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Buckeye Jones

The US Evangelical Vote

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NBooth   

The primary connecting factor, to my mind, is a sense of being besieged by the not-we world. 

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NBooth wrote:
: The thing is, the US has a long and ignoble history of demonizing and excluding the non-white "Other".

Well, you don't even need the "non-white" qualifier. The Irish, to cite one group, have been on the short end of the stick in American history, have they not?

: Contemporary concerns about undocumented immigrants are a continuation of that perspective, not a simple call for "law and order" (witness how much of the anxiety over illegal immigration--and I do mean anxiety, not the way in which the laws are applied--centers on non-white populations). 

It's not just race, though (setting aside for now the fact that Hispanics are not necessarily distinct from "white"; the U.S. census form apparently treats the Hispanic/non-Hispanic question separately from the black/white/other question). There's language and culture, etc. I live in a country with two official languages, and in a city where there is a *lot* of controversy over the fact that people are being priced out of their homes by wealthy foreigners (many of them Asian) buying up properties and filling entire neighbourhoods with signs that don't even use the same *alphabet* that either of our official languages use. There are, in fact, strata councils that are being taken to court because a majority of the council members felt no need to do business in English. That's sort of the opposite of the illegal-immigration issue in the U.S., inasmuch as you're dealing with a flood of cheap labour rather than wealthy property-buyers, but still: one thing they have in common is that it's *not* about race, at least not primarily. It's about cultural hegemony, language accessibility, and economic consequences for the citizens of all races who live here.

: Again, it's not a worry about illegal immigrants--that sort of talk is mostly dogwhistle politics . . .

That's a bit blithe for my tastes. As C.S. Lewis said in another context, "If I object to boys who steal my nectarines, must I be supposed to disapprove of nectarines in general? Or even of boys in general? It might, you know, be stealing that I disapproved of." Let the reader understand.

: Trump takes a hard line on that--not just by playing into the worst xenophobic stereotypes of undocumented workers (everyone I've spoken to who's worked with these people says that they're invariably hard workers who just want to support their families; Trump says they're rapists and murderers) . . .

There is, of course, a strong overlap between illegal immigrants and undocumented workers, but I wouldn't say they're the same thing. A woman was murdered (in San Francisco, I think) by an illegal immigrant the week that Trump used his "rapists and criminals" line, but I have no idea if he was a "worker". And surely you can see how a culture that encourages looking the other way in general when it comes to illegal immigration will encourage more than just hard workers to cross the border that they shouldn't be crossing.

What I share with Rod Dreher here is his frustration that Trump is the only major politician who seems to even want to put these issues on the table, but he (Trump) proposes some of the worst possible ways of dealing with these issues. We shouldn't let our disgust with Trump's tactics obscure the fact that he's addressing very real concerns that the political class in *both* parties has been all too eager to ignore at best.

Buckeye Jones wrote:
: I'm not sure what the GOP did to win party support from the non-white and lower income populations.  The group of 8 immigration reform?

That was what Rubio fell for, yes, as far as the non-white populations are concerned. Trump is conquering the GOP right now because the GOP has ignored the lower-income white populations whenever it could -- and they don't want to be ignored any more.

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NBooth   

The question of the Irish is an interesting one. At least one historian has framed Irish acceptance as a process of becoming white. In any case, yes, the Irish were hated and were feared for more or less precisely the reason that the Chinese were and Mexican are now: they worked cheap, they lived in cramped conditions, and they represented a culture far removed from the dominant one. 

Quote

As C.S. Lewis said in another context, "If I object to boys who steal my nectarines, must I be supposed to disapprove of nectarines in general? Or even of boys in general? It might, you know, be stealing that I disapproved of." Let the reader understand.

Yeah, but Lewis wasn't working in a system that had been specifically designed for dogwhistle politics, which is what the US has been doing since (at least) Nixon. In the US, there's a long, long tradition of upholding "law and order" as an excuse to degrade other people--the lawless disorder of the segregated South was "law and order," for instance. Language doesn't occur in a vacuum and this language, applied at this moment to this problem is not something that can be separated from the historical inheritance I outlined in my previous post. Similarly, because the church doesn't occur in a vacuum, it's not surprising that evangelical support for Trump would arise from this same stew.

I'm skeptical of the assertion that Trump is the only candidate talking about immigration; for one thing, all of them have given some sort of statement. Rubio, in particular, has a history of engaging with the issue (although he got shut down because his initial plan aligned too much with the President's). We've been having this whole discussion--including talk of a wall--for years. Trump isn't some fresh voice; he's the drunk, angry uncle at the family dinner who's still yelling about the stuff that got him mad at the last election.

Actually, nothing in the letter from the guy who wrote in to Dreher--including his ludicrous assertions about Leftists, which read like a conservative fantasy of how Leftists might act--really feels right to me. There's a broad streak of paranoia about Leftists in that letter--the Left is plotting to destroy white culture (which he says almost verbatim). [Incidentally, if people don't want to be called racist, it might be a good idea not to say racist things like that]. In fact, the Left doesn't want to encourage immigration because they want to drown out white people, though they may eagerly await the day when White Guys don't get to call all of the cultural shots.The problem here isn't that no one is talking about immigration--it's that what Trump and his supporters believe about it is simply not true. He's explicitly appealing to white panic, not discussing actual on-the-ground issues. Here's an article in The Atlantic that outlines the ways in which Trump's rhetoric doesn't match reality.  One real difference here is that Leftists are far, far more likely to be cultural relativists. They don't see the introduction of diverse cultures, or threats to the cultural establishment, as necessarily a bad thing in the way that Trump and his ilk arguably do. 

