Apparently I’m not completely free, because I still have more to say about evangelicals. It’s a process, y’all.
Previously I’ve talked about how the election of Trump was a watershed moment for my faith with respect to evangelicalism, but I’m only now able to put into words why that is.
You see, evangelicals voted for Trump not in spite of their beliefs, but because of them. At its core, evangelicalism is really just fundamentalism with a pretty face. It is the direct descendant of the modernist need to create a dualistic alternative to science. The whole concept of inerrancy is a reaction to Biblical criticism and scientific fact. Well, once you jettison the tradition of the church, and the Patristic teachings, and you put the Bible in a straightjacket of inerrancy and literalism, funny things happen.
This is how you end up with complementarianism, with its corollary “no women in leadership.” This is how you end up cherry picking a few verses in scripture outside of the entire context of the revealed character of Christ, and saying that some people are going to hell just because of who they love or who they are. This is how you create a militaristic God to support your country’s foreign adventures. This is how you support a culture of incarceration (primarily of the race you are not) because of a need to submit to authority. And this is how you end up with health and wealth theology that has more in common with magic than with the teachings of Jesus.
Because if everything in the Bible is perfect, you have to take the most out-of-context scriptures seriously and come up with some sort of zany theology to match it.
Which leads us back to Trump. When evangelicals looked at Trump and Hillary through the lens of their theology, there really was no choice for them. Hillary was a woman, so she can’t lead the country because complementarianism. And Mike Pence was the kind of guy who will really put the “homosexual agenda” in its place. And Trump waves the flag and promises to protect us from the infidels. And “All Lives Matter,” after all, and the people going to jail really deserve it anyway, and Trump says he’s going to get tough with them. And the Republicans are really God’s party because they acknowledge that the really rich are blessed by God and those who aren’t are just poor slackers who deserve what they get. And Trump is super rich, so he must be super blessed.
And one more thing. Fundamentalism is at its core a deeply insecure belief system. It basically says that the Christian faith is not strong enough to weather the challenges of modernity, and so we must build a “wall around the law” like the Pharisees did to keep people inside. And this insecurity encourages racism, because it encourages a fear of people different than yourself. It encourages misogyny, because once you empower women, what’s next? It encourages homophobia, because that’s one “sin” most evangelicals don’t feel is relevant to them so it’s easy for them to cast the first stone.
So, long story short, the 2016 election was really a clarifying moment for me. It allowed me to see that not only did I not really believe evangelical theology on many key points, but in fact the consequences of adhering to that theology are in fact, dangerous to my relationship with God.