The Guardian Lectures Americans on Religion and Trump, and Again Misses Why Half Support the President

The Guardian have once again found someone with “Rev” in front of his name to deconstruct America’s sins (spoiler: racisms, racisms everywhere) and hector anyone who supports President Trump or his policies.

Rev. William Barber writes:

Even if Donald Trump had a perfect personal moral résumé, his policy agenda is an affront to God’s agenda to lift the poor and bless the marginalized. The distorted moral narrative these so-called Evangelicals for Trump have embraced is contrary to God’s politics, which have nothing to do with being a Democrat or Republican.

Ah yes! God’s politics and agenda.

So glad the reverend has his finger on the Almighty’s pulse. As all right-thinking people know, Hashem wanted Hillary–known to unfortunates the world over as “Mother Teresa 2.0”–but the deplorable half of the United States goofed it all up. Bad, bad evangelicals.

Underneath Rev Barber’s righteous lecturing and motivated theological reasoning lies a fundamental misunderstanding about why millions of Christian Americans support President Trump–and support him more and more, in spite of porn star payoffs; three marriages; ambushes of Middle Eastern terrorist moguls; banter about pu**y grabbing; deliberately outrageous tweets; and all the rest.

Despite Barber’s insinuations, religious Americans are neither scripturally nor historically illiterate (that would be most American college students).

Rather, their religion and sense of history gives Christian Americans a long view on just how untethered the society has become: antitheism, credentialism, selfishness, death of community, massive consumer debt and usury, apathy, nihilism, pathological individualism, fragility, entitlement, and cascading irresponsibility.

And that’s just in their own country. Tens of millions of Americans are getting the sinking feeling that they truly live in a day of evil.

Do religious Americans suffer under a mass delusion that the president possesses a “perfect personal moral résumé,” or that he exemplifies virtue to the world?

No. They well know President Trump has said and done some wicked things. He might do more still. But for many American Christians, Trump’s failings do not preclude him from functioning as God’s chosen instrument for the messy work ahead. As Proverbs 16:4 says:

The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.

Rev Barber and other purists like to equate Donald Trump with biblical black hats (Herod the baby killer, Pharaoh, the Pharisees, et al.) in order to drive a wedge between Trump and the ethical aspirations of Christians. What the purists fail to grasp is that Trump’s membership in the Black Hat Club is a feature, not a bug.

In this day of evil–a world in which the U.S. president must confront gangster regimes in Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, communist China, Pakistan, Russia, and cartel-run Mexico–the president’s familiarity with the worst of human nature starts to look very useful. Even critical.

Some biblical black hats redeemed themselves in spectacular fashion. More appropriate analogues for Donald Trump in the mind of supportive American Christians might be King David–God’s never-forsaken favorite who murdered his best friend and took his wife but saved Israel–or Saul of Tarsus, who spent his early adult life persecuting Christians, before becoming “Paul”, Jesus’s apostle to the gentiles and founding father of Christianity.

For a more modern analogue, consider Oskar Schindler (of Schindler’s List fame). Schindler was a philandering Nazi spy who began his Jewish slave-run factory as “an opportunist initially motivated by profit, [then] came to show extraordinary initiative, tenacity, courage, and dedication to save the lives of his Jewish employees.”

Christian Americans who support the president might be wrong–no one knows for sure (excluding Rev Barber, who seems to possess special insight into God’s politics).  But they are betting that Donald Trump is not a Pharaoh or a Vlad Putin but instead a King David or an Oskar Schindler, who will against all odds pull America’s cookies out of the fire.