Somebody sent me a link to this article today. The author is not anyone I’m familiar with, but then I don’t generally hang out on religious blogs.
Here’s the summary: John Pavlovitz is upset because evangelical Christianity “sold out” and voted for Trump in a large percentage. Methinks he’s an evangelical Christian who didn’t vote for Trump.
He doesn’t tell us who he did vote for, however. He simply didn’t vote for Trump.
He says this:
The cost, is that the Church itself, though winning this political battle has lost the greater war for its humanity and its dignity. It has been fully separated from its namesake. It is no longer synonymous with Jesus. It is no longer good news for the poor, the marginalized, the hurting, the downtrodden. It is an exclusive brothel where power lusting white Christians fornicate freely.
He’s pretty brutal, as you can see.
But I really want to differ with him, substantially.
You see, I do not think that evangelical Christians “sold their souls” to vote for Trump. I wasn’t even surprised that they did it.
In the first place, the “soul” is a metaphor. Nobody actually has one. You are your brain. You aren’t some ghost in an organic machine. But let’s leave that aside and simply accept the word as a metaphor.
For years now, Christianity has been losing ground.
Even back in my religious days, I knew that mainline Christian churches were losing members, but we rationalized this by saying that those people were leaving those “modernist” churches to come to our pure, holy churches. We didn’t understand that they were simply leaving.
When you leave a church, you go someplace. Either you go to another church, as we did when we left the Fundy Church From Hell and went to the Not-So-Hellish Evangelical Church, or you do what we finally did and just walk right out the door and never look back.
The never-look-back bunch is about as numerous today as the church-swapping bunch.
Mainline Christian churches pretty much know this. They have been dealing with it for a long time, and they typically are more reasonable people than the fundigelical types, so they are learning to accept their position as a soon-to-be minority faith. I’m speaking here about white Christians. The PEW data doesn’t differentiate racially. However, the math is pretty clear. When white people become a minority in America, white Christians will also be a minority.
The non-hispanic white population of America today is 63% and falling. It will take awhile (long past my lifetime) to get to less than 50% but it’s coming. Add to that inevitable decline the rapid rise, at least for now, of the “nones” (including atheists and agnostics), and there is reason for Christians to feel, well, like they are losing ground.
And when you’ve spent your whole life accustomed to sitting at the head of the table, and being all generous and allowing the minority religions and if you feel really good, the evil atheists to have a seat at the table, or maybe a seat at the kid’s table in the other room, you don’t take it very well when you start to get the idea that you might not get to dictate the seating at all.
That’s what happened in 2008. An uppity black guy won the presidency and horrified these folks. Many of them have spent eight solid years being horrified. They are losing their place at the top of the ladder and it’s scary as hell.
In addition, they have spent decades being told, from the pulpits, that the Clintons are the most evil people in American politics. I know because I was there and heard them do it. Not just one church, but over and over again in every evangelical/fundamentalist church I knew anything about. And Hillary was actually considered to be worse than Bill, because she didn’t understand that women shouldn’t “have authority” over a man.
So, when this election became a contest between Clinton and Trump, I knew there might be a problem. I did not foresee the debacle that it actually became (like most other people, I thought she’d win), but I knew it was going to be closer than it needed to be due to the evangelical vote.
I knew they’d do what John Pavlovitz laments and “sell out.”
They’ve always been sell-outs.
When I was younger, The Moral Majority in the form of Jerry Falwell came along and told them that they had to vote a certain way (Republican) because of abortion. So they sold out the futures of living kids so they could feel all righteous and superior about embryos and fetuses.
They sold out the educations of countless children so that they could feel all righteous and superior about having their own schools, away from those less-than-desirable minority children.
They sold out the well-being, the happiness, and in many cases, the actual lives of their own children who were born gay so they could be thought “spiritual” by their fellow church members.
They sold out their own kids if those children decided to have minds of their own and made decisions that weren’t in keeping with their lofty “biblical principles.”
I have spent this whole day, off and on, thinking about this and trying to come up with something, anything, that the fundigelical church in America has ever done that improved anyone’s life. I lived among them, as one of them, until I was in my mid-forties. And I can’t think of a thing.
The only thing I ever saw in fundigelical Christianity was a bunch of people imprisoned by fear and guilt and living with the dread all the time that people at the church would disapprove of something they did or didn’t do.
It was never “good news for the poor, the marginalized, the hurting, the downtrodden.” And it has always been “an exclusive brothel where power lusting white Christians fornicate freely.”
This is not to say that there aren’t good, decent people who are evangelical. There are. There are good Christians. And there are shitty Christians. There are good atheists and there are some really crappy ones. People are just people.
But what I have never met, ever, is a person who was good because he was Christian. The good Christians I’ve known are simply good people who would be good if they were Buddhists, or atheists, or Catholics or Methodists.
So, when evangelicals embraced Trump, they didn’t surprise me at all. When they sold out to a man who embodies every single thing they supposedly reject, it didn’t surprise me at all. When they gave away their entire country because baby Jesus values fetuses more than actual children, that didn’t surprise me one bit. When they value the opinion of Vladimir Putin because he excoriates gay people and that makes God happy, that didn’t surprise me either.
The thing that surprises me is that it seems to have surprised John Pavlovitz.