Monday, November 7, 2016

Looking Away From An Assault: An Election Tale

I’ve been wondering whether or not to write this post, and some words from a friend (which were difficult to hear) helped me realize that I need to write this. In addition, I have seen multiple friends and acquaintances - and their kids - be the targets of harassment and hate.

I have already made it clear my feelings about politics, and I have written some about certain candidates before. As before, my concern isn’t so much with politics: candidates and parties come and go. I do not believe our hope lies in political power anyway. But politics says things about us and who we are, and it is that which I address in this post.

I had a series of conversations a few years back that went like this:

Liberal Atheist Acquaintances: The GOP is deeply racist at heart, and given a chance, they will vote for a David Duke.

Me: No way. I know my tribe better than that. They’re not like that. They’re generally decent people.

Liberal Atheist Acquaintances: Yes way. Not only that, but your Christian friends will vote for anyone who promises to end abortion. They’d vote for David Duke. They’d vote for anyone. And defend his worst behavior.  

Me: You’re kidding me, right? We have standards, believe me.

[2016 Election occurs]

Me: Oh crap. They were right.

This election has shaken me like nothing else. A lot of people I know were not who I thought they were, and I cannot look at them the same way ever again. And some institutions have proven that their critics were indeed correct on many points. (Here’s looking at you, GOP and Evangelical leaders…)

Let me start with a story.

***
A Tale of a Hate Crime

A couple of weeks ago, there was an incident in my hometown of Bakersfield. Balmeet Singh is a young man in our community, a realtor and health clinic administrator. He was born in Ohio, but grew up here, attended local schools, and now lives and works in his hometown.

He also wears a turban.

Two weeks ago, he was accosted outside a restaurant where he was going for a family event. The man who assaulted him threw his soda over him, and threatened his life, saying, “You blow up this country!”

For Mr. Singh, the worst was not that a vile man poured out his hate. It was that as he was being threatened and assaulted, he scanned the faces of the other patrons, looking for assistance or someone who would at least meet his eye and show support. And everyone looked away. 

[Note: Yes I know the difference between Muslims and Sikhs. No, it doesn't matter in this context.]

This is about the most embarrassing thing that my fellow Bakersfieldians could have done. Would anyone defend against hate? Perhaps not. That’s sad.

After the fact, many did come forward in support, which is heartening. And our local law enforcement did the right thing by charging the perpetrator.  But that doesn’t kill the sting of what happened.

The bottom line is, a prejudiced person assaulted and threatened someone because of who they were, where their ancestors came from, and their religion.

And everyone else there just stood by and watched.

Mr. Singh would be fully justified in concluding that he could not count on our community to defend him if he ever needed it. I would like to think I would have stood up and helped. (I have defended people who were being bullied before.) But I also realized that I need to get out of my seat and stand up in another situation.

That bigots exist is not surprising. That bigots go unchallenged and given tacet support is the problem.

***

This story is true, and it is just one of many incidents nationwide. In the times we live in, there are people who will inflict their bigotry on unpopular groups.

However, these small-scale incidents just synecdoche. They are everyday examples of what is happening on a national basis.

There is a person running for the highest office in our nation who is the man who assaulted Balmeet Singh. His entire campaign is based on fear and hatred of other groups. He rose to prominence and built his support on the basis of this fear and hatred.

If one could sum up his message, it is this:

Our country was great before the brown skinned people, within and without, ruined it for the “real” (white) Americans. I will make it great again by removing and excluding and harassing and blaming the brown skinned people like we used to.

He said, “You blow up our country!” to Muslims. He called for excluding them from our country, terminating their constitutional rights to freedom of religion and freedom from unreasonable searches, subjecting them to government surveillance. He blamed them for the crimes of anyone sharing their religion or national origin.

There are roughly 3.3 million Muslims in the United States. This person has for all intents and purposes upended his drink on them, threatened to use the power of the government against them, and blamed them for our nation’s problems.

There is a person running for the highest office in our nation who has said to Latinos, “You blow up our country!” He has accused them of being rapists, drug dealers, leaches. (And maybe a few good people.) He has said that having Mexican ancestors prevents one from being a fair judge. He has called for the mass expulsion of 11 million people. This would be called an ethnic cleansing if another nation was doing it. He has built his campaign around the promise to build a “YUGE” wall to keep Hispanics out of our country. He has blamed Hispanics for our nation’s problems.


There is a person running for the highest office in our nation who has said to African Americans, “You blow up our country!” He has said their neighborhoods are worse than war zones, and that they (“other communities - you know who I am talking about”) will be stealing the election. As with Muslims and Hispanics, he blames African Americans for our nation’s problems. 


This is what his campaign was founded on. It is what built his support. It is the one defining belief he has (other than self-aggrandizement) - the one “value” that dates back his entire life. (One laughable claim was that nobody accused him of being racist before the election. You mean other than that Justice Department lawsuit? Or the overwhelming proof that he systematically refused to rent to African Americans?)

How did he end up in politics in the first place? By claiming despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that our current President isn’t American, but Kenyan. GOP candidates John McCain and Ted Cruz were indisputably born overseas, a fact that never bothered GOP voters, apparently. Which is a pretty good indication that “Kenyan” is a shorthand for “Black Democrat.”

How did he build his campaign? With a call for the expulsion of 11 million brown-skinned people from the United States and the exclusion of other brown skinned people from the country. That is what he ran on, what he continues to run on, and the one constant in his campaign from start to finish. “You blow up our country!” is what his campaign is about. He has essentially tossed his drink all over the Muslims, Hispanics, and African Americans - anybody not White, really - and stands there screaming “YOU ruined our country, and YOU are the reason we have problems.” And the way to fix the problems is to “take our country back” from all the brown skinned people by excluding, expelling, and blaming them. “Make America Great Again,” the way it was before the brown skinned people ruined it.

And as he does his screaming on national television, we watch.

And, like the people in our local restaurant, there is a huge group of people who are sitting there, refusing to make eye contact, refusing to help, refusing to tell the angry hateful bigot to go home and sober up.

Worse than that, they are the single most reliable group voting for this bigot.

This group is White Evangelicals, who appear poised to vote for Donald Trump to the tune of 94%.

In fact, there are two factors that correlate with support for Trump among Whites more than any others.

The first is education. Specifically, the lack thereof. Uneducated whites support Trump by a large percentage.

But the other, every bit as strongly correlated, is religion. If you are White and Evangelical, the vast majority of you are voting for Trump. Not everyone, obviously. There is the five percent, and I know some of them. And I applaud. But there is a problem still:

Even those Evangelical leaders who have broken with the rest - Phillip Yancy, Russell Moore, Ray Comfort - they have not been willing to mention Trump’s racism. Sure, they mention his insults to women, to disabled people, his general lack of morality. But they won’t mention the elephant in the room - the reason people voted for Trump in the primaries! - his promise to expel, exclude, and blame brown skinned people.

You know what this says about you, Yancy, Moore, Comfort, and a few others? That if Trump wasn’t demeaning to women, the disabled, and veterans, then his racism wouldn’t be an obstacle to your endorsement.

And this holds for those (very few) Evangelical friends and family who are refusing to vote Trump. I have heard a lot about his atrocious treatment of women (which is certainly a problem) but very, very little about his racism.

As Evangelicals sit there and refuse to make eye contact with the Muslims, Latinos, and African Americans that Trump has insulted and threatened and blamed, what should we conclude?

