The Wondering Eagle Book Review: Fear, Lust for Power and 81%. A Look at John Fea’s “Believe Me – The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump”

John Fea, a history professor from Messiah College outside Harrisburg, Pennsylvania writes a book that is quite talked about in social media. In “Believe Me – The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump” you learn about the relationship between Donald Trump and many evangelicals.  The court evangelical is explained and one understands how fear has always been an issue for American evangelicals. Fear can be traced back to the Puritans in the 1600’s and carries on through fear of immigrants, other races, Catholics and modernism in the 20th century. The Wondering Eagle reviews this book with joy and is grateful for what Professor Fea contributes to the conversation of evangelicals, history and politics. 

“True religion, I believe, begins in doubt and continues in spiritual exploration. Debased religion begins in fear and terminates in certainty.” 

Neal Gabler

“Who wanted to ride into the capital on the back of an ass when one could go first class in a private jet and be picked up and driven around in a chauffeured limousine.” 

Cal Thomas

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul.

2 Samuel 12:7 NIV

John Fea at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C. 

2016 was a watershed year for many of us as well as the United States. Up until that time in writing about modern evangelicalism there was one topic that I was deeply concerned about. It was the resurgence of the Neo-Calvinists and the problems that came with it. That was my focus in many ways and I pursued that topic frequently. During 2016 I began to see the issue of Christian nationalism emerge and it bothered me. But I also thought that Donald Trump would be defeated and I didn’t pay much attention to it. So I ignored the issue. When Trump was elected I was caught very much unprepared. I was stunned when the following day they had an article in the Washington Post about how evangelicals put him over the top. I was horrified, especially with Trump’s Access Hollywood tape where he boasted of “grabbing them by the pussy.” As 2016 became 2017 I started to feel more and more homeless. I could not associate or be around evangelicals who strongly supported Trump. To be honest, I felt sick and wondered what happened. I long have respected atheists but during this time I came to appreciate atheists for coming out against Trump. They had a greater bearing of morals, then many evangelicals from my perspective. As I was contemplating and reading about what happened John Fea published “Believe Me – The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump.” It is a book that I decided to read after all I read several of John Fea’s op-eds in various news publications. Here are some examples for you to read and process. John has published for The Atlantic, USA Today, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and many other publications. He has been interviewed and his analysis and commentary has been sought out.  When he published his book I heard him speak about it at Politics & Prose here in Washington, D.C. John Fea teaches American history at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. As a historian he is also an accomplished author. Some of the books he has published include, “Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? Revised Edition: A Historical Introduction“,”Why Study History?: Reflecting on the Importance of the Past“,”Confessing History: Explorations in Christian Faith and the Historian’s Vocation“,”The Bible Cause: A History of the American Bible Society” and “The Way of Improvement Leads Home: Philip Vickers Fithian and the Rural Enlightenment in Early America (Early American Studies).”  So let’s consider his newest work.  There are five chapters in Fea’s 191 page book. I will go into each chapter and explore the themes. Keep in mind that there is a lot of information and I left some of it to try and keep this post short. But in order to understand why evangelicals went for Trump we need to look at the issue of fear. 

 

The Evangelical Politics of Fear

Fear is a staple of American politics from the days of Thomas Jefferson to Lyndon Johnson and modern times. Many people live out their fear and its often used as a tool to get people to act in a certain way. Fear plays out in many forms, from a concern of crime, to far of other races and cultures, to even allegations of pedophilia in a Washington, D.C. pizza parlor. The presidency of Barack Obama cultivated a lot of fear among evangelicals. Many came to believe that Obama was Muslim and not American, but instead Kenyan. Roy Moore in Alabama was one of the first to give rise to his birther movement and said the president at the time was not born in the United States. Other evangelicals were concerned that Obama was a theological liberal and opposed him for the type of Christianity he practiced. But what really generated the most fear by evangelicals were his views on social issues. He was a strong supporter of abortion, and his support for Obamacare left many evangelicals to fear that their religious rights would be trampled. The other concern that evangelicals have is that of gay marriage. When the Supreme Court declared gay marriage legal in 2015 many evangelicals reacted out of fear. Many evangelicals came to believe that their right to practice their faith and for the United States to be Christian was threatened. For many evangelicals they thought that western civilization was crumbling when gay marriage became legal. 

