The Cost of Trump to Evangelicals

The Cost of Trump to Evangelicals December 14, 2018

Several years ago when I was preparing to teach an Intro to Sociology course, I ran across a theory in environmental sociology. As that is not my field, I did not take note of who developed this theory and I have not taken the time to look it up for this blog. So forgive me for not supplying a link to the theory. But the theory seems sound to me.

The theory goes something like this. The benefits of cleaning up our environment tend to be long-term, uncertain and somewhat hard to define. The costs of cleaning up our environment tend to be short-term and concrete. The benefits outweigh the costs but due to the nature of the benefits, we tend to overlook them and are willing to engage in activity that harms our environment.

Here is what this could hypothetically mean. A factory is built for a town. The factory pollutes the air. But other than the smell, the costs of that pollution will not be felt for some time to come. Furthermore, we do not know just how costly it will be ten years from now when we see some of the full effects of the pollution. No reasonable scientist can say that five percent of the town’s population will get cancer because of the factory. He or she can only say that the pollution will make the town less healthy. But the benefits of the factory will be immediate and are fairly easy to document. The factory will bring 100 new jobs and a couple of million dollars to the economy. Faced with such a choice, we often will pay the heavier long-term costs for the short-term benefits.

I think of this theory when I consider the support of conservative Christians for President Trump. For them, Trump brings very tangible short-term gains. They sometimes recognize the long-term costs of Trump, but those costs are unknowable at this time in history. Thus, like the town willing to foul its air for a few more jobs, Christians have been willing to sully their reputations for a few Supreme Court Justices.

So let’s look as fairly as possible at what conservative Christians have gained through Trump. I am looking at the issues that they consider important, and I am not interested, at this time, in arguing whether these issues should be important to them. My contention is that Trump is bad even for those who support him, and to make that point, I have to take their concerns seriously. Imposing the values of others on conservative Christians will get us nowhere in trying to convince them that Trump is not worth their support.

As I implied above, conservative Christians have gained at least two Supreme Court seats from the Trump administration. They have also benefited from many other judicial appointments. I will also say that they have benefited from the fact that Clinton is not president. She has shown them no love, even during her campaign when she should have been asking for their vote, and I think it is reasonable to assert that her administration would have been brutal to them. I do not see Trump’s actions on immigration or tax cuts as issues that conservative Christians particularly care about and thus do not see that as a benefit they enjoy. It boils down to judges and not having Clinton as President to understand what conservative Christians have gotten from Trump. That may not seem like much but they are tangible short-term benefits.

But what have these Christians lost in their efforts to support Trump? The loss is less tangible but much more potentially devastating for them. For example, I have argued in the past that Christians have given up their moral authority in their support for Trump. They will not soon get that authority back, and I fear the time will come when they will need that authority.

Feminists lost a great deal of moral authority about twenty years ago when they defended President Bill Clinton at all costs. The charges against him were much more substantial than the ones they tried to use on Clarence Thomas, and yet they defended him at every turn. So what happened in 2016? Trump was clearly on the ropes after the Access Hollywood tapes. But to answer those charges, he seated Clinton’s accusers at his debate with Hillary Clinton. The message was clear. The same feminists who defended Bill Clinton had no moral authority to now press their case against Trump. I do not know how the loss of moral authority will come back to bite conservative Christians. But I am fairly certain that at some time, it will hurt them, and I suspect the pain will be great. The cost is unknowable but its potential devastation should give conservative Christians pause.

Another cost that is not easily calculated is the cost of losing our reputation. Whether we like it or not, support for Trump is going to be tied to support of his actions and immoralities. I have pointed out conservative Christians who defend his paying off a porn star. Because nothing says Christian moral values like having an affair with a porn star than then paying her off right? The hit on our reputation will damage our witness and ability to impact society for some time to come. And if you come at me with the “we elected a politician and not a pastor,” then I will ask you how that argument set with you when it was used to defend Bill Clinton? If you rejected that argument at that time, then you should reject the argument now.

I know that some will argue that our reputation will never be good for certain individuals in our society. They are correct. There are some anti-Christian bigots who will hate us as long as we disagree with them in any way. But those bigots cannot rob us of our dignity. Only we can give that away. It is more dignified to live out an ideology rejected by the mainstream with consistency than to cravenly latch onto an immoral leader to save us. In the first case, people who disagree can still respect us for standing by our principles. In the second case, it looks like all we want is power.

A third cost is the blow supporting Trump did for Christian unity. Young Christians and Christians of color were disturbed by the election of Trump. Many of them are troubled by the hyperfocus of many conservative Christians on issues tied to the culture war. I know of the situation more of Christians of color than for younger Christians and can tell you that several of them have told me that they have a hard time trusting white evangelicals after their support of Trump. Having been told how important morality is, and that these white evangelicals would not support anything tied to racism, they are horrified at the numbers of them that supported the immoral, race-baiting Trump. Let me be clear that I am not talking about BLM individuals who only expect white Christians to comply with their orders. I am talking about Christians of color who want to have an honest dialog with their religious brothers and sisters but now feel betrayed by them.

I suspect that some of these feelings are shared by many younger Christians as well. The allies that conservative Christians lost through their support of Trump cannot be easily measured. But that loss is real and will punish conservative Christians for some time to come. At a time when Christians have become more marginalized in the public square, we need each other more than ever. Is the support of Trump really worth the costs of Christian unity?

