talking about people who are clearly gone but are to be held as role models, honoured and emulated.
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:27 PM on February 25 [3 favorites]


What's the functional difference between the two?

Uh, the difference between “worshipping” and “asking,” basically. I mean, you can think that’s silly, but there is a difference there, even rhetorically.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:42 PM on February 25 [7 favorites]


Rules lawyering is one of the most ancient and unifying religious traditions.
posted by b1tr0t at 1:45 PM on February 25 [51 favorites]


i've cited my source, which happens to be the official doctrine of the catholic church, and is in fact available online for anyone to download - there is much more, of course

i'm not interested in further debate, especially as none of you seem to have sources to cite
posted by pyramid termite at 1:52 PM on February 25 [9 favorites]


Donald Trump is a genie.

I wouldn't say genie, more like — well, you'd need to read Hogg's The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, and he reminds me of the pious Robert's constant companion Gil-Martin.

I won't spoil how it ends.
posted by scruss at 2:15 PM on February 25


But evangelicals truly do believe that all people are flawed, and yet Christ offers them grace. shouldn’t they do the same for the president? This is more than a biblical mandate. The Bible is replete with examples of flawed individuals being used to accomplish God’s will.

I shouldn't be astonished that the people who yelled and screamed for decades about the alleged flaws of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama (both church-going Christians) could turn around and say this about Trump, but I am. Astonished.
posted by straight at 2:18 PM on February 25 [21 favorites]


God is apparently able to use for his plans "evil" and "pagan" leaders like Pilate, Cyrus, Xerxes, and Herod. But a Democratic president? Not even God is that powerful.
posted by straight at 2:21 PM on February 25 [22 favorites]


I agree with you, pyramid termite, but it seems to me the source to cite is the 7th Ecumenical Council, which makes praying for intercession to be official doctrine of both the Catholic and the Orthodox churches.

It's worth noting that Catholic Christians outnumber protestants in the US, and are the largest religious group, with 22% of the population. So much as many Evangelicals are, frankly, as heterodox as the weirdest thing that you'd have seen in 4th century Byzantium (Rome never managed to entertain anything like as much in the way of odd schisms as Eastern Christendom did, AFAIK), the majority of US Christians (by population, if not influence) do actually belong to a Christianity which is consistent with its central tenets (albeit those tenets are grounded in things well outside of what "makes sense" from everyday concrete experience).
posted by ambrosen at 2:22 PM on February 25 [6 favorites]


This might be a good time to note for the record: church doctrine (whatever it is and whichever church it belongs to) is not evidence of a claim. Doctrine is the claim that requires evidence.
posted by Flexagon at 2:25 PM on February 25 [4 favorites]


Church doctrine is pretty good evidence of the doctrinal heritage of a church, I'd have to say.
posted by ambrosen at 2:30 PM on February 25 [8 favorites]


Yeah I think when Trump yelled at the Pope and fantasized about the Vatican getting destroyed by ISIS and Christians let it slide you knew things were getting weird
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:39 PM on February 25 [11 favorites]


It's unfortunate our media spends so much time trying to discern the motives of a statistical minority, whose damage dwarfs their actual footprint.

The ruin that evangelicals' actions cause — electing an openly sociopathic thug to the highest office of the land, whose behavior is wreaking havoc that will take generations to fix — seems of more importance than what motivates them to get out of bed.

Another disappointing turn from the NYTimes along the lines of the neo-Nazi grocery list story, but at least this is relegated to the op-ed section, perhaps.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 3:01 PM on February 25 [11 favorites]


Not to start anything, but I've always believed that the 10 Commandments explicitly prohibited (a) the Trinity, and (b) idolatry of worshiping Jesus, Crucified, and that Christianity renounced the Torah.

There’s always the question of worship on Saturday or Sunday as well.

According to Evangelicals, Catholics aren't Christians, except when it's useful.

Ah, yes; the cult of the Death Cookie.
posted by TedW at 3:20 PM on February 25 [4 favorites]


Debating the fine points of Catholic doctrine in a thread about white American evangelicals is not unlike bringing up cricket in a chat about professional wrestling. They are both nominally sporting events, but aren’t exactly in the same ballpark.
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:24 PM on February 25 [25 favorites]


Thank you MonkeyToes for linking to the perfect antidote to the NYT piece (of shit).
posted by blue shadows at 3:52 PM on February 25 [2 favorites]


You people sure are down on this Trump fella. It's not like he's the Antichrist or anything.
posted by ckape at 4:01 PM on February 25 [5 favorites]


I am a white mainline Protestant (hi, we also exist), but I grew up in the southeastern US surrounded by white evangelicals. (I'm Presbyterian, which is also what the President claims to be despite a complete lack of supporting evidence other than his infant baptism).

