Holy Narcissism — White Evangelicals and Trump

Photo by Edwin Andrade on Unsplash

Many people are mystified by the hypocrisy of white Evangelicals’ unwavering support for President Trump. It seems to make no sense that the most judgmental and self-righteous denomination of Christianity would choose such a flagrant sinner who says he has done nothing to repent. There has been some linking of this puzzling phenomenon with this group’s affinity for white nationalism, and this is very true. But there’s more to the story. It starts with a psychology that only those who have experienced their world can understand.

White Evangelicals have an intensely personal relationship with god. They believe that god has a plan for their lives and that he devotes constant attention towards preparing them for it. This plan will determine how they will fit into god’s larger plan for his true church, which is to proclaim their version of the gospel and convert others to their brand of Christianity.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19

Discovering god’s plan for their lives is a challenge put to almost every young white Evangelical. Every choice, from college majors, job or career plans, finding a mate, taking opportunities, church membership, etc. is believed to be predetermined in god’s personal plan for their future. They are supposed to just relax and trust god, because he has wonderful plans for all his disciples.

It doesn’t quite unfold that way . Young white Evangelicals agonize endlessly and pray fervently for guidance in the choices they face. God “speaks” to them about these choices. And as often as not, that choice may lead to a dead end. A romance breaks up. A scholarship falls through. A job offer doesn’t come.

How could god have been wrong? Well, he wasn’t. For white Evangelicals, every setback and suffering in life has a purpose. Everything that happens to them, good, bad, or indifferent, comes directly from the hand of god. The natural failures, tragedies, and suffering in life may be god “purifying” them in fire — making them stronger to increase their faith. Other times he is “testing” them. Will they remain faithful even when he sends agony upon them? Another popular interpretation is that god is “teaching” them a lesson about something. And if they start to stray (called “backsliding”) from their devotion to him, god will indeed punish them.

So yes, a romance ended, but in later years they will see how that relationship was just to prepare them for the real one god had planned for them down the road. Yes, that job was a terrible fit and they got fired. But that was just so they would end up in the next circumstance, where god really wanted them to be.

It’s all for god’s holy purpose. Don’t doubt. If you doubt or despair, god will be disappointed in you. You will let him down. You will fail the test.

In all things, you must trust god.

Many white Evangelicals believe in a version of history called “dispensationalism.” Basically, it divides history into ages. When the Jews rejected Jesus as the messiah, the “Church Age” began, passing the torch from the Jews to Christians to be the “light unto the world.” Otherwise known as “god’s chosen.”

The Church Age will end at the Rapture, when Jesus will lift Evangelicals up bodily through the clouds to heaven, and then begin a campaign to savagely torture and murder all of us “unchosen” who are left behind under the rule of the Anti-Christ. Then after the Earth has been cleansed of us undesirables, the chosen will be given their heritage in god’s kingdom.

It is widely believed in the white Evangelical community that we are currently in the last days before the Rapture. Apocalypse has been coming for decades and is currently at the door. This perception appears to be correct. For the white Evangelical world is under siege and crumbling. Our traditional rule by straight white Christian men is ending. America is becoming less white and more brown. Women and LGBT people are in open revolt and winning battles. Their churches are closing as their own children abandon their pews in droves. And as if to add insult to injury, their largest denomination was recently revealed to be protecting a vast ring of pedophiles.

Faced with this loss of power and privilege, white Evangelicals put their faith in Jesus’ return. But according to the prophecy, before the Rapture can take place, Israel must consolidate itself as a nation and draw the Jewish diaspora back to its shores. Then the Jews will rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem, and only after this will Jesus return. After the Rapture the Israelites will accept Jesus as the messiah, joining the white Evangelicals in heaven, and the next phase of history — the Reign of Jesus — will begin.

But not only must Israel prepare for Jesus’ return — so must America. For just as Christians once replaced Jews as god’s chosen people, the U.S. replaced Israel as the “light unto the nations.” So we must also be restored to this purpose in preparation for Jesus’ return. Otherwise, we will disappoint him. God will punish America, subjecting us to the violent, murderous period that will immediately precede the Rapture, called the Tribulation.

White Evangelicals don’t want Jesus to come back to an America awash in hedonism, blasphemy, gays, and abortion. According to them, we are not supposed to be a diverse, multi-ethnic democracy. We are supposed to be a “Christian nation” under the strict rule of straight white Christian men. And as god’s elect on Earth, it’s their responsibility to ensure this happens. Hence their ceaseless campaigns to force their religion upon us.

This was a battle they were losing. Badly. Until god sent them another savior. Out of the abominations of a black president and legalized gay marriage, an unlikely warrior emerged. He promised to Make America Great Again — that is, to return us to the straight and narrow path forged by straight white Christian men.

This guy was going to raise up his hand and turn back the tidal wave.

Donald Trump promised white Evangelicals more political support for Israel, more oppression of LGBT rights, protection of Christian privilege for businesses, and conservative judges who just might succeed in overturning Roe V. Wade. And he delivered.

Tidal wave hits a fierce offshore wind.

It’s obvious he was sent by god.

Evangelicals rejoiced at Donald Trump’s election. God had intervened to help them restore America as a Christian Nation. They embraced him despite his sinful lifestyle and personal rejection of their faith. This was because the Old Testament teaches that god sometimes uses lost, highly sinful souls to accomplish his purpose. Staying true to Trump then, despite his flaws, became a test of their faith.

But before long it all started going south. The Trump presidency became an ever-growing, all consuming dumpster fire — a refuse pit of corruption, race-baiting, and open treason that threatens to suck down the entire nation. Unlike the rest of us, however, they are not free to protest. They cannot criticize. They cannot even fear.

Because god.

The confluence of their role on god’s historical chess board and their need to pass his “testing” has pushed white Evangelicals into a bargain with the devil. They must believe it’s god’s will for brown babies to be ripped from their mothers’ arms and thrown into cold, stinking cages. It’s god’s will for cops to be allowed to shoot black people on sight. It’s god’s will for us to hand our democracy over to Russian control.

It’s all part of god’s plan for Jesus’ return. And the price of that plan was to buy the entire dumpster. To own it and cherish it. Fire, brimstone, smoking dirty diapers and all.

Holding fast to faith in Donald Trump is a final test of white Evangelicals’ faith in god, and just like the Old Testament’s Job, they must not fail it.

They must trust god.

No one can predict the future. But I am confident of one thing: the apocalypse is knocking at the door of white Evangelicalism. Trump was their Hail Mary pass and it’s failing spectacularly. In their embrace of everything nasty, cruel, and treasonous, they have burnt any bridges remaining to the larger, unchosen community. They have proven themselves and their god morally unfit for a 21st century pluralistic society.

They need Jesus to come back, and soon. His return and promise to slaughter us — god’s great rejected — by the billions is the only hope and light visible to them from the flaming dumpster.

So they must trust, they must believe, they must love him — or else.

Or else he will reject them. They will no longer be the chosen of the Creator. They will no longer have the holy mission to bring all the lost souls into his abusive embrace. They will no longer be on top in America. They will no longer be special. They will no longer be the center of the universe. They will no longer be the only ones who matter. They will be reduced to living small, ordinary lives with the great, unsanctified other.

Will being forced to live as equals among people who do not look, think, or live like them be a purification process to strengthen their faith? Will it be a lesson to be learned, or another test of their faithfulness? Maybe it will just be a punishment. In any case, it will not be god’s fault. Because children of an abusive parent quickly learn that everything is their own fault.

Perhaps Jesus will forgive them. History, however, will not be so kind.

Beverly is an author, artist, and a practicing agnostic.

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