I will be doing a talk on Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump at Hearts & Minds books on August 10, 2018. I hope to see you there. Byron Borger, the proprietor at Hearts & Minds, has a nice piece about Trump, evangelicals, and my visit in the York Daily News. Here is a taste:
And now we have some very unusual fundamentalists supporting a vile, exceedingly secular president who consorts with Playboy bunnies and prostitutes and is legendary for his irreligious attitudes, his worldview of greed and power and might. If the religious right of the 1980s seemed unbiblical and un-Christ-like in supporting the affable but hawkish Ronald Reagan, how in the world can they possibly use the Scriptures and the Lordship of Jesus to support the tawdry and volatile President Trump? How the theologically and politically compromised religious right of the 1980s evolved in our generation to the incoherent movement it is today is one of the great questions of our time.
That question will be pondered for years as theologians, cultural critics, and historians reflect on this odd season of American life and this peculiar alignment of conservative religion and a prideful president who said he has never asked for forgiveness and who stands for some policies that are against the grain of Christian tradition.
Dr. John Fea of the history department at Messiah College is one such historian who is himself an evangelical and interested in this perplexing re-run of the religious right. He has written a well-researched book called “Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump,” released to much acclaim a few weeks ago. Fea has been on national talk shows and his book is being reviewed all over the country. He writes about the history of religion in American public life. His specialty is the colonial period and his earlier book, “Was America Founded as a Christian Country?,” has earned significant awards. In this new book, he is trying to discern how it is that so many white conservative Protestants (sometimes called “evangelicals”) voted for the current president.
Fea shows that some of the concerns and fears which animate this new iteration of the religious right have, in fact, been baked into American religiosity since our earliest years. Nationalism and anti-immigration animus is not new. Only such an astute historian of religion could help us see some of the spirits of the age and help us realize their centuries-old roots.
Yet, there is something new happening with the “court prophets” as Fea calls the leaders of the 2.0 version of the religious right. “Believe Me” is a fair and fascinating study of what’s going on in these contentious times and helps those who are not part of the conservative Christian movement understand their fellow citizens. And, hopefully, it will help some who have been too supportive of the current leadership ask if their faith might call them to be less cozy with any political party. Dr. Fea is a good man, a jovial speaker, a fine scholar, and his book is an important contribution to one of the most important phenomena of our time.
If you go
Author John Fea will be speaking at Hearts & Minds, 234 East Main Street in Dallastown, on Aug. 10 at 7 p.m. All are invited.
Read the entire piece here.