The Trump Effect

Have journalists figured out that religious celebrities don’t speak for the religious?

The evangelical left is preaching to its enrollment:

“I’m ready to admit we’re a group of leaders without followers,” said Ron Sider, Distinguished Professor of Theology, Holistic Ministry and Public Policy at Palmer Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. “But we will always have our seminary and college courses to make it feel like we’re preaching to a congregation of believers.”

How many Americans today see themselves as peace, Earth and neighbor-loving, and Jesus-following Christians, and as evangelicals?

“Beyond us?” Sider asked, motioning around the focus group of the lefty evangelicals convened by The Literalist. “Pretty sure it’s just us.”

“We’ve written more books about the Evangelical Left than there are actual progressive voters who self-identified as evangelical,” added Clinton spiritual advisor Tony Campolo. “We thought if we got covered in Religion News Service enough, people would follow. Turns out that didn’t work.”

Rusell Moore speaks more for himself than his convention:

During this election season, Moore has sometimes appeared out of place in his own denomination—a Trump detractor leading a church largely peopled by Trump supporters. But he seemed comfortable in this uncomfortable position, perhaps because he has learned to accept the limits of his ability to change the world, or even to understand it. Moore thinks that the idea of a moral majority is wrong, and was probably wrong when it was created: he suspects that earnest, orthodox Christians have always been outnumbered.

So what will journalists do when the pollsters stop canvassing voters? Take a cab cross town and chat with Tim Keller?

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18 thoughts on “The Trump Effect

  1. Kudos to the religious electorate who realized the limitation of their clergy and voted according to their hard earned sensibility. Kudos to the electorate who have had enough and didn’t let the fear mongers complete with apocalyptic scenarios manipulate them. Kudos to the electorate that still believes and limits the entertainer’s influence(editorial news personalities) to entertainment.

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  2. Sean, my dittos to your kudos.

    Tim Keller, Russell Moore, Thabiti Anyabwile, Tony Campolo, etc. aren’t your ol’ humble country preachers just seeking to preach, teach, and disciple the flock. They’re men with a Vision. Don’t expect to hear Sider or Campolo exegete Scripture anytime soon – they’re strictly into Social Gospel. Keller and his clones are busy Engaging The City with aspirations of Cultural Transformation and outreach to expensively educated young urban creatives in the arts, tech, and high finance. Thabiti is busy browbeating white Evangelicals for not genuflecting before BLM and voting for Trump. Russell Moore wants to refashion a new Religious Right to include Social Justice, Racial Justice, Economic Justice, Refugee Justice, etc.

    Journalists find Keller useful because they sense a kindred soul. He loves classical music, the arts, Broadway, gourmet food, Democrats – attributes not shared by Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, or John Hagee. But they know that he still believes in icky things like Heaven, Hell, and the Atonement. And Redeemer will never perform gay marriage ceremonies. They know that (to paraphrase Richard Dawkins) a fundie in a cheap tuxedo is still a fundie.

    Give me back my Ol’ Timey Religion, please.

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  3. Andrew,
    “…Your ol’ humble country preachers just seeking to preach, teach, and disciple the flock. ”
    I found these words of yours to be encouraging. I pray that if it would please God, He would enable me to be such a preacher.

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  4. ‘Gospel-centered politics.’ Gag. The over-reaching if well-meaning pontificating of these guys has gotten tiresome even as they do good work. Voting is a prudential judgment and not a Christian act. I know, Pietistic Me. Still… And how about the speaker/author headshots of the New Calvinists being eliminated across the board in keeping with Calvin’s being buried in an unmarked grave? A policy that can be implemented ASAP, or at least right after the next Gospel-centered Cruise to Great Ports of the Reformation.

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  5. Maybe this post could also have been titled “The Trump Affect” since The Donald’s ascendancy has provoked unprecedented levels of evangelical virtue signalling, snot slinging, and experiential-apocalyptic emoting.

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  6. mcmark, but hallowed be Lincoln’s name:

    I’d consider it a personal favor if Mr. Trump never referred to Lincoln again or repeated his words. As a historian and a lifelong Republican, anything that intentionally juxtaposes Abraham Lincoln and Donald Trump is just too painful. But beyond the personal discomfort that it causes, Mr. Trump needs to understand that quoting a past president doesn’t make him “presidential.”

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  7. Pollsters once again go through the charade of being so dead wrong and how they are going to change things, not a thing will change.

    And people will say they’ll never believe a poll again, then gleefully participate and heed the results one day later.

