That was the claim made by certain medieval “Christian” bloggers in the face of the Black Plague. Jews were said to have started the pestilence by poisoning the water, and they were subsequently murdered when the fake news went viral.
But what does that have to do with current (Christian) conspiracy theories regarding COVID-19?
As best I can tell, the virus was cooked up in a North Carolina lab by Bigfoot and Barack Obama to keep pastors from preaching live–and/or getting their nails done. (I am immune. I swallowed disinfectant and an infrared lightbulb.)
CHRISTIANS AND CONSPIRACY THEORIES
Ed Stetzer issued a rebuke last week to those evangelicals who seem disproportionately prone to bizarre and politically-charged conspiracy theories.
Gullibility is not a spiritual gift.
Likewise, Dru Johnson wrote regarding Jesus’ own words against the tawdry rumor mill of End Times speculation:
Prior to his death, Jesus sternly warned his disciples against buying into the various conspiracy theories that would come. “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars,” he said. But his counsel is revealing: “See that no one leads you astray…” (Matt. 24:4–6, ESV).
Both articles are instructive.
But my question is different.
Why are we (and especially certain evangelicals) drawn to conspiracy theories? Why do we find them almost irresistible?
A few thoughts:
Conspiracy allows me to blame “them.”
You can’t sue a bat for damages. You can’t put a Venetian flea on trial. When disaster strikes, we want to blame “them.”
When a hurricane struck Texas and Florida, Jennifer Lawrence blamed the devastation on “Mother Nature’s wrath” against states that had supported Donald Trump. Pat Robertson blamed a Haitian earthquake on the islanders’ “pact with the devil,” and Jerry Falwell attributed 9/11 to “gays and lesbians” (see here).
While these may not be “conspiracies” per se, the common theme is a need to blame people we already loathe (“them”).
And especially when those out-groups (university professors, the media, people who know math) have looked down on others for not having the expert status they possess. In many cases, conspiracy theories feed on our desire to acquire a special, secret knowledge (gnosis) that is lost upon the “shills” who believe what they’re told in the media.
3. Conspiracy defrays “sunk costs.”
The trouble with facts is their potential to invalidate my prior opinions. And if I’ve already “sunk” a lot of time and energy into supporting an opinion, ideology, or leader, contrary evidence feels like a slap in the face.
Conspiracy theories help defray “sunk costs” by providing an alternative narrative—even if it’s stupid.
4. Conspiracy is fueled by a lack of trust.
In his rebuke of Christian conspiracy theorists, Stetzer writes:
we need to speak up […] and lovingly say, “You need to go to trusted sources.”
Stetzer isn’t wrong. But his advice probably won’t work.
If “trusted sources” were seen as trustworthy by conspiracy theorists, then those persons would have never sought the “real story” from disreputable pundits, bloggers, and self-deputized evangelical “thought-leaders.”
Conspiracies run rampant precisely because there are NO universally trusted sources anymore—only silos inside silos inside silos.
5. Conspiracy abhors an expert.
In fundamentalist Christianity, scientific “experts” have long been viewed negatively. They were alleged to be (and sometimes were) dishonest deconstructors of biblical truth, as seen in the likes of Darwin, Dawkins, and Sam Harris.
Unfortunately, this posture furthers the misconception that Christians must be “science-deniers” who can be lumped with other flat-earth, anti-vaxxer, fringe groups. To be frank, it pushes intelligent young people to throw out the “Baby” of orthodoxy with the “Bathwater” of anti-scientific fundamentalism.
6. Conspiracy sells.
Big tech companies are in an awkward position. They are driven by ad revenue. So while they are often accused (and sometimes rightly) of muting free speech, they also profit tremendously from conspiratorial nonsense.
One study showed that conspiratorial “fake news” was far more likely to be shared than anything else—and especially when its existence is seen as being threatened. In short, conspiracy sells.
7. Conspiracy is sometimes true.
Lastly, it is important to remember that truth is sometimes labeled as a “conspiracy theory.”
Imagine the following scenario: You are a Gentile Roman citizen in the first century. Which story seems likely:
A man was crucified; God raised him from the dead; he now rules creation.
A man was crucified; his crackpot Jewish followers stole his body and then claimed (ridiculously) that he was resurrected.
