Peter Wehner in The Atlantic When the Faustian Bargain Evangelical Christians Make Implodes

In The Atlantic magazine well known evangelical Peter Wehner wrote a damning article about evangelicals and their culture wars. Many evangelicals traded their faith for one Supreme Court seat and in the process made a deal with a devil – called a Faustian bargain. The bill is now due and with the Supreme Court handing down a major victory for gay rights groups what do evangelicals have to say? Can they still say “But Gorsuch.”

“The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself.

Oscar Wilde

Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

John 1:21 NIV

Peter Wehner is a well known evangelical who has written heavily about evangelical Christians and their culture wars. He is a veteran of the Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W Bush administrations.  In the recent Atlantic magazine he wrote an article about how evangelicals sold themselves short. Many evangelicals rationalized much of what is Donald Trump. When it came to paying off porn stars you had an affair with, ignoring that Access Hollywood tape that talked about grabbing pussy, or the racial issues the response by some evangelicals was “But Gorsuch.” Indeed evangelicals got Supreme Court justice Neil Gorsuch. So when the Supreme Court handed down a decision that protected gays from employment discrimination. Many evangelicals bet it all on everything and traded their faith for a Supreme Court seat. And what do they have to show for it? That is what Peter Wehner writes about in, “The Cost of the Evangelical Betrayal.” 

 

The Supreme Court and Legislative Opportunities are Wasted

This is what Peter Wehner says about the situation with the Supreme Court seat and legislative opportunities.

“An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law,” Gorsuch wrote for the majority in the 6–3 ruling.It was a crushing blow for the religious right, and it must have dawned on more than a few of Trump’s evangelical supporters that if Hillary Clinton had won the presidency, the outcome of the case would have been the same; the only difference is that the margin probably would have been 7–2.
The Bostock case was not the only major legal setback for social conservatives and evangelical Christians. By a 5–4 margin, the Court—in June Medical Services v. Russo—delivered a significant defeat to the pro-life movement, striking down as unconstitutional a Louisiana law that could have left the state with only a single abortion clinic. This dashed the hopes of those who were counting on Trump’s appointees to lead the Court in overturning Roe v. Wade. (Both of Trump’s Supreme Court choices were in the minority.)Social conservatives can point to some importantreligiouslibertyvictories. But overall, this term was a judicial gut punch for the president’s evangelical supporters. The “but Gorsuch” argument has not been destroyed, but it has been substantially weakened.“The GOP gives social conservatives little or nothing legislatively, and hasn’t for a very long time,” the conservative blogger Rod Dreher told Vox’s Jane Coaston. “True, they have blocked some bad things over the years. That’s not nothing. But I think we’ve always known that judges are the real deal here.”

“Every institution—the media, academia, corporations, and others—are against us on gay and transgender rights, and GOP lawmakers are gutless. The only hope we had was that federal judges would protect the status quo. Now that’s gone.”

Legislatively, Trump, compared with other presidents, has not achieved all that much for the pro-life cause and religious-liberties protection. For example, George W. Bush’s pro-life record is stronger and Bill Clinton achieved more in the area of religious liberties, signing into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. (Trump has done a fair amount administratively for the pro-life cause.) Trump has also achieved next to nothing in terms of enacting education reforms.

Elsewhere, Trump has engaged in a bromance with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, the worst persecutor of Christians in the world, and established more intimate and admiring relationships with many of the world’s despots than with leaders of America’s traditional allies. And on issues that have traditionally concerned conservative evangelicals, such as fiscal responsibility and limited government, Trump has been awful: The deficit and the debt exploded under his watch, even pre-pandemic.

 

Then You Have the Racial Issues

Then the evangelical writer writes about what many Christians have married themselves to and looks at the racial problems that Trump stirs up.

Now think about what the cost has been of the uncritical support given to Trump by evangelical Christians. For now, focus just on this: Christians who are supporters of the president have braided themselves to a man who in just the past few days and weeks tweeted a video of a supporter shouting “white power” (he later deleted it but has yet to denounce it); attacked NASCAR’s only Black driver, Bubba Wallace, while also criticizing the decision by NASCAR to ban Confederate flags from its races; threatened to veto this year’s annual defense bill if an amendment is included that would require the Pentagon to change the names of bases honoring Confederate military leaders; referred to COVID-19 as “kung flu” during a speech at a church in Phoenix; and blasted two sports teams, the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Indians, for considering name changes because of concerns by supporters of those franchises that those team names give undue offense.