I am certain there are more costs I have not articulated, but these three will do to express my point. The costs to supporting Trump are not a clear cut or as quantifiable as the benefits conservative Christians gained from that support. But they are real, and I have every reason to believe that those costs will, over time, be much higher than the benefits. Yes, it is great to have two Supreme Court justices who seem to respect religious freedom, but is that really worth losing your ability to impact society with your moral authority, reputation and as a unified Christian body? After all, those Justices will someday retire and die. Will we have our reputation back by then? And yes, Clinton would have been a disaster in different ways than Trump, but she would have been President for eight years at the most. The loss of that moral authority, reputation and costs to our unity will last much longer than eight years. Truly conservative Christians will pay a higher cost for the short term benefits they are receiving right now under Trump.

The lack of clarity of the costs makes it hard for those like myself to dialog with conservative Christians to help them to see the problematic nature of their support of Trump. Even some that do see these costs can rationalize the support of Trump by thinking that they will deal with those costs years from now when they manifest themselves. I fear that at that time, they will see just how high those costs are and that those costs are truly much higher than their temporary benefits.

Update: I must say I am amazed. I figured I would get pushback from conservative Christians in a blog that explicitly criticizes them. Yet the same set of liberals who get mad if I critique progressives and progressive philosophy are now mad that I am not calling those Christians bigots, racists and whatever term they prefer to use to shut down communication. I think such comments say much more of my critics than they do of me. If a person is in such a state that they can only talk about an out-group in stigmatizing and dehumanizing terms then rational discourse is no longer possible and so I will not attempt it any longer here. Seriously the caliber of comments like these make me reconsider whether there is much gained in leaving the comments open or if by doing so I am creating even more opportunity for polarization in our culture. One final note, I will remove stupid atheist memes and have already done so. This particular blog is not an argument about theism and if you have so little self control that you have to lash out at theists with stupid memes then please do so elsewhere.

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  • LastManOnEarth

    You have omitted a major “benefit” of Trump to white Evangelicals: the “wages of whiteness”. Trump’s explicit appeals to white nationalism seems to be a feature, not a bug, to his white Evangelical base.

    • Markee B

      Absolutely! I believe that support for Trump most definitely IS a white backlash against 8 yrs.of Obama. Who led the charge against Obama?- Trump with his ridiculous ‘Birther’ conspiracy. If conservative evangelicals are so concerned about presidential qualifications, why do they vigorously protect the secrecy of Trump’s tax returns. if anything will reveal a man’s character it is his corporate and private tax returns. What is Donald hiding? I have a relative who constantly tells me that liberal Democrats have destroyed the black race. Really? How is it that white nationalists, KKK types and similar groups swarm at Trump’s rallies and campaign for his candidates while they loathe any Democrat? My black wife, a lifelong Democrat, at 65 yrs. young, shows no sign of being destroyed. Rather she knows where the racists found their nests’ after the Democrats started turning away from racism in the 60’s & 70’s.

  • CroneEver

    I think the most depressing thing about the deal with the devil that white Evangelicals have made is how cheaply they’ve been bought. I’ve read a lot of conservatives who write that while they don’t like everything the President does or says or tweets, they support him because of the justices. Really? Like Jonathan Kobes, the second lawyer confirmed to the 8th Circuit rated “Not Qualified” by the American Bar Association? To which I reply,
    Two questions:
    (1) Don’t the good people of the 8th Circuit (Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota) deserve better than TWO unqualified appellate judges?
    (2) If the main reason for supporting someone is because of the justices they appoint – why don’t they at least demand more Scalias? While I disagreed with almost all of his decisions, at least he was educated, extremely intelligent, and had a top rating from the ABA.
    Seriously – white Evangelicals have sold their souls for pottage.

  • Alan

    Your points are well taken but you’re treating Christian support for Trump like it’s an outlier. A lot of us ex-evangelicals were having trouble with evangelicalism way before Trump. For me it really started when it came out that my church’s pastor was (according to a multiple reports from trustworthy people) abusing church employees. Half the church rose up and defended the man. Many said that God had told them that he was innocent. The church split (and he was terminated) but I realized at that point that all of us are vulnerable to creating God in our own image. Then I was influenced by a good friend who was struggling with his own homosexuality. He was more Christian than I was, evangelizing, attending Bible college. He was tormented to the point of attempted suicide because his reality was dismissed by the “people of God” as a sinful “lifestyle choice”. Yes, Trump coming, and the widespread support from evangelical leaders, was significant. But that wasn’t an isolated event. Evangelicals were just acting true to their values which in hindsight I now see as more about feeling comfortable and good about themselves than anything having to do with Jesus.

    • Markee B

      “Evangelicals were just acting true to their values which in hindsight I now see as more about feeling comfortable and good about themselves than anything having to do with Jesus.” Well Said! I left the Evangelical/ Prosperity gospel show for one of those horrid (we were taught) mainline denominations … They have more on the ball than we knew and with less worldly distractions.

