Republican Party at Prayer
You’ve got to cut a lot of corners to answer the question “Why do white evangelicals still staunchly support Donald Trump?” in an Op-Ed column, and John Fea cuts a lot of corner that even I, no great historian, can spot.
Further, it’s now 40+ years since I left frank Evangelicalism for equivocal maybe-sorta Evangelicalism, and 20+ years since I left Protestantism entirely. Consequence: I am blissfully unaware of many of the doings in frank Evangelicalism these days.
With those caveats, let me say that this rings true:
Indeed, many white evangelical pastors do not preach politics from their pulpit. Some speak boldly against the idolatrous propensity of their congregations to seek political saviors.
But these pastors cannot control the messaging their flocks imbibe after they leave church on Sunday. And a massive Christian right messaging machine targets these Americans with precision. Ministries and nonprofit organizations, driven by conservative political agendas, bombard the mailboxes, inboxes and social media feeds of ordinary evangelicals. Many of these organizations appeal to long-standing evangelical fears about cultural decline or provide selective historical evidence that the United States was founded as, and continues to be, a “Christian nation,” even though this never was true.
Evangelicals filter what they hear during weekly sermons through Fox News and conservative talk radio, producing an approach to political engagement that looks more like the Republican Party than the Kingdom of God.
It is to pastors’ credit if they don’t preach politics and discourage “trust in princes, sons of men in whom there is no salvation.” But when parishioners immerse in slime the rest of the week, it’s likely to be for naught.
I still get some of the shrill direct mails, which have their equivalents on the Left, but I’ve develeoped a preferential option for quietness and sobriety in fundraising.