And that takes me right back to the idea that evangelicals have bought into the clash-of-cultures mindset to such a degree that any encroachment of the Other is seen as an attack. I've no idea how much this works on a person-to-person basis, though I've moved in enough evangelical circles to think that at least some people in the community do explicitly think of things in this way. I'm pretty sure that's what the mass movement is all about, though: demographic shifts + decline in church attendance + shift in public morality + reverence for "strong" leaders = evangelical Trumpism. The irony, of course, being that Trump only really cares about two of those things--the first and the last. Assuming he cares about the first one at all and isn't just using it as a tool to promote the last one.

[Just to prove my bona fides here, I should point out that, back in my 'teens, I was totally in pocket with both evangelical think-tanks and far-right Christian think-tanks who wouldn't necessarily call themselves evangelical: I was a fan of Rushdooney and subscribed to the Chalcedon Report. I listened to American Family Radio and thought Phyllis Schlafly made some good points. And though I generally avoid those circles now, I'm pretty confident in saying that what talk I do hear coming from that wing is pretty much in line with what I've outlined above. There have been evangelicals stoking the fires of racial resentment with talk of "law and order" and worries about the loss of white culture--sometimes in explicitly those terms--for many, many decades now. These are the dragons' teeth. This is the wind sown. Trump is the whirlwind reaped.]

Edited by NBooth

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NBooth   

Meanwhile, Douthat argues that evangelical Trump supporters aren't really Christians. Since I think about religion in generic terms rather than absolute ones (i.e. there's a cluster of religious beliefs that share a family resemblance and this cluster can be called "Christianity,") I find his argument a bit too no-true-Scotsmanish for my taste. But it is, at any rate, another interpretation of the evangelicals-for-Trump phenomenon.

Actually, his argument is two-part: one, that a huge number aren't "really" Christian and, second, that anxieties over secularizaton are driving Christians to pick " the meanest, toughest heathen on the block." The latter makes a certain amount of sense to me.

Edited by NBooth

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Greg P   
On 3/8/2016 at 2:58 PM, Buckeye Jones said:

What I find kind of interesting is that Trump exposes the lie at the heart of the Evangelical voting bloc.   For years, we would vote because a candidate would espouse the correct(ish) doctrine, and then see little done (but at least it wasn't the agenda of the godless liberals).  But now, we have a candidate who fumbles through any correct doctrine (never repent, mister, it's a sign of weakness) and we say, screw it--I knew I was being lied to before, but now at least it's honest lying. 

I used to listen to the Howard Stern show in the 90's and early 00's and Trump was something of a regular guest. My assessment of him based on these call-in discussions was that he was a raging narcissist, loved to talk about celebrity ass and "rate" women's hotness, was clearly irreligious and quite moderate, politically speaking. I find it fascinating that leading up to his run for presidency, he began a very deliberate series of tweaks and re-inventions to gain favor with Christians, the most notable being his new found interests in the American Evangelical franchise. As he ascended, he was very careful to mouth the essential code phrases from the 21st century Evangelical catechism: the Bible is the most important book in the world, America is a nation explicitly founded on Christian principles, Christians are being persecuted in this country, gay marriage is wrong and abortion must be stopped. Add to this a supreme mistrust and antagonism towards the federal government (informed in evangelical circles by the book of Revelation and Left Behind) and a kill 'em all foreign policy, and you have a candidate who looks nothing like the guy who used to play "F, Marry Kill" on Stern and who is finally ready to be embraced by Southern Baptists and Assembly of God members. 

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http://www.cnn.com/election/primaries/polls/mi/Rep

In the MI exit polling, 37% of those who self-describe as white Evangelical/Born-Again supported Trump, 32% supported Cruz.  (Given the base sizes, this is probalby a significant difference, but I haven't done the math).   This demographic represents 48% of the sample. 52% was non-white All Others (so a small number of self-reported evangelicals, and everybody else).  Of that group, 38% support Trump.  So, here I'm comfortable suggesting no significant difference in support of Trump among white Evangelicals vs. Everybody Else. 

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25 minutes ago, Greg P said:

I used to listen to the Howard Stern show in the 90's and early 00's and Trump was something of a regular guest. My assessment of him based on these call-in discussions was that he was a raging narcissist, loved to talk about celebrity ass and "rate" women's hotness, was clearly irreligious and quite moderate, politically speaking. I find it fascinating that leading up to his run for presidency, he began a very deliberate series of tweaks and re-inventions to gain favor with Christians, the most notable being his new found interests in the American Evangelical franchise. As he ascended, he was very careful to mouth the essential code phrases from the 21st century Evangelical catechism: the Bible is the most important book in the world, America is a nation explicitly founded on Christian principles, Christians are being persecuted in this country, gay marriage is wrong and abortion must be stopped. Add to this a supreme mistrust and antagonism towards the federal government (informed in evangelical circles by the book of Revelation and Left Behind) and a kill 'em all foreign policy, and you have a candidate who looks nothing like the guy who used to play "F, Marry Kill" on Stern and who is finally ready to be embraced by Southern Baptists and Assembly of God members. 

