American right-wing evangelicals who like their politics are getting a rude wake up call this election season. They have been telling themselves Republicans are god’s party for so long, they actually started to believe it. Then Donald Trump showed up to shine a light on the wide range of what passes as Christianity in this country.
No one should be surprised. Trump represents a very real demographic that we have always been aware of. In the past they were forced to settle with whatever nominee the Republicans came up with, but Trump has inspired them. He speaks directly to a group of people who most Americans are ashamed to call our own. And more specifically, to a group of believers who most Christians are ashamed to call their own.
One thing this demographic has taught me is that it is possible to passionately love Jesus and still be a sin-loving asshole. We have all encountered the acquaintance who shares offensive and illiterate memes about sexual identity, immigration, welfare, Obama, etc. They are incapable of participating in thoughtful conversations on topics, and they reign supreme as the least effective trolls on the internet.
Although this does not represent every Trump supporter, I challenge you to find an example of this personality who is not voting for Trump. Trump is definitely their guy. And he knows the “poorly educated” are his ticket to the nomination. He brags about it. And why not? They exist and they have the right to vote.
These voters are also passionate about Jesus. In between their ridiculous memes that challenge us all to hold out hope for the human race, we find just as many “Share if Jesus is your Lord and Savior” ones. They may never go to church, and they certainly aren’t concerned with applying biblical principles to their own lives. But Jesus is as American as guns and apple pie, and good Americans know that the Bible begins and ends with John 3:16. They believe they are going to heaven no matter what. They might never believe that Obama is anything but a secret Muslim, but they are happy to take Trump at his word because his faith looks familiar to them.
And evangelicals can’t stand it.
I have to laugh at all the pleas from Christians to realize that Trump isn’t one of them. Because he is one of them. It’s becoming more and more clear that maybe the majority of Conservative Christians in America are Trump Christians; and if that’s true, then the rest of the FOX news Christians who keep claiming they represent the majority are mistaken. It’s not real. They’ve been overrun with believers of a god that only slightly resembles the Christian god, leaving Liberal Christians to possess the true overall majority. Which is a relief.
Bible-committed Conservatives have unwittingly used these Trump-loving “imposters” to get their agenda going because they don’t have the numbers to do it themselves. Now they have lost control and are fulfilling the Trump agenda. If that is Trump’s agenda…. because many of us may never be convinced this isn’t all a joke.
Of course, his followers are absolutely authentic.
A percentage of Christians went on a crusade to take back their government for god but didn’t bother to make sure everyone involved was on the same page about what that means. I suspect the next few years will reveal an increasing divide. I certainly hope so. But it didn’t happen because of the rise of atheism and secularism. It happened because Conservative Christians made alliances based on politics rather than scripture.
At this point many Christian Republicans are willing to allow a Hillary Clinton win rather than support a Trump Presidency. The good news is that this means most Americans are not Trump supporters. The bad news is that Republicans are so divisive they cannot come together within their own party to defeat Trump, let alone reach across the aisle (even to Liberal Christians) and do anything productive for our country.
Perhaps most interesting about this election cycle is the moral fiber/character question that keeps coming up in light of our choices. Lack of political interest makes our elections mostly a popularity contest, but isn’t it fascinating how little priority a Christian nation places on character?
Of all the candidates from both sides, the one who represents the least religious affiliation also seems to be the one earning the most respect for honesty. No one is attacking Bernie Sanders for his lack of good character or morality. He’s likable and authentic, something even Republicans recognize right before spreading misinformation about what Democratic socialism means.
Evangelical Republicans have been making their voices heard through media and legislation, promoting their efforts to force religious views on the rest of us. Marriage equality, abortion, keeping god in schools and government…. they would have us believe there is a revolution for Christian values going on. But their goals cannot be accomplished without the aid of Trump Christians. And even then it’s a long shot.
For those who are honestly trying to live according to the Bible, what are they willing to do to stay relevant? Will they choose to continue to align themselves with true bigotry and hate, or will they find a way to mend their relationship with the Christians who believe Jesus probably wasn’t a capitalist?