In this environment of distress Trump came and appealed to the fears of many evangelicals, and he played on them. Trump would stand up to the “liberal media” and would build a wall on the Mexican border and keep out “rapists.” In the primary the only evangelical candidates who had the majority of evangelical voters were Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. As a strongman Trump attracted a different kind of evangelical voter. Those in the prosperity gospel realm. For example people in the Independent Network Charismatic movement. In time he secured support from Jerry Falwell Jr, Robert Jeffres of First Baptist in Dallas. In the political campaign Ted Cruz seized the day when Justice Antonin Scalia died. Cruz played with evangelical fears of the control of the Supreme Court. As a strongman Trump attracted the support he needed. He promised that he would dismantle and destroy the Obama legacy. He would provide the victory many evangelicals sought in the culture wars. In May of 2016 Trump secured the GOP nomination. Half of the evangelicals supported him. Others who feared Hillary Clinton threw their support to Trump. 

 

The Playbook

Christians are taught to have a healthy fear of God. A reverent fear that commands respect and awe. After all God is sovereign, and God never promises safety.  The problem is that many evangelicals have bought into the prosperity gospel and believe the “health and wealth” aspects. God for many in the prosperity crowd is about comfort. In contrast John Fea has a tender story of a friend of his from seminary who took Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s words seriously. He would sign his letters to people saying “May you suffer and die for Christ.” The Bible regularly tells people not to be in fear. Some examples include Psalm 23 (I will fear no evil…), 1 John (there is no fear in love), Luke (fear not little flock) as just a few. Fear as John writes is a natural human reaction to times of trouble or difficulty. But Christians should not live in fear. Fear is opposite to love. And Christians should be known for their love. 

Many evangelicals saw society fracture after World War II. President Eisenhower stated that, “Without God there could not be no American form of government, nor an American way of life.” During the Cold War people feared the atheistic government of the Soviet Union. The United States reiterated its roots in God, and had “In God we trust” added to coinage. Yet the Supreme Court moved in the opposite direction. The Supreme Court started to enforce separation of church and state. It was during this time that the Catholic population swelled in the United States. Between 1945 and 1960 the Catholic faith grew by 90%. Many evangelicals worried about the invasion from Rome. After all the Catholics threatened their evangelical concept of a Christian nation. As the Supreme Court under Earl Warren made decision after decision evangelicals were not pleased. They were not as outraged to respond politically which should also be stressed. This is key because many evangelicals have engaged in revisionism today. In 1962 Engel vs. Vitale ended public school prayer. In 1963 School District of Abington Township vs. Schempp ended a Pennsylvania law that required teachers to read scripture each morning in class. The Supreme Court dismantled evangelical Protestant expectations. What also added to evangelical fears was the wave of immigrants that were to come. From 1880-1920 immigrants came from Europe. The Hart-Celler Act required hemispheric quotas and that led to a large influx of people from 1966 to 1993 from Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Mexico, Latin America and South America. 5 million alone came from Asia with the leading countries being China, Korea, Vietnam, India and the Philippines. As civil rights became an issue it was the threat to remove tax exempt status from Christian schools that practiced segregation which galvanized fundamentalists.   After all Bob Jones University in South Carolina still wanted to practice segregation. When abortion was legalized many evangelicals didn’t respond as they often claimed. Catholics in contrast did but for some evangelicals abortion was a Catholic issue. However, by the era of Reagan many evangelicals were convinced they had to fight back. 