The same people who tell little girls that if they even once have sex before marriage they are just like a used piece of chewing gum that no decent man will ever want; the same people who tell LGBT kids that it's better for them to be dead than be who they are; those people now suddenly believe in redemption and undeserved grace when we're talking about a serial adulterer, sexual harasser, and rapist who lies and cheats in all of his business transactions and has never helped a poor person in his life and has shown no evidence of conversion, contrition, or atonement. I'm not even a little bit surprised.

From my experience as a kid, they just really hate little girls (and grown women) and all people who aren't white (but especially poor people who aren't white), and all the rest of their theology flows straight from there.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:43 PM on February 25 [43 favorites]


These evangelical leaders have yet to realize that they are the suckers.

They're mostly hucksters as well. If anything, they're envious that Trump has managed to pull off their schtick better than they have.

It's the white Evangelical base that have been made into suckers
posted by Candleman at 5:17 PM on February 25 [6 favorites]


Remember when the Pope addressed congress for the first time ever, and he was saying the kind of things Jesus would say. You should heal the sick, feed the poor, welcome refugees, teach the children, that kind of commie crap. Boehner, who's a catholic, orange before it was cool and famously weepy, was behind him as speaker of the house. He was crying as the Boss preached against everything he'd worked for in congress.

He cried for alot of dumb reasons, but he quit as speaker the day after that speech.
posted by adept256 at 5:31 PM on February 25 [46 favorites]


(I'm Presbyterian, which is also what the President claims to be despite a complete lack of supporting evidence other than his infant baptism)

CNN
"I did very, very well with evangelicals in the polls," Trump interjected in the middle of the conversation -- previously unreported comments that were described to me by both pastors.

They gently reminded Trump that neither of them was an evangelical.

"Well, what are you then?" Trump asked.

They explained they were mainline Protestants, the same Christian tradition in which Trump, a self-described Presbyterian, was raised and claims membership. Like many mainline pastors, they told the President-elect, they lead diverse congregations.

Trump nodded along, then posed another question to the two men: "But you're all Christians?"

Yes, we're all Christians.
posted by adept256 at 5:40 PM on February 25 [15 favorites]


> He was crying as the Boss preached against everything he'd worked for in congress.

I’m not even religious, and I still knew all that without having to hear it directly from the Pope at work.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:43 PM on February 25 [10 favorites]


Knowing and caring are two different things and who knows what it takes to get someone to go from not caring to caring.

(not that I have any evidence one way or another that Boehner made any such change)
posted by straight at 6:02 PM on February 25


But the goal of evangelicals has always been winning the larger battle over control of the culture

But they're wrong that this is happening; they've actually exposed the hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy of their movement to the wider culture in a way that embracing no other Republican president could have done. They're now the cult of grown men trying to sleep with fourteen-year-olds. I have a bunch of horrible evangelical and ultraconservative Catholic relatives (you'd think a person would be spared one or the other!!!) and I used to be troubled with the feeling that they were at least sincere in their wholly misguided beliefs, but seeing, e.g., an uncle who still says on Facebook not one, but two, of his daughters are whores because (years ago) they had sex prior to marriage embrace a serial adulterer and confessed pussy-grabber has put paid to that idea in my head forever.
posted by praemunire at 6:03 PM on February 25 [17 favorites]


Boehner started caring so much he quit his almost unimaginably powerful position from which he could introduce and promote legislation that would benefit millions and instead decided to spend more time with his wine glasses, golf clubs and lawn mower.
posted by orange ball at 6:36 PM on February 25 [33 favorites]


In Donald Trump, Evangelicals Have Found Their President God
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:43 PM on February 25 [2 favorites]


Well obviously Christians have been big on conversion and people redeeming themselves since back when Saul flipped from persecuting them to infiltrating and subverting them to his own ends, but at least it used to be people had to say stuff like "What I did was wrong, I never said I was perfect, and I am a different person now." I cannot imagine Trump saying those words, much less doing so with any sincerity.
posted by ckape at 8:19 PM on February 25 [5 favorites]


Maybe if Ivanka wrote it down...
posted by MsDaniB at 8:50 PM on February 25


I like that famous painting of Christ in his gi, performing an arm lock on the money changers before throwing them to the floor of the temple.

Well, with that mullet and those flowing robes, he does look like the kind of stone-cold badass who could administer a beatdown.
posted by acb at 3:58 AM on February 26 [1 favorite]


Debating the fine points of Catholic doctrine in a thread about white American evangelicals is not unlike bringing up cricket in a chat about professional wrestling.