      • Alan

        Yes, we’ve been attending an Episcopal church now for 2+ years. It’s interesting how many ex-evangelicals there are, a lot of people for whom something clicked and they thought “I don’t want to do this anymore.” I used to see evangelical church growth as a sign of God’s favor. Now I realize that they’re just telling people what they want to hear. It doesn’t have much to do with God. And I’m sorry. Because there are some genuinely nice people there, many of whom we’ve had close relationships with. But the theology is really destructive. I love sugary sodas and doughnuts and I’d gladly eat them every Sunday morning, but in the end it wouldn’t work out well for me.

  • Alan Drake

    I think the greatest impact from the support for Trump will be in the numbers “in the pews”, especially after Trump is disgraced. New converts will be very few and many will quietly leave.

    I was raised Southern Baptist & heard a sermon against race mixing as a child (my parents went to another SBC church after that sermon).

    I left as an adult after Dr. Land’s letter calling our War of Aggression in Iraq a “Just War” (see Catholic theology for the definition). My decision was reinforced by the SBC passing a resolution calling to do absolutely nothing about Climate Change. Both positive expressions supporting evil in my view.

    After a decade of being unchurched, I became a Quaker – fully & completely as I am capable of !

    The Quakers are few in number but their moral stances have been and are clear and steadfast – usually contrary to public opinion. They are, in that, the polar opposites of the denomination I left.

    • Markee B

      I considered the Quakers after I left the Evangelical/ Prosperity gospel. There was little chance to physically fellowship in my area. So I found a nice mainline denomination where we’ve grown roots. The Quakers have much to recommend them. Some of the sermons I read and other articles are quite profound.

    • Don Lowery

      After getting run out of two fundamentalist Baptist (Southern and Conservative) churches in the early 1990’s because of their stance on the “culture” war…ended up as an Anabaptist (Mennonite/Church of the Brethren/Brethren in Christ) and Friends according to whatever location I am which has a fellowship in the area.

    • alan_drake what

  • Iain Lovejoy

    The whole point of having moral principles, of recognising some things as bad in themselves, is because these are things which lead on to disaster, destruction and death. The long term consequences may be unknowable, but we are supposed to recognise that of course there will be a reckoning, not because we know what it is, or how it will come about, but because these things are bad things and they can lead only to disaster and death. Conservative evangelical embrace of Trump is not a failure of tactics, or foresight, or a failure to realise consequences, but ultimately a moral failure: abandoning trust in God for trust in political maneuvering for earthly power.

  • Markus R

    The US is a nation clearly being judged by God. And it starts first in the Church. As long as we remain a culture of death, we have no hope for for any blessing. We are slaughtering a million babies every 14 months. We have worked to destroy the God-given institutions of marriage and family. We are a warmongering nation that regularly spills blood for our economic desires. The Church has largely abandoned the authority of scripture. Unless we repent we don’t need to worry about the short term or long term consequences of evangelicals supporting Trump.

    We need desoerately to repent.

  • ollie

    For many of us the moral bankruptcy of the evangelical movement became most apparent with the start of the movement to the Moral Majority under Jerry Farwell. The election and support of Donald Trump just confirmed that the evangelical movement is not Christian.

    • Lark62

      “Morally bankrupt” and “Christian” are not mutually exclusive.

      • ollie

        You mean they can be one and the same?

  • Nathaniel

    Something interesting I’m not sure the author has noticed about this argument: Its entirely appealing to self interest. The author doesn’t even bother to attempt the argument that evangelicals should care about the bad effects of voting for Trump on other people, like that 7 year old girl at the border who was killed by our government. No, evangelicals should care because the effects of voting for Trump might hurt them in the future, and merely to the extent people won’t bother to listen to them culturally.

    The message this sends is loud and clear: Evangelicals don’t give a crap about the welfare of others.

    • Alan

      Yes, as I mentioned above, I think modern evangelicalism is largely driven by the desire to feel good. I admit it. I like feeling really good about myself and my friends after attending church. But that comes at the cost of dismissing someone else.

    • georgeyancey

      I think both parties only care about some of the people in this county, just different people for each party. Neither party is intrinsically more moral than the other. I do not expect partisans to agree with me on that but I do not see Democrats really caring about certain people either. Nevertheless to reach the people I am trying to reach – conservative Christians – I have to speak to them in ways they understand it. I have criticize some of the nonsense of Trump in other blogs. But there is a time and place for those arguments and this blog was not the place for it.

      • Nathaniel

        Something for others to note: I made absolutely no mention of Republicans, Democrats, partisan politics, whether one party cares more about other people or anything Mr. Yancey brought up. Mr. Yancey is so devoted to what-about-ism and both-sides shibboleths to justify his beliefs he parades them about even when the other party had nothing to say about such things.

        Nor did he even attempt to refute what I claimed. He say’s he’s criticized the actions of the president elsewhere, as though that’s somehow relevant to what I wrote. But as to my contention that Mr. Yancey wrote what he felt was the strongest method of getting through to evangelicals on the perils of supporting Trump; namely through promoting future selfish self interest? He says nothing.

        Telling.

