Sarah Posner's New Republic article, "Amazing Disgrace" (March 20, 2017) asks the question: "How did Donald Trump—a thrice-married, biblically illiterate sexual predator—hijack the religious right?"
As data about voting patterns and survey results mount, it's increasingly clear that millions of self-identified, rank-and-file conservative Christians are at home with ideas or attitudes of the racist and nationalist right-wing—the so-called alt-right.
The term alt-right derives from "alternative right." But intentionally or not it also echos the German alt, old, and could in fact be described as a kind of "Old Right"—nativist, backward-looking, homophobic, and seeking racial and cultural homogenization including through non-democratic means if necessary.
Posner's article presents stark confirmation that the religious right-wing in its support of Donald Trump is letting its slip show: that the movement's foundation garment, close to the skin as it were, is racism.
Posner notes that the religious right was:
galvanized in the 1970s and early ’80s, when the IRS revoked the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University and other conservative Christian schools that refused to admit nonwhites. It was the government’s actions against segregated schools, not the legalization of abortion, that “enraged the Christian community,” Moral Majority co-founder Paul Weyrich has acknowledged.
By openly embracing the racism of the alt-right, Trump effectively played to the religious right’s own roots in white supremacy.
Posner notes that "white evangelicals were the key to Trump’s victory—they provided the numbers that the alt-right lacks."
In fact, these alt-right Christians—millions among America's conservative evangelical, conservative Pentecostal, and fundamentalist Christians—reflect this grim reality more so than some of their religious leaders.
According to Brad Griffin, a white supremacist activist in Alabama, “the average evangelical, not-too-religious Southerner who’s sort of a populist” was drawn to Trump primarily “because they like the attitude.”
Before the election, Griffin worried that white evangelicals would find his “Southern nationalist” views problematic. But.... “All these pastors and whatnot went in there and said Trump’s a racist, a bigot, and a fascist and all this, and their followers didn’t listen to them.”
Those ignored evangelical leaders are mindful of the large percentage of younger American who reject in particular the divisiveness, homophobia, and Republican Party partisanship that has marked conservative Christianity in America for more than 40 years.
Concerned about generational decline, and perhaps more mindful through pastoral experience and formal theological training, they are more critical of Trump, including his demagogic and authoritarian proclivities not to mention the xenophobic and often crypto-racist rhetoric and policies.
Even conservative evangelical Reverend Rob Schenck, a leader of the religious right especially visible in the 1990s, is concerned.
Schenck fears that “Trump and his gang” have exposed an evangelical culture “that doesn’t know itself.” Sitting in his Capitol Hill townhouse, Schenck picks up his copy of Ethics, by the anti-Nazi theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer, he says, argued that because Jesus was a “man for others,” Christians are called “not to hold the other in contempt, or to be afraid of the other, or contemptuous of the other.” Yet when Schenck visited evangelical churches during the Obama years, he lost count of how many times he was asked, quite earnestly: “Is the president the Antichrist?”
Read the article in full at: https://newrepublic.com/article/140961/amazing-disgrace-donald-trump-hijacked-religious-right