I’ve always recognized the flaws in the movement, and my response to the question of whether theology and doctrine were of primary importance to the movement was always the same—for all its flaws, Republican Christian conservatism is mainly driven by deeply rooted, theologically coherent faith convictions and not by the perhaps more deeply rooted “folkways” or customs of a disproportionately white, disproportionately rural, and disproportionately Southern American subculture.
I no longer believe this to be true. I now see that when theology and culture collide—or when theology and partisanship collide—a disturbing number of white Evangelicals will choose culture. But they’ll still believe they’re choosing faith, and that profound misunderstanding is contributing to a dynamic that is tearing this nation apart.
Why have I changed my mind? The answer is quite simple—the theological convictions of Christian conservatism were put to a profound stress test, and the convictions failed. Partisanship prevailed. Populism prevailed. In some ways, the South prevailed.
Let me put it another way. I’m old enough to remember the words and expressed beliefs of even some of the most enthusiastic Trumpist Evangelicals before they supported Trump, and this much I know: If I’d told them in December 2014 that white Evangelicals would shortly vote in overwhelming numbers for a thrice-married man who bragged about grabbing women by their genitals, appeared in a Playboy movie, paid hush money to cover up an affair with a porn star, and was facing multiple corroborated claims of sexual harassment and sexual assault, they’d say that only Democrats were that hypocritical.
Prominent Evangelical leaders and organizations in the United States have been silent since Friday on the biggest news story in Israel: an interview with former U.S. President Donald Trump in which he strongly attacked former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Take for example Christians United for Israel, the largest pro-Israeli Evangelical organization, representing millions of Israel-loving Christians. Besides producing an annual conference that attracts thousands of supporters and holding nights in honor of Israel at megachurches, CUFI also brings important news updates from Israel to its millions of members and supporters across the U.S., trying to reflect to them the conversation in the country they pray for on a daily basis.
Since Friday morning, when the news of Trump's incredible attack on Netanyhau was first published, and until Sunday morning, when this article went to print, CUFI had posted more than a dozen updates on its social media accounts – Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram – which together have more than 2 million followers. There was a post about the United Nations denying Jewish and Christian history; a quote by Senator Ted Cruz on fighting antisemitism; a request for donations before the end of 2021; and a news update on Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s visit to Washington.
One thing was entirely missing from the organization’s messaging this weekend: what everyone in Israel has been talking about, an event that has also made major headlines in the United States. That is Barak Ravid’s interview with Trump published on Friday, in which the hero of millions of Israel-loving evangelicals expressed his rage and disappointment at their other hero, Netanyahu. “Fuck him,” Trump said, accusing Netanyahu of “betrayal” for recognizing President Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election, and further stating that Netanyahu was an obstacle to reaching peace with the Palestinians. The interview was conducted for Ravid's new book on the Abraham Accords, published in Hebrew under the title 'Trump's Peace'.