I’m willing to be the Only Insane One, if it will save the world from the coming Tribulation. I want to be the Coo-Coo One if it saves the lives of a million children. I will wear the Straight Jacket of Shame, and be INSANE, so all of you can be of sound mind!
So be it!
Jon ‘The Insane One’
White evangelical Protestants continue to approve of President Donald Trump at about twice the rate of the general public, according to a recent survey by the Public Religion Research Institute. Indeed, the figure is at an all-time high, with some 75 percent expressing a positive view as of March.
Debating the question of why white evangelicals hold so fast for Trump has become a pastime for commentators, given that the president’s values and behavior would appear to be anathema to conservative Christians.
Among political evangelicals, at one ideological pole stand those who purport to see a seamless connection between their agenda and that of the current chief executive. “I think evangelicals have found their dream president,” Jerry Falwell Jr. gushed last May. An oft-heard variation on this view is that Trump may be a sinner, but he’s one chosen by God for a providential mission.
But then there are the prominent hand-wringers. Veteran evangelical writers like Michael Gerson, David French, and Stephen Mansfield have been wrestling with the damage this strategic partnership may be doing to a once-great religious tradition.
It is an abandonment of the evangelical path, these writers argue — to varying degrees and with different emphases — for believers who claim to care about the poor, the suffering, and the outcast, not to mention sexual morality and civic virtue, to line up behind a belligerent boor who bullies women, Mexicans, and Muslims and who has a manifestly feeble understanding of religious texts and history. It’s not that evangelicals are personally prejudiced, these writers claim; nonetheless, they find it disturbing that such voters would overlook Trump’s racism and misogyny for short-term political gains.
But these sympathetic critics fail to grapple with the idea that Trump’s racism and misogyny might actually resonate with the evangelical base, which happens to constitute about 35 percent of the GOP coalition. In fact, racism and intolerance are more woven into the fabric of evangelicalism than these Christian critics care to accept.