For a group of people who really hate evolution, fundagelicals sure have evolved on their views of Donald Trump. And we’re not talking about micro-evolution, here, people. We’re talking about mega-huge macro-evolution. Except macro-evolution isn’t a thing, or so they say. Anyway, I was so struck by the following story that I decided we needed to run a special off-day edition of Roll to Disbelieve. (Please see update below.)
Extra! Extra! Read All About It!
Unca Pat, continuing what will hopefully be an unbroken string of false prophecies regarding elections, recently earnestly predicted that despite all the polls running to the contrary, his god will sweep Donald Trump into the White House.
Their god hasn’t said or done jack piddling squat about anything important at all for thousands of years, but he apparently has very strong opinions about one election in one country in a tiny little world in the middle of nowhere. It is hugely important to this god that Christianity dominate American culture, so important that he’ll rig an election to get “his” candidate in office. And that opinion totally coincides with Pat Robertson’s, which is clearly all the proof anybody needs to know that his god is totally for sure real.
Pat Robertson is very upset that “Christianity has slipped in prominence in America.” (How else is he supposed to know he’s in the right if he doesn’t smell his ammonia-scented mark on everything he encounters?) Then he relays with kittenishly-wide eyes the following: “God came to me in a dream and told me Donald Trump will end that and return Christianity to the White House.”
And I went “Wait, what?”
You see, there was a time when Pat Robertson would probably have been singing a very different (and equally overdramatic) tune about his tribe’s Great Orange Hope.
EDIT: An astute reader has pointed out that this exact story may well be a satire. (That’s the problem with Poes, isn’t it?) One will note that Pat Robertson has certainly predicted Donald Trump’s election, and has spoken of Donald Trump as an inspirational figure, but going so far as to claim a divine dream appears not to have happened. I’m happy to be corrected.
The Art of the Deal.
Long, long ago, when I was a Christian, Donald Trump rose to prominence. And oh, what a different age the 1980s were!
Donald Trump’s hubris-choked, self-congratulatory screed The Art of the Deal was on every self-respecting yuppie’s nightstand (to be read between oat-bran muffin breakfasts and sushi power lunches). News stories about him were a constant feature on television and in newspapers. He had a board game named after himself, even. It really seemed like one couldn’t get away from The Donald’s smirking visage.
And my tribe really honestly couldn’t stand him.
Donald Trump was the symbol of every single thing that Christianity stood against. He appeared to be, then as now, a dirty-dealing scoundrel, a sexist womanizer, a liar, an incompetent businessman, a vainglorious and pompous toad, and a truly vindictive asshole of the worst order.
And look, Christians totally saw that about him back then.
We knew that he was wedded to his own greed and in love with the smell of his own farts. Every single thing he did was a mockery of what we saw as Christian values. Preachers used him as an example of what our god despised (one notable example I can remember involved a comparison of his ostentatious, crass building projects to the freakin’ Tower of Babel). The believers in my neck of the doctrinal woods shied away from anything he endorsed simply because he’d endorsed it–which we assumed meant that whatever it was, it had to be bad one way or another.
He wasn’t just non-Christian; he seemed downright anti-Christian and unapologetically, even gleefully so. Every single part of his life took him further from Jesus, and he seemed quite open and pleased about that fact.
In short, if you’d asked anybody in my end of the religion from 1986 to 1995 to point to someone in popular American culture who more embodied rebellion, sin, pride, and vice, Donald Trump’s name would have come up very quickly on the list of favorites.
A lot has changed since then.
Or should I say: it’s evolved.
A Deal With a Devil.
Though more well-meaning Christians sometimes marvel at exactly how this clown prince has come to hold so much power over fundagelicals’ hearts, nobody who’s noted the increasing desperation of the Republican Party is confused about how it happened. Decades of race-baiting, fearmongering, class warfare, and deliberate polarization has led us to exactly this pass. The real surprise is that it took this long, and that the tail was pinned on this particular donkey and not some other. (I just realized: there must be a lot of big-name Christians totally pissed that they were passed over for this gig.)
And now fundagelicals are falling all over themselves to worship at the feet of a monster created by political desperation and greed–all because he pretends to hate who they hate, and acts like he’ll let them wield power over the people they want to control. It almost reminds one of Christians’ mythology about Jesus, with the stories of how the Jews of his time thought that their Messiah would be a triumphant warlord when instead it was a suffering servant doomed to martyrdom. This mythology might or might not reflect how actual Jews at the time felt about the matter, but since when have Christians cared about details like that?
Donald Trump is the Messiah fundagelicals imagine they deserve, but not the one their religion says they need.