The answer, as during the Black Plague, seemed obvious:
“The Jews did it.”
I’ll give Johnson the last word:
Therein lies the good conspiracy that we are to spread: The kingdom has come and is still coming in the ordinary lives of overlooked people in our communities. But that also means there are other conspiracies—lesser ones—that will compete and distract us from where God is trying to focus our efforts.
If we’re busy carrying out the mission of the coming kingdom, we won’t have much time or energy for tawdry conspiracy theories—and pretending we can peel back the curtains of history and discern the exact signs of the king’s coming will seems frivolous at best.
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“In a way, I’m glad they carried tiki torches and wore well-pressed polo shirts.”
That was one of my (admittedly strange) thoughts while grieving the vile scene from Charlottesville this weekend.
The citronella made the barbarity feel suburban–and that matters.
The stereotype for white supremacy (as set forth by Jerry Springer) usually involves a two-toothed yokel in bib overalls, catfish bait beneath the fingernails, and married to a cousin.
Not to white supremacy, but to the many decent folks who wear bib overalls.
That picture of racism is dangerous because it’s easy to dismiss as distant and defunct.
“I don’t know anyone like that.”
But the young millennials marching in Charlottesville looked (well…) a lot like me:
unacquainted with cousinly matrimony.
That’s important too.
Because as long as I view white nationalism as just a backwoods problem, I will never note the subtle ways it grows untended in my own backyard.
Now a word on that.
A DANGEROUS QUESTION
Shortly after Saturday’s bloodshed, a pastor-friend of mine posed this question to me.
How long could a polo-shirt wearing, tiki-torch bearing white nationalist attend your evangelical church before hearing something from the pulpit that would contradict his worldview?
What would be your response?
I’m thankful to be part of a tribe that has tried to change the answer to such questions (see here). Yet we have some work to do.
SOME HONEST HISTORY
For the past few weeks, I’ve been reading the latest history of American evangelicalism (The Evangelicals) penned by Pulitzer Prize winner, Francis Fitzgerald.
It has been a painful but important read.
A stark reminder has been the extent to which many evangelical leaders found themselves on the wrong side of civil rights.
And by that, I do not just mean “the wrong side of history” (see here), but more importantly: “the wrong side of God.”
White nationalism. And a desire not to run afoul of their “constituency.”
To take a famous example: Jerry Falwell, the founder of the Moral Majority (and Liberty University) preached and published passionately for segregation; he called racial integration “the work of the devil”; and he denounced civil rights legislation with the claim that “it should be considered ‘civil wrongs’.”
He eventually disavowed these viewpoints. Yet his mature ministry was still marked by staunch support for the white supremacist government of South Africa, which he visited, while denouncing Bishop Desmond Tutu as “a phony.”
Billy Graham was (normally) light-years ahead of Falwell on this subject.
Yet even he struggled to stand up to his constituency. While MLK languished in a Birmingham jail in 1963, Graham chided his “good personal friend” with the claim that he needed to “put the brakes on a bit” in the quest for justice. Likewise, Graham often insinuated at the time that whites and blacks were equally culpable, even in instances when violence against nonviolent black marchers was at its height. (If you have ears to hear, then hear.)
The reason for bringing up this history is not to look down our collective nose at those who were, like all of us, people of their time.
The motive actually is just the opposite.
Evangelicals must be honest about our past so as not to repeat it.
Because the real danger of white nationalism (or hatred of any kind) is not the Jerry Springer stereotype.
It is the subtle form that will kill us, without ever climbing behind the wheel of a Dodge Charger.
A few years ago I met Jim as he audited my university New Testament class.
For the unfamiliar, auditing means attending my lectures simply for the fun of it, rather than for college credit. (Needless to say, some of my traditional students find this very odd.)
Nevertheless, Jim and I became friends. And I then learned that he is a PhD scientist, specializing in Climate Change, and having taught for years in the Geosciences at Texas A&M.
Jim is a scholar.
Yet he is also an evangelical Christian, living in the Bible-belt — which brings us to the opening line about his almost “mythical” status. As he admits, evangelical climate scientists (with actual PhDs in the field) are somewhat rare.
