Recommended for reading in full:
Progressive evangelical (and Sanders supporter) Elizabeth Bruenig writes delicately of Trump-supporting evangelicals in In God’s country (‘Evangelicals view Trump as their protector. Will they stand by him in 2020?’).
Conservative evangelical Michael Gerson writes more fittingly of Trump-supporting evangelicals in Some white evangelicals are difficult to recognize as Christians at all:
Massive budget cuts to hunger-relief programs in Africa, refusing to take in desperate Syrian refugees and separating crying children from their parents at the border are tolerable, but using the Lord’s name in vain is a bridge too far? Pathological lying, spreading conspiracy theories, misogyny, making racist comments and dehumanizing others are permissible, but swearing somehow crosses the line?
How we order our outrage says much about us. Do we feel the violation of a religious rule more intensely than the violation of human dignity? Do we prioritize our religiosity above our anthropology — above our theory of human beings and their rights?
This kind of Pharisaical preference for rules over humans reveals a large gap of spiritual education. In a poll conducted last year by the Pew Research Center, only 25 percent of white evangelical Christians said the United States has a responsibility to accept refugees, while 65 percent of those not affiliated with a religion affirmed that duty. What could possibility explain this 40-percentage-point gap in inclusion and compassion? For a certain kind of secularist, this reveals cruelty, corruption and hypocrisy at the heart of the Christian faith. But traditionally, many of the institutions that do refugee resettlement have been Christian.
The problem does not lie in Christianity but in the moral formation of Christians. Are they getting their view of refugees from Christian sources? Or are they taking their view from Fox News, talk radio and Trump? I suspect the latter. And the worship of political idols is ultimately a spiritual problem — a different kind of blasphemy.
These challenges run deeper than politics. Many white evangelical Christians hold a faith that appeals to the comfortable rather than siding with the afflicted. They have allied themselves with bigots and nativists, risking the reputation of the gospel itself. And, in some very public ways, they are difficult to recognize as Christians at all.
(Both Bruenig and Gerson are – in the complimentary language of our era – gifted. Yet Bruening’s admirable intellect fails her here, as she gives too much credence to self-identification at the expense of identity. Gerson comes closer to the truth that self-identification becomes incredible when in opposition to any reasonable identity. Tabbies can, if they wish, call themselves lions; no one else is obligated to believe them.)