I will sum up what it is about President Donald Trump I have observed and studied that I believe endears 80+% of whites and white evangelicals to him.
It has less to do with orthodoxy but everything to do with what they value. What they interchange with "biblical values." That in itself is a manufactured phrase from the era of the Moral Majority and Christian Coalition. It was then and even today, used as a wedge to further separate and elevate them above others.
Same with "evangelical Christian." It's not enough for white Christians to be just "Christian," as all Christ-followers and churchgoers were prior to the 1980's and the advent of Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority and Ralph Reed's Christian Coalition. Even then it wasn't about Christianity or furthering the Kingdom of God, but advancing a political agenda and solid political bloc with a nod and a wink from white preachers and pastors.
Tenets of which in some instances were antithetical to the teachings of scripture, even today. The most salient and simple being to love one another as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us. That love, for many right-wing evangelicals, comes with caveats and depends upon if you're a Republican. No Democrat, many believe could possibly be Christian.
And not just any Republican. There are litmus tests in addition to the claim of party and religion. And that's the rub.
They have to invent ways to be and remain separate and above. It goes to a point I will soon make as the goalposts must be constantly moved. Equality with others is not a thing to be desired it seems. Though God created us all equally in His image. When we get closer to that goal, they move the goalposts.
I would even submit to you that there are no such things as "biblical values." If so, in which of the Bible's 66 books are they listed? They're not. It's a matter of interpretation. Their interpretation. Their definition. That's why "biblical values" is such a nebulous term because for many, they have some idea or even their own ideas of what that is supposed to mean. And of course, since they get to define it, they get to define others as measuring up or not measuring up to their "biblical values."
Basically, it means what they religiously want it to mean. It's just like "evangelical." Though evangelical is legit, the way it is used in the political realm isn't.
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President Trump understands and values what they do and they, in turn, reward him with their undying adoration and rock-solid support.
He knows what they want, what moves them, and how to exploit it for his highest and best use. He's the best I've seen at it. Certainly the most brazen. And the minuscule percentage of ethnic minorities that go along with the program are just as committed.
The President uses them all and the historical need of whites for superiority in every area, most notably the church to his advantage. And pastors are willing participants. That's why they can't speak against in the pulpit what they know some of the stuff he says and does is so biblically wrong. They are afraid of their congregations revolting. And many I would wager, do not disagree at all with most anything the man says or does, though they may find it somewhat distasteful.
So, the pastors and preachers if not in hearty public agreement merely clam up and at times, when an incident such as the horrific George Floyd incident happens, they extend a weak hand of reconciliation, some muster tears, say how terrible racism is, but most of us by now know that it's all game. Short-term guilt nothing long-term. Why? I just told you. The need for superiority.
And as far as "reconciliation," many don't really mean it because many believe they have nothing to reconcile. They will tell you in a minute, they didn't shoot the guy or they never owned slaves. Yeah, but they sure have benefitted from their ancestors who did.
Donald Trump, the candidate, tapped into what really is important to these folks. Not judging, but if you listen to any of his speeches and what they say, here is the list that surfaces -- and when he does the photo ops with the preachers in the Oval Office laying holy hands on him, it solidifies it all the more for them.
And President Trump is a master at exploiting all of this and what he knows is most important to his white evangelical base:
3)The need to be superior
8) Protection. Fear of blacks, browns, "illegals" and other non-whites (and, "the progressive socialist left") rising up to take what they believe is rightly theirs - all theirs - the entire country.
It's why we hear frequently from President Trump, "our country." With an emphasis on our. We all know what that means. Taken literally to mean the entire country (America) is literally "theirs."
Never mind their ancestors took it from Native Americans and beat, de-humanized, maligned, and exploited blacks as slaves to build it. No one but whites could own property in America for hundreds of years, blacks and Native Americans were forbidden. So, they could unfettered, accumulate and pass down generational wealth. Which leads us back to 1 through 7.
Then they wrap it all up neatly in the flag, with red white and blue ribbon, sprinkle it with a little Jesus and we have, what we have - an intolerant 80+% of white America. Most of whom, "evangelical Christians."
President Trump, not God, has become their strong tower. Their protector. Their wheel in the middle of the wheel. And this is what terrifies them most about his loss.
Never before in the history of this country has there been one brazen enough as this President to act on these classist and pious Pavlovian needs of this large swath of America. Donald Trump sensed it. In fact, inflamed it by leading the never-ending birther movement that raised doubts about where President Obama was born.
The Taxed Enough Already (the TEA Party) people grasped it early on, but even with intellectuals like Ted Cruz leading the pack, it lacked the "ump factor." The "it factor" needed to ignite it. Along comes Donald Trump who had the "it factor" to the nth degree and was the leader for which right-wing groups had long waited.
Groups that at one time didn't even like one another but that 1-8 list is the tie that now binds them. And President Trump is using them all. But they too are using President Trump. They all are using one another. And where is Jesus Christ in all of this? Where is the advancement of God's Kingdom in any of it?
They have the platforms, the resources and the power, yet, it's not God's truth but their "biblical values" that they push. But without the power of God behind it, they have to put their power behind it and it is an ongoing battle. Culture war they call it. Again, I will ask the question, in which of the 66 books does God command his people to fight "culture wars?" He doesn't. They're on their own and that's why they have to keep fighting so hard and getting angrier and angrier when things don't turn their way.
Newsflash! God does not give His people the power to fight battles that He hasn't ordained. We are in a spiritual battle not a culture war.
Evangelical pastors and preachers that are in the same corner, but who know better, nevertheless make no mistake, from their pulpits to their pews from Washington DC to the pine trees of Georgia they are all in. Thus their silence.
Once you understand a thing, you won't be bothered by the thing. And I am no longer bothered by any of this anymore. I was because as a Christ-follower, I couldn't reconcile so much of the behavior and rhetoric coming from those professing to be, like me, one who loves God and want to please him. Turns out that never was the case. Furthering God's Kingdom and discipleship, the cornerstone of our faith, never was the case.
It was then and is now all about 1-8. As long as I know better, I can handle all of this better. I now know better. I, along with the rest of America, are watching history unfold and while the end will not be pretty, it is predictable.
So given that President Trump is on the way out, many of them are panicked and holding up holy hands. But, the hands of the poll workers have already counted the ballots and it is now only a matter of time before the strong tower is no longer President. Panic, anger and suspicion are in the air.
Who will take care of them now? God? Many, I would wager, would rather bet on Trump.