These provocations by the president aren’t anomalous; he’s a man who vaulted to political prominence by peddling a racist conspiracy theory that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States—he later implied that Obama was a secret Muslim and dubbed him the “founder of ISIS”—and whose remarks about an Indiana-born judge with Mexican heritage were described by former House Speaker Paul Ryan as “the textbook definition of a racist comment.”

The white supremacist Richard Spencer, describing the neo-Nazi and white-supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, told The Atlantic, “There is no question that Charlottesville wouldn’t have occurred without Trump. It really was because of his campaign and this new potential for a nationalist candidate who was resonating with the public in a very intense way. The alt-right found something in Trump. He changed the paradigm and made this kind of public presence of the alt-right possible.” And David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader, called the march a “turning point” for his own movement, which seeks to “fulfill the promises of Donald Trump.”

For his whole life, before and since becoming president, Trump has exploited racial divisions and appealed to racial resentments. The president is now doing so more, not less, than in the past, despite the fact—and probably because of the fact—that America is in the grips of a pandemic that he and his administration have badly bungled and that has claimed more than 130,000 American lives.

As The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman pointed out on July 6, “Almost every day in the last two weeks, Mr. Trump has sought to stoke white fear and resentment.”

White evangelicals are the core of Trump’s political support, and while the overwhelming number of the president’s evangelical supporters may not be racist, they are willing to back a man who openly attempts to divide people by race. That would be enough of an indictment, but the situation is actually a good deal worse than that, since Trump’s eagerness to inflame ugly passions is only one thread in his depraved moral tapestry.

My hunch is that at the beginning of this Faustian bargain, most evangelicals didn’t imagine it would come to this, with them defending the indefensible, tarnishing their reputations, and doing incalculable damage to their causes.

 

Then Evangelicals Have Lost Their Ability to Bear Witness for Jesus

When many evangelicals have sold their souls to support Donald Trump the greatest threat came in compromising their witness. People have rejected the church and the young are abandoning it faster. Here is what Peter Wehner writes about with evangelical pastors and what they have seen. 

The greatest cost of the Trump years to evangelical Christianity isn’t in the political sphere, but rather in what Christians refer to as bearing witness—showing how their lives have been transformed by their faith.

Much of the evangelical movement, in aligning itself with Donald Trump, has shown itself to be graceless and joyless, seized by fear, hypocritical, censorious, and filled with grievances. That is not true of all evangelicals, of course, and it’s not true of all evangelicals who are Trump supporters. But it’s true of enough of them, and certainly of the political leadership of the white evangelical movement, to have done deep injury to their public witness.
I know this firsthand, from pastors around the country who have talked about the catastrophic effects of the unholy alliance between evangelicals and Donald Trump. One pastor of a large church on the Pacific Coast told me: “There are many reasons why young people are turning away from the Church, but my observation is, Trump has vastly accelerated that trend. He’s put it into hyperdrive.”This pastor, a lifelong Republican who declined to be quoted by name because of the position he occupies, wrote that “for decades Hollywood has portrayed conservative Christians as cruel, ignorant, greedy, and hypocritical. For 20 years I have worked, led, and sacrificed to put the lie to that stereotype, and have done so successfully here … Because of how we have served the least of the least, city officials, school officials, and many atheists have formed a respect for Jesus and his church. And I’m watching all that get washed away.”He added, “Yes, Hollywood and the media created a decidedly unattractive stereotype of Christians. And Donald Trump fits it perfectly. Made it all seem true. And sadly, I now realize that stereotype is more true than I ever knew. It breaks my heart. In volleyball terms, Hollywood did the set, but Trump was the spike that drove the ball home. He’s everything I’ve been trying to say isn’t what the church is all about. But sadly, maybe it is.”

In the midst of the wreckage, Trump’s evangelical supporters will undoubtedly comfort themselves with this thought: They got Gorsuch.

I would recommend reading the entire article which you can do in,  “The Cost of the Evangelical Betrayal.”  Soooooooo…evangelicals how did that Faustian bargain go for you? Ed Chapman can I hear you say, “But Gorsuch!”

 

20 thoughts on “Peter Wehner in The Atlantic When the Faustian Bargain Evangelical Christians Make Implodes

  1. Remember Internet Monk and “The Coming Evangelical Collapse”?
    Well, This Is IT.

    Much of the evangelical movement, in aligning itself with Donald Trump, has shown itself to be graceless and joyless, seized by fear, hypocritical, censorious, and filled with grievances.

    It was that way when I was in-country in the Seventies, but didn’t metastatize outside the bubble until the Culture War got going in the Reagan Years. Now they see Victory (“HAIL VICTORY!”) within their grasp and Any and All Restraints Are Off.