      • Iain Lovejoy

        “I think both parties only care about some of the people in this county, just different people for each party.”
        Your piece doesn’t talk about the costs or benefits to anyone at all except to conservative evangelicals. The article assumes that the “some of the people” conservative evangelicals care about consists purely of conservative evangelicals and no-one else. It’s not that you are focusing on some things rather than others, it’s that it simply doesn’t occur to you to address anything but conservative evangelicals’ pure self interest, because nothing else could possibly matter to them. The sad thing is you are right, and can’t see that Trump was the inevitable result.
        Another further tragedy is displayed in your attempt to defend yourself above. You defend criticisms of conservative evangelicals by saying “Neither party is intrinsically more moral than the other.” [Emphasis mine] You can no longer keep up the pretense that “conservative evangelicals” are any longer a religious movement: they have simply become a campaigning group for the US Republican Party.
        That and not Trump is what has doomed “conservative evangelicalism”: think on this, and hope and pray that it does not take down Christianity itself with it.

      • Lark62

        Democrats think everybody should be able to take a sick or injured child to a doctor.

        Democrats don’t put babies in cages or threaten to deport people who had to flee Vietnam 40 years ago because they helped America during a war.

        • georgeyancey

          Amazing that in a blog where I explicitly criticize conservative Christians my liberal trolls are mad because I have not dehumanized them enough. I have not said that they are a bunch of racist or only care about themselves. In a blog where I am trying to reach them on their own terms my liberal trolls want me to call them a bunch a names and hope that this is effective. I assure you that it is not. And if you are tired of my whataboutism know that I am tired of the lack of introspection I see in so many of you who are so certain that you are correct and anyone who is against you is a bigot or a bigot enabler. I would love to have some real discussions on our disagreements but I simply do not see that possible with the level of defensiveness and need to protect this liberal image of superiority that comes across from so many of you. This is telling to me in that when you criticize me in the future for addressing problems I see in progressive thought I will know that you will criticize anything I say as long as I do not fully accept your particular brand of bigotry against the “deplorables.”

          • Lark62

            I think both parties only care about some of the people in this county, just different people for each party.

            This is what I am reacting to.

            I agree with much of what you wrote in your blog.

            I disagree with the leveling.

            Most democrats, most christians, and I think (hope) most people in our country care about people. We care that a parent can get health care for a sick or injured child. We care that immigrants are treated fairly. We may not agree on how to get there, but an element of compassion enters into the discussion.

            However, there is one group, a not easily labelled subset evangelical christians, that is immoral, heartless and callous, and proud of it. One commentator actually said she enjoyed seeing babies tear gassed. (Tomi Lahren tweet
            “Bum-rushing the border is a CHOICE and has consequences. Watching the USA FINALLY defend our borders was the HIGHLIGHT of my Thanksgiving weekend.”)

            These people are not my moral equal, nor I think yours.

            Democrats have blind spots, we all do. But there is a big gap between a blind spot or a bit of tribalism or hypocrisy and an absolute absence of empathy that is incapable of compassion and delights in seeing people suffer. To treat these as any way equal is wrong.

          • Tom Nadeau

            Good point…If you want to win someone over, you don’t bash them with insults. If that is your aim then you are not really interested in winning over a convert to your way of thinking but simply bashing them because it serves as a catharsis for you to feel good to pummel your enemy into the ground.

      • NorMann

        I feel your stance that “Neither party is intrinsically more moral than the other” is somewhat disingenuous – since 1965 we’ve had 25 years of Democrats in power with 3 indictments, 1 conviction, and one prison sentence. We’ve had 28 years of GOP with 120 indictments, 89 convictions, and 34 prison sentences. There _is_ actually a difference and I believe the fairly massive disenfranchisement effort the GOP is doing to reverse Jim Crow is but one evidence of this. Can the Democratic Party turn in to a haven for grifters and corruption like the GOP? Of course! But evidence would show you are promoting a false equivalency. Thank you for your blog!

    • Lark62

      Evangelicals don’t give a crap about the welfare of others.

      Yeah, that’s not exactly news.

    • Obscurely

      This pastor completely agrees — in fact the argument from self-interest here is UN-Christian as it ignores the well being of our neighbors in need.

    • NorrinRadd

      Note: We don’t believe that little girl was “killed by our government.”

  • RustbeltRick

    But you’re on the same side.

    -Trump’s main appeal is that he infuriates liberals. The conservatives love that, and conservative evangelicals most of all.

    -This blog has likewise spent considerable time calling out liberals, often unfairly. People who respond to your insistence that liberals are constantly engaged in anti-Christian prejudice (or whatever term you used in a long series of articles) would be the type to latch on to Trump, no?

  • Brien

    The article makes the standard erroneous presumption —
    ie No gods have ever been proven to exist….

    Time to grow up and put away the toys of mental childhood….

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/37ac9722980bfe1c76f773e062feff5cc48f76063bd839ddb54797a0d6408dd1.jpg

  • I left evangelicalism a long time ago for reasons I won’t go into here, but I still respected the churches of my grandparents and teachers. But seeing how fully many evangelicals embraced the bigotry of Trumpism, laid aside morals that they had traditionally embraced, all in the hope of getting judges they wanted disgusted me to a point of no return. People I had personally respected as upstanding followers of Jesus turned ugly and put aside the values for which they had stood firm their entire lives. Others remained eerily silent giving their tacit approval by not defending values they had previously upheld. It will take a lot for evangelicalism to gain my respect or my ear ever again on matters of morals and values.

  • anam_cara

    Interesting critique. As a progressive Christian I find it a little insulting that I’m considered an “anti-Christian bigot” for disagreeing with your form of Christianity. I think the biggest threat to the future of conservative, fundamentalist Christianity is its pointless clinging to a pre-modern interpretation of scripture that more and more people simply reject.

