A Vox article came out today that has brought a me a little closer to understanding something that has been rather puzzling until now. I know I’m not the only one to scratch my head while Trump is openly embraced by the likes of Jerry Falwell, or huddled in a circle jerk prayer meeting with elite religious leaders in the Oval Office. Just last Monday Rick Perry came out to praise Trump as “the chosen one” by God, or whatever, and I believe Nikki Haley piled on that particular praise as well. Political opportunism and cynicism aside, just what the fuck is going on here? How can a man who paid off a porn star with whom he had sex with, all while he had a pregnant wife at home, be “the chosen one”? How can a guy who’s first instinct is to lie, even about inconsequential things like inauguration crowd sizes, be the vessel of God’s, or whatever’s, will and not that of Satan, the supposed father of all lies?
Enter Ezra Klein, author of the aforementioned article, “The post-Christian culture wars” to shed a little light on the subject. He paints an image of aging conservatives, and how they view the very real changes that are occurring in this country. Secularism is on the rise, especially amongst the Millennial and Gen Z sets, and conservatives have of course responded by losing their shit. They tend to view this demographical shift as an existential threat to all that they hold dear. And by “all that they hold dear”, I of course refer to the bigotry, racism, homophobia, and general fear of the “other” that pervades conservative thought, and animates them at the polls like nothing else.
First one must understand that just being Christian gives them, in their own eyes at least, a moral authority. Anyone who does not subscribe to that moral authority are going directly to hell, do not pass go, do not collect $200 dollars. They believe that morality simply does not exist in the absence of religion, and ethics are a strange and foreign language lacking the weight of God, or whatever, handing down the rulebook from on high. Furthermore, they avail themselves of the delusion that secularists are out to get them and ground every last Christian into dust because of their antiquated, bronze age beliefs. They are forever unable to reconcile their holy scripture, the literal word of God, or whatever, with the horrible, bigoted, racist, homophobic, et. al., legislation rendered in the name of that scripture. If it’s comes from the Bible, then it comes from God, or whatever, and is therefore of the highest moral authority. Anyone opposing that legislation is in short the enemy; an opposing force in a war that only they believe is real.
All of which leads us to Trump. Here, they have a man who will do or say anything to further their cause. Here they have a man who is willing to stand up to these subversive progressives, or anyone else whom they believe are gleefully dismantling their cherished, Christian norms and standards. These are people tired of being shamed as bigots, racists, and homophobes, choosing instead to remain oblivious that they are in fact siding with bigots, racists, and homophobes. Now they have someone in the White House who shares their willingness to maintain that delusion, or at least is willing to give that delusion some serious lip service. In Trump, they have a man willing to get his hands bloody so that they can stay above the fray, so to speak. All of this is enshrined in the slogan “Make America Great Again”, with its implied sense that in their view things have gotten worse over time, and not better. For those of us not living in Trump’s Bizzaro-land universe, we rightly ask, “at what point was America greater than it is now?”, For those of us unconvinced by our own self-righteousness, or lacking faith in the invisible man in the sky theory, the slogan represents an open embrace of all of the evils that were thought to have been overcome since the founding of our republic.
Putting the secularist shift and the rise of Trump into focus here, other things start to fall in place. Viewing the rise of secularism as an existential threat to Christianity enables them to adopt a winner takes all mindset. Things that were once unthinkable, such as supporting a wretched, narcissistic, anti-intellectual fuckwad like Trump and calling him “the chosen one”, are now rationalized away with relative ease. Yes, that’s right. Their paranoid, desperate bid to remain relevant has brought them to the negotiating table, and they made a deal with the devil himself. In this deal, the Christians get to indulge in their delusions that they are not bigots, racists, and homophobes for just a little while longer, and Trump gets the Christian vote.
I do however take a bit of solace, given the self-destructive path that this appears to be leading down. Consider these paragraphs from the article:
The irony of all this is that Christian conservatives are likely hastening the future they most fear. In our conversation, Jones told me about a 2006 survey of 16- to 29-year-olds by the Barna Group, an evangelical polling firm, that asked 16- to 29-year-olds for their top three associations with present-day Christianity. Being “antigay” was first, with 91 percent, followed by “judgmental,” with 87 percent, and “hypocritical,” with 85 percent. Christianity, the Barna Group concluded, has “a branding problem.”
It seems unlikely that that branding problem will be fixed by a tighter alliance with Trump, who polls at 31 percent among millennials and 29 percent among Generation Z. If young people are abandoning Christianity because it seems intolerant, judgmental, and hypocritical — well, intolerant, judgmental, and hypocritical is the core of Trump’s personal brand.
God, or whatever, help them Christians if Trump is their last, great hope at relevancy, because things do not look good going forward.
To conclude, and in the spirit of fellowship, I’m going to dispense some sage advice to my Christian brethren. Stick to the message of love and respect for your fellow man (or woman), and leave all that hateful shit behind. Nobody is trying to go after your religion, but rather the bigoted views that arise from your twisted interpretation of it. If your God, or whatever, is going to punish you for baking a cake for a gay couple, and yet casts a blind eye to kids being separated from their parents and locked in cages, I don’t wanna even know what pure hell that famed kingdom in heaven is going to be like. You don’t need Trump at all, and the sooner you all realize that, the sooner you can get back to the business of passing the offering plate around on Sunday with a reasonable expectation of seeing it come back filled with fat stacks of cash.