EVANGELICALS AND CLIMATE SCIENCE
Manmade global warming, while accepted as an empirical fact in many places, is often controversial in the Bible-belt (though not for theological reasons).
And like everything else, it is highly politicized.
Even so, the command to be good stewards of our earth is a mandate for all Christians. And the need to listen to actual experts on such subjects (rather than unqualified bloggers like myself!) seems wise.
So whether you “believe” in manmade climate change or not, I hope you’ll enjoy the interview I did with Jim.
In it, he attempts to explain:
How warming happens;
Why he can be quite certain it is both real and human-caused; and
How his treatment of the topic differs from some others as it comes from a Christian concern for the “least of these,” and an acknowledgement of the imago Dei.
You can access the conversation, in two formats.
First, there is an audio conversation shown below, and secondly (further down) there is an email response from Jim in which he responds to some questions on Christians and climate change.
EMAIL Q&A WITH JIM NORWINE
Q: How do we know that man made global warming is real?
Oh boy. How to answer that in a few sentences….?
First, we know nothing with absolute certainty other than our selves, and even that could be a projection by some external whatever. (The latter is the ancient philosophy of solipsism, “I am the only reality,” which is impossible to refute…but which most of us choose to ignore in order to get on with “our”—we hope–lives.)
Seems obvious when you think about it but in fact even very educated folks often seem to think we are eating into the corpus of ignorance and soon will have digested the whole enchilada. Nothing could be further from the truth. Knowledge is by its nature finite. Ignorance is infinite.
Think of the former as standing on a new and still-rising volcanic mountain on an island in the middle of the sea. Every day you are higher and higher, see (know) more and more. So easy to think, what a smart boy am I! And true up to a point. But: every day the horizon recedes further and further. This is the point of the folk, and scholar’s, wisdom, “the more I know the greater my ignorance.”
So I suppose one could say there is one kind of “certain” knowledge, that of apprehending the limits inherent in being embodied createds.
Second, as to knowing in a scientific sense, there are levels. One may know in the sense of a law, like that of gravity. Near-“certain” because of so many repeated demonstrations and observations. (Still never really certain because a law, like that of gravity, is not the reality, just the best description one has at the moment. And in fact the law of gravity has been overturned: Aristotle to Galileo to Newton to Einstein and so on.)
The next level of knowledge in science is that of theory. You might think of a successful theory as a sort of baby or not-quite-yet law. High confidence again due to verification by testing and testing and still more testing. The theory of evolution is a good example. When folks hear the phrase they often confuse theory with hypothesis. The latter is the educated guess with which one begins the practice of the scientific method. Hypothesis is merely square one on the Monopoly board of science; theory is at the very opposite end of the practice, one half-step short of law.
Anthropogenic warming is in, or at least close to, the latter category, in terms of the broad relation between CO2 levels (and those of other greenhouse gases) and planetary temperature. Our studies of Earth’s climate history provide robust evidence of CO2 level as one of the 4 principal causes of climate change over many thousands, even millions, of years, along with the astronomical cycle (3 cycles in Earth’s orbital geometry), volcanic activity, and solar output.
To wit, warm epochs in the past were periods of high CO2 and vice versa. It is true that important details remain open to question, such as the rate of future warming. Our mathematical models are impressive but again they are only simulations of the vastly more complex real deal so always open to improvement.
Backing up a bit, I should have mentioned that speculation about the thermal effect of emissions from fossil fuels dates to the late 1900s. This “educated guess” was based on a by-then clear understanding that Earth is only inhabitable because of the greenhouse effect.
Quickie short course: the sun is so hot it emits extremely short-wave radiation, energy which zips through our atmosphere like the proverbial knife through butter. However, the Earth is much, much cooler, so that it re-radiates the energy outward in the form of long-wave length “heat” that CO2, methane, ozone and other gases are able to trap in the lower atmosphere with great efficiency. (This “extra” leaks out to space at night so over time Earth usually remains in heat balance.) Consider Mars and Venus by comparison. Both have mostly CO2 atmospheres, but Mars has such a thin atmosphere it lacks the “blanket” needed to trap the outgoing energy near the surface and hence is cold, while Venus has a thick atmosphere with a super9efficient greenhouse effect, hence mean temps of 800-900F.