  • Tom Nadeau

    Ever since I saw the Evangelicals charge headlong into a blind allegiance with Trump, I have had many of the same thoughts. I am a former very zealous Christian who is now an agnostic and I can tell you for a certainty that I shall never return to that fold…especially now that their lip service to morality is shown to be as vapid and empty as it obviously is. I am not against Christianity. Hell no! A person’s anchor is the comfort that helps us keep our sanity in this world and I would never try and undermine that but please do not come at me with a “serve Christ or burn in Hell” speech until you have removed the rafter from your own eye. Those persons have no moral right whatsoever to impugn my spirituality after wallowing in the mud of this world with the like of Donald Trump. And that is the point…Jesus Christ himself said to “have no part of the world”…well, Evangelicals, you and the rest of the world have become indistinguishable.

    • NorMann

      “I am not against Christianity. Hell no!” – Hahaha! Perfect!!! Good points also btw.

    • Obscurely

      Correction — it’s WHITE evangelicals who continue to support our morally corrupt president. And apparently most of them don’t go to church — https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/03/29/where-is-trumps-evangelical-base-not-in-church

      Also, many millions of progressive Christians around the world are just as appalled as you at the “serve Christ or burn in Hell” kind of Christians who give the rest of us a bad name.

  • dferraez

    This article is ridiculous to me. Every election is generally decided on who is the least bad. So, although I did`nt think Trump was a great choice, he was a far better choice than Clinton. However, Trump has exceeded my expectations to the good by a great amount. But a few reasons why it wasn`t even close. Clinton loves killing babies and even wants my tax dollars paying for it. Trump is against that. Case closed for me. However if you want a few more reasons, Trump is for the U.S., Clinton is for the UN policies taking precedence over U.S. sovereignty. Trump wants to lower taxes (and did) Clinton the opposite. Trump wants to build a wall to protect American citizens, Clinton doesn`t. I could go on for paragraphs but I hope you can figure it out. Enough with giving up moral authority.

    • ollie

      Clinton won the popular vote!

      • dferraez

        Take out voter fraud and maybe she doesn`t win the popular vote. But that is not the point anyway since we are talking about the Evangelical vote. I`m sure Trump won the Evangelical ( and Christian vote in general) by a large margin. Abortion is a polite way of saying kill the baby and I`m not sure how any Christian could be for that. And that is one of the main pillars of the democratic party.

        • ollie

          Voter fraud, seriously? You must be a true believer?

          As to abortion, being anti abortion is not the same as being prolife. The evangelical movement is anti family (No financial help for families. They are anti living wage. Pro war. Does one need to go on?) Being Christian means a lot more then being anti abortion! No let’s not allow abortions but let’s not help with health care, food and shelter after they are born. And lets support every war that the leadership wants to get in. I could go on but the truth is that for the most part the Evangelical Christian does not represent the Christ of the Holy Bible.

          As to what the Democratic Party represents quit drinking the rights Kool-Aid and actually do some studying yourself! It might just surprise you.

          • dferraez

            Socialism never works and never will. So if that is what you want please go to Venezuela or maybe Cuba. Oh, that`s right they keep trying to come to the terrible United States. Don`t they know that this is a horrible place where the founding fathers set up freedom for the individual for people to run their own lives and not be totally controlled by the government. I disagree with your politics and I could suggest you quit drinking your own Kool-Aid also. However, maybe we disagree for other reasons. Individual freedom vs the all powerful state. The U.S. experiment in individuals being the sovereign led to the greatest country ever. Now your belief system is trying to bring us back to where the state, not the individual, has the power.

          • Obscurely

            Is it “socialism” when the government runs our water and sewer systems? or runs the health care system (Medicare) for everyone over 65 in America?

          • dferraez

            Water systems are not federal govt. They are local and ran locally. Medicare is federal and it would be better for it to be run at the state level and I would prefer the local level for those. Same for school systems. Same for welfare systems. The more that can be handled locally, the less corruption on both sides.

          • ollie

            Very few water systems do not receive federal moneys. But still you missed the point! Water systems use all the poeples money (even if it is just on the local level) for the common good of all in a community. And that is Socialism!

          • ollie

            No socialism in the USA? Seriously? No public schools? No public libraries? No tax supported hospitals? No public supported protection groups (police, sheriff’s departments, FBI)? No public fire departments? No public roads? No Social Security? All are socialist in nature.

            Funny you should mention Venezuela and Cuba! Look up the USA’s history of interference in those countries. Then maybe you will have some selling points for your argument.

            By the way have you noticed Trumps real change international policies from Papa Bush, Clinton, Baby Bush, and Obama? Oh wait the rhetoric has changed but not the direction of policies.

            When you get a political system that gives you two choices but only one end result. You really don’t have a free society.

            You are right about one thing about me though, I don’t buy into your freedom ideal of where:

            Women should be kept barefoot and pregnant and when too old for that they belong in the fields .

            Blacks, Jews and Mexicans along with Catholics (and others) are treated as second and third class citizens.

            Where if your not Christian then you deserve whatever punishment the current “Christian” group in power wants to do to you.