He’s so lacking in any essential characteristics of an ideal Christian, so totally ignorant of Christian ideas, and so utterly unenthusiastic about Christian practices (like, um, praying for forgiveness for sin) that it’s hard to imagine someone less suited to be their new mascot.
But they don’t care.
He looks what they aspire to be, and that’s all they do care about.
It’s easy to manipulate people who lust so much for power, and even easier to fleece sheep who aspire to become wolves. Promise greedy people whatever they want, tell them whatever it is they most want to hear, tickle their cute fluffy ears, and you’ll never lack for their support. (And I’m long past wondering if fundagelicals realize we can totally hear them talking.)
A Quality Huckster.
Pat Robertson’s version of Jesus is the triumphant warlord. Listen to how he describes his “dream” about Donald Trump winning the Presidency. Did you notice how that went down? First he noticed that his religion’s lost a bit of its onetime supremacy. That’s what sparked his outburst–and what makes his “dream” so compelling to him. In his world, Christianity and dominance are completely entwined and entangled, and to him, of course his god wants his followers to own everything they see and to control the lives of all other Americans (for our own good, of course!)
But–the poor widdle fella!–he’s noticed that this dominance “has slipped” somewhat. Oh noes!
It’s no secret that fundagelicals are downright outraged and petulant about the churn rocking their religion; at this point, any Christian leader who isn’t downright panicky about the religion’s future is either lying or has been living under a rock and probably handling snakes for the last thirty years. So yes, Pat Robertson is distressed enough about his religion’s losses to use those losses as a setup for his “dream.”
Then and only then, having frightened his tribe with the idea of losing a smidgen of power over American culture, does he relay his shock of all shocks: His version of Murrkan Jesus is totally 100% going to force Americans to vote for Donald Trump!
Yep, he really thinks that Donald Trump, a man who has never met a partner he wouldn’t double-cross, who’s never made an agreement he felt compelled to honor, and who’s never heard of a deed so transgressive that he simply wouldn’t ever do it, is going to give Mr. Robertson’s religion back its accustomed dominance.
(How? Oh, by breaking a lot of our laws, of course, but Mr. Trump has been promising to break or destroy United States laws for ages now. And his followers, who claim to idolize the Constitution and Bill of Rights and even occasionally to claim that these documents were written by Jesus, go batshit every time he makes such a promise to them.)
It’s painfully clear that Christians are glomming all over this guy because they think he’s their ticket back to the power and control they miss having over others.
And the person tricking them and playing them is using their own greed against them.
Accountability For Thee, Too.
Obviously, it’s a little bit early to write anyone’s political epitaph. A lot can happen between now and the election. He’s certainly lasted longer than I’d have expected, though he seems to exist as a slow, self-destructing implosion that just never seems to hit its nadir. He’s a testament to the bottomless capacity of fundagelicals to support anybody, no matter how vile, if they think that support will benefit themselves.
I really hope that in the years to come, regardless of how the election goes, the Christians slobbering over this charlatan’s knob understand that we’re going to hold them morally accountable for their slavish devotion to a man who embodies every single vice that Christians are supposed to abhor, oppose, and avoid, while lacking every single virtue they claim is their unique moral contribution to the world.
It’s almost amusing that it’s hypocrisy like Pat Robertson’s that is largely making his own tribe distance themselves from his kind of religion–and to question why their faith’s teachings seem so singularly incapable of producing more believers who act, well, loving.
They should be asking that question. It’s something the rest of us are asking, for sure.
I realize that Christians nowadays have to be adept at compartmentalization and doublethink. This week it’s war just like it always was; next week it’s peace–and it always has been. In the 1980s Donald Trump was the enemy; now, in the 2010s, he is the expression of their god’s will. (And knowing exactly what this god is in reality, perhaps we can actually agree with them there.)
Without the tether of objective reality to check themselves against, fundagelicals simply have no way of establishing what’s true and what isn’t. For them, reality shifts and changes whenever necessary. And that shifting’s been very necessary lately. In Donald Trump, they’ve found someone just as dishonest as they are, just as greedy, just as arrogant, just as controlling, just as vain, and just as malevolent. If he wasn’t such a threat to the rest of the world, I’d say good for them both for having found their perfect match on Lowered Expectations, and congratulate them on having found exactly the partner they both deserved.
Next time we’ll be covering some new revelations coming out about the Christians who are supporting this pseudo-politician. Also I noticed that I’ve got like six hundred new kitten pictures so we’ve got a FULL KITTEN UPDATE coming soon. (Until then, I thought this site provided some excellent eyebleach.) See you tomorrow!