Q: How do you, as a Christian (and, I think, as a fairly conservative guy) think about this issue differently than some of your colleagues in climate science.
Another toughie to answer briefly.
First, they are right to be skeptical. Just as there was some core of truth about Hilary’s famous “vast right wing conspiracy,” I am confident that there is a strong undercurrent among advocates and progressives in general to place, and enforce using state power, ever-greater limits on personal freedom. (And like the right-wing conspirators, not out of some dark impulse but because of a sort of true-belief faith, in the case of the progressives in “positive”—rules, regs and laws designed to maximize equality of condition–as opposed to the “negative”—“don’t tread on me”—freedom conservatives favor.)
But finally, it don’t make no nevermind, as we say in TX. Or: just because you are paranoid don’t mean there ain’t a bad’un behind you. See answer above: Earth is habitable only because of a wonderful (for us) process that we are overdoing. Liberal plotting and conspiracy notwithstanding, enough extra CO2 is like enough extra jelly donuts: warmer/fatter. Trads of all folks should be first to remember that we are not and never will be “as gods.”
Another reason for conservative dubiety is they intuit, correctly, that they have been lied to by advocates. I.e., “leaving fossil fuels behind won’t be that hard.” Complete and profoundly disingenuous nonsense. (Sort of like “you can keep your doctor, it won’t cost more, etc.” with health care.) Elites think that ordinary folks are so stupid and selfish that they can’t be told the truth about sacrifice.
Fossil fuels were the most transformation discovery in human history since fire itself. The challenge of moving away from their use even done gradually will be immense, something on the order of the Great Depression, WWII, and Europe’s Black Death plagues.
Another common theme from advocates: “we are all in this together.” Yeah, right. Folks see Al Gore and Bill Gates in their vast estates gobbling up energy, and elites with few if any kids living in huge homes, taking jetliner flights to climate conferences–each of which has a greater environmental footprint that a redneck family for a year—all smug in their confidence that by a. recycling and driving hybrids—behaviors that don’t inconvenience them one iota–, and b. preaching to nobodies about how awful they are to drive gas guzzlers, they are sorting with the angels.
And of course they also almost universally support policies like “cap and trade,” which will double or treble energy cost. Again, no big problem, merely some modest tweaking of lifestyle (fewer trips to Cabo, etc.)…but try to imagine the impact of a summertime monthly electricity bill of $800 or $1,000 for someone of modest means living in an older home or trailer.
All the above have unfortunately contributed to many traditional losing sight of our No. 2 marching order: the well-being of the least of these. Opting out of the conversation is consequential, because by participating they could hugely influence new policies and regs, which are surely coming one way or the other. For instance, to lobby for James Hansen’s “fee and dividend” plan, which would raise energy costs enough to cut back emissions but would all be rebated to individuals/families at year’s end. (Progs mostly hate fee and dividend because all the taxes in cap and trade go to the state. As in California now, and Australia earlier, neither of which effectively cut CO2.)
Q: What would you say to those who think manmade climate change is basically a ploy driven by some other political or ideological agenda?
Guess I sort of answered this above: “First, they are right to be skeptical. Just as there was some core of truth about Hilary’s famous “vast right wing conspiracy,” I am confident that there is a strong undercurrent among advocates and progressives in general to place, and enforce using state power, ever-greater limits on personal freedom. (And like the right-wing conspirators, not out of some dark impulse but because of a sort of true-belief faith, in the case of the progressives in “positive”—rules, regs and laws designed to maximize equality of condition–as opposed to the “negative”—“don’t tread on me”—freedom conservatives favor.) But finally, it don’t make no nevermind, as we say in TX. Or: just because you are paranoid don’t mean there ain’t a bad’un behind you. See answer above: Earth is habitable only because of a wonderful (for us) process that we are overdoing. Liberal plotting and conspiracy notwithstanding, enough extra CO2 is like enough extra jelly donuts: warmer/fatter. Trads of all folks should be first to remember that we are not and never will be “as gods.”
But Let me know if you want further clarification.
To recognize that there is a problem with climate change is one thing… but what can the global community actually do about it at this point?
