As Trump fights for re-election, the cultural warfare for the "soul of America" ​​intensifies – Bible Type

As Trump fights for re-election, the cultural warfare for the "soul of America" ​​intensifies

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Donald Trump in front of St. John & # 39; s Episcopal Church near the White House(Photo: C-Span)

In 2016, Donald Trump was supported by 81 percent of the United States' (mostly white) evangelicals. Recent surveys have shown that from May 2019 to March 2020, the number of white Protestants attending church weekly who believed that Donald Trump was "anointed by God to be president" rose from 29.6 percent to 49.5 percent has risen. But where are they now in the context of his response to Covid-19 and the racist unrest on the streets of the United States?

The "Chaos Candidate" in a time of chaos

Trump has been described as a "candidate for chaos" that thrives in turbulent and polarizing conditions. "The" Chaos Candidate ", however, has experienced a" chaos event "in the Covid 19 pandemic and in the unrest on the streets, which has the potential to expose the shortcomings of its presidency.

From late April to early May, a Pew Research Center survey found that the proportion of white evangelicals who gave Trump positive grades for dealing with the Covid 19 crisis was 6 percentage points lower than in the second half of March. Even so, three-quarters of these evangelicals believed that Trump responded superbly (43 percent) or well (32 percent) to the pandemic.

At the same time, some commentators have pointed out that Trump's relationship with evangelicals has changed, suggesting that he now prefers a number of advocates of the so-called "prosperity gospel" (especially televangelists like Paula White and Guillermo Maldonado). about more mainstream evangelical leaders. Your considerable media presence could explain this. This could also be due to Trump's increasing radicalization during this period of turmoil.

This may be true, but a general appeal to its broader Evangelical base clearly explains the opportunity for a Bible photo at St. John's Church in Washington on June 1. Just a few minutes earlier, Trump had threatened to deploy the army unilaterally on the streets of US cities. The conservative Christian vote was explicitly the goal of the gesture. If you remember that Florida is an important swing state 70 percent Christians and 24 percent evangelicals, and that Trump won it with only 1.2 percent of the vote in 2016 shows what was going on in the Church.

Obviously, Trump was determined to portray the riots in U.S. cities as a matter of law and order, rather than uncovering deep historical and structural racial issues in the nation. It could also have been triggered by his realization that the vast majority of evangelicals who support him are white. His attraction to black evangelicals is low. This makes the place in the church all the more obvious and alarming for many.

The question is: did Trump succeed in this pitch? Franklin Graham on Facebook claimed he was not offended by the events in the church. He was not alone among the leaders of evangelical law to express such feelings about the widespread condemnation of Trump's actions. Similar support was offered by Ralph Reed, who said: "I was glad he went there" and described the action as "symbolic". It sure was. On June 16, Robert Schenck – a self-described former ultra-conservative activist – condemned the action in the church as "profane" and expressed concern over continued broad support for Trump among white Evangelical leaders. He described this as evidence of a "moral breakdown" among evangelicals that resulted from a "Faust deal" with Trump to achieve their political and social goals.

However, the situation is complex. From the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic to early June and the unrest following the death of George Floyd, some evangelicals have felt uneasy. Recent surveys by the Public Religion Research Institute showed that between March (the onset of the Covid 19 crisis) and the end of May (racial unrest), Trump's approval rate among white evangelicals fell from almost 80 percent to 62 percent.

Where's the evangelical vote?

This raises the question: how will evangelicals vote in the November elections? The evidence from 2016 can be substantial. As this year's presidential election approached, Trump's approval rate among evangelicals was 61 percent. In the surveys, however, this value rose to 81 percent. And today, in the cultural war that is sweeping the United States, rhetoric is increasing, attracting non-evangelicals who are united with the United States right.

This includes Archbishop Viganò, the former Vatican nuncio in Washington DC, who published an open letter in support of Trump on June 7, and the evil crises in the world and in the US a malicious international "deep state" and even a "deep one Church & # 39; in alliance with it.

The letter first appeared on Canada's ultra-conservative Catholic website. It was soon launched by the online platform & # 39; QAnon & # 39; Applied. This right source is Pro-Trump, anti-liberal media, promotes conspiracy theories, and presents the current conflict in the US as a representation of "good" (ie Trump) versus "bad". It has millions of followers who have been linked to denouncing Covid-19 as a forgery or as a destabilizing strategy through an international secret conspiracy designed to harm Trump's re-election. This alliance of Trump's core base, proponents of the far-right online conspiracy theory, and conservative evangelicals with some right-wing traditionalist Catholics is exceptional.

Apocalyptic politics

The polarization of US politics and society is increasing. Evangelical law and its political allies tend to describe the growing conflict apocalyptically. In a society where many no longer get their news from the mainstream media, Trump's campaigns to influence narratives should never be underestimated. Trump's ability to articulate the anger and fears of those parts of US society that make up his base shouldn't be either. A long hot summer is just beginning in the intensifying cultural war over the soul of America.

Martyn Whittock is a licensed lay minister in the Church of England and a historian with a particular interest in the interaction between faith and politics. His latest book, Trump and the Puritans (co-author James Roberts), was published in January 2020. It appeared in the morning after Trump's action at St. John's Church in the United States.

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