I see only three possibilities:

  1. Evangelicals are cowards. They don’t like the racism, but are too chicken to get out of their seats, and stand alongside Muslims, Hispanics, and African Americans and tell Trump to go home and sober up. The embarrassment of voting outside of their party or facing their friends and family and being called a traitor for breaking rank may just be too much to face. This is shameful. I refuse to be one of these.
  2. Evangelicals don’t give a crap about racism. Not really. They believe that racism is a secondary issue at best, and that White Nationalism is not a deal breaker. I see this in the way that they change the topic to abortion every time someone like me focuses on the racism of Trump’s campaign. (This could be a topic for another post: how the utopian vision that reversing Roe v. Wade would effectively end abortion allows Evangelicals to support and embrace evil - and the harm of others - and still feel good about themselves…) This is like sitting in that Bakersfield restaurant and saying, “I’d like to defend you, but the bigot that just assaulted you promised to give $20.00 to Right to Life this year, and, well…”
  3. White Evangelicals agree with Trump’s racism. And this is the one that scares me most, because I have seen increasing evidence that this is very, very true about a significant majority of White Evangelicals. The things they have said this election cycle have far too often mirrored the Trump platform - and look nothing like the Jesus Christ I was taught about as a child. I cannot unsee what they have posted. I cannot unhear what they have said. And you know what? There is a pattern. I had a conversation with an African American friend of mine, and she agreed that the hateful, racist stuff we see posted is coming from self-proclaimed devout Evangelicals. It isn’t our atheist friends. It isn’t our Buddhist friends. It’s Evangelicals. As she put it, there are people that we may not unfriend, but that we really cannot continue to have significant personal and professional contact with after this.

***

Just like it has been puzzling to me that, outside of a few elites, the GOP seems unconcerned that it stands to lose several generations of Latino voters like it did with African American voters after the Goldwater debacle; so also it has been puzzling to me that white Evangelicals right now seem unconcerned that they are alienating pretty much every non-white with their behavior right now.

This is more consistent with Evangelicalism really being a social club for white people, concerned with the preservation of white power and cultural dominance than with actually, I don’t know, following Christ or loving one’s neighbor, or anything like that. Should it grieve us deeply that our fellow humans are being grossly slandered because of their religion, national origin, and skin color? Doesn’t that bother us at all?

Let me go even further here. White Evangelicals, we are being watched right now by a whole lot of people. Hispanics are watching to see if we really accept them as Christians and as Americans. Do we have their back, or would we really prefer to see a whole lot fewer of them around? African Americans are watching. Are we going to blame them - again - for our nation’s problems? Are we going to respond to our own fears by more police harassment yet again? Muslim Americans are watching too. Will they be welcomed into our society, or is ISIS right that their only hope is violence against us? Refugees are watching. Will the United States see their peril and help? Will we fulfil what we say we stand for? Or are we just as tribalist as the evil they are fleeing? Are we really pro-life? Or only when it doesn’t ask anything of us?

And I want the voting core of White Evangelicalism - those over age 50, who are the strongest Trump supporters - to realize this too: we younger people are watching too. And we are not just deciding if we will vote GOP now and in the future. Chances are, if the statistics are any indication, we won’t be. And you and your behavior are the prime reason why not. But we are making other decisions as well, particularly the Millennials:

Is Christianity in general, and Evangelicalism in particular, an ethically justifiable group to belong too, or is it as morally bankrupt as it looks right now?

Because I’ll admit it. What has tried my faith more than anything over the last few years is that Evangelicalism - particularly the organizations - seems completely uninterested in living out the command to love our neighbor, and far too cozy with White Supremacy. (Also the obsession with sexuality and gender roles - but I’ve posted about that before - and the racism is getting impossible to ignore.)

This isn’t an intellectual struggle over specific beliefs. This is a moral struggle: can I still be a moral and ethical person and associate with Evangelicalism? I’m not sure anymore, and I am troubled.

And I am not the only one. I have had a number of discussions with friends and acquaintances, and many of us are horrified to discover how racist friends and family are in many cases. We are horrified that after everything we were taught during the Clinton years about morality, all that went out the window as soon as the person had an (R) after the name. It appears that in the end, the only thing that matters to most Evangelicals is political power.

Is maintaining political power really worth losing the next few generations?  

As I said above, I don’t care about the GOP. It can go to hell for all I care at this point. Same with the Dems. I loathe our current politics. I still care about Evangelicalism, though, and it deeply troubles me how quickly and thoroughly it chose to throw its lot in with White Nationalism - and how it doesn’t seem to care!

I’ll be blunt.

I have no reason right now to trust Evangelicalism or most Evangelicals about any moral issue whatsoever. You just sacrificed all of your moral credibility this election. You sold your soul.

You can’t just excuse bad behavior of all sorts - but specifically racism and the appeal to racial hatred as the core of the campaign - and expect that people will consider you to be moral. You have just proven that your “moral” core consists of lust for power and tribalism toward anyone outside of your group.

I’d say I’m sorry for being harsh, but I’m not. White Evangelicals have had ample opportunity to prove me wrong this election, and at every turn, they have made things worse.

There has been ample time to say “No! This is not okay and we will not support this!” There has been ample opportunity to call hate and racism what they are. But the silence has been deafening. And that is why I wrote this post. I cannot remain silent and live with my own conscience.

So, perhaps as the best summary here: Some stink never comes off.

What is left at this point is a question: Is the stink from embracing a skunk, or from being a skunk. We’re watching. Choose this day which it will be.

This election, Evangelicals have stood by and supported someone who threw a lot of racist crap everywhere. My children and grandchildren will be the ones having to clean up this crap long after the white Baby Boomers are dead and gone. The damage you have done to their world is far more than you realize. If you want your religious tradition to continue, maybe you could stop lecturing us about voting Republican and stop spreading the crap. Maybe even grab a shovel and help us clean up after you. Just saying.

***

Helpful Links:

Pollster Nate Silver’s sports and culture website, 538.com, is a surprisingly good source for helpful information on political issues. He and his staff tend to link to good primary sources, and clarify the issues.


Also interesting is this Politico article written during the primary, before Trump became the GOP nominee. The trait that characterized Trump supporters was a support for Authoritarianism. If you look closely, there is a strong racist bent to this, as it is about restoring the prior racial order. It also manifests in other ways, such as the theocratic tendency among Evangelicals and a belief in the subordination of women.

The most consistent voices from within Evangelicalism condemning Trump - and willing to say “racism” - are coming from women. Some, like Rachel Held Evans, have been pretty much kicked out the door already by the powers that be. (This after being harassed by notorious White Supremacist Doug Wilson.)

