Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Walking Humbly With His God

James, likely either the (half-) brother or the cousin of Jesus Christ, once wrote "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." Thus, on Thanksgiving President Trump said he was most thankful

For having a great family and for having made a tremendous difference in this country.  I’ve made a tremendous difference in the country.  This country is so much stronger now than it was when I took office, that you wouldn’t believe it.  And — I mean, you see it, but so much stronger that people can’t even believe it.  When I see foreign leaders, they say, “We cannot believe the difference in strength between the United States now and the United States two years ago.”  Made a lot of progress.

The President's evangelical supporters probably know that King Solomon maintained "when pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom."  They have read the words of Peter "finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble."

Nevertheless (perhaps not nevertheless, but because), white evangelical Protestants are arguably the most committed leg of Donald Trump's base.  Conventional wisdom has it that their loyalty is afforded the President because of his opposition to abortion rights and placement on the Supreme Court of two very conservative, anti-choice judges.

But that assumption may be in error. William Saletan notes that in a September 2018 survey undertaken for the Public Research Religion Institute, white evangelical Protestants ("WEP's") were

asked whether recent police shootings of black men were “isolated incidents” or “part of a broader pattern of how police treat African Americans.” Seventy-one percent of WEPs said such killings were isolated incidents, compared with 63 percent of white Catholics and 59 percent of white mainline Protestants. In the BGC survey, 59 percent of non-evangelical whites agreed with the statement, “I am disturbed by comments President Trump has made about minorities.” But a plurality of white evangelicals disagreed with it.

Trump’s connection with WEPs on racial issues goes deeper than indifference. It’s based on shared identity. In the words of Christian essayist Michael Gerson, evangelicals have degenerated into an “anxious minority,” defining themselves as “an interest group in need of protection and preferences.” Stetzer, based on his analysis of survey data, finds that race and ethnicity, not faith, are driving much of this process. Many white evangelicals see their religion not as a universal calling but as a heritage that sets them apart. They fear people of other creeds, colors, and languages.

Additionally, a poll conducted for the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College discovered that

when white evangelicals were asked to name all the factors that influenced their votes in 2016, fewer than half mentioned abortion or the Supreme Court. Their top issues were the economy, health care, national security, and immigration. The biggest gap between pro-Trump evangelicals and other evangelicals, when they were pressed to name the most important voting issue, was on immigration. That issue was more important to Trump supporters in the BGC survey, and it’s a big winner for Trump among WEPs in other polls. “White evangelicals overwhelmingly back more hardline positions on immigration, with three-fourths wanting a reduction in legal immigration,” BGC director) Stetzer reports.

Consequently, white evangelical Protestants may back Trump because many are conservative across-the-board. Alternatively, it is conceivable that once a politically conservative evangelical believes that a politician is strongly anti-abortion rights and wants to reshape the Court accordingly, he or she accepts blindly the politician's views on other issues.

Consequently, these individuals may willingly accept other traits, such as an egotism and narcissism as wide as the Garden of Eden, which are antithetical to biblical Christianity.  With Donald Trump's character fully and continually on display the past several years, white evangelical Protestants know what he is- and may view it less as a bug than as a favorable characteristic. They have forgotten- or chosen to disregard-  that pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

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