In the late 1970’s Francis Schaeffer encouraged Christians to get involved in politics. Schaeffer influenced Jerry Falwell to help him restore Biblical principles to the United States. Tim LaHaye and Paul Weyrich also became key players in the evangelical culture wars. In 1976 Falwell said that Christians were going to “clean up America.” As a result The Moral Majority was founded. The evangelicals believed that the Supreme Court needed to be changed. In the evangelical playbook Christians were to vote only for candidates who exhibited Christian character. This was reaffirmed when Bill Clinton had an affair with Monica Lewinsky. Evangelicals led the call for Clinton to be removed. While Falwell went after Clinton it was James Dobson who was notable for calling for Clinton’s impeachment on moral grounds. According to Fea the ultimate test of the evangelical playbook occurred in 2016. For four decades the evangelicals had the same playbook with little success. In 2016 Trump brought evangelicals onboard with his promises and selection of Pence as Vice President nominee. He formed an evangelical advisory board. Trump said the right things but he was also the most immoral candidate before evangelicals. When the Washington Post released the Access Hollywood tape on October 7, 2016 it was disturbing. Trump boasted of rape and grabbing female genitalia. When faced with the choice of winning the Supreme Court or abandoning an immoral presidential candidate evangelicals fell lock step behind Donald Trump. Winning the Supreme Court at all costs was what mattered. Its interesting because many evangelicals claim that Republics rise and fall based on the character of moral leaders. Evangelicals claim this regularly. Eric Metaxas a Pro-Trump evangelical cherry picks this topic. And yet while they claim Federalist 57 in their interpretation they ignore Federalist 68. The Founding Fathers expected people of character to lead he Republic and in embracing Trump evangelicals  failed. Hatred of Hillary Clinton had led many evangelicals to do what they actually hated Hillary Clinton for doing. All they could do is see Hillary as the enemy. She wasn’t a faithful Methodist. Instead she was married to Bill Clinton and defended him in his affairs. Evangelicals could not get beyond that obstacle. Trapped in that box of thinking many evangelicals could not think beyond Trump vs. Hillary. And that is why many attached themselves to Trump. The ultimate goal was the prize of the Supreme Court and that is why evangelicals supported who they did. 

 

A Short History of Evangelical Fear

Evangelical Christians in the United States have always lived in fear. Its the foundation of their theology. It shouldn’t be like that, but that is the reality. The origins of fear come from John Winthrop who wrote about a shinning city on a hill . That concept of civil religion came from Winthrop’s “A Model of Christian Charity” which was published in 1630. Historian Richard Gamble explained how the Puritans view Massachusetts Bay as the new Israel. Winthrop’s declaration couldn’t have been higher and it made the stakes critical. Winthrop in time helped create a “civil religion at odds with Christian understanding of the church.” Winthrop taught about fear of God but against the cultural context of America it led to problems in the course of time. The Puritans, Calvinistic as they were could not keep this covenant. They could not live up to their theology. The demands of the covenant made Puritans anxious about every moral failure. They became concerned about triggering God’s displeasure through a number of sins – personal and collective. The list of sins was long: disorderly speech, crime, idleness, contempt for authority, gambling, intemperance, and adultery. Members of Massachusetts who posed serious threats to this orthodoxy were dealt with – often out of fear. You had the banishment of Anne Hutchinson. Between 1659 and 1661 four Quakers were executed for their religious beliefs by the Puritans. Puritans also struggled with the religious beliefs and culture of the Indians. The zenith of the fears among the Puritans occurred in 1692.  160 people were accused of practicing witchcraft and 19 were executed. The Puritans were now acting out of fear and they laid the foundation for a troubled church that would persist through American history. 

The evangelical Protestant fear expressed itself among a new threat that was coming to the United States – Catholic immigrants. Puritans feared the Pope and thought the Catholics would expand an empire in the United States and threaten their “city on a hill” vision. Catholics also were not Christians according to the Puritans. The Puritans anxiety increased when Indians started to convert to Catholicism.  By the mid 1700’s anti-Catholicism was rampant up and down the Eastern seaboard. The United States in their mind was to be Protestant and not Catholic.During the French and Indian War anti-Catholicism surged. Samuel Davis an evangelical leader from  Virginia at the time who stated the following during the war.  “I would rather fly to the utmost end of the earth then submit to French tyranny and Popish superstition.” In time anti-Catholicism continued with well known evangelicals such as Lyman Beecher continued to use fear to their advantage. The Irish Potato famine which occurred from 1845 to 1852 coincided with the Know Nothing Movement prior to the Civil War. Many evangelicals including Methodists at the time  embraced the “Know Nothings” as an answer to the flood of Catholics coming from Ireland. Also an issue was racial fears by evangelicals. At the time slavery was practiced in the United States and many evangelicals used the Bible in a literal sense. By the time of the Civil War in 1860 –  70 to 80% of the population in the south were evangelical. The progressives in the north frightened the evangelicals in the southern United States. Plus they also lived in a state of fear from slave rebellion. Nat Turner’s slave rebellion in 1831 was the southern equivalent to September 11, 2001. 60 whites died in the uprising in Southampton County, Virginia. White evangelicals in response fought harder to expand slavery out in the western territories.  Slavery was Biblical and of the Lord, many firmly believed. 1 Corinthians 7:20 was used to encourage blacks to follow their leader. It was the Hebrews 13:17 of their day. During the Civil War many evangelicals used the Bible to motivate people to pick up arms against the United States. Consider what the Georgia Committee  on Secession proclaimed. “Our fathers made this a government for the white man, rejecting the negro, as an ignorant, inferior, barbarian race.” Southern evangelicals feared the mixing of races. After the Civil War there was resistance to the 13th (ending slavery), 14th (providing citizenship for slaves)  and 15th (giving former slaves voting rights) amendments. 

