No home for reality amongst evangelicals

Much has been made of Proud Boys violence in Washington, D.C., this weekend — but evangelicals were in D.C., too.

Except he [Trump] didn’t lose the election, according to them [evangelicals]. It was taken from him. This is an article of faith, not to be doubted. If you doubt, you are a traitor, a coward, in league with the Devil. I’m not exaggerating at all. I saw an interview that the influential Evangelical broadcaster Eric Metaxas gave to the populist activist Charlie Kirk this week, in which he boldly claimed that patriots must fight “to the last drop of blood” to preserve Trump’s presidency, and that those who disagree are the same as Germans who stood by and did nothing to stop Hitler (Metaxas is best known as a biographer of Dietrich Bonhoeffer). In the same interview — I wrote about it here, in “Eric Metaxas’s American Apocalypse” — Metaxas said it doesn’t matter what can or can’t be proven in court, he knows, and we know, that the election was stolen. When Kirk, who is very sympathetic to Metaxas, asked him what he thought of where the cases stood, Metaxas blithely claimed that he is “thrilled” to know nothing about them.

Read the entire thing — and be very frightened.

What appears to have happened here is that the cult-susceptibilities that drive fanatical religion have been displaced by Trump; that is, Trump has displaced Jesus as the locus of fanaticism. I imagine psychologists have a name for that sort of transference, though I don’t know what it is. I suspect this behavior will probably harden, too, because the evangelical loyalty to Trump has been so costly to them; cultists aren’t the kind of people who can stand back and say, Hoo-Boy! We screwed-up!

They will double-down and triple-down on their grievances and their claims of persecution.

Evangelicals are not part of the mainstream, and Trump’s defeat is going to increase their estrangement from society.

Meantime, it turns out — What do you know? — that Jerry Falwell, Jr., was misusing tax-privileged Liberty University money to promote Trump’s presidential campaign.

After shocking many in the evangelical movement by endorsing Donald Trump over other Republicans for the 2016 presidential nomination, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. pumped millions of the nonprofit religious institution’s funds into Republican causes and efforts to promote the Trump administration, blurring the lines between education and politics.

The culmination of his efforts was the creation of a university-funded campus “think tank” — which has produced no peer-reviewed academic work and bears little relation to study centers at other universities — that ran pro-Trump ads, hired Trump allies including former adviser Sebastian Gorka and current Trump attorney Jenna Ellis to serve as fellows and, in recent weeks, has aggressively promoted Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud.

Jenna Ellis, y’all will recall, is the loony who claimed that Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez, who died 7-years ago, was behind much of the current election turmoil.

What makes this especially galling is that the tax-privileged status of religious donations means that you and I are indirectly subsidizing this. Falwell’s misuse of donations is the very reason for the Johnson Amendment, and enforcing it should be made, once again, an I.R.S. priority.

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