This is exactly what I mean by honest lying.  He's not even very good at mouthing the code phrases.  People vote for him despite the obvious pandering.  He's gonna shake things up.   (I believe the analogous phrase is that he'll make the trains run on time).

 

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NBooth   
12 minutes ago, Buckeye Jones said:

I'm comfortable suggesting no significant difference in support of Trump among white Evangelicals vs. Everybody Else. 

Do you mean that white evangelicals are a subset of Trump supporters, not an independent group? [Or, to frame it another way: Are you suggesting that, whatever is driving evangelicals to support Trump, it's not something about evangelicalism itself, but some cluster of outside factors?]

Edited by NBooth

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I mean that the rate of support for Trump among the white evangelical population is not significantly different from the rate of support for Trump among the general population (excluding white evangelicals).  I would read this as one's evangelicalism is not a distinctive driver of support for Trump (as different to say, Cruz's rate of support, 32% among evangelicals vs. 18% of non-evangelicals).  One's evangelicalism appears to be a driver of support for Cruz.  

But this is in Michigan--the opposite of the South.  Maybe its different in Arkansas, but I haven't looked up those polls.

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39 minutes ago, Buckeye Jones said:

I mean that the rate of support for Trump among the white evangelical population is not significantly different from the rate of support for Trump among the general population (excluding white evangelicals).  I would read this as one's evangelicalism is not a distinctive driver of support for Trump (as different to say, Cruz's rate of support, 32% among evangelicals vs. 18% of non-evangelicals).  One's evangelicalism appears to be a driver of support for Cruz.  

But this is in Michigan--the opposite of the South.  Maybe its different in Arkansas, but I haven't looked up those polls.

I've been following this with a bit more interest since you brought up this topic, and came here today to say this as well.  The numbers just don't support the conclusions that I sensed was being pushed about Evangelicals and Trump.

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Those CNN exit polls are really interesting.  Trump does very well among those who say that shared religious values don't matter to my vote; Cruz does very well among those who say they do.

Arkansas follows the same basic pattern as Michigan, but the Natural State sure felt like it was the very buckle of the Bible Belt when I was living there.  I think the data is very interesting, and suggests to me that the support Trump has among evangelicals,  he has despite their religious beliefs, not because of it.

Now, that's what people say. What they really do is often an entirely different matter.

Edited by Buckeye Jones

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NBooth wrote:
: At least one historian has framed Irish acceptance as a process of becoming white.

Right, and the same could be said for Italians and Jews, etc. (And in some cases, Jews are moving away from that now: Mad Men producer Matthew Weiner publicly self-identifies as a non-white person "of color", a prominent rabbi in Washington DC says Jews should "give up whiteness", etc. Being "white" isn't very popular right now.)

: Yeah, but Lewis wasn't working in a system that had been specifically designed for dogwhistle politics, which is what the US has been doing since (at least) Nixon.

I guess I'm just less interested in "dogwhistles" and making assumptions about the "real" meaning of what people say than I am in actual concrete policies etc. (Though I will cop to finding euphemisms like "family values" and "diversity" really off-putting, because they *sound* pretty broad, but they almost always seem to have very narrow meanings.)

: I'm skeptical of the assertion that Trump is the only candidate talking about immigration; for one thing, all of them have given some sort of statement.

Well, I meant specifically that he was talking about the *downside* of mass (illegal) immigration. Jeb Bush was notoriously supportive of measures to increase immigration without insisting on integration; it's not even clear that his wife knows how to speak English all that well. (Apparently she's never spoken English in public except when reading prepared speeches.) Naturally, Bush's position was never going to fly with people who think that America should be a melting pot and not just a tossed salad.

: There's a broad streak of paranoia about Leftists in that letter--the Left is plotting to destroy white culture (which he says almost verbatim). [Incidentally, if people don't want to be called racist, it might be a good idea not to say racist things like that].

FWIW, I have no idea what "white culture" is. Whenever I hear people talk about "white" this and "white" that, I'm inclined to quote a line of Auda abu Tayi's from Lawrence of Arabia: "The Arabs? The Howitat, Ajili, Rala, Beni Saha; these I know, I have even heard of the Harif, but the Arabs? What tribe is that?" I self-identify as a number of things -- British, Mennonite, etc. -- but "white" is someone else's label for me, not mine. And I find it very strange that anyone would choose to make "white" their primary self-identification, though obviously some people do.

: And that takes me right back to the idea that evangelicals have bought into the clash-of-cultures mindset to such a degree that any encroachment of the Other is seen as an attack. 

Yeah, I think one key reason for Dreher's own partial sympathy for Trumpism is the fact that "religious liberty" is one of Dreher's biggest issues right now, and he doesn't trust *anyone* in the Republican establishment to protect religious communities from "progressive" legal activism -- especially not when Big Business is on the side of the "progressives" -- so while Trump is clearly vulgar and unpredictable, he *might* just be the religious community's only shot at defending itself from these other forces. But the problem, of course, is that Trump *is* vulgar and unpredictable, and there's no guarantee he wouldn't throw the religious community under the bus whenever it suited him.

: There have been evangelicals stoking the fires of racial resentment . . .

See, this I don't get. Charismatic churches, in particular, are profoundly multi-racial and multicultural, a point that Robert Duvall emphasized when he made The Apostle almost 20 years ago. The top-grossing evangelical movie of all time right now is War Room, written and directed by a couple of white Southerners but starring black actors in all the main roles. I grew up evangelical, but Canadian, so I obviously don't have an American perspective on these things, but from the outside it sure seems to me that evangelicals would *not* be prone to racial resentment. (They might be extremely wary of Muslims, but that's a whole other issue.)