During the years of 1860 to 1920 the United States went through profound social change. Modernists emerged who rejected fundamentalism and embraced change. As the modernists took control of the denominations and seminaries the fundamentalists railed on the outside. Billy Sunday is an example of this kind of fundamentalism. Plus the anti-Catholic resurgence emerged once again. During the Prohibition movement fundamentalists like Billy Sunday pushed for prohibition believing it would solve the Catholic problem. After all how could Catholics celebrate mass if they could not use wine? Then you had the presidential campaign of Catholic Al Smith. The New York governor was viewed as a threat because the fundamentalists though that the Pope would rule the United States. It was during this time that the Ku Klux KLan partnered with fundamentalists. Other fundamentalists defended the Klan. Afterall the issues that concerned the Klan…fear of immigrants, of Catholics and of keeping blacks in their place were shared by many fundamentalists. Fundamentalist reading of the Bible also contributed to dispensational theology. God’s agenda for both groups would occur upon his glorious return. Dispensationalists were always on the lookout for the anti-Christ. And fundamentalists used fear tactics to scare people about the Catholics, immigrants,  modernists and communists. Muscular and authorterian men built empires to rule. They included people like A.C. Dixon, Bob Jones, J Frank Norris and T.T. Shields just to list a couple. In the end the Christian fears that evangelicals had in the 1970’s and 1980’s are tied to the fear the Puritans. Evangelicalism has always been grounded in fear. 

 

The Court Evangelicals

John Fea talks about the court evangelicals by discussing the challenges of Petrus Damiani who was an eleventh century reformer. The king’s court was a dangerous place for medieval clergymen. The closer they were to power the more corrupt many became. The opportunity to influence the king was too great for many. The court area was defined by ambition, vanity and hypocrisy. Consider what thirteenth century German cleric Hugo Von Trimberg. “Uprightness, decency, and truth, humility, modesty, and guilelessness, purity, and moderation have been expelled from the court, and in their place exist lies, deceit, villainy, worthless and knavish character, falseness, dissipation, flattery, [and] freeloading…and nobody thinks of God, of salvation, and of death.” The church has long warned about the pursuit of political power. In the United States we don’t have kings, princes or courts. But we have our own version of religious courtiers. And they are people like Southern Baptist Richard Land who boasted of “unlimited access” to political power. The leading court evangelicals of today are people like Jim Bakker, Paula White, Jerry Falwell Jr, Franklin Graham Robert Jeffress, Mark Burns and others.

No one knows what the court evangelicals do exactly in the Trump White House. The court evangelicals smile for pictures, appear at rallies, and go out into the media realm and defend their king – that of Donald Trump. The court evangelicals flatter Donald Trump and he rewards them with access. Sometimes Trump asks them to go to their followers and communicate messages to them. Jerry Falwell Jr boasted as to how Trump called him after the Access Hollywood tape broke where Trump discussed how you can “grab them by the pussy.” Trump asked Falwell to help smooth over the issue and rally his troops. And Fallwell delivered. Some evangelicals who do not agree with everything that Trump has done believe believe God has placed him in office. This explains Richard Land of the Southern Baptists believes this and this explains why after Charlottesville he drew closer to Trump. Land said, “Jesus did not turn away from those who may have seemed brash with their words or behavior.” And yet John Fea writes in response that evangelical scholar Ben Witherington states that “The sinners and tax collector were not political officials, so there is no analogy there.Besides Jesus was not giving the sinners and tax collectors political advice – he was telling them to repent! If that is what out evangelical leaders are doing with our President, and telling him when his politics are un-Christian and explaining to him that racism is an enormous sin and there is no moral equivalency between the two sides in Charlottesville, then well and good. Otherwise they are complicit with the sins of our leaders.” Rather than flattering Trump evangelicals should act like Nathan did to King David and proclaim “You are the man!”