            To tell the truth if your God and Christ truly represent who God is then every honest and moral person in the world is morally obligated to oppose that God and Christ!

            Try forgetting for 100 hours everything you know about Christ. And spend that 100 hours reading the Holy Bible with open eyes and more importantly an open heart! The Holy Bible does not teach your God!

          • dferraez

            Wow, its amazing how much you know about me and what I think. Blacks, Jews, Catholics, Mexicans treated as second class citizens. And of course pregnant barefoot women. I guess I hate them all. But my grandfather, who immigrated to the US from Mexico (legally, I might add) probably wouldn`t appreciate me hating him or my father, his oldest son. My Catholic wife probably wouldn`t appreciate me hating her either. Nor would my mixed niece and nephew (mixed black and white that is) like that, however most holiday meals, they`ve enjoyed eating at my house. Anyway, attacking people personally (especially if you are totally ignorant on the subject) does not help any part of what should be an honest debate. Now back to your point. Socialism is not just any government function. Nobody on the right thinks there shouldn`t be any government at all. But I believe (I`m not pretending to speak for everybody who likes Trump for the policies he has implemented, compared to Obama or what Clinton would do) the federal government is out of control as is the judicial branch. Also congress has been dysfunctional for some time. The states need to get back the power they had under the constitution. I believe that would be a far better situation than what is now in place.

          • ollie

            We were talking about the evangelical movement and over all they have a very poor record with all the groups mentioned. So my question to you is how can you support a group that even today pushes so much hatred towards people you claim to love.

            Again you miss the point that socialism is socialism regardless of the level it takes place at.

            Really most Democrats won’t disagree with your unhappiness with government incompetence only with how to deal with it.

          • dferraez

            Based on your definition of socialism, any government with any power is socialism, its just a matter of degree. That is incorrect. There are several types of governments. Our founding fathers gave us a republic (my personal favorite). Others include a monarchy, military government, or even a dictatorship. Socialism believes in government control of production ect. cet. I don`t want to bore you any further. History shows socialism to be bad. You want examples? To finish, your other contention that the Evangelicals are bad with minorities. I have no idea what you are talking about. The Evangelical churches I`ve seen are full of minorities.

          • ollie

            Most governments have at least some socialist programs.

            We give all sorts of moneys to business interests which is a form of socialism. In fact some of us believe that America believes only in socialism for the rich but capitalism for the poor.

            As to socialism being bad. I would argue that all government and economic systems fail for the same reason. That is greed.

            When Christ returns Capitalism won’t be possible and Communism won’t be needed. To be Christian and believe that any human made system is good is not to understand God.

          • dferraez

            Its true that when Christ returns we will have a perfect benevolent Monarchy. However, until that happens the best we can get is what we started out with and of course it wasn`t perfect but it was founded on the principal that man is bad and so the checks and balances. But a big error in your point about giving money to businesses as a form of socialism is that it is a voluntary giving where socialism is coerced giving. Huge difference. That is why it`s not government`s true job to be in welfare. But if it`s going to be there it should be controlled locally not by unseen bureaucrats in Washington. In the same way I would not have education controlled in Washington.

          • ollie

            Well I am so happy that you have straightened me out on bailing the banks out with 8 BILLION DOLLARS was not coerced but was totally voluntary on my part! I feel so much better now ! And when my county or city decides to raise my property taxes so that a business can get tax breaks us also voluntary!

            And what did we start out with? A theocracy?

          • ollie

            Socialism believes in government control of production ect. cet. And what are tariffs?

            How were the railways built in the USA? Huge grants of land from the government.

            As to the Repubic argument. You do understand that depending on who you were you may or may not have a right to representation?

        • Obscurely

          There is ZERO evidence of any level of “voter fraud” that has effected the outcome of any recent American election (unless you want to count the recent Republican chicanery in North Carolina and the Republican suppression of the vote in Georgia, LOL).

          • dferraez

            Incorrect. Read some books on LBJ and how he got into the Senate. There is much evidence of voter fraud, we just don`t know how much it has affected winners and losers. Fraud, by definition is hidden as much as possible. So, you think that finding 80,00 more ballots here and there is not fraud. Ha Ha.

          • Obscurely

            I’m mean real empirical evidence, not anecdotes.

  • captcrisis

    Your best post ever. Thanks!

  • Megan Marie

    Thank you for writing this. I am a liberal and agnostic, and I am disappointed by your “update”paragraph. Most of us aren’t like that. I do not mock others for their beliefs (though I am frequently baited and criticized for not raising my children as Christians) . Your piece is thoughtfully and beautifully written. You have captured the frustration that many of us feel about Trump. Regardless of what he does or does not accomplish in 4 years, our environment and global reputation will suffer exponentially. I fear that whoever is elected in the next term will spend the majority of his or her time attempting to undo Trump’s damage. If that person is a democrat, there will be plenty of criticism from Trump supporters when progress is slow because of the inherited mess. I fear too, that Trump supporters will employ the fallacy of sunk costs and double down in their attempts to re-elect him in 2020. We need more articles like this to speak clearly and respectfully to the MAGA crowd.

