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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

White Evangelicals Shun Morality for Power

Charles Blow
The New York Times - Opinion
Originally published 19 Sept 21

Here is an excerpt:

I had hoped that there were more white evangelicals who embraced the same teachings, who would not abide by the message the Grahams of the world were advancing, who would stand on principle.

But I was wrong. A report for the Pew Research Center published last week found that, contrary to an onslaught of press coverage about evangelicals who had left the church, disgusted by its embrace of the president, “There is solid evidence that white Americans who viewed Trump favorably and did not identify as evangelicals in 2016 were much more likely than white Trump skeptics to begin identifying as born-again or evangelical Protestants by 2020.”

That’s right, the lying, philandering, thrice-married Trump, who has been accused by dozens of women of sexual misconduct or assault, may actually have grown the ranks of white evangelicals rather than shrunk them.

To get some perspective on this, I reached out to an expert, Anthea Butler, a professor of religious studies and Africana studies and the chair of the religious studies department at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also the author of the recently released book “White Evangelical Racism.”

As Professor Butler told me, the reason that some people might be surprised by these findings is that “they believed the hype.” For years, evangelicals had claimed that they were upholding morality and fighting injustice. But what the movement has really been since the 1970s, said Butler, is “a political arm of the Republican Party.” As Butler put it, evangelicals now “use moral issues as a wedge to get political power.”

Butler concluded, “We need to quit coddling evangelicals and allowing them to use these moral issues to hide behind, because it’s very clear that that’s not what the issue is. The issue is that they believe in anti-vaxxing, they believe in racism, they believe in anti-immigration, they believe that only Republicans should run the country and they believe in white supremacy.”