In the political realm, they have faithfully supported and often campaigned aggressively for Republican candidates who claim to share their values on social issues, especially abortion and gay rights. But the payoff has often been, from their perspective, minimal at best. Abortion remains legal, although it’s increasingly inaccessible in some states. Civil rights for gay people—and now transgender people—continue to advance. The federal government continues expanding under both Democrats and Republicans—sometimes, they argue, at the expense of their religious freedom, which they believe is increasingly under assault. Universities and public schools remain as “godless” as ever.
Ralph Reed, the chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, summed up these grievances in his 2014 book, Awakening: “In America, the most lethal threat to freedom today comes not from a foreign military opponent,” Reed wrote. “It comes from within.” Citing the Harvard historian Niall Ferguson, he argued that the West’s four key contributions to humanity are representative government, free markets, the rule of law, and a vibrant civil society. As these have “withered and decayed,” he argued, “Western economies have stagnated and the culture that made prosperity possible has lost its way.”
In the 2016 GOP primaries, evangelical voters could have chosen from more than a dozen candidates—many claiming to share their faith and values, often fervently so. The candidates were mostly sitting and former governors and U.S. senators. They were also, from the perspective of some white evangelical voters, complicit in a corrupt system whose leaders have promised much but delivered little.
American political leaders have failed to address the economic concerns and discontent of much of the electorate—middle-class and working-class people alike—and income inequality has become a major theme of our public discourse. But for evangelicals, the disappointment is double barreled. The hollowing out of the middle class and the plight of the poor are inseparable from what they perceive as the moral rot of the nation and the political establishment.
Trump, always an awkward culture warrior, expresses only half-hearted sympathy with white evangelicals’ social values. Polls have shown that support for Trump is relatively shallow among the most devout evangelicals—those who attend church regularly. They appear unwilling to overlook his past, his coarseness, and his lack of commitment to their Christian faith.
But many other evangelicals have evidently embraced the audacity of Trump’s bid and the shock to the political system he embodies. If Trump doesn't speak their language fluently, he seems to get it at a gut level. They may well perceive threats from immigrants, Muslims, and other groups. But the greatest threat comes from the betrayal that lurks within the treasonous, godless heart of the political establishment itself—and that’s why they have largely supported the anti-establishment, billionaire businessman Trump.
This article appears courtesy of Sightings.