This article, which a female friend posted, is another voice from a younger, female Evangelical. I don’t agree with everything, and I am again troubled by the writer’s failure to mention race. But I think she is focusing not on the candidate, but on why Boomers are losing credibility. On that score she is correct. I also made the following comment regarding this article:

There is a lot I agree with here. Particularly the ones about expecting us to swallow lies and not fact check stuff. Here are a few I might add for myself:
1.    You would have a lot more credibility when you talk about Hillary Clinton if you hadn’t said the exact same things (and often worse) about President Obama. Eight years of conspiracy theories about someone who, regardless of whether you like his politics, has proven to be a genuinely decent person.
2.     On a related note, whenever you talk about things like the end of the 2nd Amendment, I all hear is the 8 years of fear mongering that Obama would take away our guns. As the author points out, Fox News and Breitbart do not overrule reality.
3.    White Boomers have in the course of this election revealed some very disturbing things about themselves. (Not all, but a large majority.) These have been revealed through what they have said when we discuss issues. And the most disturbing is this: At best, overt racism is not a deal breaker for Boomers. And for far too many, it is what attracts them to Trump and the GOP. The worst and most hateful things I have heard on race all came from Evangelicals this year. And most was from Boomers. You have a problem, folks, and you will have no credibility with us until you fix it.
4.    We’re tired of pretending that the only Supreme Court issues that matter are abortion and gay marriage. We don’t want a Roy Moore on the Supreme Court. We don’t want a Sheriff Joe as AG either. We also care about our 4th Amendment rights – and we are disturbed when police brutality is excused. We see the effect that “stop and frisk” laws have on our friends of color. We care about voting rights, and recent attempts to disenfranchise African American voters disturbs us. We care about ending sexual harassment. We don’t think corporations need even more power. These issues matter too, and are very much about the powerful getting their way. Many of us believe that the kind of justices you want will also tend to side with the powerful on these issues.
5.    I’m further to the left than this author, and left the GOP after the latest government shutdown. It became obvious at that time that “Christianity” apparently meant “no Obamacare.” If that is a core Christian belief (and I don’t believe it is), explain to me exactly why you think your religion is about Jesus Christ, and not just about politics.
6.    I don’t think Boomers have really realized what is at stake here. Politics and politicians come and go, and most of us Gen Xers don’t exactly trust any of it. But right now, many of us have been forced by what you have said and done regarding this election to reconsider if we can remain in Evangelicalism without having to compromise our morality. I see very little of Christ in Evangelicalism right now, and a whole lot of Trump. Do you realize that? I really don’t care about what happens to the GOP. Or the Democratic Party for that matter. But when a political battle like this leaves me questioning my faith like this, doesn’t that disturb you? You keep bemoaning the fact that Xers and Millennials are leaving the church. Why might this be so? It isn’t the lack of hipness. It’s the moral bankruptcy of your politics.

I’ll add that one of the other responses was from a Trump supporter trumpeting that it was (in the commenter’s view) younger people from the Alt-Right - an expressly White Supremacist movement - that were the backbone of Trump’s support. As if this were something to be proud of.

I also think a few articles by Slate.com’s Jamelle Bouie are helpful. (Again, White Evangelicals need to get their heads out of the Breitbart and Fox News quicksand and read voices outside the white conservative bubble.)

First is this one, which recounts the Goldwater debacle, and the risk to the GOP of alienating Latinos for generations.

And for those Republicans who don’t want Trump or Trumpism? It may be too late. The thing about a lily-white Republican Party is that it doesn’t have the diversity it needs to resist white resentment and white rage. Republicans crossed a point of no return. Raw ethnonationalism is their future, even if they don’t want it.

The same applies to Evangelicalism - except with greater spiritual consequences.

The second article captures my horror at what the GOP has been willing to tolerate in order to maintain political power. I will say it again: this applies in exactly the same way to Evangelicalism.

There’s a logic here, and it’s not hard to see. When it comes to voting, it doesn’t matter to Republicans that Trump is anathema to nonwhites and religious minorities. Neither black Americans nor Latinos nor Muslim Americans are going to vote for the GOP in significant numbers, and the party as a result is unresponsive to those communities, if not openly contemptuous of their concerns.
For the last year, through Donald Trump, Republicans have shown what they can live with. And what they can live with is a nominee whose chief appeal is his overt, unapologetic racism, and whose plans would remake America into a whites-only country, with suspicion and hostility for those on the other side of the color divide.

Again, replace the word “Republicans” with “Evangelicals” and it remains every bit as true - except with greater spiritual consequences.


Am I still a Republican? I’m not sure, because I don’t know what the Republican Party stands for anymore. Is it still the party of principled conservatism, promoting freedom at home and abroad, or has it permanently become the party of conspiracy-mongering, authoritarianism, and white power? I’m not sure I want to know the answer to that question.

Again, replace “Republican Party” with “Evangelicals” and that is what I am feeling. It’s the same question - except with greater spiritual consequences. 

 Dang, I wanted Krugman to be wrong about this. But he has been proven right.

This one is from a blogger (The Ferrett) that an acquaintance posted.

To My Moderate Conservative Friends:
This is a tough time for you.  For years, I’ve said “The Republican party is saturated with racist jerks who’d like to raze the Constitution to the ground,” and you said, “No, no, that’s not who we are, we believe in firm laws and equality.”
Then you wake up to discover that your official candidate’s a guy who literally doesn’t know how many articles the Constitution has, and David Duke is so thrilled by Trump’s candidacy he’s come out of the woodwork.  You’re not a racist – I wouldn’t be friends with you if you were – but you’re realizing that Trump is representing an ignorant, anti-science, pro-white wing of the party that you tried very hard to convince me didn’t exist.
Worse, those people you claimed didn’t exist (or were just background noise) are, in fact, dominant.
That is a moment for soul-searching.  And from what I see, y’all are doing it.  And I commend you for that.  And a lot of you are refusing to vote for Trump, as is correct.
However, while you’re soul-searching, take a moment to reflect deeper.
Because the party elders tried very hard to convince you that all of your fellow Republicans were as upstanding as you were – because they knew you might leave the party if you actually understood a lot of the people who stood with you were racists waiting for an excuse to stand back up again.  This uncomfortable dissonance you’re feeling right now is because they knowingly suckered you into believing that your reasonable concerns were what most Republicans felt – and now you’re seeing that yeah, maybe not all, but a lot of Republicans are pulling that lever out of nationalistic white pride and foreign hatred.
You’ve been suckered already.  This is a fact.  It’s not shameful unless you refuse to learn from it.

Again, replace “Republican Party” with “Evangelicalism.” This is why I have left the GOP, and have no intention of ever going back. At least while it contains the same voters. The hardest part was to realize how many white Evangelicals I know are indeed deeply racist. It’s pretty obvious White Nationalism is dominating the GOP right now. Is it dominating white Evangelicalism? I’m fearing it might be. Please prove me wrong. 

One final one. Some have bemoaned the fact that this election is (supposedly) not about the issues. I have believed from the beginning that it is ALL about the issues. Just not the “usual” issues. This election is a referendum on perhaps the greatest issue in the United States. The one nobody wants to talk about honestly. It is about whether we should return to a past of racism and misogyny and xenophobia. This election has brought that clarity to me, and I can no longer deny that the simmering issue under the surface of the other “issues” so dear to many is really that. Should women and brown skinned people be subordinate to powerful white males? That so many are ready to vote yes is profoundly disturbing to me.

***

I want to end on a more positive note. Sixty years ago, our country was in the throes of a similar convulsion. Jim Crow had finally come to an end, and the forces of Reactionaryism were out in full force. White anxiety was at a similar high, and the successes of the Civil Rights Movement were largely resented by a familiar group: uneducated, middle class, religious whites. Goldwater would run for President in 1964, followed by notorious Segregationist George Wallace in 1968.

Now, I’m no big fan of the Kennedy family, particularly Ted, but John and Robert had some very good traits in their political lives.