I should have already stressed this point: we can do nothing about the warming from the emissions already done. And frankly not much in terms of actually “fixing” the problem anytime soon. We are going to have to adapt to a warmer world. The key question is how much warmer. The toughest aspect of doing that is that those who sacrifice now will not live to experience any of the benefits.
James Hansen leads the so-called 350 movement, That is, to get CO2 back to 350 ppm from the current 410 or so. (~275 at the start of the Industrial Rev.) Very unlikely methinks, at least without massive economic disruption, with most disastrous impacts on the world’s nobodies. I believe that a doable objective (doable, anything but easy) is to get the level stabilized at or below 450 and then by ~2100 with luck, hard work and sacrificeback down to around where it is currently. That means something like a 5F rise by century’s end. A big challenge, but nothing like the 10F or more which could well present an existential threat if we if we don’t begin to flatten the rate of increase.
Returning to your question, if we could go back in time 20 years I would say that candor would have made a big difference. A forthright message of the need for shared sacrifice like ML King Jr.’s Christian-morality based movement. Recall his own personal example of sacrifice writing from the jailhouse, etc. Maybe too late for that now. In a self-referential age like the one we now inhabit, post-modernity, evidence along no longer persuades many unless it bolsters what they already believed. (And new studies make it clear that is as true of liberals as conservatives.)
Maybe if a Francis Collins led a movement of traditional evangelicals….? Perhaps somehow combined with Ron Dreher’s “Benedict Option”…in which we do retreat in some manner to spiritual “sanctuaries”—living as we do in an alien and ever more hostile post-theistic world—but reach out from them to that world, kind of ala Jeremiah’s concern for the pagans.
“When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
And while Donald Trump said this of women, it’s been more true of his relationship with the Religious Right.
In short, Donald Trump has treated the bride of Christ just like the other married women in that disgusting audio recording. Yet unlike more honorable brides, some evangelical leaders have done nothing to resist his self-serving advances.
This, indeed, is a profound mystery. But I am talking about Trump and the church.
To be honest, I thought I’d written my last post on this subject.
Then came the audio of Trump bragging about his sexual assaults. And yes, that is the proper word for it (You just “Grab them by the p—y; you can do anything!”).
So here we are. Once more unto the breach.
In past posts (for newcomers):
I lamented the fact that democracy gives you the candidates you deserve (here);
I predicted that despite playing coy initially, evangelicals would ultimately flock to Trump (here) like moths to an orange and hairspray-fueled flame.
And I argued that choosing the “lesser of two evils” is not always a rule to live by (here).
I’ve also made it clear, that I am no fan of Trump’s main opponent.
And I suggested (here) that, for me personally, focusing my voting energy on local and statewide issues is a solution to the high-stakes game of “Would you rather…?” that is the Presidential race.
Along slightly different lines, I also appreciated my pastor’s wise advice to think for yourself, to think biblically, and to vote accordingly.
This post, however, is about a different topic.
THE “RELIGIOUS LIBERTY” ARGUMENT
As many of my Christian friends more-or-less concede, Donald Trump is a lecherous braggart with no serious proposals, the temperament of a toddler, and a penchant for racism and misogyny.
But… they say… We still must vote for him, because if we don’t, we’ll lose our religious liberties. And that “trumps” everything.
I respect people who say this.
And indeed, one of the things I like about academics is that we often disagree (even in print), not because we dislike one another, but because critique brings clarity, and that helps us all.
In fact, amongst esteemed professors, the way you honor someone is to gather their friends from around the globe, and publically critique their work. 🙂
And while that may seem strange, there is something beautiful about it too, because it says that even severe disagreement need not sever friendship.
(Now back to the issue.)
THE GRAIN OF TRUTH
As best I can tell, the logic of the “religious liberty” argument runs as follows:
Christianity is under attack. And if we don’t elect this admittedly horrible person, we will face further marginalization in the future.
(Note: I toned down the prior sentence in the editing process. Originally, it read: “orange-tinted sexual predator,” but I will not say that. Many others are saying it. I will not.)
And to be honest, there are bits of the religious liberty narrative to which I’m somewhat sympathetic.
It concerns me that our culture has confused “tolerance” with “agreement” (see here). And there are some areas in which liberty has been eroded.
The problem, however, is not just that the threat is sometimes exaggerated.