The court evangelicals come from three primary streams of evangelicalism. The Christian right, those from the prosperity gospel, and the Independent Network Charismatics. Trumps’ evangelicals learned from the playbook of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and others who believe that politics is the best way to “reclaim” the country. Not only that but people like James Dobson, Robert Jeffress and others have developed careers of endorsing politicians who fit their agenda. James Dobson explained that Trump is a baby Christian where as Jerry Falwell Jr explained how Trump is the evangelicals “dream president.” Like Reagan, Trump was also divorced and Trump like Jesus, and Martin Luther King were also persecuted according to Falwell Jr. The Independent Network Charismatics operate outside traditional Pentecostals. While they embrace the gifts of the spirit they do not operate in the framework of Pentecostal denominations such as the Assembly of God or Church of God in Christ. The new authority leaders in this movement believe that God has ordained them with the authority to speak on his behalf. They also consider themselves to be prophets. In this you will find Che Ann, (Harvest International Ministries), Bill Johnson (Bethel Church in Redding, California), Cindy Jacobs (Generals International in Red Oak, Texas), Mike Bickle (International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri) or Lou Engle (The Call in Colorado Springs, Colorado).INC prophets believe they are ushering in God’s age in a future kingdom. They are deeply attracted to Seven Mountain Dominionism. In politics they want “kingdom minded” candidates who will fight for Christian values and reclaim the United States and return it to its Christian roots.  Several people claimed to have prophecies claiming that God would elect Trump and make him president. The last major wing of court evangelicals are teachers and ministers of the prosperity gospel movement. According to Kate Bowler there are four themes: faith, wealth, health, and victory. Many prosperity preachers are active on television and other forms of media. They had dramatic scandals in the 1980’s. The rising stars today are Joel Olsteen, Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, T.D. Jakes, Paula White, and Creflo Dollar. Paula White has become close to many celebrities such as the late Michael Jackosn or Daryl Strawberry of the New York Mets. Trump is close to Paula White. 

For the court evangelicals they have decided that what Donald Trump can give them is more important than the damage done to their Christian witness. The three topics of most importance to court evangelicals are a focus on abortion, religious liberty, and support of Israel. Abortion is core to their political agenda, this explains their obsession with the Supreme Court. Religious freedom is an exaggerated issue with this crowd, but they believe they are being persecuted. Court evangelicals believe that evangelical schools and colleges need to be protected from the issue of gay marriage. One school that would lose a lot is Liberty University in Lynchberg, Virginia. Afterall Liberty receives $445 million in federal student loans, which is the most in Virginia and the eighth highest in the United States. The reform of the IRS tax code so that evangelicals can mix faith and politics is also on their agenda. The Johnson Amendment forbids tax-exempt organizations from endorsing political candidates. The last issue of the court evangelicals is support for Israel. When the U.S. Embassy was moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem Trump did that to honor his evangelical supporters. Israel is important for many evangelicals because of the role it will play in end times theology.  

But part of the problem is that when you play with fire you get burned. Bill;y Graham learned  this the hard way. Graham was a court evangelical who used his position to support the Korean War. He loathed John F. Kennedy because he was Catholic. And he supported Nixon. Duirng Watergate he defended Nixon. When some of the Watergate tapes came out and in the New York Times Graham read that Nixon lied and that he expressed antisemitism Billy Graham became sick as to what he attached himself to. In time Billy Graham repented and apologized. Years later he taught others to avoid his mistake. His son Franklin Graham has rejected his late father’s teaching in this area. There are others who also rejected the political involvement in faith. They include people like Cal Thomas, Ed Dobson, and David Kuo. Kuo served in George W Bush’s Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Kuo explains his thoughts on faith and politics in “Tempting Faith.”  

 

Make America Great Again and Conclusion 

That leads us to the last chapter, what does it mean to make America great again? What is great? For blacks that would be a painful question especially when you consider the segregation and slavery they endured. Was America a Christian nation? That is complicated. The founding fathers would say no the united States is not a Christian nation, but then different states such as Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and South Carolina require people to swear an oath to the state constitution affirming their support for the Old and New Testament or other issues. That leads us to the next question, is America a Christian nation today? Many white evangelicals look back at prior history with fondness and nostalgia. This is problematic because history is complicated. Nostalgia is a powerful political tool. Some believe Trump is a modern day Cyrus. The court evangelicals have a distorted view of history, David Barton is a great example in this area. What some court evangelicals write and publish is not history but instead propaganda. David Barton is effective in this area.

