Christianity Today’s Russell Moore finally found something to say about the overturning of Roe v. Wade — namely, that Dobbs does not vindicate evangelical votes for Donald Trump.
Of Trump voters, Moore said, “I morally think ‘lesser of two evils’ is not workable” and then charged that Dobbs was not a clear win for the unborn because “one has to look not only at the final result in this case but what is the cost of hitching the pro-life movement to a figure such as [Trump]?”
Moore’s Never Trumpism is of a piece with a broad evangelical movement led by superstar New York City pastor Timothy Keller that Christianity Today’s Skye Jethani has justly dubbed the evangelical industrial complex. The EIC encompasses the largest evangelical denominations and publishing houses.
The six years Keller and Moore have spent launching salvos against politically conservative evangelicals stems from more than Never Trumpism — it is rooted also in their political affiliation. Both are Democrats.
On June 24, Moore tried to draw parallels between violent non-American nationalist movements and evangelical Trump voters. The EIC has repeatedly charged white GOP-voting evangelicals with putting politics before God and thus lapsing into idolatry. But the truth is that the Democratic Party, not the GOP, seeks and wins religious-like loyalty from its voters.
Against the directives of Moore and other EIC luminaries, evangelicals twice voted 80+ percent for Trump. The EIC noticed this, disapproved of it, but failed to comprehend it.
Thus, Southeastern Baptist Seminary president Danny Akin commended historian Thomas Kidd’s befuddlement upon his discovery of a yard sign that read “Make Faith Great Again: Trump 2020.” Kidd wondered, “How can re-electing Donald Trump make ‘faith’ great again?” The “JESUS 2020” signs many evangelical Trumpers displayed triggered Moore’s ongoing alarm at evangelicals’ association of voting with their faith.
Two factors best account for the aversion of evangelicals to the Democratic Party: (1) evangelicals are quintessentially conservative and (2) they wish to resist evil in the voting booth when the opportunity presents itself.
The EIC might have learned to detect the marks of conservative political instincts from Montesquieu’s antipathy toward centralized government that pops its head up repeatedly in the Federalist Papers. Or from T.S. Eliot’s and Russell Kirk’s protectiveness of “the permanent things,” including traditional marriage and biblical sexual norms. Or from Edmond Burke’s emphasis on the importance of place, localism and those “little platoons” that birthed the myriad camaraderie-nurturing and service-oriented associations Tocqueville so admired during his 1831 trip to America. Or from Roger Scruton’s definition of conservatism as that instinct for home born of a covenantal relationship between the living, the dead and the unborn.
Conservatism is an instinct, not an ideology. Conservative Christians look to the Bible and to the church, not government, for their worldview, moral guidance and the deepest bonds of community. They see government as a potential threat to the day-to-day lives they love, not as a source of spiritual inspiration or hope.
Freedom from compulsion to treat politics like a religion is essential to their love of America. Evangelicals don’t look to politics for religion. They already have one.
But given that the Keller-inspired EIC has failed to recognize such conservatism among the Deplorables from standard sources, perhaps consideration of a couple of recent chart-topping country songs will help.
In “That’s Not My Dixie,” Riley Green sings:
There’s folks out there that’ll judge a man by the color of his skin …
I know somewhere there’s hate out there
But don’t hold that against me
… ’cause that ain’t my Dixie
‘Round here we ain’t just black and white ’cause we’re all red, white and blue
They’re turnin’ these towns into battlegrounds, and that don’t sit well with me
… ’cause that ain’t my Dixie
Evangelicals who love these words retain Martin Luther King Jr.’s Christianity-affirming and patriotism-enriching rejection of racism that the Democrats abandoned in favor of a divisive Ibram X. Kendi/Robin DiAngelo-touted critical race theory.
In his global No. 1 single on Amazon media, “Progress,” John Rich sings:
They invite the whole world to come live in our land
And leave our countrymen dying in Afghanistan
They say let go of Jesus and let government save
You can have back your freedoms if you do what we say
And then the thrice-repeated refrain:
Stick your progress where the sun don’t shine
Keep your big mess away from me and mine
If you leave us alone, well, we’d all be just fine
Stick your progress where the sun don’t shine.
In contrast to revolutionaries from the Jacobins to the Marxists and their ideological progeny, conservatives mainly want to be left alone by the political party in power. The Squad-beholden Democratic Party refuses to accommodate that desire.
John McWhorter, himself a lifelong liberal Democrat, argues that the woke movement that animates virtually every institution in the West, including his own party, is a new secular religion. Those who dare to resist or even refuse to vocally affirm the dogmas of CRT, the LBGT movement and climate change call down upon themselves punitive measures like heretics whose very presence ostensibly endangers society.
For historic parallels one must look to the god-worthy submission Lenin, Mao, Mussolini and Hitler demanded and won — parallels immortalized in George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four.”
For half a century, the GOP has lived mainly on low taxes, free trade, national security and, excepting its pro-life stance, a largely amoral libertarian posture. Republicans offer no counterpart to the religion-like, worldview-casting vision of the left.
One consequence of this disparity is that Democratic loyalists vote for ever-deepening and -widening government intrusion into more and more dimensions of citizens’ lives. Conservatives vote for less.
Democrats are shoving CRT and LBGT lifestyles down the throats of children from kindergarten on whether parents want it or not. They push abortion on demand at all stages of pregnancy and expect its vocal celebration or else. They approve parent-uninformed, teacher-facilitated sex changes for freshly identified transgender students.
For conservatives, the 2022 Democratic Party confronts them and the nation not with merely one of two political options, but with evil.
The Keller-inspired EIC rightly believes that idolatrous attachment to politics tempts believers and threatens the church. But the party that seeks and wins religious loyalty and obedience is the one that starts with D, not R.
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