More like cricket and baseball; both sports played with bats and balls, probably having common historical origins, though these days being thoroughly distinct. Cricket and wrestling would be perhaps Catholicism and Scientology or something.
posted by acb at 4:00 AM on February 26 [1 favorite]


Just to point out that Donald Trump is literally the grandson of Christ and has had several auntie-Christs in his family (Elisabeth's sisters).
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 4:46 AM on February 26 [1 favorite]


And Elisabeth Christ (Trump) died June 6, 1966, coincidentally the day Damien Thorn was born, who coincidentally has the same initials and same number of letters, first name and last as Donald Trump. They could share monogrammed towels.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 4:54 AM on February 26 [6 favorites]


Catholics are playing cricket, mainline protestants are playing baseball, softball or rounders, depending, and evangelicals are playing (ironically enough) Calvinball. Particularly important is that it involves fighting with tigers and people throwing tantrums like a 6 year old.

I'd say it's pretty important to spend as much time as possible drawing a bright line between what these evangelicals do and what real Christians do. Because they're hiding in the camouflage of other Christians, and in the actual real meaning of the proverb, they are the rotten apples that spoil the whole barrel.
posted by ambrosen at 5:09 AM on February 26 [13 favorites]


no - catholics do not worship saints - they honor them and plead with them to intercede to the almighty for various things

What's the functional difference between the two?


As a Catholic who grew up in the south who was constantly told by Baptists, Evangelicals, etc. what I do and don’t believe (and also that I shouldn’t be touched with a 10 foot pole because I wasn’t “Christian”) this really struck a nerve with me. How about you don’t get to decide whether Catholics are worshipping saints or not, the Catholics do?
posted by LizBoBiz at 6:42 AM on February 26 [23 favorites]


"no - catholics do not worship saints - they honor them and plead with them to intercede to the almighty for various things"
"What's the functional difference between the two? With all due respect, they look a lot like minor deities/demigods if they have contnuing existence, agency and the power to intervene."


When you ask your mother/boss for something, do you often accidentally start worshipping them as a God? No? Me neither! It's not that confusing!

As for the continuing existence and agency, that's like the whole point, the eternal life bit! "The communion of saints" doesn't just refer to Saint-saints, but is referring to all the holy ones -- all Christians -- who form one community that exists in eternal time. The "Body of Christ" is all Christians, living and dead, so naturally you can chat with the dead ones if you'd like. (I mean, look, Jesus is a zombie, performing a little necromancy to chat with the dead isn't that weird.) Now of course there are plenty of fine-point theological arguments about how and when the dead reactivate (maybe not until after the second coming!), but if you don't think souls (at the very least) continue after death, you're definitely in the wrong religion!

But if you take seriously the Christian promise of eternal life, which is, after all, the whole point of the religion, obviously the souls of the dead are still around somewhere. It's the most obvious possible conclusion from the proposition of eternal life. It'd be a lot weirder if Christians thought the dead WEREN'T there. "Eternal life, but you stop existing." "So ... not eternal life then?"

"There’s always the question of worship on Saturday or Sunday as well. "

When Christ rose on Sunday, his worshippers said that created a "new" sabbath (variously called First Day/Eighth Day/Lord's Day). The earliest followers, being Jews in Jerusalem, typically performed their Jewish observances on Saturday and their nascent Christian ones on Sunday. (This lasted some years, until it didn't, and it's part of why Matthew is such a fucking jackass about Pharisees in his gospel -- increasingly ugly disputes over worship and facility usage between the Pharisaic/mainline Jews, and the new Jewish Christians.) There are a handful of Protestant Christian denominations who engage in Saturday worship, however, believing Sunday worship to be Popeish and Saturday to be Biblical -- the Seventh-Day Adventists are the most familiar.

Which brings it back around to evangelicals -- there's this whole disturbing "Jewish Reconstructionist" trend in white evangelical Christianity in the US these days, where they observe Jewish holidays to follow the Bible more closely/be more like Jesus. They're big on Passover and Sukkot, and some of them are doing Saturday sabbaths, only they ... create a mish-mash from what's in the Bible and what they know about Judaism from pop culture and ... it's bad, guys. It's super-offensive. So, bad news, now that evangelical Christianity has taken over the entire face of public Christianity in the US (and made it offensive and also SO SO STUPID AND INFANTILE on the way), they're coming for Judaism. Wait until local news covers Passover by giving 15 seconds to the local synagogue and two solid minutes to the offensive evangelical appropriators who are doing it super-wrong.

"My reporting suggests Donald Trump is on a spiritual voyage that has accelerated in recent years, thanks to evangelicals who have employed the biblical mandate of sharing and showing God’s love to him rather than shunning him. "

I mean it'd be super-cool if they did that for EVERYONE instead of just powerful people who are on their political side. Evangelicals are now basically that awful date who was super-smooth and polite and all about his old-fashioned manners, and then screamed at the waitress because she wasn't important. "Sharing and showing God's love" (by which he means, not speaking truth to power, and not demanding any repentance) to an unrepentant sinner because you think he can do something for you isn't grace; it's just ass-kissing.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:52 AM on February 26 [18 favorites]


When NPR gets too boring and predictable, I sometimes tune into the Protestant evangelical radio station a little lower on the dial. I've made a number of findings as a result.

