Updated — see below
I feel compelled to write this piece because so much of the commentary here at BMG reflects a profound misunderstanding of the theology and resulting worldview of the Trumpist evangelical right wing.
I refer to a faith tradition that starts with the credo that the King James bible is the literal and inerrant Word of God. Some followers of this tradition narrow that to specific editions of the King James bible, in light of the many mistranslations and resulting changes made to the text in question. A strong force within this faith tradition is the “Prosperity Gospel”, advocated by evangelists like the late Oral Roberts. The premise of this belief is that prosperity is a gift given by God to those He approves of. By implication, this tradition asserts that poverty is a sign of God’s disapproval. This faith tradition views the material universe as a battleground between “Good” and “Evil”, fought between God and Satan. Followers of this tradition believe that God, in the person of Jesus, will return to Israel, where an epic final confrontation will be fought that will ravish the entire earth. A chosen few will be literally lifted into Heaven, and the rest will be left behind.
Just to be clear about some realities: This is a faith tradition whose followers assert that the earth is 6,000 years old and that God created humanity in a single act. Followers of this tradition view science, especially biology, as the work of Satan. Many believe that fossils are created by God to test our faith.
The faith tradition I describe is not some extremist cult with a handful of followers. Millions of Americans subscribe to these articles of faith.
This religious context is crucial to understanding the challenge we face over the next several decades. When this community asserts its right to practice its beliefs, we must remember that these followers believe themselves to be acting in accordance with God’s will. They view our opposition as the work of Satan. They believe that they will ultimately triumph.
Here are ten very specific aspects of this that demand explicit enumeration:
1. Followers of this faith tradition view themselves as God’s chosen people
2. Followers of this faith tradition believe that if they are not wealthy, it is because Satanic forces are at work to temporarily thwart God’s will for them.
3. “Liberal Democrats” epitomize these Satanic forces. Liberal Democrats encourage abortion, homosexuality, fornication, and so on throughout America.
4. God is currently punishing America for the sins of America’s Liberal Democrats.
5. Any science or objective analysis that argues to the contrary is the work of Satan
6. The mainstream media is the explicit voice of Satan, attempting to dissuade the faithful from their revealed Truth.
7. Women are created to serve men. This service is primarily to bear and then raise children within the confines of heterosexual marriage. Women should at all times be subservient to their husbands.
8. Any non-procreative sex act is immoral, as is any sex act outside heterosexual holy matrimony. Within a marriage, the only Godly purpose for sex is to make babies and please the husband.
9. America was created by God to be a nation of God. The laws of America must therefore be changed so that they are in accordance with God’s will
10. Donald Trump is the unlikely warrior chosen by God to fulfill God’s purpose and vision for America. Any opposition or criticism of Donald Trump is a Satanic attack on God.
The votes of these Americans will not be won over by any sort of rational or logical argument. They will not be affected by economic arguments. We are talking about religious fervor unconstrained by any connection to the real world.
We deny the reality of this faith tradition — and their religious hostility to our very being — at our extreme peril.
The New York Times published a piece today about evangelical women in Texas who support Beto O’Rourke. That piece includes the following (emphasis mine):
It’s far from clear how much influence voters like Ms. Clarke and her friends will have in the Senate race. Texas remains a deeply conservative state. One in three Texans are evangelical, according to the Pew Research Center, and 85 percent of white evangelical voters in Texas supported Mr. Trump in 2016, higher than even the national average, which was a record high for a presidential election. Republican strategists dismiss the notion that their Texas base shows any signs of cracking.
I understand that not all evangelical voters are as extreme as the cohort I describe here. At the same time, these numbers should be a wake-up call:
– One in three Texas voters are evangelical
– 85% of those supported Donald Trump in 2016
We must not allow ourselves to discount the influence that this demographic has on politics at the national level.