5 Reasons American Evangelicals Are Going To Vote For Trump Again
Last November Donald Trump defied the predictions of pundits and pollsters alike to become the 45th President of the United States. Evangelical Christians were largely responsible for this upset with the 81% support they gave to Trump. A turnout higher than all of the last three previous Republican candidates. Much has been written on why a group that trumpets moral values would throw their collective weight behind a candidate who seemed to live a life trampling said morals underfoot.
Ask an American Evangelical Christian why they voted for Trump and you’ll often hear how they would prefer another candidate instead but:
- Trump promised to nominate a “pro-life candidate to replace Scalia”
- Trump promised to make America Great Again
- They’d choose Satan over Hillary Clinton if that was the choice
But now that the pro-life Neil Gorsuch has been appointed to the Supreme Court, Hillary Clinton won’t be a factor in the 2020 election, and ongoing scandals threaten to derail President Trump plan to make America Great Again one could be lulled into thinking the American Evangelical support for “The Donald” would begin to fade.
But don’t get your hopes up, here are five reasons Evangelicals will continue to support Trump in 2020.
1) For American Evangelicals “Pastor” Trump and his administration look strangely familiar
When Donald Trump took office, he brought a decidedly more authoritarian model to the White house. He challenged the judicial checks and balances of the nation, created suspicion of the media and narratives outside his own, and insisted on appointing close family members to key advisory roles.
While these actions may seem hugely problematic for Blue State America in Red State America this is nothing more than “Sunday Morning” as usual.
Patriotic Evangelicals may trumpet America’s democracy and pluralistic values but on a weekly basis the churches they attend often operate on a decidedly different model. It is not uncommon for Evangelical churches to be led by a strong senior pastor who often, not surprisingly, dismiss checks and balances to his leadership, create suspicion of the “secular media” and alternative narratives outside the church and, wait for it, appoints close family members to key church positions.
If you think Evangelicals will be repelled by President Trump’s authoritarian tendencies and the unprecedented White House culture he has created, you forget that a huge segment of American voters live in this world every week….and applaud it!
2) He’s God’s Man!
The Evangelical community have a whole news and media apparatus that has only flourished more since the Trump candidacy. Understand that Fox News is “fair and balanced” when compared to prominent evangelical news outlets like Charisma News and Elijah List. These sites however are more than just “far right” in their politics, they often use God to support their political agenda. Frequently featured are prominent “prophets” like Lance Wallnau, Chuck Pierce, or Dutch Sheets who proclaim that the miracle of Trump’s election was God’s will. Like King Cyrus of old they declare, God has raised up Donald Trump in this hour to save America. Trump’s upset against the odds in the election has only fuelled the belief God was orchestrating these events.
A large segment of American Christians are convinced that Donald Trump is “God’s Man” and when Evangelicals believe someone is “the Lord’s anointed” well, let’s just say President Trump is going to be able to get a pass on a whole lot of crazy tweets and bad behaviour.
3) Tribalism- “He May Be a Bastard, But He’s OUR Bastard!”
Recently Saturday Night Live perfectly captured the new tribalism found among Trump supporters in a sketch called Black Jeopardy. In the sketch Tom Hanks, sporting a “Make America Great Again” cap seems at first to be strangely out of place on a game show featuring African American culture. Quickly it becomes clear however that these two apparently different “tribes” are remarkably alike; sharing similar values and life experiences mixed with the frustration that the “system” is rigged against them.
Growing up in Detroit of the ‘70’s & ‘80s I saw the feeling of empowerment that came to the black community when Coleman Young was elected as the first African American mayor of Detroit. Young quickly became a voice for a group of people that had become convinced “the system” was stacked against them. Brash, vulgar, and polarising however Coleman Young was, like Trump today, frequently the target of ridicule by the establishment and news media. There was hardly a Detroit radio station that didn’t have a Coleman Young impersonator to capitalise on the mayor’s latest gaffe or debacle. Yet, the more he was criticised (especially by white suburbia) the more the African American community rallied to his support.
Ironically, many of the same suburban whites that criticised African-Americans for supporting a “character” like Coleman Young are the ones who are now supporting their own “character”. Saturday Night Live nailed it.
I remember at the time an African American leader in Detroit explaining why the black community continued to support Coleman Young (and elect him 5 times) despite charges of graft, ongoing scandal, and often outrageous behaviour. He simply responded “He may be a bastard, but he’s OUR bastard.”
Donald Trump may be President for all Americans but he has specifically become the “tribal leader” for many American Evangelicals that feel increasingly marginalised. For them, “yes he can be a bastard, but he’s OUR bastard!”
Scratch the surface of Evangelicalism in the U.S. and you are more likely to find the American Eagle than a Holy Spirit dove. That’s because the Kingdom of Heaven for most Evangelical Christians, has been primarily regulated to the afterlife. Although they won’t admit it this conveniently frees them up this side of eternity to devote their primary allegiance to the Red, White, and Blue. American Evangelicals have so intertwined America and the Kingdom of God into a convenient “civic-religion” that they see very little difference between them.
Nationalism also helps explain some of strong affinity evangelicals have for Israel as they are obviously both God’s Chosen People. In fact Evangelical leaders often apply to America today warnings and blessings given to Israel 3000 years ago which can be both humorous and scary at the same time.
President Obama by contrast is a “globalist.” A hateful word to American Evangelicals as it implies that all nations should be treated with a measure of equality. (Also Globalism for Evangelicals leads to a One World Government where the Anti-Christ shows up and the Second Coming of Kirk Cameron happens… really, that’s a whole other list)
Globalism, by nature, is an affront to U.S. Evangelical civic-religion of America First. Forget that President Trump doesn’t apparently bear any Fruit of the Spirit that Jesus teaches. Jesus’ teachings are secondary to much of American Christianity. President Trump is the High Priest of “America First” Civic Christianity and Evangelicals are not going to abandon their High Priest.
5) Fear of the “Philistines at the Gate”
Since 1980 Evangelical Christianity has been singularly identified with the Republican Party. It has been a loveless marriage of convenience with each spouse getting what it needed from the relationship. The Republicans got a loyal “base” of voters who would zealously come out to support Republican candidates and Evangelicals gained access to a political hammer they could use to mold and shape American society.
However the Republican Establishment knew how to play Evangelical “trigger points”. They played with those “trigger points” whenever they needed to fire up the base by judicially feeding them the fear of growing secularism and “immorality” within America. With the generous help of FOX News suddenly
- The Gays
- The Immigrants
- The Terrorists
- The Socialists
- The Muslims
- The Democrats
- The Liberals
- The Atheists
- The Globalists
- The Environmentalists
become not fellow Americans in a diverse democratic country; but instead the “Philistines at the Gate”. Indeed the Republicans thought they could control their Evangelical base by dialing up the fear when they needed voter turnout and then turn it down again when things started to get a little too carried away. But thirty years of convincing these folk the “Philistines are at the Gate” has created a monster even the Republican establishment has now lost control of. Evangelicals will continue to support Donald Trump because Trump promises to make the things they are afraid of go away.
…oh, and just for fun lets add a sixth reason American Evangelicals will support President Trump in 2020.
6) Trump drives liberals crazy
There is perhaps nothing that drives Liberal Americans crazy more than Donald Trump being President of the United States. And then there is nothing that American Evangelicals enjoy more than driving American Liberals crazy. Forget the first 5 things I mentioned, this is really why Evangelicals are going to vote for Trump in 2020!
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