I used to speak evangelical and could explain what they say and believe. There was a logic to their mindset that, regardless of agreeing or disagreeing with, could be understood and explained. In their current incarnation, there has been such a rapid shift since Trump’s candidacy that I can’t understand, let alone interpret anymore.
Last week I was interviewed by Cass Midgley for an upcoming episode of the “Everyone’s Agnostic” podcast. I do not know what will make the final cut and what will not. But there were two moments that kept rattling in my brain. One was a fun role play in which we had a mock conversation speaking in “christian-ese” and the other was speaking briefly about evangelicals in the era of Trump.
I became a born again evangelical charismatic Christian in the early to mid 80’s. This was the evangelical Christianity co opted by the Reagan administration. Evangelicals were pro life. We were also homophobic and we believed a prosperity gospel. Though we believed divorce and remarriage was bad, we were willing to let Reagan run the executive branch since he was pro life. Divorce was, by the way, one of the reasons evangelical Christians would not vote for former Republican Vice President Nelson Rockefeller in his presidential bids in 1960, 1964, and 1968.
I look back on who I was and what I used to believe. When I started walking away from Evangelical Christianity in 2006 towards something more progressive (and then ultimately leaving Christianity altogether) I no longer agreed with Evangelicals with their understanding of the bible, politics, or society. However, I could explain it to you rationally and reasonably.
I felt like an interpreter. I could explain to non evangelicals the reasons why evangelicals were pro life. Marriage Equality and LGBTQIA+ rights opposition, I could explain that as well. I also knew that in many and political and social issues we were at an impasse with evangelicals.
I’m not sure when it changed, but the folkways and mores of the evangelicals became unrecognizable to me. I first became aware of it when Trump looked like he would win the Republican primaries. I wrote it off as frustration and their feeling of powerlessness. Even though we were the power, we always convinced ourselves we were losing the culture wars and were oppressed and persecuted.
This was not only a man who was divorced, but divorced three times. A known cheater in all relationships. Business relationships and romantic relationships. The more we learned about him that we did not already know, the worse he became.
Rockefeller was not fit to serve by Evangelicals because he was divorced and remarried. They made a big deal out of the speculation that Bill Clinton smoked, but not inhaled, pot while he was in college. But Trump can do pretty much anything.
I had commented on social media during the last presidential campaign that Evangelicals would vote for the devil himself if he said he was pro life. I did not take it far enough. This is a group that believes there is an antichrist and a coming apocalypse. The truth is they would vote for the antiChrist hailing him as an angel of light if they were just promised power and control and the ability to win the culture wars.
The Evangelicals that voted for Reagan, bought books by Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson were not the most understanding sub culture in the world. We made them out to be monsters for reprehensible views. We did not know what this creature would morph into.
They defend the practice of children in cages forever denied not only civil rights, but from ever seeing their parents again. A president can threaten the first amendment, eighth amendment, fourteenth amendment, and openly violate the separation of powers and they do not care and dare to call themselves patriotic and followers of Jesus.
They are, however, ardent defenders of the immutable 2nd amendment. If they are reading this, they will not understand the humor when I bring up that this amendment is as immutable and sacred as the eighteenth and twenty first amendment.
Additionally, they adore not only Trump, but Pence. I’m working on an article as to how dangerous Pence is to the LGBTQIA+ community.
The Christian-ese inside lingo that men like Graham and Falwell use are often the same terms their fathers used. I understand the words, but the meaning is lost in translation and I can no longer explain their logic.
That terrifies me.
I used this picture once before in an article on Transparent Expedition. I did not explain it. This piece first unveiled at an art gallery in the Chicago area. It also was displayed at an art show at the Metro in Chicago and at a pop up show in Aurora, Illinois.
It is called “Suburban Addiction”.
The lighting is meant to reflect what a photo would look like taken by a camera using Kodak 110 film in the 1980’s. The elements include the iPhone, reflecting materialism. The bible is under a glass of wine showing how it is a mere prop for something intoxicating. The hand model is adorned with lovely nails, jewelry and using a $20 bill reflecting further opulence. The pumpkin spice is cut into lines like cocaine for two reasons. The first reason is that the piece was unveiled in fall and it seems like everything is pumpkin spice flavored in fall. The second is the cocaine is orange. It does not take a very stable genius to figure that one out. This is not merely suburban addictions, this is the values of modern Christianity with it’s roots in something older.
I would love this piece to find a few more good homes. I limited this to 25 prints and have sold 5, so there are only 20 left.