The Evangelical Intelligentsia (EI) has clearly thrown support behind the non-evangelical candidate in the Republican primary, Marco Rubio. In the collapse of Jeb Bush’s candidacy, the EI has followed suit of the GOP establishment about moved on to back the younger Floridian. The EI is tied so tightly to the GOP establishment, keep in mind, that it was only their two candidates – Bush and Rubio – that were invited to speak at the SBC pastor’s conference with Russell Moore (source link). That Rubio is not a born-again Christian and is a stalwart Roman Catholic seems not to matter to the EI, and that a few years ago (when the presidency became his goal) Rubio started attending an evangelical church once in a while seems to suffice as close enough to Christian for many.
As we’ve repeatedly reported (so much so, I’m sure you’re bored to death with it), the EI’s love affair with the RINIO Roman Catholic stems from the highly ecumenical nature of the EI, the fact that they would never support the most conservative candidate in any contest in order to keep their intelligentsia street-cred, and that Rubio was politically savvy enough to score EI sweetheart and Manhattan Declaration director, Eric Teetsel, for his campaign staff (source link). That move alone put Rubio in the hip pocket of both Russell Moore in the ERLC and The “Gospel” Coalition. Since then, it’s been a constant stream of glad-handing between Teestel, Moore, and other members of the EI promoting the Catholic candidate.
Because Russell Moore and the EI don’t want to be in a position to technically endorse a candidate (**wink wink**), they also resort to attacking that candidate’s chief challenger. In this case, it’s Donald Trump. And the evangelical attack on Donald Trump has been downright monumental. If I was Trump, I would be contacting the IRS and having them look into the ERLC’s tax exemption. And if Trump wins the presidency, I would find it hard to believe that wouldn’t be on his list of things to do.
As intended, the EI’s contempt for Donald Trump has trickled down to more impressionable and less-thoughtful members of the rank-and-file. I saw their game plan work earlier this week in a post at SBC Voices by The Company Man™, entitled An Open Letter to the GOP: I Will Not Vote for Donald Trump – EVER! On a personal note, I like The Company Man™‘s all-caps EVER and the exclamation point in the title. It makes the GOP realize he’s really, really serious.
The Company Man™, of course, is precisely the type of guy the EI needs to get their job done. They need folks who prefer to be told what to think and who kind of enjoy being worked up into a frenzy. In that post, the small church blogger explains how Republican he’s always been, but how a nomination of Donald Trump would cause him to leave the Grand Old Party. Nominating Trump, it seems, would be what crosses his line in the sand. Trump’s nomination would indicate, according to The Company Man™, that the GOP doesn’t share his “values.”
That post and many more like them from evangelicals is precisely want the EI – some of whom are on the actual payroll of Marco Rubio (literally) – want. They want a mirage of multitudes of angry and ordinarily-faithful GOP-supporters who won’t stand for a Trump nomination. Like the post at SBC Voices above, they bring out a laundry list of things they don’t like about the braggadocious billionaire…
- Trump is disrespectful to women
- Trump is a “racist” because he has said insensitive things about minorities
- Trump is playing on our fears when it comes to the border and immigration policy
- Trump has a big ego
I have no need to defend Donald Trump on anything. He’s not my candidate of choice and never has been. I had a Cruz-for-President bumpersticker (specially made) on my pickup shortly after he won his Senate seat. While the EI is convinced Trump is too conservative, accusing him of everything from fascism to racism to misogyny, I’m not convinced his conservatism is even real because it’s so new. So then, this is not a defense for Donald Trump regarding any of those things.
But here’s what I have to say to evangelicals throwing a hissy about Donald Trump, from Russell Moore to The Company Man™ and beyond…
Where were you when the GOP ran the Mormon for president, Mr Outraged Evangelical? That’s right – you endorsed him. I mean, the guy thought that Jesus and Satan were brothers. He thought God was a man who achieved Godhood and that he will one day be a god. Seriously. But you were fine with that? Furthermore, Romney was unashamedly pro-choice when he ran for senate against Ted Kennedy in 1994 (source link). That guy was a political chameleon. Oh, but you’re outraged now?
What, but Romney never said insulting things to women? So that doesn’t cross your ironclad line of values, then. You’re fine with a cultist being president, but you won’t vote for Trump because he’s impolite? Give me a break.
