Those religious people, these adherents to Trumpianity, are far more egregious violators of all that is right and holy than just the disgruntled of the nation. They have betrayed everything I have ever stood for as a woman of faith.
Who am I to judge?
I was out taking a walk on Monday, Dec. 14, the day the Electors of each state met to cast their vote that would seal (or unseal, depending on your hopes) the Biden presidency. I overtook a couple of older, male strollers, both Trump voters.
How do I know that? Because they were discussing, with quite loud voices, the election “irregularities” and quoting someone they had seen on Newsmax, one of the far-right news outlets that hopes to take over from Fox News as the mouthpiece of the Trumpians.
As I walked past them, I felt my gut crunch inside. “How could they,” I thought, “still hold onto the ridiculous set of conspiracy theories that insist a massive, well-coordinated fraud has pretended to defeat Mr. Trump? How could people that stupid live in this neighborhood?”
I sped up my pace, wanting to be out of earshot of their voices, and then began a necessary wrestling with my own soul. “How could I,” I thought, “be so totally condemnatory of two people I have never met, immediately branding them as stupid and ignorant and unthinking and, of course, racist, sexist and generally immoral? I know NOTHING about them except they live in the same privileged neighborhood I live in.”
The growing horror
Things have changed since then. The vast majority of people in the US have been horrified to learn that Mr. Trump did indeed intentionally incite an insurrection against the very government he vowed to protect at his swearing-in ceremony, January 20, 2017.
As more details emerge, we learn how perilously close the rioters came to dismantling our entire government. Likely we will see more attacks on our democracy, fueled by our unstable President who is beyond terrified at having to become a private citizen again and who must escape the label “Loser!” that he so easily slapped on others.
So, what to think now about those who voted for Mr. Trump–and especially those who still think he won the election and it was “stolen” from him?
For the average Trump voter, those accepting that he legitimately lost and/or that the first week of January so fully revealed his intentions that they now realize the end has come, compassion would be the best response. They had their reasons for their votes and let us trust that, to them, those reasons were good. For those who were sure that God wanted Mr. Trump to be elected, I call for gentleness with what may be a crisis of faith.
But what about the true believers in Trumpianity? The insurgents and their supporters? Those who still insist Mr. Trump is the rightful President? Those who fly the Christian flag as they sought to take down the government of the US? Those who insist they are doing this as a holy mission from God, egged on by their spiritual leaders?
Here, deep anger is a realistic response. Had things turned out slightly differently, Vice-President Pence, along with Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader McConnell, might be dead or at least badly injured. We were inches from such dire consequences. At that point, Mr. Trump as Commander-in-Chief, could have ordered the military to take over. It was very possible that Mr. Trump would now be on his way to an unaccountable dictatorship.
Trumpianity in action
For me, anyone who continues to support Mr. Trump is lost . . . and that is where something beyond anger is going to have to come into play. It is possible that as many as 1/3 of US citizens still think the election has been “stolen” and wish to keep this man in power. Certainly two Senators, Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, lead that vicious pack and hope to keep them energized for their planned runs for the White House.
All live in the semi-religious cult that can only be called Trumpianity.
What do the rest of us do with/about the true believers in Trumpianity? Beat them up until they recant their heresies? Any reader of history knows those tactics don’t work.
What about stopping Trump’s megaphone, as Twitter, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon seek to do? That may slow things down in the short run, but we live in a world of rapid technological implementation. New platforms will soon spring up.
Remember, Trumpianity has multitudes of true believers. Suppression fuels even more conspiracy theories. Perceived oppression reinforces the massive echo-chambers that solidify into cement their grievances and sense of being on the right side. Trump morphs into a martyr, demanding even further adoration and obeisance.
Please note: I think that Twitter and Facebook have made the best of a scary situation by no longer giving Mr. Trump access to his followers through those means. This is now a matter of national security. Nonetheless, . . . the rabid anger coming from Mr. Trump and his followers will find expression–with even more dire consequences.
Should we indict Mr. Trump? Assuming he does not resign, absolutely yes. First with Impeachment by the House, followed by a Senate trial that rightly convicts him. It would be best for our entire nation for Mr. Trump to lose all post-presidential privileges and be barred from ever running for political office again.
Likely many other lawsuits will be filed against him after January 20. These are necessary to remind the people that insurrections and attempted coups are never acceptable.
The question we all face
But there are still those millions who live and breathe Trumpianity. How shall you and I treat them? How shall you and I view them? How shall you and I invite them to see other possibilities?
That is the question in front of two groups of people, one a subset of the other.
First, it is the question in front of all US citizens who carry horror at Mr. Trump’s treasonous activities. How to treat their fellow citizens who supported and still support these kinds of activities intended to take down our democracy? We must offer alternatives but I have no idea how, although I suspect the answer lies in a far more robust public education system.
The second, the subset, is those of us who are people of faith and who have seen entirely too many Christians leave behind a life centered on Jesus to pick up one centered on Mr. Trump.
This is the question I face. Those religious people, these adherents to Trumpianity, are far more egregious violators of all that is right and holy than just the disgruntled of the nation. They have betrayed everything I have ever stood for as a woman of faith.
These, and especially their religious leaders, will be the hardest for me to forgive and offer grace because they deliberately walked away from the center of their faith to embrace a man without morality, without conscience, without scruples, and with no intention of honoring the democratic principles that underly this nation.
The very foundation of Trumpianity belies anything that can possibly be called “Christian.”
Thus my horror, my anger. It is likely that their move to Trumpianity will greatly magnify the numbers of people leaving the church, leaving the faith and embracing a life of secularism. Why? Because, sadly, there is more morality on the outside the faith than there is on the inside.
And so I sit with a mixture of compassion, anger, horror, and genuine concern mingled with real fear for what the next few weeks will bring.
I want to offer generous grace to others as well as to myself. But I am not sure I can yet extend it to that subset: the “Christians” who still support Mr. Trump and still want him to stay in office. I am not able to enter their world. I have no tools, no answers.
May God have mercy upon us all.