    As for Trump, well, that Rabbi from Nazareth didn’t get them what they wanted, so they went with Someone Who Will Get Things Done. (Which according to Chesterton is the equation behind Faustian Bargains; in the paranormal realm, the Dark Powers have a reputation for Getting Things Done.)

    My hunch is that at the beginning of this Faustian bargain, most evangelicals didn’t imagine it would come to this, with them defending the indefensible, tarnishing their reputations, and doing incalculable damage to their causes.

    And their only response will be to Double Down and SCREAM LOUDER in their Loyalty. Like the Beast Worshippers in Revelation who react to the Judgments and Plagues with Doubled Down Defiance.

    In the midst of the wreckage, Trump’s evangelical supporters will undoubtedly comfort themselves with this thought:

    “Roe-v-Wade Overturned! Prayer In Schools! Christian Nation!”

    They got Gorsuch.

    Who has now joined the ranks of Disloyal “Americans”(TM).

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  2. Elsewhere, Trump has engaged in a bromance with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, the worst persecutor of Christians in the world, and established more intimate and admiring relationships with many of the world’s despots than with leaders of America’s traditional allies.

    This is explainable by a Mind Game from a Transactional Analysis (a Seventies pop psychology):
    “TOUGH GUY”.
    In “Tough Guy”, a small or weak individual tries to show How Tough I Am by hanging out with or sucking up to REAL Tough Guys — Navy SEALS, Gangsters, Foreign Dictators, the “tougher” the better.
    “THEY ALL TOUGH! SEE? ME TOUGH TOO! SEE? SEE? SEE?”

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    • A British columnist described it this way:
      “A bully until he is in the company of other bullies, at which point he becomes the sniveling sidekick.”

      Like

  3. What alternative to the “Faustian Bargain” do you suggest for evangelicals?

    President Clinton would certainly not have done anything for them. President Biden won’t either.

    Like

    • So as long as it’s to the personal benefit of Christians, no matter what the side effects on everyone else?

      At that point, they need to add “I GOT MINE!” by Glenn Frey to their hymnals (next to REVEREND Jeffress’ hymn “Make America Great Again”).

      Like

    • How about not expecting any politician to do anything for you?

      How about taking a hard look at our historical enabling of racism and sexual abuse?

      How about stopping trying to police the behavior of others, and just loving them and accepting them?

      How about just trying to be more like Jesus?

      Like

      • How about not expecting any politician to do anything for you?

        It’s true that politicians cannot be relied on to do anything for their constituents, or to do the things that their constituents want. That is, nevertheless, their job.

        By “do anything for them” I meant “do what they want”. What Christians want (or should want) is for politicians to make wise decisions that benefit society as a whole, not decisions that privilege one group over others.

        How about taking a hard look at our historical enabling of racism and sexual abuse?

        Trump is better on this issue than Clinton and Biden.

        How about stopping trying to police the behavior of others, and just loving them and accepting them?

        Trump is better on this issue than Clinton and Biden. Various factions among the left are in the process of trying to re-impose racial discrimination, racial segregation and racist policies (BLM is one of these factions). We shall see if they succeed or not.

        Society without police is anarchy. The entire point of government is to police the behavior of others. Trump is on the “government should police less of society” side of the debate. In the primary there were better options than Trump on this issue, but those days are gone. That will be a good conversation to have again during the run-up to the 2024 primaries.

        How about just trying to be more like Jesus?

        Unfortunately, that isn’t among the options available for us to choose between. During the primaries there were some better choices in this regard, and I like to think that the candidate I voted for would have been better than Trump at being like Jesus. At least he would have been better at pretending.

        So as long as it’s to the personal benefit of Christians, no matter what the side effects on everyone else?

        On the contrary: what Christians want is what’s best for society, even when that works against our personal benefit. For example I supported Trump’s tax reform even though it made my personal taxes go up. It benefited the many more than it hurt the few, and was a net good.

        I admit that I could have phrased that sentence better in my original comment.

        Like

      • How about stopping trying to police the behavior of others, and just loving them and accepting them?

        But then how can I Virtue-Signal My Righteousness? My Moral Superiority?
        “I THANK THEE, LOOOOOOOOORD, THAT I AM NOTHING LIKE THOSE FILTHY SINNERS OVER THERE!”

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      • But then how can I Virtue-Signal My Righteousness? My Moral Superiority?
        “I THANK THEE, LOOOOOOOOORD, THAT I AM NOTHING LIKE THOSE FILTHY SINNERS OVER THERE!”

        You’re talking about the anti-Trump people, right?

        Like

      • “What Christians want (or should want) is for politicians to make wise decisions that benefit society as a whole, not decisions that privilege one group over others.”