When it comes to Donald Trump and history, it appears Trump doesn’t know much history. The question to ask Trump is when was America last great? The Gilded Age? American Revolution? Industrial Revolution? 1920’s? 1950’s? 1980’s? Its safe to say that the Civil War and the Great Depression can be ruled out. Even Trumps’ embrace of Andrew Jackson has issues. Trump misinformed people when he said that had Jackson existed later there would not be a Civil War. The Civil War was about slavery, and many historians corrected Trump on this issue. Jackson was a populist but he also supported slavery. His policies led to the Trail of Tears and forced out Indian tribes from the southeast United States to Oklahoma. Many died along the way, as its a dark stain on our history. When Trump talks about America First does he realize how loaded that is? Did you hear of the America First Committee in the 1930’s which argued for isolationism and also were known for racism and antisemitism? Another thing to consider is when Trump said he would be the “law and order” candidate. Richard Nixon touted that in running for president in 1968. Nixon did this because of the race riots and assassinations which took place in the 1960’s. When Trump says that he doesn’t care how phrases like America First were used in the 1940’s he’s refusing to see the role of the president in the greater American story. Fea  also writes that he wants to end his book on a positive note. He thinks that the evangelicals who supported Trump were part of a last ditch attempt. Think of its a a Picket’s Charge for the culture wars. Younger evangelicals are horrified with Trump and the average Trump voter is 57. The younger evangelicals are diverse in many ways and stand out against the older white evangelicals. John writes that evangelicals should appeal to hope and not fear. They should also be known for their humility and not power. Evangelicals should learn from history and not be nostalgic. Martin Luther King drew from history and looked forward because he knew how dark American history is for a black individual. There is a lot of work to do in dealing with this evangelical problem. 

 

My Analysis and Recommendation 

John Fea’s book could not have arrived at a better time. Its my belief that it fills a critical gap that exists in historical and religious writing. How did evangelicals get to this point with faith and politics? I am a student of history and John Fea in reaching back into history finds some answers and helps show what has happened. History as I believe is one of the most important disciplines but its one that is sore neglected by many people. In Fea’s book I would suggest that he broke new ground in writing a work that fuses both theology and history. This is not a book that falls firmly in one camp or another. In reading this you will learn a lot of history as well as theology. There are not many books out there that look at this topic from the evangelical perspective, or the 19%. The Messiah College professor writes from that perspective. I was very much in a difficult spot because of evangelicalism and Trump. At this stage I do not know what exactly to do. What I do know is more of what happened. After reading “Believe Me” I can understand many of the people I was once close to acted the way that they did. Plus I can understand what I saw both in social media and church. If you are part of the 19% you are one the of brave souls that had the courage to do the right thing. I am in that camp and I found many relationships and more to be frayed during the year 2016. As I reflect back this is some of the takeaways. While deeply critical of Neo-Calvinists there are some areas I respect them for. Their take on faith and politics is far more healthier than the traditional evangelical.  I wish Fea would have had a chapter that explains why the 19% didn’t support Trump. Why did the Neo-Calvinists and people like Russell Moore push back against Trump? The only one who flip flopped in my opinion is Wayne Grudem. I also appreciated many of those outside the faith who saw what was happening and called it out. The best analysis of evangelicalism I believe comes from the atheist camp, and 2016 reinforced that claim. I also realized that for many people faith and politics are merged. I wish that would not be the case but that is how one camp is all too sadly. 

Time will tell how John Fea’s book will be treated. But let me make a suggestion after reading and digesting his work. There are not many books out there like this that exist. My prediction is that this will be the one book that John Fea writes that people will remember him for. People will understand this problem set better because of his analysis and research. John Fea’s work I think contributes much to the evangelical discussion just as Mark Noll has done. From my perspective Mark Noll is remembered for the scandal of the evangelical mind. John Fea will be remembered for evangelical history and its role in politics. If you have not read this book I highly recommend you pick it up and work through it. This will help your world view and you will understand not just what happened to your church but relatives and friends as well. “Believe Me” while being hard to read at times helped order my world and understand why things shifted. I thank the Messiah College professor for his work in this area. My hope is that it will lead to other work that will come forth and contribute more to this discussion. As history unfolds there will be more questions that will come about and hopefully John Fea will be able to take them on and analyze them like he did with the relationship between Donald Trump and evangelicals.