1. It’s Thursday, July 14, 2016.
2. It’s Bastille Day, the 227th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille by the people of Paris. So to anyone reading this who’s French, Joyeux Quatorze Juillet! (and congratulations on your mastery of English)
3. If you’re a white evangelical, there’s a 4-in-5 chance that the man you support for president:
— has been married three times
— curses a lot in public
— made his mark as an operator of casinos
— was the person talked about in the classic New York Post headline “BEST SEX I’VE EVER HAD” by a woman who wasn’t his wife
— isn’t especially well versed on the Bible
Trump’s showing among evangelicals in this Pew Research Survey is stronger than that of Mitt Romney, a man whose religious faith was unquestioned but who happened to be a Mormon, received four years ago.
It makes you wonder.
Now I don’t pretend to understand evangelicals. I’m so lapsed a Catholic that I don’t even think about it much anymore. And evangelicals are further on that side of the fence.
But it was my understanding that evangelicals are big on a moral, traditional society. That would entail modesty in one’s lifestyle and personal habits. And I won’t get started about doing good works for those in need.
4. How does Trump even make the cut with these people?
Well, for one thing, more of them are voting AGAINST Hillary Clinton than they are voting FOR Trump, by a 3-to-2 margin. In fact, only 6% of white evangelicals affirm their support for Clinton. That might not even be one person in every pew.
What is it about Hillary Clinton that makes evangelicals so upset that they’d forsake everything they say they’re for to vote for Trump?
5. There’s one obvious difference.
But being a woman can’t be the whole thing. Somehow, I suspect Sarah Palin, a woman singularly unqualified to do anything useful except quit stuff, would do well with evangelicals.
Abortion? Clinton has been pretty steadfast about her position on this. For as long as she’s been in the public eye, she’s supported a woman’s right to choose.
Perhaps evangelicals are hoping for the Trump who told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that women who have abortions should be punished somehow, and not the guy who’s equivocated on the issue.
My guess is that evangelicals don’t have the candidate they want. There’s no Ted Cruz or Scott Walker. So they’re sticking with this guy because…
Well, because, he’s white (sort of, probably underneath all the orange makeup) and is willing to say what it takes to get their vote.
If you don’t think that’s a factor with these people, consider this: their idea of a villain in American politics is a guy who quotes Scripture and is devoted to his family. His crime is being the first black president.
And don’t tell me this has to do with honesty, especially regarding Clinton’s e-mail problems, which at least she admits are a mistake.
If the Trump University scam isn’t a sin against humanity, I’m not sure what is. And how does Trump get away becoming the first presidential candidate since Richard Nixon not to reveal his tax returns?
6. It would be wrong to paint white evangelicals with a broad brush.
I know some who use their time and money to help the poor, spend precious vacation time tend to sick people and attempt understanding with people who are not like them. They following in the footsteps of their lord and savior. I have all the respect in the world with those folks, even if we disagree on things.
7. But the solid white evangelical support for Trump is sordid.
It’s a reminder of eight years ago, when people who say they believe in abstinence – and not birth control – is the only way for young women to avoid pregnancy roared when Sarah Palin’s with-child daughter and her coincidental boyfriend showed up at the Republican convention.
I don’t think their political positions have anything to do with religion. I think they have to do with being white, and forgetting the part of Christianity about being your brother’s keeper.
They’re voting for Trump because he appeals to their fears. Of Latinos. Of Muslims. Of African-Americans. Of women like Hillary Clinton who think for themselves. Of homosexuals. Of Jewish people. Of kids going off on their own and discovering the wonders of the world. Of some mysterious force that wants to take away what they have and force them to eat kale and quinoa instead of pork and corn.
Their ministers have either been ineffective or casual with those parts of the gospel that deal with others in need. Or that deal with kindness.
They all claim to abide by God’s word. They forget this part:
Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.