        Even/especially if those privileges accrue to them. “Consider others better than yourselves…”

        “Trump is better on this issue than Clinton and Biden.”

        That is so patently false that even you can’t believe it, and I won’t dignify it with an answer.

        Like

      • “Trump is better on this issue than Clinton and Biden.”

        That is so patently false that even you can’t believe it, and I won’t dignify it with an answer.

        I provided examples and reasoning for both. I interpret your response as “I can’t counter those points.”

        Like

      • That applies to BOTH polarities of Trump Derangement Syndrome.
        And Clinton Derangement Syndrome.
        And Obama Derangement Syndrome.

        And your attempt at blame-shift reversal is worthy of my sociopath manipulator brother.

        Like

  4. Wondering,

    I see my name in big neon lights here! Cool. This is gonna be my response, using 2 bible references:

    But first, since you are a HISTORY buff, how would our founding fathers reacted to GAY MARRIAGE? Is that the FREEDOM that they envisioned? Or did they have MORALITY in their minds? I think you are on the WRONG SIDE of history, David!

    1.

    Luke 18:9-13
    King James Version

    9 And he spake this parable unto DAVID BONNER which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

    10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a DAVID BONNER, and the other a EVANGELICALS.

    11 DAVID BONNER stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as THESE EVANGELICALS.

    12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

    13 And THE EVANGELICALS, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

    2.

    John 8:3-11
    King James Version

    3 And DAVID BONNER brought unto JESUS a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,

    4 DAVID BONNER say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.

    5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

    6 This DAVID BONNER said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.

    7 So when DAVID BONNER continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto DAVID BONNER, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

    8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

    9 And DAVID BONNER which heard it, being convicted by HIS own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

    10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where IS DAVID BONNER thine accuser? hath no man condemned thee?

    11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more

    David Bonner is playing judge, where he has NO RIGHT to do so. May God have mercy on your soul, David. I’m glad that you are not the judge of who gets to heaven, or hell. Isn’t Satan called “THE ACCUSER”?

    Ed Chapman

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      • Eeyore,

        That’s what ya get for thinking. No, I said it exactly how I meant it. David is the one who constantly accuses Trump of grabbing pussy, when he didn’t grab pussy to begin with. And with all else that he does on this blog, ACCUSING ACCUSING ACCUSING, he’s saying, THANK GOD I’M NOT LIKE THOSE EVANGELICALS.

        I stand by what I said.

        Ed Chapman

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  5. David Bonner,

    The accuser: Is the accuser WRONG? No, he isn’t. Why? Because FOR ALL HAVE SINNED, that’s why. BUT…

    Revelation 12:10
    And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

    Ed Chapman

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  6. And finally, Ben Franklin wrote the following in a Pamphet to those considering moving to America from Great Britain:

    “The almost general Mediocrity of Fortune that prevails in America, obliging its People to follow some Business for Subsistance, those Vices that arise usually from Idleness are in a great Measure prevented. Industry and constant Employment are great Preservatives of the Morals and Virtue of a Nation. Hence bad Examples to Youth are more rare in America, which must be a comfortable Consideration to Parents. To this may be truly added, that serious Religion under its various Denominations, is not only tolerated but respected and practised. Atheism is unknown there, Infidelity rare & secret, so that Persons may live to a great Age in that Country without having their Piety shock’d by meeting with either an Atheist or an Infidel. And the Divine Being seems to have manifested his Approbation of the mutual Forbearance and Kindness with which the different Sects treat each other, by the remarkable Prosperity with which he has been pleased to favour the whole Country.”

    Ed Chapman

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  7. Seems like everyone is on the bandwagon of:

    “How about stopping trying to police the behavior of others, and just loving them and accepting them?How about stopping trying to police the behavior of others, and just loving them and accepting them?”

    So I’ll give it a try:

    How’s about a little bit of ROMANS 13, which discusses POLICING? Are we gonna just LOVE and ACCEPT A THEIF and LOVE AND ACCEPT A MURDERER without proper HUMAN JUSTICE? Is that how Jesus wanted us to do things? Love and accept the rapist?

    We all know that Mr. Bonner here wants Trump behind bars. Hey, Dave, buddy, how about showing some LOVE and ACCEPT Trump? How about stop policing his behavior by having Congress continually investigating him for fake stuff?

    Take your own advice, pal. LOVE AND ACCEPT TRUMP!

    I dare ya! You love it when people want to sue Trump, am I right? Yet, you ask, who would Jesus sue?

    ISN”T THAT a bit hypocritical?

    Just askin…for a friend! LOL

    Ed

    Like

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