We’ve seen a lot of articles written by Christians who are dismayed by how white evangelicals continue to support Donald Trump because he pays them lip service and has so far never strayed from their dream list of judicial nominees.
David Brody, however, didn’t write an article like that. The chief political correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network has a piece in today’s New York Times all about why Trump and evangelicals make a great match. Like a genuine match, not just a political partnership.
He completely ignores or dismisses most of Trump’s awful characteristics and actions over the past couple of years, and says Trump gets evangelical support because he’s a great guy in private.
For example, Mr. Trump took a car ride with Mike Pence along with Billy Graham’s son Franklin and Tony Perkins, a leading figure on the Christian right, during the Louisiana floods of 2016. Impressed by what Franklin Graham’s Christian ministry had done for flood victims, Mr. Trump told him that he was writing it a six-figure check, which Mr. Graham told him to send to Mr. Perkins’s church. Both men were moved by his impulsive kindness, and a bond was formed.
Two things about that story.
First, if Trump is showing compassion to white Christians, it’s something he hasn’t done to people who don’t fit that description. He’s told transgender soldiers they can’t serve in the military, he’s ripped apart immigrant families through Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), he’s put hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients in danger of being kicked out of the country, he’s made it harder for poor people to receive adequate health care, etc.
But he promised to give Tony Perkins some cash, so everything’s cool.
Second, we don’t even know if he gave Tony Perkins that cash! Snopes has already written about this story and while a voided check from Trump exists, there’s no confirmation that the church (which Perkins was temporarily running) received it and cashed it.
What about Trump’s erratic behavior? Isn’t that bad PR for evangelicals? Not at all, says Brody. He thinks it’s just God’s sense of humor at work.
This president’s effect on our cultural norms has been shocking. His critics would call it appalling; evangelicals say it’s immensely satisfying: They’ve seen a culture deteriorate quickly in the past decade, and they’re looking for a bold culture warrior to fight for them. Showing that God does indeed have a sense of humor, He gave them Mr. Trump. Yet in God’s perfection, it’s a match made in heaven. Mr. Trump and evangelicals share a disdain for political correctness, a world seen through absolutes and a desire to see an America that embraces Judeo-Christian values again rather than rejecting them.
That argument about political correctness is especially annoying. It’s just a right-wing bogeyman. Store employees aren’t saying “Happy holidays” because it’s un-PC to say “Merry Christmas.” They’re doing it because you don’t know what customers believe and it’s more inclusive. America doesn’t reject Judeo-Christian values. They’re all around us. Liberals just don’t want the government endorsing one particular religion through public schools or city councils.
This is what critics have been saying about Trump and his Christian base since his election, though. He’s playing them perfectly. He knows exactly what language to use to convince them he’s their guy — but his actions show he doesn’t give a damn about them and their beliefs. He’s just doing what he needs to do to keep them happy — by nominating anti-abortion justices, for example.
Brody is one of those gullible idiots who’s fallen for the trick.
Maybe the most amazing thing in the article is at the very end:
Evangelicals have found their man. It may seem mystifying to outsiders, but for someone like me, with a front-row seat to an inside view, it makes perfect sense. Maybe they’re taking their cue from Billy Graham, embracing presidents with moral failings rather than rejecting them.
This is why Billy Graham’s legacy is tarnished. Evangelicals are using his name to defend a man who promotes bigotry and hate, whose ignorance and anger are on full display all the time, and who has no business running the country. Graham never had the guts to call out the Religious Right on their hypocrisy — including his own son — and now those same Christians are using his name in defense of everything he theoretically stood against.
That’s how critics remember Graham. And I guess that’s how people like Brody are remembering him, too.
I hope the history books take note of this. When Donald Trump was president, white evangelical Christians, in overwhelming numbers, stood by his side no matter what.
The rest of us were calling out Trump’s racism, sexism, cruelty, ignorance, boorishness, and constant lies… but not those white evangelicals. Nothing in their precious holy book stopped them from cozying up to a man like Trump.
If that’s not a condemnation of the Bible and everything in it, I don’t know what is.
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