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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Evangelicalism Is a Big Casualty of the Trump Era

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's character.   In Alabama, accused child molester Roy Moore ran for the Senate with the support of sexual harasser Donald Trump.

At Politico, Tiffany Stanley writes of Jen Hatmaker, an evangelical author who came out against Trump.
“This year I became painfully aware of the machine, the Christian Machine,” she wrote in April on her blog. It was Good Friday, a somber day for Christians to observe the crucifixion of Jesus. Hatmaker wrote that she understood now the machine’s “systems and alliances and coded language and brand protection,” not as the insider she had long been, but “from the outside where I was no longer welcome.” During the election season, she added, the “Christian Machine malfunctioned.” It laid bare the civil war within her Christian community.

Indeed, the white conservative Christian electorate—and its overlap with the old-guard religious right—has supported a thrice-married adulterer who bragged about sexual assault. It has excused leadership blunders and nativism and white supremacy. It has rallied around Senate candidate Roy Moore in the face of multiple allegations of sexual abuse of minors. It has also brought low many of those evangelicals who dared to question its judgment. A recent survey found that white evangelicals are now more likely than the average American, or any other religious group polled, to excuse politicians’ immoral behavior. Even the Southern Baptist Convention’s Russell Moore, who leads that denomination’s public policy arm and was perhaps the most famous Never Trump evangelical, was forced to go on a kind of apology tour after the election in order to keep his job. He said he was sorry if his criticisms had been too broad; he didn’t mean to criticize everyone who voted for Trump.
 Julie Zauzmer and Sarah Pulliam Bailey at WP
Discomfort with the term “evangelical” began in some quarters with the Moral Majority in the Reagan years, which helped make “evangelical” synonymous with the Republican Party. Ever since, evangelicals have disagreed with each other about mixing faith and politics.
Such debates intensified last year when President Trump was elected with the overwhelming support of white evangelical voters after a vitriolic campaign that alienated many Americans. Most recently, after Senate candidate Roy Moore drew strong majorities of white evangelicals in Alabama despite reports of his pursuit of teenage girls when he was in his 30s, some Christians across the country said they weren’t sure they wanted to be associated with the word anymore.
Laurie Goodstein at NYT:
The editor in chief of Christianity Today did not have to wait for the votes to be counted to publish his essay on Tuesday bemoaning what the Alabama Senate race had wrought.
Whoever wins, “there is already one loser: Christian faith,” wrote Mark Galli, whose publication, the flagship of American evangelicalism, was founded 61 years ago by the Rev. Billy Graham. “No one will believe a word we say, perhaps for a generation. Christianity’s integrity is severely tarnished.”
The sight of white evangelical voters in Alabama giving their overwhelming support to Roy S. Moore, the Republican candidate, despite accusations of racial and religious bigotry, misogyny and assaults on teenage girls, has deeply troubled many conservative Christians, who fear that association with the likes of Mr. Moore is giving their faith a bad name. The angst has grown so deep, Mr. Galli said, that he knows of “many card-carrying evangelicals” who are ready to disavow the label.
The evangelical brand “is definitely tarnished” by politicization from whatever side, Mr. Galli said on Wednesday. “No question about it.”