A recent New York Times opinion piece offers what I think is one of the most insightful analyses of Evangelical support for Donald Trump that I have ever read. Here is an excerpt to whet your appetite, but you really should read the whole thing:
LifeWay’s researchers developed questions meant to get at both the way Americans self-identify religiously and their theological beliefs. What they discovered was that while one-quarter of Americans consider themselves to be “evangelical,” less than half of that group actually holds traditional evangelical beliefs. For others, “evangelical” effectively functions as a cultural label, unmoored from theological meaning.
There is a brand of belligerent finger-pointing Christianity–a culture-warrior kind of Christianity that attacks those who are Other, that wears Christianity like a visible cloak of righteousness rather than a humble vocation–that is particularly attractive to those who have deep moral flaws but who lack the moral courage to confront and confess with sincere humility. Instead, they try to find righteousness in an ideology of division: there is the in-group, and there’s the out-group, and being part of the in-group is what makes you good despite the evils you know are lurking in your soul.
Sometimes, the most vigorous agents of this us-them brand of Christianity are really fighting to justify themselves through the easy righteousness of belonging to the right group (instead of engaging in the deeply frightening task of confronting their sins honestly, feeling sincere remorse and penitence, and making a humble effort to open themselves up to grace).