A friend posted an excerpt from one of Robert Kennedy’s speeches in 1968, which led me to read the entire speech. Remember that this was during George Wallace’s run on a White Nationalist platform, deliberately catering to racial resentment and hate. I urge you to read the entire thing, because it seems as though it could have been written in our own time, about a new demagogue seeking to blame minorities for our ills. Here is the best of it:

Some look for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear; violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleaning of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.

For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly, destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is a slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.

This is the breaking of a man's spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men. And this too afflicts us all. I have not come here to propose a set of specific remedies nor is there a single set. For a broad and adequate outline we know what must be done. When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies - to be met not with cooperation but with conquest, to be subjugated and mastered.

We learn, at the last, to look at our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community, men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort. We learn to share only a common fear - only a common desire to retreat from each other - only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force. For all this there are no final answers.

Yet we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens...he question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of human purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.

We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of all. We must admit in ourselves that our own children's future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.

Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land. Of course we cannot vanish it with a program, nor with a resolution.

But we can perhaps remember - even if only for a time - that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short movement of life, that they seek - as we do - nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.

Surely this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our hearts brothers and countrymen once again.

This a dream that I can embrace, one where “Love Your Neighbor As Yourself” is the focus, not a clinging to political power and embrace of evil and hate toward our neighbors who look different from us. My hope is that after this election, American Evangelicalism will wake up from its fever dream and look with horror on what it has become and what it has embraced. My hope is small. Please prove to me that you are better than this.

***

Comment Policy:

Please read my comment policy before commenting. For purposes of this post, I want to be clear about these additional things:

  1. I will delete any and all posts attempting to prove that Trump isn’t racist or that his campaign isn’t based on stirring up racial hatred. Been there, heard that. A good bit of the problem with Evangelicalism is its deep, deep denial regarding this issue. Trump’s platform mirrors the White Nationalist movement’s platform, and he regularly re-posts from White Supremacist and Alt-Right groups. If you still think Trump isn’t racist, then we have no common experience of reality upon which to base a discussion. Also, I have yet to have a fruitful discussion on this issue with someone like that. People like this do not appear to have any interest in understanding perspectives outside their tribe.
  2. I am not interested in discussing whether Evangelicals have moral credibility. Respect of that sort is earned. Arguing about whether others perceive you correctly is fruitless. If you want respect, earn it. If you have sacrificed your credibility for political power, then stop pretending you haven’t. Just STFU.
  3. I’m not going to argue about abortion. Perhaps your time would be better spent researching Evangelical positions on abortion before the issue was intentionally claimed as a way to unite the Religious Right. (Google Paul Weyrich and abortion.) Also good would be to research abortion rates by country. I think you might be surprised at what actually reduces abortions, and what doesn’t. And then ask yourself why your tribe opposes all of the things that actually reduce abortion rates. And then consider if the point isn’t really abortion, but guaranteeing a political vote. Just saying. 
  4.  Obviously, anything racist or hateful will be deleted. Go comment on Stormfront or something. Likewise, accusing me of being "elitist" will get you deleted. I'm guessing this is the new epithet to replace "liberal" or "libtard" on Fox News or something, because it suddenly is everywhere. To quote the philosopher Inigo Montoya, "I do not think that means what you think it means." A significant element of my journey away from the GOP has been the realization that being a Christian means I cannot only seek the good of those who are part of my tribe. That's the opposite of elitism.

63 comments:

  1. Kudos for writing this, Tim. I've been stunned at the breath and depth of support for Trump. I too didn't want to believe such a large portion of our country could be swayed by this man. In the end education is a very large separator here - which you allude to.

    Thanks again for posting this and well done, Sir.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Tim.
    I am officially a Boomer, but this election has caused me to leave Evangelicalism completely.
    What was happening prompted me to research the history of Evangelicalism and putting facts from here and there together makes it clear (at least to me) that the movement was about social and political power (disguised with the rubric “Religious Freedom”) from the beginning in the early 1940s, and that racism was a large factor in that power, again from the beginning.
    I came for Jesus and faith, hope, and love. I was trusting and compliant and self-denying. And what I got all along, and it's been growing stronger and stronger, is exclusion of anyone different in any way from those in charge and willingness to lie in the service of social and political power. In my experience, this pervades conservative Protestantism. I don't know where to go to escape it, but I can no longer be part of anything that hurts my family, their friends, my neighbors, my community.
    I am still a Christian, but outside any institution and movement.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm contemplating writing about the rise of the Religious Right and it's origins in racism and segregationism.

      In particular, opposition to abortion was conceived (sorry) as a political tool to guarantee political loyalty to the GOP and support for pro-segregationist judges. And it has been fantastically effective, as we can see this election.

      Delete
  3. I'm a Bible-believing, Jesus-loving Boomer, and have already left Evangelicalism (grieving as I left) before this election. This election certainly reveals more of the dark underbelly of false Evangelical teaching, but it wasn't this particular false teaching that propelled me out of the Evangelical institution. This particular false teaching DID, however, propel me out of the GOP.

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  4. Just a small measure of disagreement. I actually do think that GOP primary voters did care about about the race and birth place of Ted Cruz. How is it that an outsider (what voters said the wanted) with impeccable conservative credentials was sidelined and attacked by a candidate who hasn't even been a Republican most of his life? I think racism played a huge role in those early southern primaries and old white racists just couldn't vote for someone that looked a little brown and had a Hispanic last name.

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    1. I can't speak to what people in the South did, so you may well be right. On the other hand, I know a number of people who went full in on Birtherism, yet supported Cruz during the primary.

      Just to be clear, I find Cruz nearly as loathsome at Trump, because of his choice to pal around with Dominionists like Kevin "Kill the Gays" Swanson and David "I'll just make history up" Barton.

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    2. I am not a huge Cruz fan either and only voted for him in my caucus because he was all that was left to oppose Trump by then. Of course back in the 1990's many of these old white southerners also voted for Bill Clinton who was a good guy because he was "tough on crime" which meant lock up the black people to them.

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  5. Fortunately a polite exit from evangelicalism opened up for me about a month ago, in the form of a full-time organist position at an Episcopal church. Perfect timing, as evangelicalism is selling its collective soul to the Orange Devil today. I really should have become mainline again a while ago anyway (I was raised mainline, then drifted into evangelicalism via homeschooling).

    In terms of your options 1, 2 or 3, most evangelicals I know are likely 2s (don't think racism is a big deal). It seems to be mostly ignorance (in varying degrees of willfulness), combined with a political agenda and a bubble incentivizing said ignorance. I don't know many people who are so overtly racist they actually agree with Le Toupee quite that wholeheartedly...though some I think I would have to peg at 2.5's because they've come close.

    It's also unfortunate that this is painting all working class whites so badly, because I know plenty of people in that group, who have no degrees, who think Trump is gross. Hell, technically I'm in that group (white with no college degree) and I think he's gross. So sadly my experience mirrors the statistics in that the religiosity seems to be more predictive than education level. (The statistics on Trump supporters' income levels are interesting, because it turns out they're not actually any less well off than anyone else. I.e., when they're afraid that illegal immigrants are going to steal jobs, it's not their job they're thinking of, but perhaps their children's and neighbors' jobs.)

    In the end, at least Mephistopheles had to be suave to get people's souls. The Trumpkin didn't even try to hide it.

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    1. I agree that *most* I know are 2s. But it has been appalling how many are 3s.

