There is much to commend in S.E. Cupp‘s recent piece in The New York Daily News: “Why evangelicals stand by Trump.” Cupp does a nice job of diagnosing the reasons why 81% of American evangelicals voted for Trump.
Perkins spelled it out. Evangelical Christians, he says, “were tired of being kicked around by Barack Obama and his leftists. And I think they are finally glad that there’s somebody on the playground that is willing to punch the bully.”
It wasn’t just Obama’s condescension toward the faithful, who he famously said “cling to guns and religion” when angry or scared. It was eight years of policies that trampled on their religious values, from expanded abortion rights and decreased regulation, even in the face of horrific cases like Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s, to continued efforts to chip away at religious employers’ rights.
It was a smugness from the liberal media, which talked about Christian America as if it were a vestigial organ of some extinct, diseased dinosaur.
Liberal television hosts mocked Sarah Palin for banal things like praying, and reporters wrote that her faith — Pentecostalism — was fanatical, kooky and bigoted. Liberal networks and newsrooms were windowless cocoons of secularism that only deigned to cover Christianity to dismiss its relevance or spotlight its perceived backwardness.
And it was decades of concerted cultural elitism that marginalized Christians as not cool enough to cater to. Movies like “The Passion of the Christ” and “The Chronicles of Narnia” were blockbuster hits in spite of dismissive Hollywood film critics who refused to believe there were enough Christians to go see them. Celebrities called them fanatics; comedians made fun of them.
Many evangelicals I talk to say they grew tired of turning the other cheek. In Trump, they finally found someone who was willing to voice the anger and resentment they had been holding in.
I make a similar argument to Cupp in my forthcoming Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump. One can’t grasp the 81% without understanding how evangelicals saw the Obama era.
But think about the words she uses:
- Evangelicals “grew tired of turning the other cheek.”
- Evangelicals had “good reason” to pull the level for Trump because they are angry about the way they were treated under Obama
- Trump channeled the “resentment” of evangelicals.
Cupp sees evangelicals as little more than a political movement. She assumes that they should act like any other aggrieved faction in American life. If this is true, then anger, resentment, backlash, and fear make perfect sense. But it is worth remembering that none of these responses–anger, resentment, backlash, or fear–are Christian virtues.
They may now be evangelical virtues, but they are not Christian virtues.