Steven P. Miller offers a fair review of Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump under the title “How the culture wars made Trump: The demons of the white evangelical past.”
Here is a taste:
Lest readers have any doubt where Fea will come down on evangelicals’ support for Trump, the Messiah College professor clues them in before page 1, dedicating the book to “the 19 percent.” Trump often urges listeners to “Believe me,” appending the imperative to any number of points by way of deflecting attention from the evidence. Taking that line as his title, Fea explains why so many evangelicals do believe Trump, then urges them to put their faith in more lasting things.
Fea is uncommonly well positioned to make the case for turning away from the Donald and toward the Almighty. A prolific author and a nonstop blogger, he is the very definition of an engaged Christian scholar. Fea has a knack, not always evident among his like-minded peers, for negotiating the spheres of faith and the academy without making a big deal out of the occasional tension between them. He seems comfortable in his evangelical shoes. That might make him appealing to secular editors and publishers who like to identify evangelicals who defy stereotypes. Yet one senses that Fea would happily sacrifice any such attention if only evangelicals, including his brothers and sisters at the megachurch he has long attended, would abandon their self-defeating quest for a Christian America.
Fea’s explanation of the 81 percent is primarily historical in nature, as one would expect, although the evidence he marshals suggests there might well be something singularly sirenic about Trump himself. Candidate Trump bellowed all the right notes, especially regarding fear, which is Fea’s major explanatory theme. Evangelical fear is the kind of thing that disqualifies Barack Obama on account of his unconventional presidential narrative (black, academic, urban, religiously liberal) while turning his successor, whose résumé made him both unconventional and unqualified, into a refreshing outsider who tells it like it is. Obama’s progressivism, coupled with heightened concerns about religious liberty and a sharpened focus on the Supreme Court, created space for a wordmonger who would say anything to get a massive bloc of votes. Sure, Trump is a racist adulterer whose dueling life conceits are unpaid bills and unsavory associations—but his middle name is not Hussein.
Read the entire review here.