      The income issue is indeed fascinating. This is part of a larger phenomenon too. Suicides among middle aged, uneducated whites, are way up - really the only group that has seen an increase. In general, minorities are more positive about their opportunities (which reflects positive changes) whereas non-college whites have seen their prospects go down. Basically, they are seeing the playing field start to level - and they see that in the future, they will be no better off than brown skinned people with their same education level. And that is terrifying to them. It certainly recalls one of the defenses of slavery. "I may be poor, but at least I'm not a n----r."

      It's interesting to view this as part of the legacy of the 1950s, when government programs (GI Bill, Fanny Mae, and more) were limited to whites. The suburban middle class lifestyle was a benefit of being white, and now that is going away.

      Love the Mephistopheles point. What struck me about the story (particularly the Marlowe and Goethe versions) is that Mephistopheles didn't offer anything bad, really. Faust's quest for knowledge and transcendence wasn't an evil desire. The point was that it wasn't necessarily worth selling one's soul. For the Orange Cheeto, all he offers is raw hate and tribalism. There's nothing noble about the appeal whatsoever.



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    2. I wonder though if there's really that much of a difference between options "2" & "3"... Between spoken & unspoken racism; between the Nazi guard at Auschwitz & the Nazi mother at home who helped to build both the party & the camps by her support of the Third Reich. I wonder if God gives a f--- about the little differences that bigots use to justify themselves, to claim that they aren't quite as bad even as they lay the bricks in the wall. Both are responsible for immeasurable levels of human suffering, both are racist. But is one really less guilty who puts a gun in the hands of the one who pulls the trigger?

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    3. Sobering thought. I can count a few dozen friends and acquaintances who explicitly said that abortion is the only issue that matters.

      As someone (blog somewhere?) pointed out, in practice, all the abortion issue does is guarantee GOP votes. It's like arguing over which Vichy government we want. If people really thought abortion was a holocaust, shouldn't there be 80 million people rioting in the streets?

      But it allows people to vote for racism and hate while feeling virtuous...

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    4. Exactly.
      & I really appreciate that you pointed out how the Pro Life movement is actually anti all the things that DO bring the abortion rate down. Which is why I left that movement. I'd rather be part of creating a society that values women & other people capable of pregnancy, a society that renders abortion almost completely unnecessary, than be part of a movement that is literally sacrificing the lives of women & children on the altar of self-righteousness/importance.
      When they told me that all lives mattered when I was a child I don't think they expected me to take that seriously, but I encountered Jesus & believed all the wonderful egalitarian teachings in the Bible & now I guess the joke's on them :D

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    5. The people who hold the guns NEED the people at home to do what they do, to justify, and even to see it as good. Its about creating psychological space-- a mental zone to make demonizing and hurting people seem okay and even righteous, especially those who are usually thought of as deserving protection (children, women, the elderly).

      One question to consider in how psychological space is created and maintained is to consider those who stay at home. Because they are people who stay at home and do nothing. So someone actively engaged in harming others feels okay because if people aren't speaking out, then what they're doing isn't so bad to provoke a response.

      Then there are the people who don't do anything, but will actively try to benefit from others' downfalls. They don't resist the system. They don't help the system. But they will try to reap rewards from it. So someone doing harm might feel okay because this harm helps people "in my tribe."

      Then they are people who help the system. A lot of the Nazi mothers enrolled their children in the HJ and BdM. They joined the women's section of the party. they proudly posted photos their husbands and/or adult sons sent from the posts, often pics over mass graves filled with naked Jews or Slavic resisters or at the camps. Those doing the harm could rest easy-- their families were proud of their brave, noble, and reasonable actions to protect the Fatherland and their people.

      Important in that social space is creating persons as non-persons that don't matter, to vilify as a drain, disease, source of problems. To create their social death as people who don't really matter and then exist in the world, socially, culturally, politically, economically. Then those groups are beyond marginal. They don't matter, and when they do, they create negative consequences. they don't really exist, except as a disease needing purging. That social death makes pursuing actual death easier and justifiable.

      You cannot have someone actively harming without relying on those that appear to do nothing to make the harm seem like a social good to make it happen.

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    6. uh, don't really exist in the world... someday, we'll get to edit. It will be a beautiful day indeed.

      And thank you for this post. It is much needed this cycle.

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  6. Thank you for this. I was actually hoping that you would have something for me this morning ;)
    I've been in a state of anxiety for the past couple days. As a queer woman I really do have a lot of skin in the game & I'm so afraid of how many will vote for Trump today. It's not just a worry that he could win, it's the knowledge that today I am going to see proof writ large of just how many Americans would rather see me dead or raped or otherwise violated than hear my voice.
    As a white woman I'm enraged by the way so many white people want to gloss over the issue of racism in America. It will tear this nation apart & I find I simply don't discuss politics with other whites for the most part because I simply don't know how to connect to someone who is willing to deny that people are being systematically oppressed & killed in this nation.

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    1. Yeah, discussing politics has been brutal, hasn't it? I am puzzled by how many cannot bring themselves to grant the basic humanity of others. I mean, that should be the starting point for talking about Black Lives Matter, right? If Blacks are fully human, then chances are, they aren't protesting out of lunacy, but out of a genuine experience of injustice. At that point, you have to start listening. And likewise for LGBTQ people. Grant humanity, and listen. And don't ever try to harm. I wish I could get through to others on this. There seems to be so little Christ in Christianity right now, and that is killing me.

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  7. So now that it's looking like the Orange Cheeto will be president, I think we have all the proof we need that evangelicals are NOT, in fact, better than this, no?

    From 538's live feed:

    "Evangelical voters are potentially among the strongest demographic groups for Trump, and they help explain why he is doing unexpectedly well tonight. Trump’s margin among evangelical white Christians is 81-16 percent, according to exit poll results. That appears to be the widest margin for a Republican presidential candidate among evangelicals since 2004."

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    1. Yep. I need to let the dust settle, and figure out where my conscience will permit me to be going forward.

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  8. Well said. We are seeing the same thing happen here in Australia with the election some extreme right wing senators. However, from what I could see was happening in this election was that it seems that democrats simply didn't get out and vote, despite knowing what they were up against. From what I could tell the GOP now controls the house, senate, and the oval office, and is likely to control SCOTUS as well.

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  9. I think one needs to be very careful when ascribing motives to people voting for Trump. I absolutely did not vote for him. And I am appalled at the evangelical leaders who supported him. But if you haven't spent time in the rust belt and the corn belt, I think it is hard to have a clear understanding of motives. These people were forgotten. Their local economies are in shambles, and yet the other side is running on how great everything is. They may have friends and people they love of different races, and friends and people they love who are gay, but the other side is telling them they are privileged bigots. I think people with the progressive bent need to be careful not to look at these people through a single lens. People need to listen, on both sides, and not make assumptions about what people are saying.

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    1. Those people you refer to, then, generally fall into category #2: people who don't believe White Nationalism is a deal breaker. They may not *personally* dislike non-whites, but they are quite willing to allow non-whites to be grossly slandered, blamed for our problems - and harmed by White Supremacists. As MLK once said: "I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councillor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace
      which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can't agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by the myth of time; and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more
      bewildering than outright rejection."

      Good motives do not, and never will, excuse the embrace of White Supremacy.

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    2. "who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice"

      This is what's bothering me to today about the calls to move forward and work toward healing in the aftermath of the election. I mean, obviously we need to do both those things. But I know that what a LOT of people really mean by this is "Can we just sweep all that nasty stuff that we know is there but we don't want to talk about back under the rug, so I don't have to feel uncomfortable around my Trump supporting friends/family members/coworkers and/or risk making feel bad or get angry? HEALING!"