    • georgeyancey

      I know that there are many fair minded progressives. However a look at many of the comments indicated why I felt the need to add that paragraph. It is disappointing to me that when I criticize my conservative Christian friends that I not only have to deal with their blow back but also attacks from others who feel I did not demonize them enough. When I criticize progressives I expect them to resist that criticism. But this was the wrong blog for some of them to show their intolerance of others. And yes I will keep speaking to the MAGA crowd as best I can because I do not want to raise my sons at a time when I have such contempt for the president, which I never had before regardless of his political ideology.

      • Megan Marie

        Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not disappointed that you wrote the “update” paragraph; I’m disappointed that you HAD to write it. I am disappointed in people who can’t have a civil discussion and represent the worst of the liberals. Your article is intelligently and thoughtfully written, and I have shared it with many friends on both sides of the aisle.

        • georgeyancey

          Thank you for your kind comments. I appreciate them. I wish there were more liberals, conservatives and moderates who wanted more civil dialogue. Take care.

  • Obscurely

    I’m a pastor who finds it scandalous that so many (white) “evangelicals” continue to support a morally corrupt president. If they’re willing to set aside their objections to Trump as Christians (something many were UN-willing to do with Clinton, lol), then maybe they should consider secular/common sense arguments against his amorality?

    EXAMPLES … 1) we can’t wink at his marital infidelities because strong marriages (esp in child rearing) are in the public interest … 2) we shouldn’t tolerate his constant lying because the integrity of our democracy depends on elected officials telling the truth … 3) we should reject his race-baiting as a gross violation of one of the principles America was founded on (enshrined in both the Declaration and Constitution/Bill of Rights) …

  • Ron Swaren

    You don’t seem to get it Mr. Yancey. The spiritual struggle is over. Evangelicals went AWOL. But since politics is based upon loosely organized coalitions, SOME of the people who were fighting against Christianity (remember “the Culture Wars?”) had to find some other causes in order to prop their coalition up. So, now it is white people, males, non internationalists. Whereas liberals may have a few decades ago been arguing for self determination for peoples or nations, they now think that the American people, at least, should not be included in that. There is both an ideology and a theology that holds such people are to blame for darn near everything, no matter how untrue this in light of real historic events.

  • NorrinRadd

    You really don’t stand much chance of persuading me or any of the Evangelicals and Pentecostals in my circle. We appreciate that, as you rather sneeringly referenced, POTUS does not mean *Pastor* of the United States. As for the Slick Willy whataboutism, I did indeed despise his behavior; If Trump engaged in similar abuse of power with an intern or other subordinate while in office, I would want him removed. If there were credible allegations of rape or other abusive encounters in his past, I would want them investigated.

    My first choice was good ol’ Lyin’ Ted Cruz. When Trump beat him in the primaries, I considered abstaining in the general election; I will never knowingly vote for a candidate who does not at least pretend to be Pro-Life, so Crooked Hil was a non-starter. And really, even apart from abortion, I view most Dems as statists, whereas I favor a much more limited government; I have strong libertarian leanings.

    As for the alleged “race” stuff, unless you also critiqued Barry for his race-obsession, I don’t think you’re clear-eyed on the issue.

    I don’t know of any among the Evangelicals and Pentecostals (and even some Methodists) who have problems with most of Trump’s policies. The main exception that comes to mind, partly because it is recently in the news, is the “bump stock” ban; even if it’s something we’d have no use for, we don’t like that kind of weasely whittling away at Constitutionally protected rights. We also LIKE the fact that he does not “turn the other cheek.” We’d prefer he tone down his tweeting maybe 15%, and not actively and purposelessly START fights, but we don’t mind that he engages forcefully.

    Frankly, I don’t think any of us spend much time thinking about “our witness” as far as Trump is concerned. I mean, I don’t know that any of us thought it would be a “bad witness” to support a pseudo-Christian cultist like Mitt Romney.

    • Obscurely

      i”If there were credible allegations of rape or other abusive encounters in his past, I would want them investigated.” Since Trump was caught on tape admitting such abuse, you’ve lost both the argument here and your credibility. (Also federal prosecutors in NY recently stated in court documents that Trump committed crimes his former attorney is going to jail for — do you also think Trump is above the law?)

  • Maine_Skeptic

    “Amazing that in a blog where I explicitly criticize conservative Christians my liberal trolls are mad because I have not dehumanized them enough.”

    After reading this in your article, I expected swearing and name-calling in the comments. You’re making a false dichotomy, George. Not everyone disgusted with Evangelicals supporting the president is liberal or Democratic. Nor should you assume that people who are angry about what 81% of white Evangelicals have done is anti-Christian. There is no group of people as hateful and bigoted as those supporting the president, and pretending that this is a “both sides” issue ignores that there are more than two sides. There are plenty of Republicans and Evangelicals who are disgusted with the president and his amoral supporters.

    • Bruce Atkinson

      In your last sentence, you might as well be calling Trump supporters “deplorables” as to assume such a large group of conservative citizens to be amoral. That was a disgusting generalization.

      Of course there are Republicans and evangelicals who have been disgusted with Trump from the beginning, and I was one of them. But there were also Democrats and independents disgusted with Hillary… and some of these were evangelicals. Both candidates were disgusting to many people, but the question came down to which was the least disgusting. Trump won in a dead heat … and possibly this was the crucial election question. But we were going to be in trouble either way don’t you know. The best candidates somehow got edged out along the way. Either the presidential nomination process is messed up or the majority of the electorate is irrational (or both).

