Friday, September 23, 2016

How Evangelicals are Convincing Followers to Vote for Trump and Betray their Faith

by Nomad

For Right Wing evangelicals, the GOP nominee Donald Trump presents a lot of problems. By any measure, he is not an ideal choice. Despite his shortcomings, some members of the Christian Right seemed determined to say or do anything to persuade their followers to vote for Trump, even if that means betraying Christianity's core principles.

God's Guy

You might remember the name David Barton. Due to his tireless campaign to misinform Christians, this evangelical political activist, and author- I can't call him a historian- has been the subject of a post in the past.
In years gone by, Barton has made a lot of barmy pronouncements. He once stated his belief that United States borders were drawn by God, thereby condemning illegal immigration as a sin against God. He has said that intolerance of gays is a sign a nation is undergoing a spiritual revival and that 
At one time he was considered one of the 25 most influential Evangelicals and a hero to millions.

Barton's books have pushed the idea that the founding fathers intended the United States to be a Christian nation. Barton's dubious scholarship stirred up so much controversy that the publisher was forced to pull one of them from the bookstore shelves.
It wasn't so much that his ideas were too hot to handle; Barton was, to put it bluntly, accused of making things up. His Christian publisher, Thomas Nelson, found that "basic truths just were not there." 
That's a polite way of saying Barton's books were a pack of lies.

Before his death in 2012, former Republican Senator Arlen Specter wrote in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy that Barton’s “pseudoscholarship would hardly be worth discussing, let alone disproving, were it not for the fact that it is taken so very seriously by so many people.” 

That's always been the problem with evangelicals like Barton. For certain weak-minded citizens, his powers of persuasion can be compelling.  
That rough profile brings us to his present mission. 

A week back, Barton told his radio program audience that in this election, good Christians should simply accept that Donald J. Trump is "God's guy."
When a caller asked for advice on how to respond to Christians who say they cannot vote for someone like Trump because of his ungodly lifestyle and behavior, Barton dismissed those concerns as little more than people looking for excuses in order to avoid their responsibility to vote.
Barton added:
"God doesn't always think the way we do. The leaders he chooses, the people he calls his servants are often people that would not fit our paradigm, not by a long shot.
In other words, God has chosen Donald Trump and we can't defy God by voting for Clinton. In a bold example of circular reasoning, Barton cites as further proof the fact Trump won so many primaries. It had to be the hand of God.
God's people showed up and voted in record amounts in this election and I've got to believe that God used them to guide us to what we have as our final few choices now."
Christians, Barton reasoned, do not have a choice about whether or not they are going to vote because "God has commanded them to do so and therefore they must vote for the candidate who is going to promote policies that most closely align with the Bible."

Candidate Trump has done his best to woo and cajole the Christian Right. He has gone through all of the motions, at least. He has courted the evangelic vote like a coy schoolgirl and made the appropriate promises. 
Trump, with a straight face, has also repeatedly named the Bible as his favorite book. However, when asked to recite his favorite verse. the best he could do was to mumble something about "eye for an eye." 
For any devout Christian, voting for Trump will certainly require overlooking a lot. 
To the point of blindness. 

But then, the doctrine of "the leap of faith"- the act of believing in or accepting something intangible or unprovable, or without empirical evidence- has always been a useful tool in the hands of religious leaders. If something is indefensible or inexplicable, then it requires more faith to bring that chasm of doubt.

It is for this reason that Barton, a skillful manipulator, commands his audience to refrain from deep thought. Trust in God's plan. Vote Trump!
Human minds are too frail and minuscule to understand the bigger deal. It is only humanity's arrogance that leads him to believe that his intelligence will ever make him capable of understanding divine wisdom. Obey! It's all too immense and we are much too stupid.
Stop thinking!
It's your Christian duty.

Obama and the Phony War on Religion

This idea that Barton is now promoting is, however, very different from the one that other evangelicals have long promoted about the current president, Barack Obama.
Back then, God's ways were much more obvious and discernible.

In one article, Barton called Obama “America’s Most Biblically-Hostile President." Among the many bellicose acts, President Obama has sent out annual White House Christmas cards, which rather than focusing on Christmas or faith, instead highlight things such as the family dogs.
The horror of it. Positively Satanic.