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    3. On a related note, I just about burned up when well-meaning friends and relatives had the gall to "pray for God's peace to descend on Ferguson."

      And Jeremiah says, "They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. 'Peace, peace,' they say, when there is no peace."

      And Amos says, "Take away from Me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream."

      Because if I were Tamir Rice's parents, I would be PISSED if someone suggested I should just be at peace. I so need to blog about that.

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    4. While I do agree that it is best not to ascribe motives to people one does not know, in my experience, living in a region that is both Corn Belt and Rust Belt, here the Trump-Pence signs went up first on the large, well-maintained acreages with very posh (for here, at least) houses. Very few were at houses down-at-the-heels.

      Our economy was in shambles in 2007, but it has been back on track for a while; however, when President Obama came to visit, people actually picketed courtesy of a very lucrative local business because they said that they could have done it all themselves, they didn't need the government. Then why, please tell me, did people line up at the public library every Sunday for months to file for unemployment benefits?

      If a person really and truly loves someone who is non-white, or non-Christian, or non-heterosexual, or a woman, it seems to me that s/he would at the very least not vote for someone whose words and promised actions would hurt those they really and truly love -- no matter how offended they may feel by having bad motives erroneously ascribed to themselves and no matter what reasons they may have for otherwise supporting such a candidate. If someone hurts or promises to hurt my family, their friends, my neighbors, and my community, they are already hurting me. I can't imagine what potential benefit to me would justify harm to those I love.

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    5. I live in a Rust Belt region, though my city is relatively stable, having diversified industry early on. I've also lived and spent extensive amounts of time in cities hit hard by the loss of factory and manufacturing jobs. We're also at the edge of the Corn Belt.

      In my experience, in various cities and towns, from my childhood in the '70s until the present. This region also has significant issues in dealing with racism, xenophobia, antisemitism, and outsiders in various ways. My city is considered LGBT friendly, and one of the best cities for African-Americans, but we are exception in the state. Another large city here has had periodic race demonstrations over the last 2 years. As has a smaller city about an hour away. One of the small cities I lived in growing up is more racially segregated than it was in the mid-'80s. I visited recently and found that unlike then, the upwardly mobile African Americans who had then been buying homes in the affluent neighborhoods (integrating them) had moved out of them when new developments went up. I asked why, and my friend replied "well they weren't comfortable here. There were too many people who weren't exactly friendly and polite." That turned out to be code for hostile, vandalous, and outright menacing and threatening.

      When I lived there, there was a tiny Jewish community, but as best I could tell and my friend knew, all of the Jewish families had moved out during the Bush era, when more and more Christianity was brought into public schools, and not just holiday songs for the Winter Season Pageant. especially when the families complained about the induction of religious teachings and the violation of church and state, they lost friends. She told me one teacher was fired from her school for doing so.

      A friend in Pittsburgh, a white woman married to a Black man, reports she gets "shit all the time" from people.

      Go to Cleveland. Neighborhoods are HUGELY segregated by race, religion, and ethnicity. If you live in Beechwood, you're probably Jewish. Drive through Parma and Parma Heights and watch the churches and community centers to align to neighborhoods that are almost exclusively Czech, or Polish, or Italian, Serbian, and so on.

      A former student of mine lived in a small town that was equidistant between 2 reasonable sized cities with colleges. A Black family moved in about 15 years ago because he worked at one school, she the other. They moved out after less than a year because of threats, their kids were bullied and assaulted at school (which the admin did nothing because the principal said the kids must be thugs and likely deserved it).

      Sure. There are plenty of people who aren't racist in communities and cities like these. There are even whole towns and cities that don't abide expressions of bigotry when they come up. But the reality is that these regions do have some major, ongoing, and deeply sown issues with race and difference on various levels. Let's not be so naive and think that Trump's racism didn't resonate with many of these communities and individuals, even if they say otherwise or are part of the disenfranchised groups that feel left behind by progress and economic change.

      At the end of the day, Trump doesn't give a rat's rump about the poor. He's in the party of Big Business and corporate capitalism. He himself doesn't like losers. They voted for a person and a party that isn't going to bring jobs because that doesn't make corporate sense. they voted for a person and party that isn't going to stimulate and aid small business because they are aligned to the interests of large corporations. they voted for a person and party who's most resounding message this cycle was about racism, sexism, rape culture, xenophobia, and being able to openly and violently espouse bigotry-- and act upon it if so desired.

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    6. Outstanding comment. Even here in liberal California, things are shockingly segregated. It's a systemic issue.

      For what it's worth, I live in the "Texas of California," which means a very red county in a blue state. This election, the number of pickup trucks with gigantic Confederate Battle Flags flown proudly from the bed has skyrocketed. It's been a rough year.

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    7. thanks for your blog. You are my favorite blogger for my non-hobby needs. (If you sewed, I'd probably never read anyone else.) I appreciate the work you put in. I'd like to thank your commentators. This is one of the most intelligent and thoughtful online communities I see.
      I line in a large blue city in a red state, though it does have some blue leanings at times. This is also the city I largely grew up in, though there were a few years in a dying old factory small city, a few years as a young adult in other towns that were either decimated by industrial loss or coal/ natural resource dry outs for college or jobs. I've also lived in 2 blue cities on the East coast and in Eastern Europe. As far as my knowledge of Rust Belt cities go, I have some significant extended family spreading from Cincinnati to Cleveland to Pittsburgh (especially Cleveland) so I've spent plenty of time in these cities as well (I learned winter driving in Cleveland).

      In the 2000 election, I had just moved back to my hometown after living in a big blue city for years. The move enabled me to return to college to finish my BA after a decade-long economically-imposed break. I was at a large state university, known more for sports than scholarship (though they try to profess otherwise), but one that really does pride itself on and have diversity, tolerance, and (some) progressive policies. So I was in a modern US political history class. The day after the election, I ran into a classmate in the library. Our convo, burnt into my mind because I was aghast:

      Me (M): Well, I guess there's a lot to talk about in class tomorrow!
      Racist Classmate (RC): Yeah. I mean it seems Bush got an Electoral Landslide but Gore has the popular vote.
      M: I'm more thinking about the allegations of misconduct coming out in several states, like Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Missippi, and South Carolina. That police were detaining and holding Black voters on vague charges, like matching a suspect's description for some crime, only letting them go when the poles were about to close, so they couldn't vote. These people were denied phone calls, representation, basically anything afforded someone facing charges should have as provided by our system of jurisprudence. It's horrible.
      RC: Why're you upset? They wouldn't have stopped you.
      M: Uh, because that kind of profiling and denial of civil rights should bother everyone. That's unconstitutional and racist.
      RC: Well, they were only considered three-fifths a person originally.
      M: What the hell? That's... awful. I know the history, obviously. But that was rescinded, and Blacks are entitled to partcipate fully in US politics. They have protections to do so, and it is illegal to interfere with their participation.
      RC: I don't know. I bet most people lied and just forgot to vote and made an excuse. And even if it did happen, they probably were guilty of some crime anyway.
      M: I'll say this as nicely as I can, but that is seriously the most fucked up, racist thing I've ever heard in ages. You can bet your ass I'll be bringing up these abuses in class. Not what you said, but in context of the Civil Rights Movement and 64's Freedom Summer.
      RC: I guess it is worth talking about, but maybe we can talk about how most them really are criminals.
      M: Damn. I gotta go. (seriously, anything I said at this point was likely to end in some kind of fight)

      She was a registered Republican, member of the university's College Republicans, and also was on our department's curriculum committee for one year. She was removed for her opposition to the breadth component of major requirements. She thought US and European courses should be required, but not courses on other global areas. She also opposed the addition of requiring diversity within the US component.