The first is the astonishing amount of time the preachers spend in the Old Testament. I can't remember them preaching the New Testament.

I have heard Biblical (Old Testament) justifications for asset inequality, based on some Old Testament story about oxen and who had more and why. The message is you wouldn't want to have all the oxen the rich guy owns. No, God gave the rich guy all those oxen so he could do difficult and risky things with them. Those of us who lack oxen should be glad that we're not having to do all the important things the rich guy is obligated to do. Life is so much simpler with no oxen at all.

I have also heard an Old Testament justification for the subjugation of women, though the reasoning escapes me at the moment.

I have heard Catholics called idolaters.

I have never heard a preacher tell listeners that: "thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

Most importantly, I have never heard a preacher call upon listeners to do any acts of charity (except perhaps when it comes to buying the preacher's newest book or tape) to help the poor, the sick and the weakest among us.
posted by A. Davey at 8:12 AM on February 26 [15 favorites]


More like cricket and baseball; both sports played with bats and balls, probably having common historical origins, though these days being thoroughly distinct. Cricket and wrestling would be perhaps Catholicism and Scientology or something.

I picked wrestling on purpose. The sport is scripted, it is American populism at its purest, and its reason for existence is not worshiping God but to make money.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:22 AM on February 26 [4 favorites]


Which brings it back around to evangelicals -- there's this whole disturbing "Jewish Reconstructionist" trend in white evangelical Christianity in the US these days, where they observe Jewish holidays to follow the Bible more closely/be more like Jesus.

Just a note that Reconstructionist Judaism is already a thing that has existed for almost 100 years, and it is not this thing, and I hope that Christians are not adopting this name that already belong to Jews.
posted by hydropsyche at 8:36 AM on February 26 [4 favorites]


"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the Trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."

The Donald can quote Scripture for his own purpose.
posted by flabdablet at 8:42 AM on February 26


" I hope that Christians are not adopting this name that already belong to Jews."

Oh, they are. (But to be clear -- not Christians in general, just some horrifying strains of white evangelical American Christianity. They are badly educated and I'm SURE they took the word because they read it somewhere about Judaism and thought it sounded cool like they were "reconstructing" how Jesus lived and worshipped.) Sometimes they also talk about "Scriptural Judaism" or "Biblical Judaism" (like "Bible-believing Christian"). Some of them are going with "Hebrew Christian." (The holes in the matzo symbolize how Jesus was pierced with nails at the crucifixion! The afikomen, which is hidden and then revealed, is the death and resurrection!) There is no bottom to the levels of offensiveness they can plumb. (And baby you ain't seen offensive until you've seen some half-educated evangelical pastor throw a seder featuring a cheeseburger right after explaining how the holes in matzoh are actually Jesus's wounds, after attempting to read Hebrew written phonetically in English. I ... do not actually have a word or a tone of voice that can accurately convey my feelings on this, but my feelings are very very angry.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:47 AM on February 26 [18 favorites]


I have heard Catholics called idolaters.

My brother and I sneer "Papists" with disgusted relish. And then we laugh: we're Catholics, raised in the Midwest among historically more-prosperous Protestants, and we know that it used to be a sincere slur. My dad's parents were a "mixed marriage" -- Lutheran & Catholic, also German & Norwegian -- and it was actually A Thing back then.

Evangelicals were sort of a confusing, perplexing, and not-great thing to me growing up. I knew Protestants, Catholics, a few Jews, and some Hmong kids (who I believe are animists)*, but no Evangelicals. They were mentioned on the news from the South, and in American history (you know, The Great Awkenings), and also when studying comparative religion (when we talked about handling serpents and glossolalia), but never something we encountered in person. I mean, to hear them called "ascendant" now confuses the hell out of me, the same way as when I hear that a splinter group with a name like "The Freedom Caucus" or "The Tea Party" hijacks an entire system.

Hang on...

* Plus my friend Ananda's parents celebrated Kwanzaa and explained it when I was seven during a sleep-over, but they also went to a church, and at the time I conflated religious faith with tradition and maybe I should untangle that better now that I am grown up and not a child.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:26 AM on February 26 [1 favorite]


its reason for existence is not worshiping God but to make money.
The contradiction is resolved when god and money are the same.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:27 AM on February 26 [4 favorites]


Eyebrows McGee: I ... do not actually have a word or a tone of voice that can accurately convey my feelings on this, but my feelings are very very angry

If German doesn't have a word for it, maybe Classical Aramaic does.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:27 AM on February 26


According to Evangelicals, Catholics aren't Christians, except when it's useful.