When did “niceness” become an essential characteristic of evangelicalism? Remember back when speaking truth was characteristic of evangelicalism? It’s not really that other politicians don’t think what Trump is thinking (unless you’re naive). It’s that they don’t say what they’re thinking and Trump does. What’s different between Trump’s rhetoric and any other candidate on stage is one of decorum, not content. But apparently Trump has repeatedly violated the 11th Commandment of Thou Shalt Hold to Decorum or Thou Shalt Not Say Unpleasant Things.
The Evangelical Intelligentsia has a polished veneer consisting of dainty, manicured little men in expensive suits who are obnoxiously pleasant and have immaculately whitened teeth with a few darker-toned colleagues thrown in to show they’re not racist. They work very hard at being pleasant and likable. Every word they say or write is carefully chosen and put through a likability filter and doused on the other end with sprinkles of nuance and whimsy. They bristle at the brutal honesty of the evangelical proletariat, and we embarrass them. And if we’ll just shut up, they tell us, they can get the world to like us again. The last thing they want is someone who is the exact polar opposite of them – someone who says what’s in their head and doesn’t give a flaming care about what people think about – to be the Republican nominee. And if he is the Republican nominee, the EI want to go to the Huffington Post and decry him because they’re way too enlightened and polished to promote such an ogre to the presidency.
As someone who is not voting for Donald Trump in the primary, I’ll tell you why people like Donald Trump. He doesn’t care. He doesn’t care what Hollywood celebs think. He doesn’t care what Beltway career politicians think. He doesn’t care what Russell Moore thinks. He doesn’t care what journalists think. He doesn’t care what CNN or MSNBC or even FOX thinks. I kind of get the impression he doesn’t care what the crowds he speaks to think. If he doesn’t win the presidency, he’ll go back to being rich and famous. Frankly, that’s a breath of fresh air. For 30 years, everyone in America has been walking on politically correct egg shells. We’ve all been hunkered down in fear of being called what evangelicals are calling Trump – racist, misogynist, jingoistic, bigoted, egotistical, self-centered. We all want to vote for a guy who doesn’t care. Trump is almost guaranteed to bring the “change” we’ve been hearing about every four years. The only question is if it’s good change. But for many voters, any change is good change.
Finally, and this doesn’t pertain to all evangelicals, but to Southern Baptists like The Company Man…
You clown-hats nominated and voted for Ronnie Floyd as president of your denomination…twice. The president of YOUR convention shoots confetti out of cannons attached to his baptistry (source link). Your president’s church is one of incredible cultural filth (source link). Your president had his church do the Harlem Shake (source link). Your president just spoke at a charismatic cult and affirmed them in their heresies (source link). And what? No article entitled, “Open Letter to the SBC: I Will Not Vote for Ronnie Floyd! EVER!“?
Dude, take the speck out of your eye. Your own denomination has its ethics guru encouraging us to attend to gay wedding celebrations and its research fellows (source link) saying that calling abortion murder is unchristlike (source link). Do those accord with your values, Mr Outraged Evangelical? Take care of your own business, maybe, and practice some self-awareness before you get all ultimatum-y on the GOP.
Russell Moore could spend his entire workweek – every week – only addressing the ethical problems in the Southern Baptist Convention. But instead, we like pointing fingers outwardly. Here are a few inconvenient facts for you, Mr Outraged Evangelical.
- Evangelical Intelligentsia outrage toward Hillary Clinton isn’t 1/100th that it is toward Donald Trump. I don’t care how you explain that; it’s messed up.
- I haven’t heard Russell Moore criticize any Democratic candidates. I’ve only heard him criticize Republican ones (chiefly, Trump and Cruz – the conservative ones). Keep in mind that Moore had a career as a Democratic staffer (source link). It seems that he’s still behaving like one.
- Many evangelicals are outraged that Trump seems like a fake evangelical (which is a perfectly reasonable deduction). But why were they not outraged whn the GOP ran a real cultist? Is one really that much better than the other? Is sincerely holding to wrong beliefs better than insincerely holding to right beliefs?
First, the outrage toward Trump in evangelical circles is fabricated outrage. It’s pushed in an agenda of the Evangelical Intelligentsia in order to assist their chosen candidate. In short – it’s politics. Secondly, the outrage toward Trump is hypocritical outrage. Those saying nothing about their own denominational president’s inanity throwing a hissy over a candidate in the civil realm is cart-before-the-horse type stuff.
As an evangelical who does not support Trump in the primary election, would I vote for him in the general election? Well, if those quips about Rosie O’Donnell keep coming I’ll be hard-pressed not to.
[Contributed by JD Hall]