Friday, September 15, 2023

Not Nuts. Not Stupid. Only Dangerous.

Former member of the United States House of Representatives and former Republican notes the continuing, probably increasing, support of white evangelicals for Donald J. Trump.

 Anyone who thinks Donald Trump is a man of “deep faith,” or a man of ANY faith for that matter, is seriously nuts.

One of these individuals is Jim Caviezel (rhymes with "weasel" because, of course) who played the Son of God himself in the awful "The Passion of Christ."  Ron Filipkowski reports

His new faith-based movie is out, and he encourages Donald Trump to watch it to put him "at peace and at rest, because you more than anyone have done incredible things. Jesus talks about that."

The former actor who played Jesus says that Trump may not quote the Bible or talk about God much because "he is private in his faith." Caviezel then says Trump is just like David. "Trump is like that ... I believe Donald Trump was selected by God."

He then said when God called upon Trump to run for president, "he listened to the voice and probably didn't think he was the best guy ... but a guy like him will able to sit there and watch this and feel safe and at peace."

Perhaps one of Donald Trump's greatest cons, in a lifetime of cons, was convincing evangelicals that he is one of them.

Filipkowski commits a very common error, even (especially) among the best known media outfits. It is not a "faith-based" movie. It is a religious movie. You, the readers, have faith: that after Friday, there will be Saturday; that it will snow in northern Maine this winter; and that if nominated for President, Donald Trump will not select Mitt Romney to be his running mate.

Jim QAnon Caviezel probably does not represent most evangelical/conservative Christians. Nonetheless, it is correct that "convincing evangelicals that he is one of them" is one of Trump's greatest cons. And Joe Walsh should be congratulated for consistently calling out Trump, especially for being religious, or a man of faith, or Christian in any meaningful sense of the word.

Walsh gets a lot of grief on social media for noting that the emperor has no clothes, which is unjustified, because the emperor is plainly nude. However, it is not being "nuts" that enervates the support of so many white evangelicals for the crude and rude 45th President. Asthis article from the AP in January notes, there are many reasons and reasonable explanations but I believe this is the best explanation:

Robert Jeffress, pastor of an evangelical megachurch in Dallas, has been a staunch supporter of Trump since his first campaign for president and is sticking by him even as rivals like South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and former Vice President Mike Pence tout their Christian faith.

“Conservative Christians continue to overwhelmingly support Donald Trump because of his biblical policies, not his personal piety,” Jeffress told The Associated Press via email. “They are smart enough to know the difference between choosing a president and choosing a pastor.”

“In many ways, Christians feel like they are in an existential cultural war between good and evil, and they want a warrior like Donald Trump who can win,” Jeffress added.

Of course, those of us old enough do remember when the GOP nominated for President believing Christians such as Gerald Ford and George W. Bush or those, such as George Herbert Walker Bush or Ronald(6) Wilson(6) Reagan(6) who at least pretended to be people "of faith." At that time, we all were expected to believe, with nary a doubt expressed by mainstream media, that Republican politicians were solid Christians (or at least theists) while Democratic ones were godless, and that it mattered. The catchphrase "family values" enabled Republicans, especially (not exclusively) conservative ones, to pose as the guardians of traditional, homespun American morality.

We've since learned that was all a crock, though the media never will concede they  were sold a bill of goods. What is true- though obscured- then is acknowledged now. Jeffress recognizes that conservative Christians are not stupid, and are smart enough to know the difference between choosing a president and choosing a pastor.

Furthermore, "nuance" is not in their dictionary, online or in hard copy. That probably speaks to a lack of tolerance; a lack of intelligence, far less so.

Most do think they are in an existential war between good and evil. They want someone whom they think can roll over Democrats, liberals, and all others they believe do not uphold biblical principles and apply them to governance.  Getting three right-wingers on the U.S. Supreme Court has not hurt.

The ex-President's obvious lack of religiosity or piety has not, and will not, become a stumbling block to gaining the support of white religious conservatives. Trump clearly panders to them, beginning with the selection of Mike Pence as his running mate, continued with his support of Christian nationalism, and probably actually was enhanced when he posed in front of St. John's Episcopal Church across from Lafayette Park and held a Bible as if it were a poisonous snake. Why would he bother to hold up a Bible, Christian conservatives probably thought, if he did not value our support?

It would be far less divisive if their hero were not someone brazenly bigoted, self-centered, viciously belligerent, and corrupt.  However, given a choice between someone with those personal characteristics who will work on their political behalf and a decent human being who will not do so, they will choose the former. And truth be told, offered a choice between someone with Trump's characteristics who will promote those policies and an upright human being who also will do so, most Christian conservatives still would opt for the crude and rude option. After all, they are convinced they are in a war between good and evil, and are sure they are not the evil ones.


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