Fed Up New Yorkers have been reading many of your comments and we’re gratified to see that not all Florida evangelicals support Donald Trump. Not by a longshot. But we feel obliged to respond to some of the comments we’ve received from others.
Many Trump supporters claim that God has chosen him as our president. Some concede that he’s a flawed man—but who isn’t? Predictably, we’re seeing many Biblical references. “Judge not, lest ye be judged”, “. . . cast the first stone,” and “God sends imperfect instruments to carry forward his plan” are among the most frequently cited. Some Trump supporters are very angry with us. Who are you to question God’s judgment? they demand. I’ll cite one commenter as a proxy for this view:
Sylvia Crowe: “I am a born again Christian since 1952! I know that President came to know Jesus Christ as his Redeemer! Before you judge and inspect the President ask the Holy Spirit turn his spotlight on your heart and actions . . . You will find your heart is desperately wicked (God’s Word says so) . . .! I SUPPORT our President and believe he is one GOD has raised up for such a time as this!”
I won’t argue about whether Donald Trump has sincerely accepted Jesus Christ. This notion flies in the face of everything he’s done before and during his presidency; he has never apologized or asked to be forgiven for anything he’s done—which we’ve always understood to be a condition of redemption. That won’t make a dent in the defenses of those who believe or claim to believe in Trump’s sincerity. Whatever the evidence to the contrary, Sylvia Crowe, like so many others, claims to believe it. Period.
And how does Sylvia Crowe—and all those who share that view—know that God has chosen Donald Trump? Don’t ask. She just knows. But I hope Ms. Crowe will concede that if God chose Donald Trump, he also chose George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, FDR, JFK, LBJ, and every other president right up to this one. That list has to include Clinton and Obama, too. Or did God only become interested in us recently?
Now in asking this question, I’m not being a wise guy. Things are too serious for that. If Trump supporters are making this sort of argument, it’s fair to ask why we didn’t hear any of “appointed by God” talk during the eight years that Barack Obama was president. Did Trump supporters vote to re-elect Obama because God had chosen him for that first term? Come on, now.
Elections—the process by which American citizens judge and choose their political leaders—are what? Not judgments about the current president? Not the foundation of our democracy? Trump’s evangelical supporters don’t seem to have a good answer to those questions. That’s because there are no rational, no honest answers. Or at least none that they want to talk about outside their intimate circles of the like-minded. In a future post, we’ll talk about race. But for this one, I’d like to stick to the subject at hand: the religious fundamentalists who claim that Trump is the chosen one.
RECEIVED TRUTH IS HARD TO QUESTION UNTIL IT BECOMES PERSONAL
A Trump critic who replied to one of our posts referenced an article written about evangelicals shortly after Trump was elected in November, 2016. It’s titled “An Insider’s View: The Dark Rigidity of Fundamentalist Rural America” and appeared on AlterNet on November 20, 2016. CLICK HERE to read the entire article.
This is part of that piece:
I grew up in rural Christian white America. You’d be hard-pressed to find an area of the country with a higher percentage of Christians or whites. I spent most of the first 24 years of my life deeply embedded in this culture.
In deep-red America, the white Christian god is king, figuratively and literally. Religious fundamentalism has shaped most of their belief systems. Systems built on a fundamentalist framework are not conducive to introspection, questioning, learning, or change. When you have a belief system built on fundamentalism, it isn’t open to outside criticism, especially by anyone not a member of your tribe and in a position of power . . . .
Do you know what does change the beliefs of fundamentalists, sometimes? When something becomes personal. Many a fundamentalist has changed his mind about the LGBT community once his loved ones started coming out of the closet. Many have not. But those who did, did.
My father is a good example of this. For years I had long, heated discussions with him about gay rights. Being the good religious fundamentalist he is, he could not even entertain the possibility he was wrong. The church said it was wrong, so therefore it was wrong. No questions asked. No analysis needed. This changed when one of his adored stepchildren came out of the closet. He didn’t do a complete 180. He has a view that tries to accept gay rights while at the same time viewing being gay as a mortal sin because his need to have his belief system be right outweighs everything else.
This isn’t uncommon. Deeply held beliefs are usually only altered, replaced under catastrophic circumstances that are personal.
So let’s accept Trump’s evangelical supporters on their own terms: Trump is in the White House because God wants him there. Period. Never mind Obama or any of those Democrats who came before him; let’s stick to Trump and God’s plan for America.
