This is not an article about religion as such, but rather is a commentary on the response to the Religious Right’s political support for an individual who incarnates the opposite of almost every single thing that they claim they stand for.
The UK”s Independent highlights just how bizarre the evangelical right’s behaviour has been …
The vast majority of white evangelicals (81 percent) voted for Trump… between May 2016 and February 2017, almost every religious group came to oppose Trump’s proposed temporary ban on allowing Muslims into the US. The exception? White evangelical Protestants, who increased their level of support for the policy.
Why is it like this?
What appears to have now happened is natural filtering. People become unhappy with specific things in their church, voted with their feet and walked away. To measure this a small survey was conducted of 957 people by the Washington Post. It was an online survey that was designed to be broadly representative of the American public.
They wanted to examine how politics shaped church membership and what they discovered is this …
Of those who said they had attended a house of worship in September, 14 percent reported that they had left that particular church by mid-November.
Was that a political decision or just part of the normal churn?
To explore that question they probed for some details. For example they listed eight political topics and asked if clergy has addressed any of them, and also looked to see how warm or cool both they and their clergy felt about Trump.
The result is very much as you might anticipate …
The two groups you’d expect were more likely to leave: Trump supporters who felt their clergy didn’t support him (represented by the red line on the left), and those who felt cool toward Trump but thought their clergy strongly supported him (represented by the blue line on the right).
The Essence of it all
Sorting has indeed been taking place.
Something like this has of course always been going on within all churches, it is not specific to any one domination, nor is it unique to the left-wing or right-wing. If, while attending, people become uncomfortable and are alienated, then they walk away and go find somewhere else that actually welcomes them and makes them feel at home.
The emergence of Mr T simply forced the issue for rather a lot of people. Many evangelicals, 14%, walked away because of a fundamental political disagreement.
Yes, but why leave?
Imagine you are a committed evangelical who feels empathy towards the poor within society, and also compassion towards refugees seeking a safe haven.
You happily support the election of Hillary Clinton, a devout Methodist, and her running mate Tim Kaine, a committed Catholic, because both hold views similar to your own. If you are then faced with claims that their election would have resulted in divine judgement and that both were evil wicked corrupt people, but the election of a grossly dishonest and very rich non-religious pussy-grabbing egoistical narcissist is a divine miracle, and is god’s choose man, how would you then react?
Would you honestly feel comfortable staying, or would you walk away.
The net effect is that a purge of moderates via this rather natural sorting, leads us to an evangelical right that is becoming increasingly polarised and extreme.