Actual Conversation between me and my sister's evangelical inlaws at Christmas:

Evangelical In-Laws: We've been real busy doing missionary work in Nicaragua.

Me: Oh, like building houses and stuff.

E.I.Ls: Well, that but also bringing the people to the Word of God.

Me: But Nicaraguans are, in general, Christian.

E.I.Ls: Catholicism is not real Christianity.

Me: Oh so you're those people. I've been dying to ask where the line is? I mean, I'm guessing Easter Orthodox is out, but what about Mormons? High Church Episcopalians? Are you cool with all protestants or just some protestants? What about Unitarians? Quakers? Are only people that have food courts in their mega-church saved?

E.I.Ls: I'm praying for you.
posted by thivaia at 10:02 AM on February 26 [34 favorites]


thivaia: Me: Oh so you're those people. I've been dying to ask where the line is? I mean, I'm guessing Easter Orthodox is out, but what about Mormons? High Church Episcopalians? Are you cool with all protestants or just some protestants? What about Unitarians? Quakers? Are only people that have food courts in their mega-church saved?

It is both more complicated and simpler than that. Any of those - except the Mormons - can be "real Christians", so long as they are "born again". A born again Catholic is a Real Christian, as is a born again Jew. Born again Quaker? Welcome, brother.

Mormons can't be Real Christians because they don't accept the Nicene Creed, though your average Evangelical wouldn't know that that's why.

And born-again Unitarians... well... if you can find one, we'll figure it out.

Or that's how it was in the Evangelical church I grew up in.
posted by clawsoon at 11:19 AM on February 26 [2 favorites]


Naturally...Christianity is all about forgiveness, after all.

It's never too late to be saved!

And the bigger sinner you are, the more we relish forgiving you, see?

It's an opportunity to enhance our own spiritual growth, by accepting the challenges presented by having such an appalling character as our apparently Divinely-appointed leader to forgive.

We're all praying for you, Mr. Trump...know that.
posted by littlejohnnyjewel at 11:32 AM on February 26


"Dear god, please take our president."
posted by aspersioncast at 12:30 PM on February 26 [4 favorites]


I don't see the distinction between Catholics and Protestants to be that germane- in the scope of Trump they all believe the same things. Check the Supreme Court for evidence. Once they have (all) the power, then maybe the distinction will be important, but for now, they are working together.
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:43 PM on February 26


I have heard Catholics called idolaters.

Jack Chick has a helpful tract about Catholicism. (CW: It's Jack Chick, for goodness sake.)
posted by theorique at 1:19 PM on February 26


"Evangelical In-Laws:"

Just think of the possibilities if you abbreviated Evangelical as "Ev" thus rendering them the "Ev.I.L.s"
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:32 PM on February 26 [11 favorites]


I don't see the distinction between Catholics and Protestants to be that germane- in the scope of Trump they all believe the same things.

you know that some of both vote democratic
posted by pyramid termite at 1:40 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]


you know that some of both vote democratic

Yeah, that's why I said 'in the scope of Trump'. Sorry if that wasn't clear.
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:50 PM on February 26


According to Evangelicals, Catholics aren't Christians, except when it's useful.

Yeah, having recently moved to Ohio, I encountered this exact perspective in a co-worker. Having been raised Muslim, I consider anyone who believes in the Trinity/Divinity of Jesus to be a Christian.

Imagine my surprise that the old-fashioned KKK attitude that Catholics are not "Christian" still exists in the 21st Century. I kept insisting that Catholics are Christian based on their beliefs about Jesus and she kept insisting that they are not and she's never heard of such a thing (she's not well-traveled, from a rural area, etc.). Rather than have it turn into an fraught HR-type situation, I quickly backed out of the discussion.

And for the record, her family church is non-denominational--so I'm assuming some kind of offshoot of an evangelical church?
posted by nikitabot at 2:04 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


Imagine my surprise that the old-fashioned KKK attitude that Catholics are not "Christian" still exists in the 21st Century.

I wonder how they feel about the vast over-representation of Catholics on the Supreme Court.
posted by aspersioncast at 2:20 PM on February 26 [2 favorites]


Mormons can't be Real Christians because they don't accept the Nicene Creed, though your average Evangelical wouldn't know that that's why.

Also they appear to not be monotheists, doctrinally? Though when I've asked Mormon missionaries who come to my door about that quote, or about its claim that there other superior beings besides the Father, they don't seem to know what I'm talking about.

