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.
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.