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NBooth   
19 hours ago, Peter T Chattaway said:

: There have been evangelicals stoking the fires of racial resentment . . .

See, this I don't get. Charismatic churches, in particular, are profoundly multi-racial and multicultural, a point that Robert Duvall emphasized when he made The Apostle almost 20 years ago. The top-grossing evangelical movie of all time right now is War Room, written and directed by a couple of white Southerners but starring black actors in all the main roles. I grew up evangelical, but Canadian, so I obviously don't have an American perspective on these things, but from the outside it sure seems to me that evangelicals would *not* be prone to racial resentment. (They might be extremely wary of Muslims, but that's a whole other issue.)

Of course--and this is something I let slide in my previous comments-- "evangelical," like "Christian," is a generic term, not an absolute one, which means that it might be difficult to speak of all evangelical culture. I'm speaking specifically of white evangelical support for an obvious racist like Trump, which is dangerously close to tautological ("racist people are racist") but I think it's different in that recognizing that [white, often Southern] evangelical culture has a strong undercurrent of racial resentment that Trump might be activating (although the returns from Michigan suggest that, in at least some areas, evangelicals are voting much more in line with what would be expected, indeed what was expected before Trumpageddon). And things like the popularity of War Room (or Tyler Perry, etc etc etc) don't really speak to that. Watching "black" movies is a cinematic equivalent of having a "black friend." People are, for one thing, very good at compartmentalizing real-world, meatspace encounters from more generalized anxieties--if, indeed, they are even aware of those anxieties

(And this should be said every time racism comes up, really: the most insidious racism disguises itself as well-meaning pragmatism: "Well, if people would just get their act together [i.e. act white], they wouldn't have so many problems." This is a wholly unquestioned, ideological identification of the Right Way To Live with the White Way To Live. Add to that the old, old Southern tradition of differentiating between "our" racial minorities--what's been called the myth of the model minority--and "bad" racial minorities, most often identified with urban spaces and the North more generally. "Our" minorities are friendly and nice and love us--though, as Langston Hughes among others pointed out, this is a self-preservation tactic--while "bad" minorities are trouble-makers who want to disturb our way of life. This division is uncomplicated and therefore goes down easy. It's that form that I'm talking about as being prevalent in [white, Southern] evangelicalism. It's "nice" racism, where individual minority persons might be accepted as long as they conform but the larger, undifferentiated mass are hated and feared)

And, of course, as you point out, the racial resentment that's never far from the surface in the South is coupled with a cultural resentment fomented by the likes of Dreher, Douthat, Alabama's own Judge Roy Moore, etc etc etc (and--in the South--going back to resentment over desegregation and--farther back--reconstruction). I would speculate that the fact that leftists are more inclined to be champions of both racial minorities (and, whatever one thinks of the left's tactics, it's clear that minorities themselves see it this way, based on voting patterns) and of the sexual minorities that have become the New Big Worst Thing Ever in the minds of a healthy chunk of folks. That is, the same cluster of people who advocate for racial minorities are identified with the forces attacking and eroding "our" culture, and so things can get mixed there as well.

Edited by NBooth

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On 3/9/2016 at 9:52 AM, J.A.A. Purves said:

I don't see how it's scary.  The theme of "leaving everything to the popular will being disastrous" is an entirely American sentiment.  It was expressed regularly during the conversations and debates of the Constitutional Convention (where they concluded that the Articles of Confederation was too democratic).  It's a point of view strongly expressed throughout The Federalist Papers (Alexander Hamilton, James Madison & John Jay).  Our system of government (and, arguably, our two party system and electoral college) were designed to distinguish our system of government from the examples of pure democracies and confederacies illustrated by history.  (Read John Adams, John Marshall & Joseph Story.)  From a Christian point of view, the belief in a sinful/fallen human nature requires the corollary that unobstructed democracy inevitably leads to disaster.

The historical nature of this election is precisely that Trump, as a populist demagogue, is running counter to the American caution against too much democracy.  His comments, plans and sentiments continually butt up against Constitutional law, but Trump doesn't care as long as he rallies popular support in favor of what he wants.  That is a very dangerous leader to give power to.  And history has a long long list of populist demagogues and what happens they they are put in power - a history, moreover, than particularly any Christian believer should have knowledge of.

Of course, that the establishment and elites are out of touch with the general populace is true.  It is further true that some of them, when discussing Trump, end up saying things that any PR tactician would advise against saying in public.  But what is interesting is that the elite/establishment opposition to Trump is merely evidence of the profound disconnect that resulted in Trump in the first place.  Good leaders pay attention to what is happening to the people and help use the instruments of democratic/constitutional government to at least address current popular problems.  It is when the leadership fails at this that the demagogue will grow in his appeal.  Unfortunately, his appeal seems to cut across the church as well, evidencing a further failure of church leadership (which has been obvious for a long time to anyone paying attention).