In another outrage, Obama appointed a transgender to the Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. (Barton neglects to mention that the council has plenty of religious representation already.)
In any case, Barton is speaking about 82-year-old Barbara Satin who is the Assistant Faith Work Director for the National LGBTQ Task Force.
In her career, she was also a prominent leader in the Roman Catholic Diocese as well as a well-respected civic activist. Moreover, she also has been an active member of the United Church of Christ and served on the denomination's Executive Council.
(It appears Barton is unable to accept his own theory about God choosing unlikely heroes to do His work.)

And, to top it off, Obama studiously avoided any religious references in his Thanksgiving speech. The nerve of that man. You'd think he swore to represent all people and not just Christians. How dare he!

All sarcasm aside, it seems that the only thing that would make Barton happy would be a full-fledged Christian theocracy.
The myth that President Obama was making war with religions- particularly Christianity- has been deliberately propagated ever since office.
To question the depth of any president's faith is a disgrace but in this case, it is just an outright lie. It is, sadly, a lie too many Christians are ready to believe despite all evidence to the contrary.

In Search of Anti-Christ

Self-appointed Bible Code-breaker Jonathan Wright has claimed that, according to secret codes hidden in the text, Obama is probably the Anti-Christ (or the harbinger of the Antichrist.)

Wright cited plenty of evidence. The ring Obama wears which Wright claims is inscribed with ‘There’s no God but Allah and Mohammad is his Messenger." (Snopes shredded that carefully-calculated myth years ago.)
The unambiguous truth is found in the Bible, says Wright, but only if you know how to read it. In fact, Wright's theories of hidden codes have been called "bunk" by mathematicians and statisticians who  have thoroughly, completely and convincingly disproved them.

But Wright has other "conclusive" proof. For instance, Obama's nickname of the presidential limousine- "The Beast" as referenced in the Book of Revelations.

Wright also suggested that Obama is likely the Antichrist because a fly once landed on him, something that only has ever happened to Obama.
“And there’s always the photos that you see everywhere with the flies landing on his face. I can show you in the codes where he’s got a strong connection to the Lord of the Flies, Beelzebub.”
The irony- hypocrisy might be a better word- is that on one hand, the evangelicals used every trick in the book to prove that Obama was the devil incarnate. Every possible superstitious nonsense was twisted into evidence that Obama was a Muslim devil-worshipping Anti-Christ.
And there really are people who believed and continue believe that malarky.

And now, in a complete reversal, the same people declare that all of the evidence that Trump is both unsuitable for the presidency (as well as a lousy model for Christian values) must be ignored. A fly lands on Obama's nose, a sign of the End Times. Donald Trump who fits the “man of lawlessness” description of the Anti-Christ better than most candidates, is given a pass.

It's all very ironic too because, in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12, Paul writes that  “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works."
And not, as Barton claimed, "as God works."
Paul has this to say about the followers of the man of lawlessness.
"They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.”
When it comes to lying, Trump has earned his less-than-enviable reputation.
Despite overwhelming evidence that Trump is an irreligious and possibly dangerous  man, Barton's new message for Christians is that they must surrender their religious ethics because God works in mysterious ways. The conscience of individual voters means absolutely nothing. We mortals, ignorant and easily mislead, must not question His Will.

Skeptics say divine will has nothing to do with it. Electing a person like Trump as president will show- without any doubt at all- how easy it is for con artists and religious charlatans to mislead ignorant voters.

The Battle of the Angels

Not every evangelical has been taken in. Deborah Fikes, the executive advisor to the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), a global ministry organization , said of Trump:
“Mr. Trump’s proposals are not just un-Christian — they’re un-American and at odds with the values our country holds dearest.”
Founded in 1846, WEA is a respected organization and works with churches and over 100 international organizations in 129 countries around the world. According to its mission statement, WEA is a network of churches that have formed an "evangelical alliance  joining together to give a worldwide identity, voice, and platform to more than 600 million evangelical Christians."

The outspoken Ms. Fikes is also a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) which conspiracy theorists- especially the religious ones- have accused of attempting to set up a world government in a prelude to the coming of the Anti-Christ!
As a fringe right wing conspiracy says:
"One could safely say that a nutshell descriptor of the CFR is "to bring about a New World Order through the manipulation of U.S. foreign policy and relations and through international economic interdependence."
It seems as though nobody can be holy enough to be safe from spurious accusations.
In the leap-of-faith absence of common sense and rational thought, literally any idea can be promoted as a hidden truth. It is all very insidious and once you start down this infernal rabbit hole, you never know where you will turn out. Be assured, it won't be a happy place.