The deeper issue is the assumption that Christians should publicly join themselves with truly horrible individuals (and ideas) in exchange for promised “favors.”
That’s not prophetic witness. It’s closer to prostitution.
THE EVANGELICAL FUTURE
And my fear, which is rapidly materializing, is that American evangelicalism will suffer permanent damage for its shameful part in Trump’s doomed and degenerate campaign.
Here are just a few:
We will increasingly be seen as a “White’s only” movement – and if you don’t believe that, just ask my black and Latino students.
We will increasingly be known as a misogynistic movement, which has been a concern already, given the way certain evangelicals have tried to keep women from serving in leadership roles.
And we will increasingly be an “over sixty” movement, because one needs only to look at the Stats to see that my own generation has little stomach for Trump, or for those who try to force us into supporting him in the name of Jesus.
White guys. Over sixty.
That is not the kingdom of God.
But it is in danger of becoming “American evangelicalism.”
MY PERSONAL OPINION
So what’s my personal answer to the religious liberty argument?
Here it is:
As a Christian, and a father of two girls, I would rather lose every shred of my religious freedom than align myself with this truly vile human being.
In fact, I would rather have Christianity assailed from without (by liberalism) than corrupted from within.
As history shows, we can survive being marginalized. We can even survive persecution (though the “p-word” is sometimes overused by the Religious Right).
But we cannot so easily survive brazen complicity with the worst elements of human behavior. Nor do we deserve to.
So, yes, I still care deeply about abortion, the supreme court, religious liberty, and everything else.
But as Christ’s bride, I will not be treated like that married woman who Trump took “furniture shopping” in an effort to buy her body.
I did try and f— her. She was married. And I moved on her very heavily.
Some things are more important than “furniture.”
And some things are more important than political favors.
That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to it.
Now a brief addition to the original post to address a common critique:
I should probably clarify at this point, what I am NOT saying. I am not saying (as some seem to think) that we, as Christians should simply “give away” our liberties or treat them lightly (Thus, the intentional use of the word “lose” instead of “give” in my admittedly hyperbolic title).
Since true liberties are given by God, they should not be encroached upon by anyone. Period. Nor should they be “given up” without right resistance. I’m not proposing that we stop caring about religious liberty–in fact, I explicitly state that I do care about it, and that there are areas of concern.
What I am saying is that the church should stay true to Christ and his values (which, for me, means saying “No” to both candidates). And if that means having to face further marginalization in the future, then we must face that also by staying true to Christ.
Nothing is gained by linking arms with a truly destructive and dangerous candidate simply because he promises certain favors to one particular group. In sum, I do not think this is a particularly controversial idea and there is ample precedent for it in the Scriptures.
Last week, it was announced that a veritable troop of “evangelical leaders” has been invited to a closed-door meeting with Donald Trump. The reason, according to Tony Perkins, is to “have a conversation that could lead to a better understanding of what Trump has to offer the country.”
Sadly, I will not attend.
One reason is that I was not invited. That part is understandable. I am not that important. Then again, my absence is probably for the best. Because unlike Perkins, I have seen quite enough of what Mr. Trump “has to offer the country.”
But aside from not being invited, and not needing more info on what Mr. Trump is “offering,” I also have a third reason for not attending:
I know a“meet-cute” when I see one.
And the outcome of this one feels, sadly, predictable.
What, you ask, is a meet-cute?
According to Google—a trusted source for university professors like myself—a “meet-cute” is a scene from romantic comedies in which an odd couple (two people who would never normally see eye-to-eye) comes together through a zany encounter, and finds unexpected chemistry.
In this case, picture John Cusack from Serendipity, except older, orange, and with a comb-over that defies Newtonian physics. Burn that image in your mind. Meditate upon it. Selah.
And as for the meet-cute between Trump and evangelicals, the movie trailer writes itself. (Pro tip: Use that special movie trailer voice).
They’re so different! He’s a foul-mouthed billionaire, with misogynistic tendencies, xenophobic tirades, and a penchant for conspiracy theories.
She’s a small town good girl who likes Chris Tomlin records, Beth Moore Bible studies, and has long since “kissed dating goodbye.” It should never work!
But then the unexpected happens. And as Paula Abdul told us, opposites attract.
