Trump’s Fifth Avenue Murder of Evangelicalism

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I’ve alluded to this before, but it’s time to push past allusions and state it plainly, unequivocally: evangelical Christianity—the white folks’ version—in America will be dead soon. Of that, I am certain. How to interpret that certainty is a more difficult matter.

Many will celebrate American evangelicalism’s demise. I will not, but I absolutely understand such a reaction. American evangelicalism has largely become a selfish, mean-spirited, power-hungry, and often-bigoted institution. I thank Donald Trump for revealing those detestable characteristics for all to see—and for most evangelicals to blindly deny.

American evangelicalism has largely become a selfish, mean-spirited, power-hungry, and often-bigoted institution.

White American evangelicals have undeniably tethered themselves to Donald Trump, mistakenly and shamelessly believing his declarations of concern for their interests. Trump’s longtime friend Howard Stern candidly and astutely stated recently, “The oddity in all of this is the people Trump despises most [low-income evangelicals], love him the most.” White evangelicals naively believe that Trump really cares about their principal issues, such as ending abortion and “preserving their religious freedoms.” (As if such freedoms really are in danger.) So they steadfastly defend him through every bizarre blunder, every bigoted pronouncement, and even through his innumerable errors that have critically compounded America’s COVID death toll.

As many others have averred, the now 80,000-plus American COVID deaths are the factual fulfillment of Trump’s metaphorical campaign claim that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose his supporters. As I futilely tried to point out to my Trump-supporting friends and relatives at the time, Trump was, effectively, declaring that his supporters love him more than they love virtue, justice, and morality. That’s how all cultists see their cult messiahs. Trumpism is a cult, and most of the cult’s adherents are old, white evangelicals.

Yes, statistics have clearly revealed that the vast majority of Trump’s supporters are white baby boomers, with evangelicals being the largest subset within that pool. When the last few of those Trump-supporting boomers die within the next 20 to 30 years, white evangelicalism will die with them. 

Whether one rejoices at that death, or laments—as I will if I’m still alive—Donald Trump will be the one who metaphorically pulled the trigger on white evangelicalism. That’s right, when Trump made his Fifth Avenue pronouncement, the “someone,” the victim, was also a stand-in for white evangelicalism.

I will lament that death because earlier evangelicalism championed noble causes. In a more empathetic era and more merciful version of evangelicalism, many within its ranks courageously campaigned for the abolition of slavery. Many also worked tirelessly to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, just as Jesus instructed.

But charlatans such as Jerry Falwell Jr., Robert Jeffress, Kenneth Copeland, and so many others, bastardized a noble cause. And, ultimately, Donald Trump revealed the depths to which white evangelicalism has sunk. It was time for evangelicalism to die. Some of you might hope it stays forever in the grave. I pray it will be resurrected, born again, as it was meant to be—free from the perverse political plottings that are destroying it.

14 comments

  1. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    I have nothing good to say about this … I’ll let the blogger speak: “American evangelicalism has largely become a selfish, mean-spirited, power-hungry, and often-bigoted institution. I thank Trump for revealing those detestable characteristics for all to see – and for most evangelicals to blindly deny.”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Good point, Neil. It’s more like the Jim Jones cultists drinking the cyanide-laced Kool Aid, isn’t it? But murder made for a catchier headline.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Any ideology is only as good as the actions of the people who follow the ideology. White Evangelicism is no exception and will not be the first to fall because of the misguided actions and beliefs of its adherents. If it once had noble ideas, those have long since been replaced by selfish, bigoted views … not by all, but by the majority, it would seem. Throughout history, there have been religious cults that promoted hate and narrow-mindedness, that operated out of greed and bigotry, so this is no exception to the rule. It’s just too bad that they allowed uber-greedy leaders such as the ones you mentioned, and I would add Franklin Graham, to steer them in the wrong direction.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Jerry, Donald Trump has done more to damage Christianity than anyone I can recall. If he is the paragon of virtue, then your argument is greatly weakened. The kids who watch will take away it is oks to lie, bully, cheat, berate, demonize, blame others, not accept responsibility, sexually harass and so on. That is who I worry about. Billy Graham would be very critical of his son’s politicization, in general, but his stance on Trump. He saw what happens when you rationalize for someone like Nixon. Keith

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Yes, Keith. Evangelicals have become horribly shortsighted. Even if Trump gives them the policies they want, the trade off is just as you stated: In exchange for some policy “wins” now, they implicitly tell their kids and grandkids “It is ok to lie, bully, cheat, berate, demonize, blame others, not accept responsibility, sexually harass and so on.” That’s why Jesus warned His followers, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?” Too many evangelicals have sold their souls–their humanity–in exchange for some judicial appointments and an unfulfillable promise to end abortion.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Jerry, what I find interesting, inspite of her faults, evangelicals may find of interest that Hillary Clinton received a daily devotional from her minister which she read. I cannot fathom the current president doing such. One, he does not like to read, and two, it would surprise me terribly to learn was that pious. Keith

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I can’t stand trump, but he didn’t do the damage. It was already there, since about Reagan’s time, and has only deteriorated further. Anytime people believe they have the right answers only and are special and chosen, you can count on atrocities and eventually others will get fed up with that attitude and the progression of science and critical thinking, even if not in the US, will happen and we may be left in the dust by these primitive beliefs that hold us back from engaging with all of humanity and the care of the environment.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I agree with your statement, “Anytime people believe they have the right answers only and are special and chosen, you can count on atrocities…” However, I’d argue that “Christians” who hold such views contradict the teachings and the life of the One they claim as their Leader. Jesus taught His followers to be humble, caring, inclusive, forgiving. As I’ve stated before, “Christians” have done more to drive people away from Christ than have any atheists.

    Like

  6. Excellent post Jerry. I love your description of Graham and his ilk: charlatans. That’s exactly who they are.

    Like

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