I agree, although I'm not sure manipulating the primaries (or at least attempting to) behind the scenes is the solution the founders had in mind when trying to limit democracy. And I'm confident that most of the people voting for Trump, evangelical and otherwise, know very little about The Federalist Papers or the writings of John Adams. Rather, they have been primed with get-out-the-vote campaigns (many orchestrated by evangelical organizations) that encourage them to "Make your voice heard!" and promise them that "Every vote matters!" When the GOP fat cats go to the lengths they are going to manipulate the primaries and derail the guy who is dominating the polls, of course it's going to backfire. Actually, I think this is happening on the Democratic side as well, to a certain extent. I think at least some of Bernie's success is because voters are reacting to the general sense from the Democratic establishment that Hillary will inevitably be the nominee, and the way the superdelegate votes are skewed in her favor, etc.

I abhor Donald Trump, I really do. But here's a shaky analogy: I'd be horrified and fearful if China were to suddenly overtake the Soviet Union. But a small part of me would be happy to see Putin deposed.

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5 hours ago, morgan1098 said:

I agree, although I'm not sure manipulating the primaries (or at least attempting to) behind the scenes is the solution the founders had in mind when trying to limit democracy. And I'm confident that most of the people voting for Trump, evangelical and otherwise, know very little about The Federalist Papers or the writings of John Adams. Rather, they have been primed with get-out-the-vote campaigns (many orchestrated by evangelical organizations) that encourage them to "Make your voice heard!" and promise them that "Every vote matters!" When the GOP fat cats go to the lengths they are going to manipulate the primaries and derail the guy who is dominating the polls, of course it's going to backfire. Actually, I think this is happening on the Democratic side as well, to a certain extent. I think at least some of Bernie's success is because voters are reacting to the general sense from the Democratic establishment that Hillary will inevitably be the nominee, and the way the superdelegate votes are skewed in her favor, etc.

I abhor Donald Trump, I really do. But here's a shaky analogy: I'd be horrified and fearful if China were to suddenly overtake the Soviet Union. But a small part of me would be happy to see Putin deposed.

Given how things are going, there isn't any "manipulating the primaries behind the scenes" that is real.  The rules for a brokered Convention are clear, up front and out in the open and designed for the delegates to agree to a presidential candidate that a majority of the Party can support (if Trump couldn't acquire 1,237).  If a candidate is chosen by the delegates at the Convention who did not have a majority of the popular vote, he will still be, in our non-pure democratic system of government, an entirely legitimate candidate.  Heck, the delegates could even settle on selecting a candidate other than Trump, Cruz, Rubio or Kasich.  Nothing will be secret or underhanded about this.  It would be a negotiated compromise.  The rules were designed to prevent things from getting too crazy, and that might be exactly the situation here.

Meanwhile ...

Ross Douthat: “... And the lure of the strongman is particularly powerful for those believers whose theology was somewhat Trumpian already - nationalistic, prosperity-worshiping, by turns apocalyptic and success-obsessed.

With the stead post-1960s weakening of traditional Christian confessions, the preachers of this kind of gospel - this distinctively American heresy, really - have assumed a new prominence in the religious landscape.  Trump, with his canny instinct for where to drive the wedge, has courted exactly these figures.  While more orthodox Christians have kept him at arm’s length or condemned him, he’s wooed televangelists and prosperity preachers, and pitched himself to believers already primed to believe that a meretricious huckster with unusual hair might be a vessel of the divine will.

Which he is not, save perhaps in this sense: In the light of Trumpism, many hard truths about American Christianity - its divisions, its failures, its follies, its heresies - stand ruthlessly exposed ...”

Rod Dreher: “... I think there’s a lot to this, but it’s not entirely convincing. I have anecdotal evidence from talking to friends and reading my e-mail that there’s something else going on, at least with some conservative Christians. If I had to sum up what I’ve been hearing, it would go something like this:

Yes, we conservative Christians have lost a lot of ground. The idea that we are going to restore Christianity through voting for Christian leaders has been revealed as false. We know that now, and we know that the Republican Party has used us, and it will keep using us if it can. We can’t vote Democratic because the Democratic Party loves abortion, loves all things LGBT, and will work to silence and restrict Christians like us. But the future the GOP promises us is nothing but one on which we continue to lose ground. I’m tired of voting for more foreign wars, more concessions to big business, and for the dispossession of my own people in our land, both through massive immigration and economic policies that help multinational corporations, but hurt us. And I’m tired of Republicans who won’t stand up to political correctness, but try to accommodate it. I don’t like Trump, but at least he offers the possibility of something different. All those godly Republican opponents of his offer more of the same, and I’m tired of it. I’d rather vote for a heathen who might do something different than for a believer who will give us the same old Republican rigamarole.

To be clear, nobody has put it exactly that way, but I’m combining and condensing a lot of the mail and private conversations I’ve had. Personally, only a small percentage of the conversations I’ve had with conservative Christians who favor Trump have been affirmatively pro-Trump. They are mostly the views of Christians who consider Trump the least bad alternative, because they have lost faith in the Republican Party, and never had it in the Democratic Party, which they perfectly and accurately understand cannot stand people like them (orthodox Christians).

They may judge wrongly in their pro-Trump vote, but it’s not to say that they are all prosperity-gospellers or America-as-the-Promised-Land types.”

Camille Paglia: “... Trump with his pragmatic real-life record is a far more palatable national figure than Ted Cruz, whose unctuous, vainglorious professions of Christian piety don’t pass the smell test.  Trump is a blunt, no-crap mensch, while Cruz is a ham actor, doling out fake compassion like chopped liver.  Cruz’s lugubrious, weirdly womanish face, with its prim, tight smile and mawkishly appealing puppy-dog eyebrows, is like a waxen mask, always on the verge of melting.  This guy doesn’t know who the hell he is—and the White House is no place for him and us to find out.”

