Thursday, August 24, 2017

Resisting Trump Means Resisting God

Jim Bakker is rapidly turning himself into the new Pat Robertson, at least here on Augoeides. This is the second post this week that involves the evangelist and bad potato soup entrepreneur. Recently Bakker interviewed Paula White, a prosperity gospel preacher (and accused heretic) who is thought to be President Donald Trump's spiritual adviser. True to that characterization, White explained that "to resist Trump is to resist the hand of God" and argued that the president is a devout Christian who surrounds himself with Christians. Given Trump's character, personality, and history, the former has always struck me as especially dubious. While Trump has surrounded himself with evangelicals like Vice President Mike Pence, there's no evidence that he's ever been particularly religious.

This week, as Trump faced sustained criticism over his response to the violent white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, she proved her loyalty once more, appearing on the Jim Bakker Show to defend Trump’s presidency and his spiritual bona fides in apocalyptic terms. While White has condemned white supremacy as evil and has a racially mixed fan base, she didn't mention Trump’s equivocations that have roiled the nation. Instead, she made an extended comparison of the president to the biblical figure Esther on Bakker's show Monday, in an interview that at times sounded more like an impassioned sermon. Like Esther, White said, Trump is a come-from-nowhere figure elevated to leadership against all odds in order to do God’s will. She described Trump as a generous, humble man of “character and integrity” and vouched repeatedly for the state of his soul. “He surrounds himself with Christians, and he is a Christian,” she told Bakker, about a man who’s been widely reported as being irreligious for most of his life, prompting applause from the studio audience. “He loves prayer.”

White didn't need to convince Bakker's audience that a flawed man can be redeemed to do the Lord's work; the Bakker himself went through a high-profile sex scandal in the 1980s and later spent time in jail for mail and wire fraud before returning to ministry. White's case for Trump’s divine mission was based not on his character, but on the future of the Supreme Court and other judicial appointments. To White, Trump is doing exactly what conservative Christians elected him to do. She called the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court a “miracle” and spoke fervently about future court appointments. “We’ve got 130 vacancies in the lower courts, and he is appointing exactly what we asked for. ... We wanted originalists; we want constitutionalists,” she said. “Right now, we’re scaring the literal hell out of demonic spirits by me saying this right now,” she added, indicating she sensed her words were summoning opposition from dark forces.

Because demons hate the Federalist Society? Seriously? There's absolutely nothing spiritual about one particular interpretation of the Constitution, as much as the bizarro world that fundies live in would like there to be such a thing. Viewing political debates in general as battles between good and evil is highly problematic, especially the way these folks do it. They act as if the only issues that matter are abortion (which is not treated the same as murder under Old Testament law) and homosexuality (which Jesus said nothing about), and at the same time agitate for less financial regulations so that the rich can screw the poor even harder (which Jesus had a lot to say about).

So not only does literal demonization contribute to figurative demonization, it's flat-out stupid if you look at the actual Bible. I also will add that in the case of same-sex marriage, it's as if these folks think that secular legality has anything to do with sinfulness. Presumably, couples entering into same-sex marriages don't believe it's wrong, and their beliefs need to be respected just as much as everyone else's. And thanks to the separation of church and state, churches are never going to be forced to perform same-sex marriages, period, if it's against their theology - which, by the way, could change if the fundies succeed in taking down that wall of separation in order to become some sort of state church.

One more big takeaway from Jones' rant about how opposing Trump is opposing God is that my new novel Trump Card - which, by the way, is terrific - must be especially sinful since it devotes a great deal of time to mocking the president and occultists who (in my opinion stupidly) support him. And you know what? I can totally live with that.

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