The Evangelical Playboy

Exit polls show white evangelical voters voted in high numbers for Donald Trump, 80-16 percent, according to exit poll results. That’s the most they have voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 2004, when they overwhelmingly chose President George W. Bush by a margin of 78-21 percent.

So said the Washington Post on November 9.


That’s this guy. This is the choice of the most conservative Christians in America. These are the people responsible for the “abstinence only” curricula in the public schools in, just to pick one example, Texas. [1] That must mean that they think people should abstain from sex apart from marriage. And they voted overwhelmingly for Trump?

One of the standard rants among evangelical Christians includes how awful Hollywood is. Hollywood is perverting our values, is justifying immoral behavior, is—in particular—cheapening the value of marriage and family. How is it, exactly, that Playboy is not an integral part of the “Hollywood values” that Trump exemplifies better than any candidate of either party before him?  Ronald Reagan, by contrast, actually was from Hollywood, but he didn’t advocate or live a “Hollywood-style” life. Trump?  The evangelical choice?  Really?

A lot of evangelicals admitted that they were uncomfortable with “some aspects of Trump’s past.” They dealt with that in different ways. Some preached forgiveness, citing some crucial admonitions, complete with the bible verses that establish them.  But these admonitions, as general as they were, ought to have applied to Hillary as well.  For some reason, they did not.

Some relegated his obnoxious behavior [2] to his past—ignoring the fact that he continued to flaunt it in the present—or made it into a bad habit, like Uncle Irving, who chews with his mouth open.

I have not yet understood why the man himself was not a deal-breaker for conservative Christians. Apart from the politics with which the evangelicals have now saddled themselves, there is the question of their own ministry. There are a lot of radio and television evangelists among the conservative right. What will they do now with their sermons on the worldly lifestyle? Will they look right into the camera and wave their bibles and warn against “the sins of the flesh,” the sins on which President-elect Trump has built his empire?

When Jefferson wrote to the Baptist pastors about the “wall of separation” between religion and government, he believed that it would be bad for government, but disastrous for religion. [3] I think we are about to see if he was right.

[1] One of the best moments in Michael Moore’s otherwise sober film Where to Invade Next shows Texas Governor Rick Perry responding to a reporter who is pushing him on the very high rate of out of wedlock births in Texas. The reporter wondered how Gov. Perry could continue to support an “abstinence only” curriculum when its record was so dismal. Perry’s response was that abstinence works. He know that, he said, from personal experience.
[2] That’s not an editorial on my part. It was obnoxious to them, too.
[3] Letter to the Danbury Baptists, January 1, 1802

About hessd

Here is all you need to know to follow this blog. I am an old man and I love to think about why we say the things we do. I've taught at the elementary, secondary, collegiate, and doctoral levels. I don't think one is easier than another. They are hard in different ways. I have taught political science for a long time and have practiced politics in and around the Oregon Legislature. I don't think one is easier than another. They are hard in different ways. You'll be seeing a lot about my favorite topics here. There will be religious reflections (I'm a Christian) and political reflections (I'm a Democrat) and a good deal of whimsy. I'm a dilettante.
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