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48 minutes ago, J.A.A. Purves said:

Given how things are going, there isn't any "manipulating the primaries behind the scenes" that is real.  The rules for a brokered Convention are clear, up front and out in the open and designed for the delegates to agree to a presidential candidate that a majority of the Party can support (if Trump couldn't acquire 1,237).  If a candidate is chosen by the delegates at the Convention who did not have a majority of the popular vote, he will still be, in our non-pure democratic system of government, an entirely legitimate candidate.  Heck, the delegates could even settle on selecting a candidate other than Trump, Cruz, Rubio or Kasich.  Nothing will be secret or underhanded about this.  It would be a negotiated compromise.  The rules were designed to prevent things from getting too crazy, and that might be exactly the situation here.

 

Camille Paglia: “... Trump with his pragmatic real-life record is a far more palatable national figure than Ted Cruz, whose unctuous, vainglorious professions of Christian piety don’t pass the smell test.  Trump is a blunt, no-crap mensch, while Cruz is a ham actor, doling out fake compassion like chopped liver.  Cruz’s lugubrious, weirdly womanish face, with its prim, tight smile and mawkishly appealing puppy-dog eyebrows, is like a waxen mask, always on the verge of melting.  This guy doesn’t know who the hell he is—and the White House is no place for him and us to find out.”

I got it, but again, I'm playing devil's advocate and trying to see it from the perspective of the "regular" voters out there, evangelical and otherwise, who are voting for Trump in the primaries. If complicated convention rules derail their man, you can expect whatever vestiges of voter engagement remained out there to evaporate. People just won't bother any more. As for "manipulating primaries behind the scenes"... Heck, just today Rubio tried to strike a deal with Kasich to "trade voters" in Ohio and Florida in an effort to derail Trump. Kasich didn't fall for it. Stuff like this has been happening for weeks, and it pisses people off.

Also, that Paglia column is fascinating. Thanks for posting that.

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NBooth wrote:
: Watching "black" movies is a cinematic equivalent of having a "black friend."

But genuine friendships across racial lines do exist. I have to believe they do, or else every interracial marriage is a fraud and a sham, to say nothing of less-intimate relationships.

: This is a wholly unquestioned, ideological identification of the Right Way To Live with the White Way To Live.

Well, maybe. I remember when 2 Live Crew defended their sexist raunchy lyrics by saying that their critics were calling on them to be more like white musicians. I mean, c'mon. Let's not disparage the idea that there *are* better ways to live by saying that every "right way to live" claim must, of necessity, be a racist dogwhistle or whatever.

Incidentally, I've seen the "law and order" = "racist dogwhistle" theme come up in one or two places since our last exchange (e.g. this Slacktivist post), so I just want to clarify my earlier use of the phrase: because I was addressing the issue of *illegal* immigration specifically, I used the noun "law" to underscore my support for *legal* immigration, and I added the words "and order" because the word "law" seemed lonely all by itself and I figured "law and order" was a common-enough phrase (it's the name of one of your TV shows, even). I was not conscious, at the time of writing at any rate, of any particularly subtle American meaning to this phrase.

: That is, the same cluster of people who advocate for racial minorities are identified with the forces attacking and eroding "our" culture, and so things can get mixed there as well.

They *can*, but that's all the more reason to *separate* those things. I don't see the point in saying, "No, no, people confuse those things too easily, so don't even try to make careful distinctions between them," which is the vibe I sometimes get from conversations on topics like these.

morgan1098 wrote:
: I agree, although I'm not sure manipulating the primaries (or at least attempting to) behind the scenes is the solution the founders had in mind when trying to limit democracy.

Question: when were people who didn't own any property finally allowed to vote? I gather that, in England, the franchise wasn't extended to all men equally until after World War I (which means a scene in Suffragette, where a working-class woman says she'd do the same thing with her vote that her husband does, makes no sense; her husband wouldn't have had the right to vote either!).

I have heard that Andrew Jackson -- who is now widely despised for his populism, in contrast to Alexander Hamilton, who is now some sort of hip-hop hero despite being such an elitist in his day -- was one of the earlier politicians who championed the every-man-gets-to-vote ideal, which apparently wasn't conventional wisdom yet in his day. But I haven't looked into that very closely yet.

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NBooth   
11 hours ago, Peter T Chattaway said:

NBooth wrote:
: Watching "black" movies is a cinematic equivalent of having a "black friend."

But genuine friendships across racial lines do exist. I have to believe they do, or else every interracial marriage is a fraud and a sham, to say nothing of less-intimate relationships.

Oh, sure. Absolutely. I'm talking here in terms of rhetorical strategies. The "black friend" strategy--whereby the (white) speaker absolves him-or-herself of racism by pointing out that they have black friends--is a pretty prevalent thing, one that Colbert, for instance, poked fun at back in the day. My point is that watching "black" movies or having a minority-raced friend doesn't necessarily (and I mean that in the full weight of the word) absolve the speaker of (sometimes-unconscious) racism.

Quote

: That is, the same cluster of people who advocate for racial minorities are identified with the forces attacking and eroding "our" culture, and so things can get mixed there as well.