      • Maine_Skeptic

        “In your last sentence, you might as well be calling Trump supporters “deplorables” as to assume such a large group of conservative citizens to be amoral. That was a disgusting generalization.“

        Anyone who still supports the president is either amoral or is untethered from reality. It doesnt matter if they lie and tell themselves there are only two sides and “both sides do it.” It doesn’t matter if they have apologists who don’t want to think their friends and loved ones have jumped the rails. I don’t want to think that either, but at some point, the rest of us have to recognize what’s happening and stop making excuses for it.

        • Bruce Atkinson

          Way to go. You have doubled down on your judgmental generalization. The only way anyone could be that judgmental would be for them to be morally perfect themselves. Since obviously you are not perfect, then you must be only pretending to be so… which makes you a horrendous hypocrite.
          I am far from perfect, all presidents (ever) have been far from perfect, and Hillary Clinton was perhaps the worst candidate we have ever seen. We had no good choice by the time of the election. I chose the lesser of evils and have had no reason to change my mind. There are still many GOP candidates I would have chosen over Trump. I did not have that choice at the end of the day.

          And yet Trump has come through (as best any president can) in fulfilling his promises. You just refuse to see it because you (as a superior human being) were already so biased against him that you will never give him credit for any success seen in our nation during his term (like employment way up for all, especially for minorities).

          • Obscurely

            You had me until, “I chose the lesser of evils and have had no reason to change my mind.” If you can make that statement after two years of Trump — including his former lawyer going to jail for crimes federal prosecutors stated in court documents that Trump directed — then you’ve lost all credibility in this argument.

  • Mark Tyrrell

    At the beginning of the 2016 presidential campaign, the black American economist Dr. Thomas Sowell hit the nail right on the head. Namely, that if Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton were truly the very best that the Republicans and the Democrats could do, then America was (and still is) in serious trouble.

    There is a lot of talk about diversity and inclusion. From the 1990’s onwards increasing numbers of people have found themselves excluded from the brave new global economy of the 1990’s and beyond, as jobs go south and overseas, and the excluded have increasingly to work 60+ hours a week at two or more jobs in order to either hold on to what they have or for less.

    Writing as a Canadian, one could see early in the campaign that Donald Trump was going to win big time. He did what I have never known a business or political leader to do. He went directly to the excluded, that is to white working poor America, to rustbelt America, to rural America, and to the ever-shrinking middle America and addressed the issue head on. Where have all the jobs gone? He gave answers, howbeit wrong ones.

    This, Hilary Clinton, Wall Street, and the captains of industry refused to do, thus a Trump victory was a foregone conclusion.

    Finally, something needs to be said about the birther issue. It was Hilary Clinton in 2008 who made Barack Obama’s birth certificate an issue, in an effort to derail his presidential ambitions. Furthermore, if it is still a mystery to some people as to why Donald Trump won in 2016 (and indeed will win again in 2020) they need to look in the mirror for the answer.

  • Bruce Atkinson

    Had Hillary Clinton won the election due to the evangelical vote, might the title to this article be.. ” The Cost of Clinton to Evangelicals”? It is sad but true, evangelicals had only those two candidates to choose between. What would attract evangelicals to Hillary over Trump?

    The true cost of Trump to evangelicals and evangelicalism is minimal. Let me explain. No real evangelical is going to budge from his or her gospel-promoting evangelicalism because other evangelicals happened to choose to vote for Trump over Clinton. Nor will they allow politics to sway their faith. What is the definition of “evangelicalism”? I guarantee you that neither ‘political party’ nor ‘candidate preference’ can be found in that definition.

    All the liberal evangelical media brouhaha and commotion over the Trump votes will affect a few nominal evangelicals (EINO- evangelical in name only), some toward Trump and some away from him, but it will not move the great majority. They, like me, see all the drama and hand-wringing as absolutely ridiculous. If evangelicals lose numbers because of Trump, then those leaving were never truly evangelical at all. Good riddance.
    Evangelicalism is about the gospel of Jesus Christ (and a personal relationship with Him); it is about the Great Commission and the authority of the Scriptures. It is NOT about any nation’s politics.

    • Obscurely

      This pastor says, AMEN!

  • Obscurely

    It’s WHITE evangelicals who continue to support a morally corrupt president — and according to the Washington Post most of them don’t go to church — https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/03/29/where-is-trumps-evangelical-base-not-in-church

  • Doug Johnson

    I did not get interested in politics until 1980 with the trifecta of Reagan, Falwell and Dobson. Up to that point, Billy Graham was the most prominent evangelical leader who was politically involved but he kept a certain distance and had credibility in a limited way with both parties. We were drawn to the allure of political power as a way of changing culture (a “ring of power” so to speak). Every group who uses this method becomes corrupted by it and Evangelicals are as human as everyone else. This President is no role model, is immoral, panders to the Religious Right, and embarrasses me. He also does what I have wanted every other Republican to do and did not. If he betrayed his base, he would have been abandoned by now, by myself also. Like taking a bitter medicine, I voted for him before and If he continues doing what I believe is right then I will take this medicine again. I hate doing it and it leaves me feeling ill. I would like just one respected Christian leader like this author to tell me whose name I should pick the next time and, when I see the result of a declining country, reassure me that everything is OK and to ignore what I see.