The problem isn't, of course, which evangelical organization to believe. The real question is why any of them feel the need to get involved with politics in the first place.

Dragging His Faith Into the Political Muck

Barton the founder of the group called WallBuilders, has been called "a fast-talking, self-promoting, self-taught, self-proclaimed historian who is miseducating millions of Americans about U.S. history and the Constitution." 

The People for the American Way describes the man in this way:
Barton has been profitably peddling a distorted “Christian nation” version of American history to conservative religious audiences for the past two decades. His books and videos denouncing church-state separation have been repeatedly debunked by respected historians, but that hasn’t kept Barton from becoming a folk hero for many in the Religious Right. His eagerness to help elect Republicans has won him gratitude and support from national as well as state and local GOP leaders.
Now he is devoting his powers of persuasion on behalf of Donald Trump, inarguably one of the most dishonorable politicians in American history.
How can any Christian support a man like that? 
By ignoring the core tenets of the faith.
The Trump campaign hasn't really been much of an advertisement for the four Cardinal Virtues of the Christian faith

  • Prudence, (wisdom and the ability to judge between actions with regard to appropriate actions at a given time ) 
  • Temperance, (the practice of self-control), 
  • Courage (the ability to confront fear, uncertainty, and intimidation) and 
  • Justice (a sense of fairness) 

Loser ideas, Trump might say.

Whether they realize it or not, David Barton and other evangelicals are demonstrating, by example, the wisdom of our forefathers who sought to keep religion respectable by separating from the noxious taint of corrupt politics.
Barton has apparently had no hesitation about dragging his cherished faith into the muck by endorsing a man who has built his career on greed, exploitation, and dishonesty.   

In one of his most popular lectures, titled ‘Individuality,’ Robert Green Ingersoll, a 19th-century freethinker, and orator, once explained why the drafters of the US Constitution took so much care in keeping religion out of politics. 
“They knew that to put God in the constitution was to put man out. They knew that the recognition of a Deity would be seized upon by fanatics and zealots as a pretext for destroying the liberty of thought.
They knew the terrible history of the church too well to place in her keeping or in the keeping of her God the sacred rights of man. They intended that all should have the right to worship or not to worship that our laws should make no distinction on account of creed. 
They intended to found and frame a government for man and for man alone. They wished to preserve the individuality of all to prevent the few from governing the many and the many from persecuting and destroying the few.”
The theocratic Barton would, no doubt, strongly disagree with Ingersoll's ideas.
Pairing up with Barton on his talk show, "Foundations of Freedom" former presidential candidate and current Trump surrogate Michele Bachmann has said that "we, as a nation, have a duty not to be secular."

On his show, they declared that the best way for ensuring that God and religion are "infused through all of society and government," is by electing Christians.
Even an iffy Christians like Trump.

In this election, the prominent names of the Christian Right seem to determined to put into the highest office a man that our great-grandfathers would have called "a scoundrel."  And there are plenty of confused Christians who are listening to the nonsense of evangelical leaders and will, despite the clear warnings, vote for Trump.
And all along, even before he announced he would run for president, the warnings about Trump have been loud and clear. This is a man accused of the rape of a minor and of swindling thousands in a fraudulent university?
No big deal, according to these religious leaders.
Also, Trump earlier boasted that he could shoot somebody in Times Square and people would still vote for him. Evangelicals are apparently ok with that too.
One is left to wonder how evil and contemptible a Republican candidate would be before evangelicals would walk away.

Meanwhile, the evangelists' carnival sideshow of superstition rolls on.
In Cleveland on Wednesday, a group of evangelicals decided to lay hands and form a divine shield of protection for Trump. They said it was done to protect the nominee from a “concentrated Satanic attack.” 

One of the speakers at the Midwest Vision and Values Pastors Leadership Conference told the attendees that a famous pastor (who wisely did not wish to be identified) claimed that "a demon, principalities, and powers, that are going to war against [Trump] on a level that you’ve never seen before." 
With that, the group surrounded the New York businessman and gave him the "anointing" to lead this nation.

A sad but unsurprising spectacle indeed. Greed and lust for power are both addictive and contagious afflictions. Evangelicals are now pulling out all stops to turn the Golden Calf into a suitable object of Christian piety.