A new study has revealed the fact that many Trump Evangelicals are not really Christians in the sense of church going folk. Their evangelical badge is more a cultural identity as white Christian nationalists than a true faith based calling. It is a very American transition that their Evangelical identity is more of a brand thing in the 21C. Many of these folk do not regularly attend church and their understanding of the gospels in the bible seems scant. How else could they match Trump with Jesus if not by blind ignorance about what is written in the gospels. Similarly how could they justify their guns and threatening behaviours if they were truly Christians?
White Christian Nationalists Not True Evangelicals
Jesus was forever banging on about loving your enemy and turning the other cheek. There was nothing in the gospels about storming the Capital and bringing down the government of the day. Personally, I never found any stuff about arming yourself and desecrating the Senate House. Killing police officers and damaging government property was, also, not in the gospels. Trump Evangelicals are not really Christians in the true sense of that faith calling. These are folk who have twisted the meaning of a religion to fit their own bigoted interpretation.
“The evolving evangelical identity is already scrambling how politicians appeal to these voters. Mr. Burge’s research has found that “cultural Christians” care relatively little about bedrock religious-right causes like abortion and pornography.
Karen Johnson went to her Lutheran church so regularly as a child that she won a perfect attendance award. As an adult, she taught Sunday school. But these days, Ms. Johnson, a 67-year-old counter attendant at a slot-machine parlor, no longer goes to church. She still identifies as an evangelical Christian, but she doesn’t believe going to church is necessary to commune with God. “I have my own little thing with the Lord,” she says.”
- (Ruth Graham, New York Times, 8th Jan 2024)
Evangelical Religious Extremists & Trump
The danger about all religious belief is this idea that God is speaking to the believer. Taken to extremes this idea can cause a whole lot of problems. If the religious adherent begins to discount secular leaders as lacking in true authority, then the rule of law can become something elective rather than compulsory in their eye. Religious extremism and terrorism are then only hop and a skip away.
“Being evangelical once suggested regular church attendance, a focus on salvation and conversion and strongly held views on specific issues such as abortion. Today, it is as often used to describe a cultural and political identity: one in which Christians are considered a persecuted minority, traditional institutions are viewed skeptically and Mr. Trump looms large.
Mr. Trump himself has become a model for embracing evangelicalism as an identity, not a religious practice. In 2020, he announced he no longer identified as a Presbyterian but as a “nondenominational Christian,” a tradition closely associated with evangelicalism. He is rarely seen in church, but a poll this fall by HarrisX for The Deseret News found that more than half of Republicans see Mr. Trump as a “person of faith.” That’s more than any other 2024 Republican presidential candidate and substantially more than President Biden, a lifelong Catholic who attends Mass frequently.”
This courting of the morphing evangelical vote looks like more politics of grievance. Trump has towed his caravan around to pick up the disaffected and created a cult like circus. Former church goers attend his rallies like faith meetings where they call out in response to his promises for their return to an America which has never really existed. MAGA means blaming the usual suspects – the coloured people, the LGBTQIA folk, uppity women, and all those refugees pouring over the border. The irrational nature of this process, their induction into the Trump cult, means that the normal rules of politicking don’t apply anymore. Trump walks on water as long as he keeps rekindling the hopes and fears of the disaffected American. Jesus of Nazareth has been bumped into the background. Trump is the new orange Jesus of Queens.
Robert Sudha Hamilton is the author of Money Matters: Navigating Credit, Debt, and Financial Freedom.