Coming June 21st (since that’s the date of the meeting).
All kidding aside, I can’t say for certain what will happen at this pow wow between Trump and evangelicals. Perhaps it’s just a chance to speak truth to power. Still, I do have an unfortunate prediction.
My guess is that in the weeks that follow, we should expect an increasing number of statements like the following from the “evangelical leaders” in this romantic tragedy:
While we’ve had differences with Mr. Trump in the past, we were very encouraged by our time together. He really listened to us! And we feel confident that our goals align in many areas.
In the end, this election is just too important for evangelicals to sit out. We must defeat Hillary Clinton in November. And that is why I am prepared to pledge my support to Donald J. Trump for Sultan, I mean, PRESIDENT of the United States.
Sincerely, Dr. Faustus.
Or as a clever cartoonist captioned recently, the revised baptismal declaration runs as follows:
“Do you renounce Satan and all his works?”
“I do. But I’ll still support him if he’s the nominee.”
I’m having a bit of fun with this, but the prediction about more evangelicals endorsing Trump (after the meet-cute of course) is serious. And I hope I’m wrong.
IF I WERE ATTENDING
But since I’m not attending, there are a few things that I would like someone to have a “conversation” about. So if you were invited (Russell Moore; were they brave enough to invite you?), feel free to pass this along.
Or just tweet it.
I’m sure @realDonaldTrump will give a thoughtful response, per usual.
You’ve been reported as saying that “Laziness is a trait in blacks.” Did you mean to include Mexicans in that? Or do you see them as hard working “rapists” and “murderers”?
And about your theology: You brag frequently (as only you can) about your Christian faith. Jerry Falwell Jr. even likened you to Jesus! That’s huge Mr. Trump. Jesus is like the Steve Jobs of the evangelical org chart. I know, I know, you prefer Messiahs who didn’t get captured, but still, take it as a compliment.
Anyway, given all that Christian fervor, Mr. Trump, how is it that you claim NEVER to have asked God for forgiveness? Not even once!? That’s impressive. Maybe you are more Christ-like than even Mr. Falwell thinks. (He can ask you for forgiveness later.)
And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of the misogyny, the vulgarity, the extramarital affairs, the over-the-top boasting of sexual prowess, the recent and vocal support for things like abortion, Planned Parenthood, and, oh yeah, Hillary Clinton (as late as 2012).
Then there’s the way you repeatedly misspell the word “White” in your campaign slogan (Seriously, “G-R-E-A-T” isn’t even close, but I guess spellcheck wouldn’t catch that). And the way you repeatedly incite supporters to acts of violence in exchange for legal fees. Classy stuff. Very Christian.
I could go on and on.
But I realize now another reason why I was not invited to the evangelical meet-cute:
I would totally kill the When-Harry-Met-Sally buzz.
In closing, I must clarify that this post is not a veiled attempt to support Mr. Trump’s opponent come November. I’m sure that will be the pushback, but it doesn’t fly. Because fears of “the alternative” do not justify complicity with the kind of shameful nonsense detailed above. And endorsements equal complicity.
Likewise, I do not begrudge anyone for attending the meet-cute. I hope they do. (Especially folks like Russell Moore; we need them there.) And I hope they tell Trump, more graciously than I have, why they can’t support him.
But that hope does not change my above prediction.
Whatever happens, one point stands supreme: As Christians, we must remember that the Kingdom of God—and not some partisan loyalty—is our true political affiliation.
Lordship is a political concept after all–and we follow the Lamb. Not the Elephant. Not the Donkey. Certainly not the Donald.
So while many evangelicals may be swayed by the caviar and cocktails (er…, iced tea) at the upcoming meet-cute, I will not be.
And not just because I’m not invited.
Vicit Agnus noster; eum sequamur.
 Unlike all other quotes in this post, this one alone cannot be corroborated with video evidence (hence the qualifier, “You’ve been reported as saying”). The quote comes from the former president of the Trump Plaza Hotel, John R. O’Donnell, in a Trump biography. When asked about the allegations, Trump did not deny them, saying that “The stuff O’Donnell wrote about me is probably true. The guy’s a f*#king loser.” This acknowledgement came in Trump’s 1999 interview with Playboy. Again, all very classy.