A friend of mine, from a Catholic family, was more religiously-inclined than her parents and siblings even as a child. But there weren't any Catholic churches near where they lived in Upstate New York, so she attended a Baptist church. She said that once, a sunday school teacher there told her she "wasn't saved" because she was Catholic.
posted by XMLicious at 2:55 PM on February 26


Thank you, clawsoon, this is very helpful ( I mean this sincerely). My almost entirely secular-- though Episcopal on Christmas Eve-- upbringing never covered any of this.
posted by thivaia at 5:05 PM on February 26


Yeah I encountered the Evangelical attitude towards Catholicism for the first time when I was in college. I went to Catholic school until then and thus was REALLY confused when a classmate said he was going on a conversion mission trip to Mexico.

"Uh, who are you converting?" I asked warily.

"The Catholics," he said, looking at me like I was insane to forget about all those devil-worshipers.

"But," said I, genuinely confused. "Catholics are Christians."

Silence from him for a minute. "Well, they think so."

"Oooookay," said I and promptly did the backwards-walk-away-from-the-nutjob.
posted by threeturtles at 5:31 PM on February 26 [4 favorites]


thivaia: Thank you, clawsoon, this is very helpful ( I mean this sincerely). My almost entirely secular-- though Episcopal on Christmas Eve-- upbringing never covered any of this.

Evangelicalism attempts to be a world unto itself - its own bookstores, its own music, its own television - and to some degree it succeeds. You tend to either be immersed in its world or on the outside, like yourself, thinking, "What the...?"

(Most uncomfortable moment in my Evangelical church: The Sunday School leader asked for a favourite Christmas song for us to sing, and one of the kids offered up Jingle Bells. A secular song in church - shocking! But you don't want to chase this poor sinner of a kid away by rejecting their song choice - dilemma! I don't recall how it was resolved, but I do remember the pure discomfort of the moment.)

I am surprised by how many secular people I've run into who think that Catholics aren't Christians. I assume that they had a brush with an Evangelical (or Evangelical-adjacent) Christian who "helpfully" divided the world for them that way.
posted by clawsoon at 6:47 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


"And for the record, her family church is non-denominational--so I'm assuming some kind of offshoot of an evangelical church?"

Probably. In the US, definitely Protestant, and most non-denominational Protestants are evangelical groups. Generally it means they don't have a strongly-defined statement of beliefs, don't affiliate with any particular denomination (obvs), and are often (these days) run by a single charismatic pastor. They are most often in the evangelical/fundamentalist tradition.

Non-denominational churches that reject affiliation with denominations as a theological matter (believing that there shouldn't be any affiliation above "local church") are typically called congregationalist. They tend to have stronger belief statements and be less reliant on a single pastor (and may have lasted for a couple centuries, even, instead of just the life of the current pastor).

Occasionally you'll find a non-denominational church that dates to frontier days, when Protestants of all sorts all went to the same church in town because it was the only church, and the church just grew a really strong identity within the community and carried on because people remained attached to it even after denominational churches arrived.

"She said that once, a sunday school teacher there told her she "wasn't saved" because she was Catholic."

If they were rigorously traditional Baptists, it might be because Catholics infant baptize and Baptists traditionally reject pedobaptism, insisting only people old enough to ask for baptism and know what it means can be baptized. (So too the Anabaptists, or "rebaptizers," who would rebaptize their Catholic/Lutheran converts, which is a super-touchy thing to do because Christian baptisms are supposed to interchange as long as they're Trinitarian (and mostly did so even during the vicious religious wars of Protestantizing Europe).) Can't be saved without believer's baptism, and Catholics baptized as infants were not believingly baptized.

But it could also be she was just the sort of Baptist who objects to Catholics because they're Catholic and because she believed a lot of folk stories about all the "unchristian" things Catholics do, which range from worshipping saints to getting drunk in church to (this is a real story some Baptists get told!) eating fried chicken in church which I DON'T KNOW WHICH CATHOLICS ARE DOING THAT BUT I WOULD LIKE TO JOIN THAT PARISH.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:08 PM on February 26 [12 favorites]


That would be the Sisters of Charity I sometimes volunteer for. They're Mother Theresa's mob, in the white robes with blue trim. Every Saturday morning they host a free meal for whoever needs it. After a quick reading, a sermon, a singalong, then an Ave Maria and Pater Noster, out comes the KFC. Not always, last weekend it was roast lamb, spuds and salad. But when they can't manage it, they order KFC for about fifty people. I presume this is at a massive discount/free.

They throw a big christmas bash every year which is always KFC in these huge catering size boxes along with the more traditional christmas stuff like ham and pudding, and since it's Australia, prawns.

I went to a catholic school, though I'm not catholic or religious at all. Those sisters are some of my favourite people and the most beautiful women I've ever met.
posted by adept256 at 9:34 PM on February 26 [4 favorites]


And the closest evidence I have to divine intervention are those head to toe white robes. They are ALWAYS spotless. How???
posted by adept256 at 9:40 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


I imagine Our Lady of Fried Chicken would be sort of like a fancy Bojangles but the biscuits would be literally divine.
posted by thivaia at 10:54 PM on February 26 [6 favorites]


According to Evangelicals, Catholics aren't Christians, except when it's useful.

