Trump and Cruz Battle for Evangelical Hearts | Boston Review

…[T]he polls are not so hard to make sense of if we recognize that evangelicals are motivated by more than emulating the virtues of Christ. Many, if not most, are also motivated by fighting the evils of Satan. While Cruz may better understand the doctrinal origins of that conflict, the two men locate the forces of evil in some of the same terrestrial enemies—their logics may be different, but they are pushing the same fight.

…[I]f you share Cruz’s spiritual convictions, there is nothing wrong with Trump’s material ones. Both pursue the same ends: the destruction of God’s rivals on earth. Trump’s catnip—his addictive blend of optimism and anger, his bluster, his imperious outsiderness, his speaking truth to power (or power to truth, as the case may be)—isn’t made only for evangelical Christians, but there is no reason it can’t appeal to them.

From: Trump and Cruz Battle for Evangelical Hearts | Boston Review

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19 thoughts on “Trump and Cruz Battle for Evangelical Hearts | Boston Review

  1. Destroying God’s rivals on earth and spiritual warfare…..oh i can’t see how those shouldn’t make my blood run cold.

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    • Social media and the internet make it worse.

      The key to this sort of thing has always been the belief that a vast, silent majority stands behind you. Very, very, very few people are willing to go for broke if they don’t believe this.Real martyrs are rare, but people willing to stand up secretly believing most people will be applauding?

      Those are a dime a dozen.

      And in the age of social media, you can surround yourself with a veritable sea of people who think like you — and thus it’s far, far easier to support the “silent majority” is behind you.

      The Oregon militia folks? I have no doubt they believed there was a mass of fellow travelers behind them, willing to come to their aid. Those “million man marches” on Washington that peter out at 10,000 people? They all believe there would be a million people there, at least.

      It’s so very, very easy to get into the bubble these days. And that means extremists are going to act more often, because it’s so much easier for them to think “Everyone really agrees with me, I’ll be the hero for standing up” and not “I’ll be ostracized, ignored, and on my own”.

      300 million Americans. No matter what you believe, you can probably find at least 30,000 people who share it. And most of them will be on the internet. :)

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      • Political active Evangelical Christians are a far bigger bloc than the assorted militia types, like the Bundy’s or the Weavers. As a bloc, they’re of course not a majority, moral or otherwise, but they are larger than the bloc of African Americans, and thus it makes them king/queenmakers in their own way.

        Their networks also precede the internet by many years, taking off in televangelical ministries, & sub 92 MHz non-profit radio. Social media is not nearly as a force among this group as other parallel groups – Ben Carson’s rise and fall was all direct mail fundraising.

        The seam that Trump is exploiting is the one between what passes for middle and upper middle class bourgeois in ex-urban America (who are now on Cruz control) and the younger (and older) cadre in those same regions who don’t have an ‘ownership’ stake in their economic lives of any significance.

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        • Sure, but even politically active evangelicals splinter up pretty quick. They’re currently mostly an anti-abortion alliance punctuated with deep-seated fear of change, which is pretty good glue.

          But even then, the numbers fall rapidly as you start adding on the extreme elements — getting rid of abortion with no exception for mother’s life, for instance. Slapping together basically theological bills, for another.

          And all of them, no matter how far out on the bleeding edge, like to claim the whole mass of them is behind them. Because all the people they know think like that.

          Which is where…mistakes happen. Massive blowback, that sort of thing.

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  2. There’s something about that headline that makes me imagine Trump and Cruz in full Thuggee garb and headdress, tearing out the hearts of evangelicals while Indy watches helplessly.

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    • To be fair, if you’re not of the school that believes Satan is a sentient individual rather than a name attached to evil (a divide among certain sects that you’d probly call “Evangelical”), you’d rest more inclusively on “what he opposes,” rather than on “whom he hates,” especially since the latter drifts also to the infectious presumption that the whom hated is not Satan, but particular persons in league with Satan – which for many Christians, not just Evangelical Protestants – is among the very worst of errors, as per the common instruction “not to hate the sinner, but the sin.”

      In another of a raft of recent articles trying to get at this problem, one I almost Linkaged, but judged a bit redundant (similar also Dreher’s much-discussed take), Tucker Carlson put the same thought, on why the religious will take Trump despite his obvious irreligiousness, quite well:

      You read surveys that indicate the majority of Christian conservatives support Trump, and then you see the video: Trump on stage with pastors, looking pained as they pray over him, misidentifying key books in the New Testament, and in general doing a ludicrous imitation of a faithful Christian, the least holy roller ever. You wonder as you watch this: How could they be that dumb? He’s so obviously faking it.

      They know that already. I doubt there are many Christian voters who think Trump could recite the Nicene Creed, or even identify it. Evangelicals have given up trying to elect one of their own. What they’re looking for is a bodyguard, someone to shield them from mounting (and real) threats to their freedom of speech and worship. Trump fits that role nicely, better in fact than many church-going Republicans. For eight years, there was a born-again in the White House. How’d that work out for Christians, here and in Iraq?

      http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/01/donald-trump-is-shocking-vulgar-and-right-213572#ixzz3yfH8Oqau

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      • Right- he’s what used to be called a “cultural Christian”. I suppose evangelicals can decide for themselves if they prefer a non-believing cultural Christian who might get elected to a believer who won’t. I can’t honestly say which I’d prefer if I was in that position.

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      • What they’re looking for is a bodyguard, someone to shield them from mounting (and real) threats to their freedom of speech and worship

        Those real threats being?

        I mean I know what threats they think they’re facing, but I’m curious what the “real” ones are supposed to be.

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        • Morat20: I mean I know what threats they think they’re facing, but I’m curious what the “real” ones are supposed to be.

          You’d have to ask Tucker Carlson, I guess. I took him to be referring to items of the sort that Rod Dreher collects. If you’ve already decided that they’re not “real,” I’m not sure how I can help you out here.

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        • There are real threats and the faux real threats.
          Faux Real Threats:
          -Churches being forced to marry homosexuals (Hello 2nd ammendment).
          -Churches being forced to change doctrine vis a vis homosexuals/trans etc (Hello again 2nd ammendment).
          -Brandon Eich scenarios (yeah Business is gay friendly now but not that crazy Gay friendly. Eich set himself up and the gay thing was just the last straw.)
          -Religious people being forced to serve gays in their private businesses (mostly trumped up and seems to be fizzling out happily)

          Real “threats”
          -Churches being forced to employ gays/trans (Much more murky)
          -Churches being forced to employ gays/trans/non-doctrinally compliant people in their less directly religious activities- like charity organizations (problematic)
          -Religious property losing their tax exempt status (there’s a movement for it, just a really small weak one but it’s real)

          Genuine Problems
          -Religious schools being forced to accomidate gays/trans/non-doctrinally compliant people as employees or in their student body.
          -Religious schools losing accreditation due to same issues.

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