Darryl Hart reviews Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump alongside Peter Wehner’s The Death of Politics: How to Heal Our Frayed Republic After Trump. I must have missed this review when it appeared in the Winter 2019 edition of the traditionalist conservative quarterly Modern Age. Apparently the Intercollegiate Studies Institute saw fit to republish the review at its website.
Anyone who follows Hart on twitter (@oldlife) knows that he is a regular critic of my blog, public writing, and views on Donald Trump, but I at least appreciate his willingness to engage with my ideas.
The only place where I would quibble with Hart’s understanding of my argument is when he writes about my “credentials.” Hart writes:
Recent books by John Fea and Peter Wehner…are remarkably useful for understanding how broad swaths of American Protestants assess not simply the presidency of Donald Trump but the history and character of the United States. Both authors are laymen in evangelical churches and have no professional standing as church officials. But both writers are also experts in professions that encourage members to make judgments about American politics and society. Fea teaches U.S. history at Messiah College, an evangelical liberal arts school in central Pennsylvania, and Wehner has been a staffer in three Republican presidential administrations and is now a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
These credentials distinguish Fea and Wehner from the ordinary evangelical in the pew. At the same time, both authors vehemently critique President Trump and the evangelicals who voted for him on grounds that rely little on the expertise that comes with historical inquiry or political experience. Instead, they rely on the moralistic squint that born-again Protestants have made a trademark of Christian devotion.
Anyone who has read Believe Me knows that the book is filled with American history. So while I have never understood my book as a work of history, I think my training in American history has indeed contributed to my moral critique.
Read the review here.