Tillerson's speech
All of Us

Evangelicals & Trump

Much has been written about the puzzling support of Donald Trump by Evangelicals (meaning conservative to fundamentalist Protestants and not the more correct theological term of groups descended from Martin Luther, of which my denomination, for instance, is a part).

On one hand, I'm not puzzled by the craven Evangelical leaders supporting him.  Many of them gave evidence of their moral vacuity years ago.  Importantly, not all Evangelicals have backed him.  Russell Moore, for instance, has been an outspoken critic, and maybe now risking his job because of it.  

I'm more puzzled by the support of the average Evangelical who I know to generally believe in morality. The Evangelicals I grew up with largely abandoned Clinton because of his draft dodging, pot smoking, and affairs, even though they had been Yellow Dog Democrats until the 1990's.  It is these folk who puzzle me.  I wonder what has changed in the Evangelical world since I departed it?

This Molly Worthen article in the Atlantic I did not find helpful, because I believe it misrepresents Evangelical history. In particular she sites opposition to the New Deal as being an organizing principle for Evangelical politics. Now, the Evangelical world I grew up in was, as already stated, Yellow Dog Democrat.  FDR was a deeply admired person.  The Southern Baptists I knew were mostly supporters of the New Deal.

She's not wrong about the conservative Evangelicals who early embraced right wing politics, but this shows that there was a complexity to the Evangelical world often overlooked in mainstream journalist.  Let me explain a little.

In the small town Oklahoma Southern Baptist world I grew up in, there was not a widespread embrace of conservative Evangelicalism.  Pentecostals of various stripes were often looked down upon as "holly rollers."  People like Jerry Falwell, the Bakers, Pat Robertson, etc. had very little to no influence.  They were viewed with great skepticism by the people I grew up with and were considered greedy and craven and abusers of religion.

That more mainstream, even moderate Evangelicalism was overtaken by an alliance of fundamentalists and right wing politicians is itself a story that needs to be told in more detail.


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