I am out of the loop these days with what's happening in British evangelical circles, but back about 10-20 years ago there was a big thing about doing things "like the early church did" on the thinking that they were re-establishing some kind of true Christian tradition. Most of this would be what they were already doing anyway, but stated more explicitly like: "We pray with our hands in the air because that's what the early church did, therefore this is the best and most Christian way to pray, other ways to pray are a divergence from the right way of doing things." (Also: "we don't do hymns, hymns weren't part of the early church", but then they replace hymns with terrible contemporary Christian music instead, wtf?) So the disturbing Judaism appropriation was part of this, and the movement for naming non-denominational evangelical churches "The Church in [townname]" was part of this.

They weren't trying to do much stuff actually differently, it was more about moving the things they were doing into the start of church history rather than acknowledging they were tacked on at the end. And then from this vantage point they could (and would! ask me how I know!) proclaim what a shame it was that Catholics had chosen to leave the true, original church. They would however usually refrain from telling Catholics outright that they don't consider us Christian, but there were a lot of passive-aggressive comments along the lines of "well, Christians believe..." or "of course as Christians, we..." where "we" means "not you". Oh and standard evangelical approaches for explaining the basics to non-Christians in the apparent belief that this "Jesus" bloke must be totally new to you.

Evangelical Christianity here has never really had the political/culture-war angle that it's had in the US, though. It has borrowed a lot from the US evangelical movement, Left Behind book sales and all, but it hasn't quite got the same pre-existing culture war angle to map onto, so it has a lot to say about some issues (same-sex marriage) but in general often doesn't quite know where it stands on politics in a broader sense. It also has links with the (typically fairly laid-back, for better and worse) Church of England thanks to Nicky Gumbel and the Alpha course. It does sometimes overlap with pre-existing Catholic/Protestant sectarianism in some parts of the UK, but it's mostly so ahistorical and imported that it doesn't even mesh particularly well there. For which I suppose we can all be grateful because if there's one thing sectarianism doesn't need it's even worse music.
posted by Catseye at 3:51 AM on February 27 [5 favorites]


eating fried chicken in church which I DON'T KNOW WHICH CATHOLICS ARE DOING THAT BUT I WOULD LIKE TO JOIN THAT PARISH.

I believe that tradition was started by Pope Eye as a favor to the medieval poulterers' guild.
posted by Strange Interlude at 5:52 AM on February 27 [15 favorites]


It isn't even sightly surprising that Trump is highly thought of by Evangelicals, because for the past 40 years or so "Evangelical" has described a fundamentally political movement with religious trappings, rather than a fundamentally religious movement with some political interest.

Read any Evangelical literature where they differentiate between Evangelicals and other Christians (or, as they're likely to put it Evangelicals and fake Christians) and the differences are all political in nature, not theological.

They don't disagree with other Christians about the nature of the Trinity, or the role of Jesus in salvation, or the workings of communion, or any of the rest. Or, rather they might but they don't really care. There's room in Evangelical Christianity for people who believe that holy communion is absolutely essential, and people who believe that grape juice [1] and a cracker are just grape juice and a cracker. There's room in Evangelical Christianity for people who who believe that Jesus was not coeval with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and people who believe that Jesus was always extant. It isn't even so much that there's an official doctrine of accepting those differences, its that they just don't give a shit.

Heck, a lot of Evangelicals are all but explicitly Manichean and aren't even aware that for most of history that was considered a radical anti-Christian heresy.

The American Evangelical tradition dispensed with seminary a **LONG** time back, so a lot of Evangelical leaders are often completely unaware of the long history of orthodoxy vs. heterodoxy and all the various heresies that Christianity has spawned.

Basically as long as you profess a belief in Jesus as savior, that's the beginning and end of Evangelical concerns about your theology.

Their concern about what they term doctrine is almost wholly based on political issues, not theological issues.

They may be blithely unconcerned with the problem of evil and how that relates to theodicy, they may welcome all manner of theological variety, but on political matters they are as ruthless about hunting down and expelling heretics as the Catholic hierarchy is when it comes to expelling people who believe in the ordination of women.

Believe that communion isn't that big a deal? No worries. Believe that abortion might be permissible in some circumstances? You will be denounced in every Evangelical publication that exists.

Evangelicals are a political movement, not a religious one. So of course they embrace Trump, their concerns about "morality" [2] have never been anything but a hammer to bash their opponents with, not an actual core part of their beliefs or concerns. Their goals are inherently political, not religious. They care about the moral failings of their political opponents, rhetorical ammo is always useful, but have never cared even slightly about the moral failings of people who are on their side politically.

