Evangelicals who support President Donald Trump and what some call his toxic hateful agenda have been witnessed in this country before, and as Reverend William Barber points out, they have all suffered the same demise and will do so again.
Despite his multiple extramarital affairs, vulgar language, bullying tactics, outright racism and anti-Semitism and greed, evangelicals have fallen in line with Trump time and time again no matter what he does, all to advance their own political agenda, which is, quite frankly, about as un-Christian as it gets.
But this is not the first time in American history that evangelicals have been on the wrong side of history, and their fate will likely be the same, according to Barber, a prominent Protestant pastor in North Carolina who also serves as an NAACP board member.
Barber wrote an op-ed published by The Guardian explaining the misuse of religion to support evil policies.
“As a bishop of the church, I am troubled anytime I see Christianity used to justify the injustice, deception, violence and oppression that God hates,” Barber began. “Even if Donald Trump had a perfect personal moral résumé, his policy agenda is an affront to God’s agenda to lift the poor and bless the marginalized. The distorted moral narrative these so-called Evangelicals for Trump have embraced is contrary to God’s politics, which have nothing to do with being a Democrat or Republican. But this misuse of religion is not new. It has a long history in the American story.”
Indeed, one prominent example Barber mentions is during the Civil War period when slave owners paid so-called “men of God” to use the Bible to justify owning other human beings.
When abolitionists insisted on pointing out the immorality of human bondage, plantation owners responded by paying preachers and theologians to write justifications of race-based chattel slavery. They imagined a world in which the bodies and souls of black Africans were dependent on the paternalistic supervision of white civilization. Slavery was not simply a justifiable evil. It was, according to America’s slaveholder religion, a positive good. Just as they would argue in the 20th century that segregation was best for black and white people, evangelicals for Jefferson Davis contended that slavery was as good for the souls of black Africans as it was for the pocketbook of the plantation owner.
Religion would again be used to justify segregation and Jim Crow across the South through the 1960s, with evangelicals flocking to support racist Alabama Governor George Wallace and his 1968 presidential campaign. Even though Wallace publicly supported segregation, evangelicals insisted that he was not a racist.
Both times, evangelicals suffered defeat and humiliation as their “chosen one” went down in flames.
Barber concluded that evangelicals today face the same fate.
No one who has read American history can be surprised by the hypocrisy of Evangelicals for Trump. But we can learn from the history how their undoing will inevitably come from their public arrogance. While Davis and Wallace had power, they did not have to listen to the cries of those who suffered from the injustice they used the Bible to justify. They found religious leaders who were willing to tell them lies in order to have access to their power. But the ignorance they intentionally cultivated led them to misjudge the political realities of their day. The Confederate States of America could not last. Wallace’s 1968 run for president revealed the limits of his political imagination.
Evangelicals are a relatively small voting group in this country. They can make a difference in a tight election with low voter turnout overall, but they can be defeated by a landslide if Americans go to the polls in droves to make sure their vote counts. And once their new “chosen one” has been defeated, they’ll be forced to tuck their tails between their legs and go back to the drawing board, biding their time pretending to be moral leaders until they can sell their souls in support of the next evil candidate who runs for political office.
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