IF GOD PUT TRUMP IN POWER, AND SEEING HOW BAD THINGS ARE, WHAT CONCLUSION MUST WE REACH?
Could God be angry with America? Is Donald Trump the medium through which God has chosen to punish America? For there is no doubt that great punishment is being visited on every corner of our country.
As I write, the COVID-19 coronavirus has claimed the lives of almost 200,000 Americans and is killing almost a thousand people a day. I don’t even want to argue about whether Donald Trump has thoroughly botched America’s response. How can any reasonable person believe otherwise?
He’s rejected science and rejected the advice of public health officials and doctors with deep experience in dealing with pandemics. He threw out the plan for a national response that had been left for him, along with the people and the structure to deal with what every scientist knew would be inevitable—a deadly pandemic that reached our shores. He’s corrupted government agencies like the once-respected Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration, whose administrators have lost all credibility after parroting his political lines. He’s stood up on the stage and touted crazy cures and untested, dangerous vaccines that he says are just around the corner. The list is too long and too depressing to set it all out. One cartoon by my 14-year old grandson says it all.
Beyond active measures that don’t work and that are designed to mislead us, measures that are of no concern to the virus itself, measures that have led to American citizens being banned from traveling to all of the European Union, and many other countries—even Canada and parts of the Bahamas!; beyond spreading the virus himself by telling his supporters to ignore what every reputable scientist recommends, what has proven to be the only thing that works in every country that has gotten the virus under control—even parts of our own country—masks, social distancing, frequent sanitizing, testing, tracing, and prohibiting large indoor gatherings; beyond all that, Trump holds super-spreader political events. Many new cases have been traced to these events. His prominent supporter Herman Cain sickened and died after attending Trump’s Tulsa rally in July. Donald Trump is spreading the virus to advance his own political interests! This is God’s plan?
Beyond all that, he takes no responsibility for any of it. “No, I don’t take responsibility at all.” That’s what Trump said at a press conference on March 13 when asked if he took responsibility for the federal government’s lag in testing. It’s hard to keep track of all the people and countries he’s blamed for America’s raging pandemic: Obama did it, China did it; the Democrats did it.
So evangelical Trump supporters, let’s at least admit what cannot be denied: there is a lethal, out-of-control pandemic in America, and the president has no plan—none whatsoever—to get it under control. In fact, just the opposite. He now insists on opening everything up. Send your kids to schools for face-to-face encounters! Kids are immune, or almost immune, anyway! And eventually, after at least 2 million more Americans are dead, we’ll have “herd immunity.”
This may be no crazier than injecting disinfectants. But at least relatively few people took him up on that one, not after the manufacturers of Lysol and Clorox warned against it. We don’t yet know whether his supporters will actually accept this herd immunity idea, which by its terms amounts to knowingly and willfully helping to bring about mass homicide.
So let’s concede that God has chosen Trump as his instrument on earth. But let’s also acknowledge that Trump has only deepened and made more intractable this plague on our country. If Trump is indeed the chosen one, can it be that his supporters are misinterpreting God’s message? To have a man in the White House who has caused so much pain and suffering, so much death and destruction, so much chaos; to have a president who holds up Vladimir Putin as his friend and role model, the Russian dictator who murders his political opponents; this is the president whom God has chosen to lead us?
If you believe Donald Trump has been appointed by God, you must also believe that God is very angry with America. In fact, I sort of believe it myself. Let me be more specific: I do believe there are good and dark—call them evil—forces that lurk in all of us and in every society. They lurk just beneath the surface of every culture. When these forces are unleashed by the confluence of circumstance—an out-of-control pandemic and economic collapse will do—and by a demagogue who is in touch with those dark forces in himself and in others, we are headed for ruin.
Some people in power, notably Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo, appear to believe these are the End Times. I fear that unless Trump is ousted by the American people, they may be right. Not precisely as these fans of Armageddon mean it, but in the sense that the worst is yet to come.
During the Great Depression, a reporter asked the famed economist, John Maynard Keynes, whether he had ever seen a time such as this. Keynes answered, “Yes, it was called the Dark Ages, and it lasted four hundred years.” Keynes was wrong about how long the Depression would last; after a dozen years it was ended by an even greater catastrophe, World War II. What catastrophe will it take to end the disastrous times we’re living through right now?