Skip to main content

Crazy Love

In the course of several recent bike rides through various Michigan suburbs, I’ve now passed at least two lawn signs that read:

“God loves you, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Surprised that I’d never seen this message before, it seemed at first a generous sentiment, even for those, like myself, not religiously inclined.

Unconditional love? Who wouldn’t want that? And the idea that it happens by default, with no apparent obligation or action required on my part, gives it a certain something-for-nothing appeal.

But as I thought it through, I realized something more insidious might be at work here. Taken to its logical conclusion, this could be interpreted as a sort of moral waiver. No matter how you behave — no matter how cruel, greedy, bigoted, or violent you are — you’re off the hook. If God is going to love you anyway — and if there’s nothing you can do to stop it — you’re free to be just as vile as your nature allows. He’s giving you a pass.

And with the word “vile” in mind, my thoughts turned, quite naturally, to Donald Trump. And I realized that what I might have been looking at was the lawn sign of an evangelical Trump voter. I could be wrong, I have no evidence. But I like the hypothesis.

So assuming I’m correct, what is that sign trying to say? Is it a rationale for Trump? A way of excusing his wretched excesses? Are they saying that God loves him unconditionally, even as he openly shreds the values they claim to hold sacred?

And are they not also, perhaps, excusing themselves? Not just for abiding this monster, but for celebrating him? For turning their faith inside out to accommodate him? For tying their theology in knots to somehow justify their own mind-bending hypocrisy?

Of all the constituencies Trump appeals to, evangelicals have been the hardest to figure. Their ability to reconcile their professed beliefs with his out-front, in-your-face moral depravity is something I simply cannot get my brain around. Hence all my question marks — I have no answers.

This is, after all, a guy who never met a commandment he wouldn’t break. All ten — including, arguably, thou shalt not kill — have been under severe stress since he took office. Yet the submissiveness of evangelicals just grows stronger. They follow Trump, dare I say, religiously.

This didn’t start with Trump. The mutual flirtation of evangelicals with the far right has been going on for decades, and their destinies have grown increasingly intertwined. Trump is the culmination of that flirtation, but not its origin.

Republicans have been working this angle for a long time. To the billionaires who own the party, evangelicals are rubes — religious nuts from the sticks, easily manipulated, sure to vote for any numbskull who can quote the Bible. They’ve been running the same con forever. They use bought-and-paid-for celebrity preachers — the Falwells, Pat Robertson, etc. — to promote an agenda that’s reliably white, racist, misogynist, homophobic, and xenophobic, without saying any of that stuff aloud. All behind a thin veneer of moral rectitude.

Part of the con is that this agenda never gets delivered on. Republicans have consistently paid lip service to the priorities of so-called social conservatives, without actually acting on anything beyond their traditional big business priorities: deregulation and tax cuts. 

So while evangelicals were waiting decades to see Roe v. Wade overturned, what they got instead was a black president and gay marriage.

But in 2016, they finally caught on. Trump was just the guy to tell the Republican establishment to shove it. Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio never saw it coming. Trump swept aside every Republican in his path, and evangelicals were in the thick of it. 

Despite being the most religiously challenged figure they could conjure in their worst nightmares, they embraced Trump completely. Seeing him as their best bet to get what they’d been promised for so long, they were now happy to trade Republican lies for Trump lies. Trump lies were bigger, bolder, far more plentiful, and right out there in the open. He gave them permission to channel their inner racist, and they loved him for it.

Of course, with Trump, the con is never over. He promised them he’d stick it to the fat cats, but instead he gave fat cats a $2 trillion tax break. He promised them he’d end immigration, but instead he locked children in cages, which must be hard to square with Jesus’ teachings. He promised them he’d stop China from getting away with whatever, in his warped imagination, they were getting away with, but instead he started an absurd trade war that has hurt farmers — many of whom are evangelicals — far more than China.

So even before the pandemic, Trump was arguably making the lives of evangelicals significantly worse. Now he has nothing to offer them, short of maniacally prying open their churches and inviting them to die. Which underscores his contempt for them.

Because to him, they’re still rubes, even as he shamelessly panders to their worst instincts. And they continue to worship him.

I guess there’s nothing he can do about it.


Berkley MI

Tuesday 06/02/20

Comments

  1. I feel the same way thinking evangelicals and very religious Christians/Catholics support Trump. Trump totally manipulates religious following for his political gains... and yesterday he had protesters tear gassed with rubber bullets just so he could take a creepy picture at St. John's church in DC. >:(

    ReplyDelete
  2. Not sure if this will show. All of a sudden the original user name I had showed up. Once upon a time, I must have come up with it. No memory of that.

    ANYWAY, about that parting of the blue sea with tear gas bursting in air, brandishing a bible like a weapon. I'll bet it's the first time he's ever touched one.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The Mainstream Media Continues to Disappoint

  Since I began this blog in 2020, one of my obsessions has been the culpability of the press in our current political predicament. Given the stakes we face this year, I feel we all need to be reminded that these mainstream news organizations are necessary, but not sufficient. Accordingly, I am revisiting this piece, which I wrote last May, because it’s particularly illustrative of the problem, especially in its depiction of The Washington Post’s shameful spinning of the final Durham Report.   The awkward term "both-siderism" has, at long last, stepped into the limelight, thanks to the graceful gravitas of CNN icon Christiane Amanpour (full disclosure: our dog used to play with her dog). In one brilliant commencement address , to the Columbia School of Journalism, she dope-slapped her own profession and, indeed, her own boss, both of whom richly deserved it. That takes guts, not to mention a reputation for integrity. Both of which she has in abundance.

Is Nikki Haley Working on a Take-Down of Trump?

  Every now and then I like to engage in a bit of speculation. Not prediction, mind you, but something hopefully less presumptuous. In this case, I’ve been musing about Nikki Haley’s path forward, if she has one. Not whether she’ll win the nomination, which is unlikely. I’m more interested in her potential as an irritant, as a person ideally positioned to tamper with Trump’s fragile psyche. She now has the unmistakable opportunity to attack Trump from inside the Fox media bubble, something few have been able to do. Haley just might be the focus of a novel strategy that does two things at once: It holds the door open for the slim chance she has of winning the nomination this summer, while at the same time, it lays the groundwork for a 2028 run at the presidency. Given the debased state of today’s Republican party, this is surely as good a strategy as any, though it risks doing more for Joe Biden than for her. More on this later. For now, let’s presume that ther

What Could Be Worse than the Dobbs Decision?

  I’ve tried to be a bit more optimistic in my posts of late. I’ve focused on the evidence — of which there’s plenty — that maybe Trump and the Republican party are driving themselves, as opposed to us, off a cliff. The politics of preserving democracy have indeed been somewhat encouraging, especially when one considers the virtually unbeaten record of Democrats in every election since the fall of Roe v. Wade . I’d like nothing more than to give up the gloom-and-doom thing on a permanent basis. But not today. Today, once again, I have to bum us all out. I have to tell you about one of those boring and esoteric legal issues that tend to slip right by us, but which, in this case, carries a level of threat arguably more alarming even than the tanking of Roe . Once again, the Supreme Court is up to no good, and it has nothing to do with the criminality of Donald Trump. One of the decisions they’re cooking up for this June could dwarf the Dobbs decision, both in