They *can*, but that's all the more reason to *separate* those things. I don't see the point in saying, "No, no, people confuse those things too easily, so don't even try to make careful distinctions between them," which is the vibe I sometimes get from conversations on topics like these.

That's not what I'm saying, at any rate. What I am saying is that it's a confusion (if confusion it is*) that does exist and might serve as a functional explanation for some of the phenomena we're observing. Is=/=ought.

[*Eh, I'm a Leftist, so I'm part of the cabal that's presumed to be eroding "our" culture, so I'm just going to avoid that particular discussion in this thread. I'm trying to confine myself to observation and interpretation, not recommendation or advocacy]

Edited by NBooth

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Just popping in to say I think with respect to race, it might be helpful to distinguish between "racist" and "racialized".  I think we in the broad evangelical community experience much more of the latter than the former.  For example, look at the makeup of staff at large non-charismatic mega churches.  These are not comprised of all white staff because the church boards discriminate with prejudice against minority candidates; they are compromised off mostly white staff because the hiring boards don't think about it.

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NBooth   

That is a good distinction, one I wish I had made (I think the phrase "racial anxiety" was gesturing that direction, but I didn't really follow that line of thought through).

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Attica   

I found this thread to be an interesting read.  Thanks for that guys.

Below is my take on what I think may be at least part of what is behind the Trump phenomena.  I posted it last week on facebook and I think that maybe I've seen some things that would align with it in the last few days.  I write this as an outsider who certainly doesn't have as much understanding of the American culture and politics as some of you.

FWIW.  I find my facebook feed interesting.  I'm reading posts from friends who are far left Trump haters, to those who are devout Trump supporters.  Each is posting links to that which they film solidly supports their views.  But I did find it interesting that after this business in Chicago some were posting that Trump obviously called off the rally because he was wise enough to try and minimalize any violence, but then my more Liberal friends are posting that his calling it off was a sign that he was a coward and weak after all.  The second view makes no sense to me.  They rail against him as being someone who promotes violence in his rallies and then rail against him when he makes a choice that will minimalize violence.

Which leads me to another thought.  I think that so much of what is going on here is emotional knee jerk reactions.  I'm not convinced that Trump is a bigot (indeed Larry King has supposedly said that he has known Trump for years and that he was never a bigot.)  I think that Trump's telling people to "punch" others out was likely humour from watching the clips (even if it was an irresponsible thing to say.)  I think that what he was saying about immigrants was probably misunderstood (and how responsible is he for those who support him through different beliefs.)  The thing with Trump is, that he really does say some stupid things that are easily misunderstood.  Plus he says some stupid things that are, well, the kind of stuff a half drunken guy would say in a pub.  But that's why people both love and hate him.  He doesn't give a sh*t about political correctness, and people who are tired of it all love that about him, and others both hate it, and completely misunderstand him because they don't know how to "take" his actions.  I have little doubt that the guy has issues, but I'm not convinced that he's the demon that people are making him out to be.  That doesn't necessarily mean that I would support him if I were an American though.

 

But anyhow.  Here's what I wrote a week ago.  

-

I think this video (below) has some good insight into what is going on with the "Trump phenomena."

People are sick and tired of being misunderstood and villainized by by the "Social Justice Warriors", and they think that Trump is going to rescue them.

Then they feel that Trump is misunderstood and villainized and they think that he can stand up to the "SJW's" because he has no fear of them, and that this is a further sign that he will protect the people from the SJW's in the future. Then for supporting Trump they are accused of being "bigots" (and villainized in a variety of ways) and they think that the same old thing is happening to them again, from the "SJW's", and that Trump is the guy that will stand up against it all.

So it all goes to fuel the fire and the "Trump Juggernaut" grows stronger.

And what's the message here.... A lot of people are sick and tired of being misunderstood, having things twisted against them, and generally villainized, all when they just want to be able to quietly live according to their moral views and standards under the freedom granted to them. Freedom that they feel is in increasing jeopardy.

Now, don't get me wrong. I think Trump has some real issues, and I'm not at all happy about ideas such as bringing back some forms of torture (which supposedly he has backed away from recently), but lets have a look at a few of the hot button topics connected to the guy.

 

 

1) The Islamic immigration issue. Trump had clearly said that it would only be for a certain limited period of time, until they could figure out exactly what was going on for the sake of safety, or in his words "what in the hell is going on", he had clearly said that what he was doing wasn't out of bigotry and that Islamic people who were citizens could come and go as they pleased.

My point isn't whether or not this is a right or wrong idea. My point is that he has been continually misunderstood on this and that it has been misconstrued to the point of him being villainized beyond what he had said.

See, a person can easily decide that immigration should be shut down for a limited period of time because there is a threat, and because it is *clear* that ISIS is trying to send it’s members into other countries, *without* being a “bigot.”

It might be the wrong idea (not getting into whether I think it is or isn’t), but wanting to protect your country’s citizens does *not* necessarily make you a bigot.

Then it goes on to be conflated with the whole “Mexican wall” business to the point where some people are even saying stuff like “he’s building a wall to keep out Islam.”

But they are two separate issues.

So Trump’s supporters look at all of this and basically say in their minds that “the SJW’s are pulling the same tricks on Trump that they are doing to others”, and this gets the Trump supporters backs up a little more.

 

 

2) The whole Mexican wall business.

I’m constantly reading this idea that the Mexican wall idea is bad because it’s not being welcoming to “immigrants” or because it is in contradiction to some Bible verse or the other that talks about the people being welcomed freely into the city of Jerusalem. Implying of welcoming the foreigner and the stranger.