      Many people don't want to admit it, but even people they would never call racist can have a core, unseen, at which racist rhetoric resonates and matters as something good.
      and thanks!

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    8. Another thing I think is pertinent here, which I know I've mentioned before but I'll just say again:

      I don't have the link handy - I know 538 talked about it at some point - but the actual statistics on Trump supporters' income levels, at least during the primaries, were NOT small incomes. I seem to recall the figure was something just north of $70,000/year on average. Granted, this doesn't account for things like the amount of debt someone may be paying off, but $70,000/year is hardly poverty.

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    9. Excellent comment, Fabric Queen. I have had a few of those kinds of conversations too, usually about Ferguson or Black Lives Matter. Out of the blue, someone will say "well, they are more likely to be criminals" with the implication that treating them all like criminals is justified. I've terminated a few friendships over it.

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  11. Thanks so much for writing this. I've loved your blog for years but for some reason never felt compelled to comment. I was raised in a rather fundamental missionary homeschool family, have long since left that form of Christianity behind, and over the past year or two have been looking for an escape from evangelicalism. I'm in the South, so the racism was never a surprise, and yet I still feel so ill-equipped to respond to it, since (surprise) my faith communities have never even acknowledged it, much less given practical teaching on how to love your neighbor when he is slandered by your brother (after the shock of last night's numbers can we at least acknowledge it's not just that one creepy uncle now?).

    There are dozens of believing Boomers and even fellow X and Millennial friends that I am at a total loss on how to respond to after this election. Ones who diligently taught me and admonished me and warned me about the evils of the world before turning right around to embrace them. I guess Abortion and Feminism and Atheism and Evolution are the only true evils after all. Funny, you'd think that in that case the Bible would bother to mention them. Yet the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life are now enshrined in the highest office of the land with the full blessing of my family and friends and faith community - first thing this morning I read it was a sign of Gods mercy! The moral bankruptcy is staggering. It makes the Gospel look so puny - it was supposedly able to conform these people into the image of Christ. If it hasn't done that for them after decades of belief and practice, what can it do for me?

    Your points about the evangelical lust for power are almost verbatim what I was lamenting to my husband this morning. As it happens, we left our evangelical church earlier this year and have been looking for a new one in our rather small town. A contentious election season is a fascinating and revealing one for church-hunting. We've visited a good handful from different denominational backgrounds. The desire for political power and influence is unashamedly proclaimed. We want prestige and control, and furthermore, we deserve it. It is our American birthright. Untouchable, unquestionable, permanent power = this election isn't about the presidency, it's about the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court will grant us our due rights and allow us to dictate the lesser rights of the unbelieving (and therefore undeserving). It is so contrary to what I thought my faith was about that my head spins.

    I am so grieved for my friends and family and neighbors.

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    1. Christians on my FB are openly stating that Trump will put "conservative Christians in positions of power." That's pretty much a verbatim quote. Tells you what it's really all about now.

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    2. Also, thanks for your outstanding comment, R. Feel free to chime in whenever you like.

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  12. Another thought I forgot to work into my earlier comments:

    I remember seeing the study that authoritarianism - as defined in the study, which I believe they did through questions about childrearing practices - was a predictor of Trump support. It's interesting that there have been other studies that disagree and instead pinpoint anti-elite/anti-establishment sentiment as the predicting factor.

    I think both of these support the thesis of your post, actually. The authoritarianism you've already addressed, but the anti-elite/anti-establishment mindset plays right into evangelical culture too. They are against the scientific "establishment," against the Biblical studies "establishment," against the sociological "establishment." They talk all the time about evil elite universities that look down on them and indoctrinate their kids into believing evil lies like feminism and evolution. Except, of course, what's lost in all that is:

    Truth is not determined by whether someone is a member of an "establishment," or whether they're an "outsider." Because sometimes, the "establishment" is dominant because it's the only factual point of view and the other options are irrational. There is a round earth and heliocentrist "establishment" because the earth is, in fact, round and does, in fact, orbit the sun. It is not right to support a flat earth, geocentrist just because he's "bucking the system," because he's still objectively wrong. So yeah, calls to resent the "establishment" and "elites" - esp. when the people calling for this have a marked propensity to fall for objectively verifiable bullshit, like intersexual people can't exist - have never worked for me.

    And then, on top of all of that, there was an interesting question posed on 538's live feed yesterday, namely, that if this election was about getting rid of the "establishment," how come so many congressional incumbents were re-elected? My answer: Maybe because for many people, it was really about something much darker and more disturbing than that?

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    1. As usual, good points.

      On the issue of truth, I adore Peter Enns' perspective.

      "Theological needs – better, perceived theological needs – do not determine historical truth. Evangelicals do not tolerate such self-referential logic from defenders of other faiths, and they should not tolerate it in themselves."

      Very much agree that the distrust of any truth that didn't originate within their tribe is a huge problem. I also think that this is why Evangelicalism is on the cusp of a huge disaster. I don't think that the younger generations are as accepting of obvious bullshit.

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  13. What I fear more than Trump's politics and policies is how his nomination and election has/will impact the culture. He has made racism, sexism, every other "-ism" mainstream. I teach high school in a very small (pop. 991), predominantly white, conservative Christian town in east Texas. I've heard a dozen comments by white students to Hispanic students about how they will be deported by Trump. Another student said that after a black president, a woman president will make America look weak. This is who will be voting next election, and that terrifies me.
    Also, my husband and I have recently left our Evangelical church partly because this church came to equate far-right wing conservatism with Christianity. We grew tired of hearing politics preached from the pulpit.

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    1. I agree. A number of my friends and colleagues - and their kids - have been subjected to harrassment and bullying.

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    2. Here's one from a long-time friend and musical colleague, a Brit married to an Hispanic man:

      "So it's started already. We have a family member in high school who was told FIVE DIFFERENT TIMES today that he'll be sent back soon. It should also be noted that on his father' side of the family he is fourth generation Californian. His brother is a serving Marine and he has ten uncles (just on one side of the family) that volunteered for military service including the following combat arenas: WW2, Korea, Vietnam. And yet somehow because of his name and the colour of his skin, he is not an American?"

      This is just one of a half dozen in the last couple of months alone.

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    3. You probably don't read at the patheos atheist channel, but this article and the links therein lay bare what Trump and far too many of his supporters are all about
      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/accordingtomatthew/2016/11/trumps-america-is-already-terrifying/

      and we are only 28 hours post election.

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    4. CHicks, I live in Texas too, and I am just sick at what you have observed. Our church family is ethnically diverse and I'm so grieved that they will be dealing with this kind of talk and behavior.

      Although we are not Evangelical, I can sympathize with your frustration about politics from the pulpit. We've seen it in various places and to varying degrees. When I think about how little Jesus said about the politics of His day and how really wicked that government was, I think we have lost perspective on exactly what is "our Father's business" that we are supposed to be doing.

