Michael Gerson, a former speechwriter and aide to President George W. Bush, took up a good many pages in this month’s edition of Atlantic Monthly raging hysterically against evangelicals for their continuing support of President Trump.
It was quite a chore getting through it, and I don’t recommend trying. I did the hard work for you. Consider this an abbreviated response.
Gerson devotes a significant amount of effort providing his own evangelical credentials – raised one, went to church, went to Wheaton College, worked at Prison Fellowship, yada yada yada.
One thing he doesn’t say is whether he considers himself an evangelical today. If it makes any difference, I don’t think he is.
Yet, he’s beside himself over the harm evangelicals are supposedly doing to their cause and their good name by supporting Trump. It’s the oldest political trick in the book: Tell your opponents to be more like you if they want to be true to their ideals. Tell your opponents they’re tarnishing their image by supporting a flawed human. In other words, be a liberal or don’t get involved in politics.
- Because Trump once supported abortion, evangelicals should disown him.
- Because Trump committed adultery, evangelicals should renounce him.
- Because Trump uses crude and vulgar language, evangelicals should turn away.
- Because Trump boasts about his wealth, evangelicals should be appalled.
For an evangelical who went to Wheaton, he doesn’t seem to understand repentance. Crude and vulgar language may be a display of ban manners, but I don’t see where the Bible condemns it as sin.
By the way, if Gerson still considers himself an evangelical, he needs to repent of the grievous sin of bearing false witness (No. 9 in the Ten Commandments). He accuses Trump of “tribalism,” “hatred” of his neighbors, worshiping “strength,” and more.
Because Jerry Falwell Jr. said evangelicals have “found their dream president,” Gerson snidely snickers, “which says something about the current quality of evangelical dreams.”
I get it.
He hates Trump. He despises him. Most people who served on the (Deep State alert) Council on Foreign Relations do, as Gerson did.
“The moral convictions of many evangelical leaders have become a function of their partisan identification,” Gerson writes, my guess is, not while looking in the mirror. “This is not mere gullibility; it is utter corruption. Blinded by political tribalism and hatred for their political opponents, these leaders can’t see how they are undermining the causes to which they once dedicated their lives. Little remains of a distinctly Christian public witness.”
Not true at all. If evangelicals walked away from the president who has done more in 18 months to support their causes than any other recent president did, save possibly Ronald Reagan, no one would ever take them seriously again. Even Gerson acknowledges elsewhere in his insipid and angry piece that Trump has embraced evangelical leaders and their causes.
Naturally, Gerson goes on to indict most evangelicals as racists whose churches are segregated. (I’ve never seen one in my life.)
Gerson gives himself away when he states: “Evolution is a fact. It is objectively true based on overwhelming evidence. By denying this, evangelicals made their entire view of reality suspect. They were insisting, in effect, that the Christian faith requires a flight from reason.”
“There is no meaningful theological difference between creation by divine intervention and creation by natural selection; both are consistent with belief in a purposeful universe, and with serious interpretation of biblical texts,” he adds. “Evangelicals have placed an entirely superfluous stumbling block before their neighbors and children, encouraging every young person who loves science to reject Christianity.”
Evolution has nothing to do with science because it cannot be subjected to the scientific method.
Gerson’s bottom line on Trump: “Whatever Trump’s policy legacy ends up being, his presidency has been a disaster in the realm of norms. It has coarsened our culture, given permission for bullying, complicated the moral formation of children, undermined standards of public integrity, and encouraged cynicism about the political enterprise.”
Gerson’s bottom line on evangelicals: “[T]hese evangelical leaders have ceased to be moral leaders in any meaningful sense. Every strong Trump supporter has decided that racism is not a moral disqualification in the president of the United States. But setting matters of decency aside, evangelicals are risking their faith’s reputation on matters of race. … If utilitarian calculations are to be applied, they need to be fully applied. For a package of political benefits, these evangelical leaders have associated the Christian faith with racism and nativism. They have associated the Christian faith with misogyny and the mocking of the disabled. They have associated the Christian faith with lawlessness, corruption, and routine deception. They have associated the Christian faith with moral confusion about the surpassing evils of white supremacy and neo-Nazism.”
Hope I saved you a lot of anguished reading time.
Now, let me explain why evangelicals love Trump. He listens to them, and he acts accordingly.
End of story.