But let’s pause and think this through. If one was to act according to what some of these folks are thinking, then to act that way wouldn’t actually be to build a wall. It would be to remove immigration restrictions so that Mexican people could come in as they please.

But of course, no one would want that.

You see, the idea of the wall isn’t to make some new law restricting the foreigner or the stranger from coming in. It’s to enforce the immigration law that is already in place.

Enforcing the law that is already in place doesn’t make a person a “bigot” anymore than setting up the law in the first place or adhering to the immigration policyin the first place. Indeed, surely less so. Yet, most of those who are calling Trump a “bigot” would have no desire to change the immigration laws so that people from another country can just come in as they please because we are supposed to be kind to the foreigner and the stranger and accepting of all.

Countries have borders and immigration policies for a reason. Every country has them. Every country enforces them.

Why then is it wrong for Trump to take measures to enforce theirs? Why is this any more “bigoted” then the measure every other country takes to enforce their immigration policies?

Not saying whether or not I think the wall is a good idea, but this is another example of how things are being misunderstood and misconstrued, leading to a villainization beyond the situation, and why Trump’s supporters might be saying that he’s being treated just has many of them have been, leading them to want to further support him.

 

 

3) The penis debacle.

People are talking about how terrible and uncouth it was for Trump to talk about his belief that his “unit” is of sufficient size. Saying that it isn’t proper talk for a presidential candidate.

I may not be, but people are also forgetting, that Rubio had made the joke about Trump's hands and what that “means” (thus obviously being a small penis joke) and Trump was *responding* to it.

Rubio did the whole penis joke thing *first*, publically, as a Presidential canditate, so then, why the flaming of Trump and not Rubio? Probably because a variety of things have added up so that many people think that Trump is a villain and that he deserves it, while they let Rubio off the hook.

But then many of Trump’s supporters probably say, “but that’s the exact thing that the SJW’s have done to many of us, they’ve misconstrued and villainized much our thoughts and actions without any real warrant and then when we act in accordance with what others (including the SJW’s) do or have done, they villainize us for that. How they have treated us is unfair, and we feel that how they are treating Trump is basically the same, and thus we are going to support him."

-

So the way I see it, those Americans who are opposed to Trump have themselves in a pickle. The Trump juggernaut is going to role along and now many attempts to derail it are merely going to fuel the fire. This certainly includes things like posting memes accusing Trump of being like Hitler... I mean many of his supporters are just going to see that and say, that this is how *they* will be accused in the future unless there is a change, and Trump is their great hope for this change.

-

These are my insights. Take them or leave them. I’m not saying whether or not I support Trump, because.... I don’t want to be misconstrued as being a Nazi bigot. wink emoticon

But of course, saying that merely in the interest of keeping my opinions on him to myself, is enough to make some people think that I AM a Nazi bigot. Which couldn't be further from the truth, and thus is part of the problem.

 

 

 

Edited by Attica

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NBooth wrote:
: My point is that watching "black" movies or having a minority-raced friend doesn't necessarily (and I mean that in the full weight of the word) absolve the speaker of (sometimes-unconscious) racism.

But I wasn't even limiting myself to the *watching* of "black" movies. I cited War Room as an example of white Southern evangelical filmmakers *making* a movie almost entirely about black characters, after including black actors as significant supporting characters or ensemble members in their earlier films. And they made their films this way, so I gather, because a certain level of racial integration is part of the milieu in which they work.

Buckeye Jones wrote:
: For example, look at the makeup of staff at large non-charismatic mega churches.  

Hmmm. Well, looking at the staff directory for the Mennonite megachurch that I grew up in, I see a lot of Asian names (and a few other non-northern-European names). And this is a church with pretty particular ethnic roots (if you think of Mennonites as an ethnicity -- and historically speaking, why wouldn't we?). Heck, it's striking to see Scottish names in that directory! :)

For whatever that's worth.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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2 hours ago, Peter T Chattaway said:

Buckeye Jones wrote:

: For example, look at the makeup of staff at large non-charismatic mega churches.  

Hmmm. Well, looking at the staff directory for the Mennonite megachurch that I grew up in, I see a lot of Asian names (and a few other non-northern-European names). And this is a church with pretty particular ethnic roots (if you think of Mennonites as an ethnicity -- and historically speaking, why wouldn't we?). Heck, it's striking to see Scottish names in that directory! :)

For whatever that's worth.

In Vancouver, eh?  I'm surprised there's not more Asian staff. 

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Buckeye Jones wrote:
: In Vancouver, eh?  I'm surprised there's not more Asian staff. 

Well, there *are* Mennonite churches that consist almost *entirely* of Asian people. Interestingly, in this neck of the woods, being Mennonite has less and less to do with speaking Low German etc., but -- unlike most other regions in Canada, I think -- Mennonites in BC tend to be more generically evangelical, and less prone to emphasize what makes them distinctly Mennonite on a *theological* level as well as a cultural level. (I'm sure those theological distinctives are still *there*, somewhere beneath the surface, but in my experience, evangelical Mennonite churches tend to place a great emphasis on being "seeker-sensitive", etc. -- so generic evangelicalism tends to rule the day.)

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The Donald was in Cincinnati yesterday but I didn't have time to go do field research (I'm too evangelical to skip church to stand in line to hear a politician spout off).

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