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  8. Welp, I wonder where the idea came from that actors, tv personalities(newscasters) are the smartest people in the room? It ranks right up there with the idea that politicians are brilliant and policy-wonks. I’m sure there are some outliers who warrant that consideration but by and large that’s not the norm. “Well, a lot of them are lawyers, Sean”(speaking of politicians and pundits/experts). Have you worked with a lot of lawyers in your time? Do you remember the poli-sci undergrads ‘working and studying’ to insure they maintained an adequately high GPA so they could clear that hurdle of being accepted to law school? I have and I do. They’re like doctors and mechanics, most aren’t worth the money and with most lawyers you end up doing the lion’s share of the grunt work if, in fact, you want to win your legal case. Still, because of that, when you find one that’s worth a darn you hold on for dear life. But even then, just like with most professionals, they have an expiration date and you need to be willing to let go and move on when they’ve exceeded their useful life, otherwise they’re likely to let you die or cause your demise. But, somehow, you think it’s a good bet to attach the credibility of the Christian profession to the ‘experts’ you see on TV or elected to office. Folks need to get out more and change the horizon of their ‘hopefulness’ to today, maybe next week, but beyond that, you don’t know what may happen and your ability to ‘chart your course’ for the next four years Is laughable. It may get you to sleep at night but it has little relevance to the reality. Most people can’t figure out how to transition well from night to morning and even less from day to evening but somehow one group of voters have completely disenfranchised the other group of voters for the next four years by their vote on Tuesday. There was never that much at stake in this election regardless of which candidate you chose.

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  9. Letme,

    Agreed. Politicians have very little power to effect change on the issues that actually tend to motivate right-wing and left-wing activists to place so much trust in the political process.

    Trump isn’t going to revive employment opportunities in rural Indiana because you can now build a car without about one-fifth the number of people as in the 1970s. And much of that work force is skilled labor. So, the unemployed meth-heads of my home state are likely to remain unemployed meth-heads.

    Nor is Trump going to move the dial on social issues in any meaningful sense. Clinton ran about 8-12 points ahead of Obama in urban and suburban areas. I live in a wealthy, suburban country in which Republicans outnumber Democrats by a 3-to-1 margin. There’s not a single county-wide officeholder who’s a Democrat Even so, Clinton beat Trump by a 54-to-40 margin here. Or take a look at North Carolina. Clinton crushed Trump in every major metropolitan center, including Forsyth County (Winston-Salem), which tends to lean to the GOP. She ran 7-10 points ahead of Obama in every urban and suburban area in the state. She lost the state because Trump ran 10-15 points better than Romney in heavily white rural areas. But private infringements on religious liberty are much more of an issue for white-collar professionals than public infringements. If you’re a white-collar evangelical who believes that the state should revoke your colleague’s same-sex marriage license, Trump’s election isn’t going to change anyone’s opinion about you around the office. In fact, the prospect of our experiencing some public retrenchment on LGBTQ rights actually increases the likelihood that we’ll see increased reverse discrimination in the private sphere.

    My primary concern in this election had to do with developing a smarter, more pragmatic foreign policy that gives us better bang for the buck and that eschews the idealism of the past few decades. Neither Trump nor Clinton were offering that. And if not looks at the crazies who appear to be guiding Trump’s decision-making (Flynn, Sessions, Giuliani), there’s plenty of reason to be concerned that our morbid (and utterly unnecessary) obsession with the Middle East is here to stay.

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  10. Letme, for some reason the media pushes us non-stop on the very general and unlettered opinions of people who are know for very specialized life work, like Noam Chomsky or Cher. They have nothing useful to provide on matters outside their work accomplishments.

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  11. Oh goody, because of work and study commitments I have the last 6 National Reviews to gloss over and chuckle with perfect hindsight on how Trump is totally unfit and a total nincompoop.

    The line to start grovelling and kissing his behind is well under way…

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  12. The Trump effect makes you forget Bush:

    Still, the complicity of evangelicals in their own politicization does nothing to mollify Marsh. It only intensifies his indignation. Evangelicals, in his view, have actively betrayed Jesus. An authentic commitment to Christ, he says, produces a “flowering of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control,” not passionate devotion to worldly power–and especially not a worldly power that blasphemously identifies itself with divinity, as Marsh contends Bush has done throughout his presidency.

    Consider Bush’s speech at Ellis Island on the first anniversary of the September 11 attacks. In his remarks, the president described the United States as the “hope of all mankind” and asserted that this “hope still lights our way. And the light shines in the darkness. And the darkness will not overcome it.” Marsh bristles at this passage, which alludes to the prologue to the Gospel of John but modifies its message in a crucially important respect. Whereas the New Testament describes God as the light that will not be overcome by the darkness that surrounds it, Bush ascribed divine agency to America. For Marsh, this substitution is unforgivable–nothing less than the idolatrous “identification of the United States with Christian revelation.”

    He who forgets indignity is condemned to repeat indignity.

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