Deacon Steve Greydanus on the Faustian Bargain of Religious Conservatives

Deacon Steve Greydanus on the Faustian Bargain of Religious Conservatives May 8, 2020

National Review penned one of its periodic excuses for why the Most Wrong Demographic in American political life–white conservative Christians, both Protestant and Catholic (and, I would add, Orthodox)–have whored themselves out in such enormous percentages for the most embarrassing corrupt, stupid, incompetent, and dishonest idiot in the history of the United States.

Deacon Steven Greydanus gives his reply (written back in February before this antichrist cult had spent two months making itself the willing accomplices of the mass murder of 72,000 Americans by their defences of this corrupt moron’s mishandling of pandemic).  What he said was true then and only compounded by the incredible spectacle of liars like Famous Catholic Convert Laura Ingraham telling her audience of dupes that social distancing doesn’t work and is a waste of time.  No.  Really:

Anyway, here is Steve’s attempt to appeal to conscience:

The answer is complex, not simple.

Some Trump-supporting religious conservatives — too many, far too many — are hook-and-sinker, Kool-Aid–swilling loyalists who have imbibed enough Fox News (or its digital media equivalents) to be persuaded of the grossest of black-is-white falsehoods — that the President is a Man of Character, Honor, and Prayer. (I know people like this personally and I have no idea how to talk to them.)

Other Trump voters, though, are deeply conflicted and critical of many aspects of the President’s character, abilities, policies, and job performance. But they are convinced that the Democrats are enemies of humanity in fundamental ways.

They’re afraid of a world in which harboring the wrong opinions or failing to conform to shifting cultural norms may be equated to, or even punished as, literal violence. At the same time, they view with horror the enshrining of the literal violence of abortion, the great atrocity of our times, as a form of justice and personal rights.

They don’t want religious groups or charities to be drummed out of public life for holding traditional views on sexuality and marriage. They don’t want their children being indoctrinated in school on “he” and “she” being terms for how people feel or identify rather than what they are.

I don’t agree with their calculus. I remain convinced that Trump advocacy is a suicide pact, that embracing Trump is gutting everything religious conservatives say they stand for.

I am more horrified by the corrosive power of the first type of Kool-Aid–swilling Trump loyalism in communities of faith than I am moved, practically speaking, by the culture-war concerns of more conflicted anti-Democrat voters.

Practically speaking, I say, because I don‘t see that we’re actually getting better culture-war outcomes under Trump — especially compared to the manifest harm that Trump has done and is doing: to immigrant families and communities; to the vulnerable poor; to the environment; to the protocols of government; to American relationships with our allies and our standing in the world community.

To appeal to last Sunday’s gospel, I believe the only hope for better outcomes on the culture-war issues that consume conservatives is in being salt and light.

And being salt and light starts, not to put too fine a point on it, with not being assholes, nor embracing, excusing, enabling, or normalizing assholery.

I am well aware of the hard-nosed rejoinders of veteran culture warriors to the effect that, to the enemy, we will always be assholes anyway, and there’s no point trying to appease them. If those who say this don’t quite come out and say “We might as well actually be what they accuse us of being” — i.e., advocating “being assholes to own the libs” — they come awfully close, both in theory and often in practice.

Anyway, this rejoinder is at least highly misleading. Yes, there are hard-nosed warriors on the other side who will always consider the least departure from their own orthodoxy to be the gravest of thoughtcrimes. To them, the gentlest adherent of Christian orthodoxy is effectively equivalent to the gatekeeper at Auschwitz.

But most progressive, secular Americans aren’t remotely like that. Most Americans, regardless of ideology, respond positively to anyone whom they perceive as being kind and compassionate, genuinely committed to treating other people decently and upholding the dignity of all human beings, curious about points of view other than their own, humble in their own claims and beliefs, and self-critical of the failings of their own tribe.

Which is, you know. The polar opposite of everything the Trump Machine stands for.

My own prudential judgment even the most conflicted, nose-pinching vote for Trump is a serious mistake. As long as more extreme versions of the Democratic agenda continue to dominate party politics, though, religious conservatives who might possibly be persuaded to do otherwise will continue to make that mistake.

What has struck me consistently is how people on the Left are not interested in persecuting Christians and how often they beg them to be Christians, to act like Christians, to give balm to their souls by not being simply awful, selfish, appalling human beings.

And what consistently strikes me about the Right is how often that hope is struck down with extreme spite.

Alas, what the MAGA antichrist Cult is bound and determined to do is teach itself the hard way that if they will not have Justice as King in their city, they shall have Pain as tyrant. May God deliver us from their folly and tyranny soon through Christ our Lord.

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