February 4, 2022
WN: To understand some of this phenomenon, please see my Book Review of: Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation, by Kristin Kobes du Mez, with front-end additional videos, and commentary. Then read Sarah Posner‘s: Unholy: How White Christian Nationalists Powered the Trump Presidency, and the Devastating Legacy They Left Behind. Of it we read:
“In terrifying detail, Unholy illustrates how a vast network of white Christian nationalists plotted the authoritarian takeover of the American democratic system. There is no more timely book than this one.”—Janet Reitman, author of Inside Scientology
Why did so many evangelicals turn out to vote for Donald Trump, a serial philanderer with questionable conservative credentials who seems to defy Christian values with his every utterance? To a reporter like Sarah Posner, who has been covering the religious right for decades, the answer turns out to be far more intuitive than one might think.
In this taut inquiry, Posner digs deep into the radical history of the religious right to reveal how issues of race and xenophobia have always been at the movement’s core, and how religion often cloaked anxieties about perceived threats to a white, Christian America. Fueled by an antidemocratic impulse, and united by this narrative of reverse victimization, the religious right and the alt-right support a common agenda–and are actively using the erosion of democratic norms to roll back civil rights advances, stock the judiciary with hard-right judges, defang and deregulate federal agencies, and undermine the credibility of the free press. Increasingly, this formidable bloc is also forging ties with European far right groups, giving momentum to a truly global movement.
Revelatory and engrossing, Unholy offers a deeper understanding of the ideological underpinnings and forces influencing the course of Republican politics. This is a book that must be read by anyone who cares about the future of American democracy.
Sarah Posner authored as well an article I comment on here: Amazing Disgrace. In it there is a brilliant image used that says it all! The quote beneath, ironically, reveals more of the Christian Nationalist sentiment than the good reverend knew:
Her commentary is no less riveting, a sample of which is this:
In the end, conservative Christians backed Trump in record numbers. He won 81 percent of the white evangelical vote [in 2016]—a higher share than George W. Bush, John McCain, or Mitt Romney. As a result, the religious right—which for decades has grounded its political appeal in moral “values” such as “life” and “family” and “religious freedom”—has effectively become a subsidiary of the alt-right, yoked to Trump’s white nationalist agenda. Evangelicals have traded Ronald Reagan’s gospel-inspired depiction of America as a “shining city on a hill” for Trump’s dark vision of “American carnage.” And in doing so, they have returned the religious right to its own origins—as a movement founded to maintain the South’s segregationist “way of life.”
We also read this in ‘Trump is not my God’: how the former president’s only vaccine victory turned sour, February 5, 2022, by David Smith in Washington, @smithinamerica:
They can get disgruntled with Trump, certainly, and DeSantis is the obvious choice for people who are anti-vax. But giving up on Trump is like giving up on their dreams at this point. Trump was their savior. Trump brought about the wholesale remasculization of that portion of the American psyche. (Emphasis added)
The recent death from COVID of prominent televangelist Marcus Lamb, who had been consistently spreading misinformation about coronavirus vaccines on his program, has not changed white evangelical Christian attitudes towards getting vaccinated. Lamb not only criticized vaccines, but he also was a super-spreader of unproven COVID treatments.
Lamb is not the only vaccine-denying evangelical Christian pastor to die from COVID over the past year. In mid-December, Salon’s Nebil Husayn reported that “On Aug. 17, Roger Dale Moon, pastor of Revelation Fire Ministries in South Carolina, wrote that he did not fear COVID-19 since “the blood of Jesus that covers me stops every kind of disease or virus that tries to enter my spirit, soul and body.” He died on Oct. 19, shortly after contracting COVID-19.”
Other church leaders that died from COVID include: Bob Enyart, radio talk show host and the pastor of Denver Bible Church in Colorado, Dean Kohn of Descending Dove Outreach International in California, Bob Marson of Umpqua Valley Community Fellowship in Oregon and Rob Skiba of Virtual House Church, a Texas-based online community.
Tim Parsons, pastor of Center Point Church in Lexington, Kentucky, died on Aug. 26 from COVID-19, after his church had advised members “not to worry” about the virus since God was “in control.”
Almost two years into the COVID-19 pandemic and its variants, white evangelical Christians continue to lag behind most other Americans in terms of getting vaccinated. According to Joanne Silberner, “pushback against Covid-19 vaccines has remained stubbornly high, with polls in recent months suggesting between 30% and 40% refused to get vaccinated, the highest proportion among any religious group surveyed.” According to the Public Religion Research Institute, about 14.5% of Americans are white evangelical Christians.
“Throughout the pandemic,” Silberner wrote, then-NIH Director Francis Collins 1, a white evangelical himself, “has appeared on podcasts with leaders across the religious spectrum, including white evangelical leaders Rick Warren and Franklin Graham. His goal was ‘to encourage both people in the pews and their pastors to really step back from all of the misinformation and embrace vaccines as answers to prayer.’”
In December, after the death of Lamb, The Washington Post’s Michelle Boorstein reported that “Dan Darling … lost his job as spokesman for the National Religious Broadcasters in August after he publicly endorsed vaccines from an evangelical perspective. The NRB is a conservative-leaning group of Christian media professionals.))“While most evangelicals have seen the prudence and safety of the vaccines, there are many who are hesitant,” Darling wrote to The Post. “Part of the reason for this skepticism is a deep distrust of American institutions, many of which have failed in recent years. And part of the reason is misinformation. I’m saddened by the passing of Marcus Lamb. His ministry was very influential and was felt by millions around the world. We should mourn every death from COVID and pray for an end to this pandemic.”
But giving up on Trump is like giving up on their dreams at this point. Trump was their savior. Trump brought about the wholesale remasculization of that portion of the American psyche.
“Built into conservative evangelical Christianity, at its best, is a critical stance towards all institutions. There is this belief: ‘Look, we follow Jesus, and all other loyalties have to be critically evaluated.’ Anything secular is held in immediate suspicion,” [Curtis Chang, a divinity school professor] said. “That impulse in evangelicalism has gotten so weaponized by a bunch of influences in politics, media and movements like the anti-vaccine movement. It adds a spiritualization of that suspicion, such that they see demonic forces. It’s so entangled.”
Author and journalist Sarah Posner told The Washington Post that “Marcus Lamb was seen by his audience as a very godly Christian figure who is telling them that the vaccines are bad and these [alternative treatments] are good and to do these things instead. So how could he get covid? Because satanic forces are against his truth-telling and are trying to bring him down.” She added: “If vaccines are being promoted by Democrats or a government controlled by Democrats, they must be bad.”
- Please see my post: A Long Talk With Anthony Fauci’s Boss About the Pandemic, Vaccines, and Faith. We read in the Wikipedia article about him:
In June 2000 Collins was joined by President Bill Clinton and biologist Craig Venter in making the announcement of a working draft of the human genome. He stated that “It is humbling for me, and awe-inspiring to realize that we have caught the first glimpse of our own instruction book, previously known only to God.” An initial analysis was published in February 2001, and scientists worked toward finishing the reference version of the human genome sequence by 2003, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of James D. Watson and Francis Crick‘s publication of the structure of DNA.