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.”
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.
“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.
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!”