The Transactional Relationship Between Christian Right Evangelicals and Trump

Trump evangelical
Below is a taste of Paul Waldman‘s recent piece at The Week: “How ‘values voters’ made a deal with the devil.”  It reminds me of something we recently discussed in my class on Christian politics at West Shore Evangelical Free Church.  I asked the class what conservative evangelicals would do when and if (a big if) they got everything they want.

What would happen if the proverbial dog catches the proverbial bus?  Will evangelicals send abortion doctors to prison? What about the women who have abortions?  Will they be somehow punished?  Do Christian Right evangelicals realize that if they overturn Roe v. Wade it will not end legal abortion in America?  What about gay marriage?  Will they put homosexual couples in jail?  Will they kick Muslims out of the country? Will they require television stations to only show Leave it to Beaver reruns?  What will conservative evangelicals do to respect the liberties of all human beings–people created in God’s image?  Have the conservative evangelicals of the Christian Right thought about these questions?

Here is Waldman:

…But we also have interests: what’s good for us, regardless of what might be good for other people. And there’s a ground where values and interests meet, and that’s where conservative Christians welcomed Trump. They’d like to roll back civil rights protections for gay people, outlaw abortion, and generally engineer a return to a more traditional, patriarchal society. They want that for themselves, but they want to impose it on everyone else as well. And they shrewdly realized that when it comes to the policy decisions that move us in that direction, Trump just doesn’t care. He’d be fine if abortion is legal, or if it isn’t. He’d be fine if gay people can access services without being discriminated against, or if they can’t. What matters to Trump is Trump.

So he and the Christian right made a transactional arrangement: He’d give them what they want (like hard-right judges and an attack on reproductive rights) and they’d stay loyal to him. As long as both sides hold up their end of the bargain, it works.

However, it does mean that those who claim to be of higher moral character because of their reliance on God’s word have to do certain things that are a little uncomfortable. They have to pretend that they believe Trump carries with him a deep religious faith, even though they know it isn’t true. They have to excuse his bigotry. They have to go before the cameras when news of the latest Trump scandal breaks and act as though Trump is a man of the highest character and integrity, despite the mountains of evidence to the contrary.

Read the entire piece here.