[Vision2020] Trump Leads Among Evangelicals!

Nicholas Gier ngier006 at gmail.com
Wed Sep 2 03:00:52 PDT 2015

Trump-ward, Christian Soldiers?

AUG. 25, 2015  Frank Bruni The New York Times

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Let me get this straight. If I want the admiration and blessings of the
most flamboyant, judgmental Christians in America, I should marry three
times, do a queasy-making amount of sexual boasting, verbally degrade
women, talk trash about pretty much everyone else while I’m at it,
encourage gamblers to hemorrhage their savings in casinos bearing my name
and crow incessantly about how much money I’ve amassed?

Seems to work for Donald Trump.

Polls show him to be the preferred candidate
among not just all Republican voters but also the party’s vocal evangelical

He’s more beloved than Mike Huckabee, a former evangelical pastor, or Ted
Cruz, an evangelical pastor’s son, or Scott Walker, who said during the
recent Republican debate: “It’s only by the blood of Jesus Christ that I’ve
been redeemed.”

When Trump mentions blood, it’s less biblical, as Megyn Kelly can well
. proving, yet again, how selective and incoherent the religiosity of many
in the party’s God squad is.

Usually the disconnect involves stern moralizing, especially on matters
sexual, by showily devout public figures who are then exposed as adulterers
or (gasp!) closet homosexuals. I’d list all the names, starting with Josh
Duggar and working backward, but my column doesn’t sprawl over an entire
page of the newspaper.

Or the disconnect is between evangelists’ panegyrics about Christ’s penury
and their hustle for funds to support less-than-penurious lifestyles. John
Oliver, the host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” has been making brilliant
satirical fun of this by promoting his new tax-exempt church
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7y1xJAVZxXg>, Our Lady of Perpetual
Exemption. Last Sunday he apologized to viewers that his wife, Wanda Jo,
“cannot be with us this evening.”

“She’s at our summer parsonage in Hawaii,” he continued, “for a week of
spiritual introspection and occasional parasailing.”

What’s different and fascinating about the Trump worship is that he doesn’t
even try that hard for a righteous facade — for Potemkin piety. Sure, he
speaks of enthusiastic churchgoing, and he’s careful to curse Planned
Parenthood and to insist that matrimony be reserved for heterosexuals as
demonstrably inept at it as he is.

But beyond that? He just about runs the table on the seven deadly sins. He
personifies greed, embodies pride, radiates lust. Wrath is covered by his
anti-immigrant, anti-“losers” rants, and if we interpret gluttony to
include big buildings and not just Big Macs, he’s a glutton through and
through. That leaves envy and sloth. I’m betting that he harbors plenty of
the former, though I’ll concede that he exhibits none of the latter.

In 2012, inexplicably, he was invited to Liberty University, where he
digressed during his remarks to extol the prudence of prenuptial
agreements. But all was forgiven: His host, Jerry Falwell Jr., told
audience members that Trump could be credited for “single-handedly” forcing
President Obama to release his birth certificate. Oh how they cheered, as
if ugly, groundless partisan rumor-mongering were on a saintly par with
washing lepers’ feet.

Maybe it’s Trump’s jingoism they adore. They venerated Ronald Reagan though
he’d divorced, remarried and spent much of his career in the godless clutch
of Hollywood.

Maybe their fealty to Trump is payback for his donations to conservative
religious groups.

Or maybe his pompadour has mesmerized them. It could, in the right wind, be
mistaken for a halo.

I’m grasping at straws, because there’s no sense in the fact that many of
the people who most frequently espouse the Christian spirit then proceed to
vilify immigrants, demonize minorities and line up behind a candidate who’s
a one-man master class in such misanthropy.

>From Trump’s Twitter account gushes an endless stream of un-Christian
rudeness, and he was at it again on Monday night, retweeting someone else’s
denigration of Kelly as a “bimbo.” Shouldn’t he be turning the other cheek?
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For politicians as for voters, devotion and grace can be fickle, convenient
things. Courting the evangelical vote, Cruz used his own Twitter account
last week to say that his “thoughts and prayers are with President Jimmy
Carter,” whose struggle with cancer was riveting the nation. But then Cruz
pressed on with a speech that bemoaned the “misery, stagnation and malaise”
of Carter’s presidency. He couldn’t have hit pause on the Carter bashing
for a week or two?

Carter pressed on, too — with his usual weekend routine of teaching Sunday
school, which he has long done with little fanfare. His own Christianity is
not a bludgeon but a bridge.

As for Trump, I must not be watching the same campaign that his evangelical
fans are, because I don’t see someone interested in serving God. I see
someone interested in *being *God.
* Correction: August 26, 2015 *

An earlier version of this column referred imprecisely to Donald Trump’s
host at Liberty University in 2012. It was Jerry Falwell Jr. — not his
father, Jerry Falwell (who died in 2007).
A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they
shall never sit in.

-Greek proverb

“Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity.
Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance
from another. This immaturity is self- imposed when its cause lies not in
lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without
guidance from another. Sapere Aude! ‘Have courage to use your own
understand-ing!—that is the motto of enlightenment.

--Immanuel Kant
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