Shortly after the 2016 election, I made a small prediction about the future of the Evangelical Right:
Third, 81% of white evangelicals voted for Trump, and that will eventually sink into public consciousness, as in, Wait a minute! What are you saying? The church people gave us that piece of sh*t p***y-grabber?! Yep, they did — and that will be the tale of how the Evangelical Right and ‘movement so-called conservatism’ committed political suicide. They might make some noise, occasionally score a small victory … but they are done. The Trump administration, with its inevitable serial indecencies and corruptions, is their achievement, and they will never live it down.
What do you know? The New York Times published a few days ago a column defending evangelicals’ enthusiasm for Trump, and the reader reaction was scathing.
“There is something deeply troubling about a Christianity that has found its man in Donald Trump. Whatever policy ends President Trump has accomplished, he has done so while being a confirmed and very public liar.”
“But we are still waiting for an analysis of how so many evangelicals can dismiss that the acts ever happened, even in the face of the president’s own admissions, his personal lawyer’s admissions and the evidence that makes the immorality obvious.”
“David Brody’s wildly apologetic defense of (white) evangelical support for President Trump is unconvincing and infuriating.”
And on and on.
I am struck especially by the second letter, because it points exactly toward the almost invariable reaction of most congregations when it learns that Pastor Bubba is raping their children: refusal to accept the truth — even when Pastor Bubba acknowledges the crime. I can’t name or put my finger on the psychology of the character failure that we’re talking about here, but it is real and consequential and a commonplace among the devout.
There is a sort of infantilism about it, a stubborn childishness in people no longer susceptible of parental correction.
Such people cannot be reasoned with; they can only be defeated.