If you (wrongly) view Evangelicals as a religious group then their embrace of Trump is puzzling.

But if you (correctly) view Evangelicals as a far right wing political group with a veil of religiosity then their embrace of Trump makes perfect sense.

[1] Wine? What are you some sort of Catholic?!

[2] By which they always mean "people having sex in a way I don't approve of". For Evangelicals that's the beginning and end of morality.
posted by sotonohito at 6:08 AM on February 27 [28 favorites]


if my church growing up had served fried chicken, it's quite possible i wouldn't have lapsed. ball's in your court, One, Most Holy, Catholic and Apostolic, you know my price.
posted by halation at 6:49 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


Non-denominational churches that reject affiliation with denominations as a theological matter (believing that there shouldn't be any affiliation above "local church") are typically called congregationalist.

To disambiguate a little, though: Congregationalism (big C) in America was a descendant of early Colonial Puritan/Reform local churches that did practice local control and congregational governance. Theologically, almost all of these these churches gradually liberalized and for centuries the movement was called Congregationalism (big C); by the 19th century they were among the most theologically and socially liberal Protestant faiths and remained so through the 20th century.

Though they did not have central leadership that established and communicated dogma, they did join associations in large confederations of churches with similar, though not identical, beliefs. In the 1950s, the majority of then-Congregational churches began to join - with some particularly liberal flavors of evangelical - the UCC (United Churches of Christ ), a federation of churches. Even today, UCC-goers who attend a church that was Congregational for a couple of centuries often still call the church, and their denomination, "Congregational," as in "First Congregational Church of Townburg," usually with the tag of "UCC" or "a member of the United Church of Christ" as part of the the full formal organizational title. UCC church membership tends to be politically moderate-to-liberal, but theologically it is the most liberal mainline Protestant faith excepting only Unitarianism and Society of Friends/Quakerism.

So while it's true that the congregational (small c) tradition is a strong one in American history and provides the theological justification for evangelical churches to be locally led and to do and believe whatever they want, it is also important to apply the term carefully. People who identify as (big C) Congregational would mostly be emphatically theologically opposed to the theology of hardline evangelical churches, even if "congregational" (small c) is a technically accurate descriptor of them.
posted by Miko at 6:52 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]


If you listen to podcasts and are interested in overhearing progressive Christians discuss what the deal is with Evangelicals, this episode of the Liturgists is worthwhile. It features Matthew Vines, author of God and the Gay Christian, and Jen Hatmaker, whose many books are no longer carried in Evangelical bookstores because of her LGBT affirming stance. Both Vines and Hatmaker come out of the Evangelical tradition, and both seem to me to still be broadly Evangelical in their high view of scripture and their need to ground their positions in a serious study of the text. But both are now Evangelical pariahs because of the conclusions they have reached about sexuality. (And Vines is openly gay.) It's a pretty good discussion with people who have been hurt by the tradition that loved and nurtured them when they were young.

There's something interesting happening with Evangelical (and ex-Evangelical women). Jen Hatmaker and Rachel Held Evans have large followings and are vocal LGBT allies and openly unhappy with Trump. Even Beth Moore, who is still, from what I now, pretty conservative doctrinally, is aghast at Evangelical support of Trump. And something like half the devout Evangelical women I know have gone through Beth Moore bible studies. She was the queen of women's Bible study groups for a while. I think there's possibly an incipient anti-Trump backlash building among Evangelical women. (Read this.) I'm curious to see if it goes anywhere.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:02 AM on February 27 [8 favorites]


Evangelical Christians supporting Trump has only confirmed my hunch that they should be called Misogynist-Racists. It's all about patriarchy and white power and Trump embodies those values much more than anything in the New Testament.
posted by benzenedream at 11:09 PM on February 27 [3 favorites]


E.I.Ls: I'm praying for you.

Evangelical-to-English translation: “Fuck you.”
posted by non canadian guy at 11:19 PM on February 27 [9 favorites]


Evangelical Christians supporting Trump has only confirmed my hunch that they should be called Misogynist-Racists. It's all about patriarchy and white power and Trump embodies those values much more than anything in the New Testament.
That seems unnecessarily narrow. They should properly be called Misogynist-Racist-Science-and-Culture-Denying-Haters-of-the-Poor-and-Infirm. And that's just warming up. The trouble with extreme monotheism is that everything is a potential competitor to their god, and thus potentially forbidden and a target of their hate.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:34 AM on March 6 [3 favorites]


Believe that abortion might be permissible in some circumstances? You will be denounced in every Evangelical publication that exists.

The Real Origins of the Religious Right

They’ll tell you it was abortion. Sorry, the historical record’s clear: It was segregation.
posted by joedan at 10:52 AM on March 14 [4 favorites]


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