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    5. I'm just going to add in that one of my older daughters' best friends, a twelve year old girl, was asked this week when she was going to be deported. This is one of at least a dozen different incidents involving friends and their families over the last few months.

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    6. Fabric Queen, I do occasionally read in the Atheist section. I have particular interest in Love, Joy, Feminism (who I have linked regularly) because of our mutual experience in Fundamentalism.

      Mary, I agree that we have missed the boat on so many things. If we would spend a bit more time on Matthew 25:31-46, and less trying to imitate power-hungry religious leaders of the past...

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    7. I keep hearing things about kids, schools, and students pushing the deportation thing. I'm wondering what's up with that. Is this the mentality level that ___________ appeals to, or is this a reflection of the attitudes of the parents, or what...? And if the schools are supposedly teaching inclusivism, why are so many stories coming from schools, at least that I'm hearing? I'm not sure what to make of it. Any help on that?

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    8. Just my theory: children do pick up on cues from the culture, and choose to bully whomever it is believed to be "okay" to bully. That said, I strongly suspect that these kids picked up their attitudes from their parents. So probably a combination.

      As for why schools, I'm leaning toward the simplest answer, which is that it is where children are thrown together without constant supervision. For the most part, friends don't treat friends like that, but you can't pick who you share a playground with.

      What I will say, is that from the experience of my friends (and this includes people all the way from veterans to old ladies), Le Toupee has indeed emboldened people to express hate in public. Probably, they said these things in private before, but now they have no shame.

      I can't decide it's better to have it out in the open or not.

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  14. I'm still in shock. Just wanted to say thanks, and I love you, Tim. I have an appointment in the morning with an evangelical friend I know "held her nose" and voted for Trump. Hoping your words will help me navigate the situation without blowing up a 24 year friendship. ((((Tim))))

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    1. Sadly, there will be friendships lost over this. Because people turned out to be more evil than we imagined. This is already promising to be a difficult extended family situation. On the plus side, I have discovered that some people have more huevos than I realized. On the other, many harbor genuine bigotry. So sad.

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    2. The thing that really boggles me is that this friend, of whom I genuinely think the world, has a son married to a woman of Honduran ancestry -- her grandfather immigrated -- of whom she is very fond. Perhaps more to the point, she has a son in law who is the son of Indian immigrants, and two beautiful black-haired, olive-skinned granddaughters who may well be mistaken for Arabic some day. I don't know if it has occurred to her that she may well have put her own grandchildren in potential danger.

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    3. I nowhere said my friend was evil or bigoted.

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  15. Thank you for both posts, Tim!
    I am struggling as well to keep belief in the Bible separate from the apparent requirement to adhere to Republican/conservative political standards...

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  16. I'm sorry that you have had to go through this disillusionment with the Evangelicals and conservative politics in this harsh way. My husband went through his crisis over those in 2000 when he couldn't understand why "God would allow Al Gore to almost win the election." It shook him in a lot of ways and caused him to go back and reevaluate his belief system. He ended up casting off Evangelicalism and politics in general and seeking to follow the Lord and His word without reference to anyone's "group" or requirements. For awhile he was in an Independent Fundamental Baptist church, but a few years later, after some bad experiences, he also laid aside those traditions of man as well (although we still fellowship with some who are not given to the extremism that is generally associated with that name).

    Please don't give up on *your* faith because of the horrible behavior and rhetoric of certain groups. Remember that the ones Jesus spoke most harshly to were the religious "good guys" of their day. And, ultimately, they are the ones who cried out for His crucifixion. We shouldn't be shocked (though we should be grieved) that the "Christian" "good, godly" elite of our day would behave the same way. You write as if you are in the process of leaving Evangelicalism. From the perspective of a person who has been on the outside looking in for quite awhile now, welcome! :-) Now you have the opportunity to lay aside those labels and traditions of man and follow Christ Jesus alone without regard to anyone's opinions or labeling system. This is a very good place to be, although I admit it takes some getting used to and it isn't easy. We humans (especially Americans?) seem to have an addiction to labels. By God's grace you can do this because you and Amanda already have some good solid experience in letting go of the commandments and traditions of man.

    The three real concerns that my husband and I see with the impending administration (from least to worst):
    1. The country being run as an extension and in the manner of T. enterprises.
    2. Men following their leader's example in how they treat women and thus sexual assault increasing. (My husband actually heard men defending vile behavior by referring to Bill Clinton's example during that administration, so he feels this is a legitimate concern.)
    3. The MOST frightening - "Ethnic cleansing." (To us this nation looks like it's of a similar mindset to Germany when they embraced Nazism.)

    My favorite Samuel Johnson quote: "Patriotism is the last resort of a scoundrel." The farther American Evangelicalism gets from the mind of Christ, the more they excuse wickedness and overlook filth, and the more they embrace patriotism because it makes them feel good about themselves. Abortion is one facet of that. Another popular one is the exultation of the military. I have observed for a long time what I call "Reactionary Christianity" - this is a variety of "Christianity" that forms its views primarily upon a reaction against what they perceive as "wicked". Their reaction usually leads them to take an extreme and opposite position without regard to what God actually says about it, especially in the New Testament. It is sickening to watch it in action. I hope and pray that your faith can survive this crisis. Jesus always was greater than Evangelicalism anyway, and He has never been limited to working only through them!

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    1. As usual, excellent comment. I too share your belief about what the most likely results of the election will be.

      Great point about Reactionary Christianity. It is the best explanation as to why cultural Fundamentalism and racism seem to go together wherever they are found.

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    2. For what it's worth, isn't the most likely result of "The Wall" going to be that a Trump crony gets billions of dollars to design it, it gets caught up in environmental review for the next decade before whoever comes next realizes it is a total boondoggle and quietly kills it? I mean, that would be totally in line with Trump's usual way of doing business, right?

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    3. Sorry about the grammar in my last paragraph. That second sentence got a little garbled.

      That sounds exactly how "The Wall" project would be handled. Ha! :-)

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  17. Just a reminder. If you call me names, I'll delete your comment. My blog, my rules. Please read the comment policy first.

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  18. I've been exasperated. A friend just connected me to your blog. Thank you for every word and your boldness. I'm part of that 5% who didn't vote with my tribe of white evangelicals. When you said "I'll be blunt.." I wholeheartedly agree, this deeply resonates. You give me courage.

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  19. I'm with Jon Stewart: I want my president to be elite. I want my president to be smarter than me, vastly better informed than me, better spoken, better read, way better at math. I want my president to be of better character than me, though I try. I want my president to be stronger than me. I want my president to have way more experience than me. I want my president to be better than me in every possible way. Not just a guy who was born rich and -- surprise, surprise -- by dint of screwing people and threatening people, managed to get richer, but not as rich as he would have by just putting the money in a mutual fund.

    I'm fine with elitism where my president is concerned.

    Oh, and having gone to prep school with the children of the 1%, I can assure you that nowhere near all of them fit the above description.

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    1. Darn it. Replace all those "me"s with "I" and add that I want my president to have better grammar skills than I.

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    2. Perhaps this is what the writer of Proberbs meant by: "Under three things the earth quakes, And under four, it cannot bear up: Under a servant when he becomes king..."

      On a related note, one thing this election did show is that you can get away with being woefully ignorant and worse, unprepared, and yet be taken seriously...as long as you are a white male. (Don't get me started on the Gary Johnson debacle. A legitimate protest vote, but if he had been female or non-white, he would have been laughed out of town.)

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