White evangelicals still view support for Trump as ‘spiritual warfare’ against the ‘demonic forces’ pushing for his impeachment
Although President Donald Trump has plenty of critics in Christianity — some Catholics, some Mainline Protestants — he is still quite popular among far-right white evangelical fundamentalists. So when Mark Galli, the retiring editor-in-chief of the evangelical Christianity Today, wrote a scathing anti-Trump op-ed last week, many of Trump’s white evangelical supporters were furious — including Franklin Graham, son of the late Christianity Today founder Billy Graham. And journalist Ed Kilgore, in a December 23 article for New York Magazine, stresses that Trump’s critics shouldn’t think white evangelical support for him is softening — they still view Trump as their champion.
White evangelical support for Trump, Kilgore observes, goes beyond Trump putting so many far-right judges on the federal judiciary: as they see it, fighting Trump’s impeachment and getting him reelected in 2020 is a form of spiritual warfare.
“Many Christian Right leaders and members of their flocks view political battles involving Trump as spiritual warfare between holy and demonic forces, with the crude, self-idolizing and heathenish POTUS treated as unquestionably the champion of the Prince of Peace,” Kilgore explains.
Kilgore points to a December 19 article by Sarah Posner for Type Investigations as having some of the best reporting in recent days on the amount of unwavering support Trump still enjoys among far-right white evangelicals.
Posner reported, “Trump’s evangelical base is a sprawling, interconnected network of political advocacy groups, megachurches, White House advisers, televangelists and prayer warriors. It also includes a formidable, data-driven get-out-the-vote operation.”
Posner’s article cites some of the well-known Christian Right extremists who remain committed to helping Trump win a second term in 2020, and they range from the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Ralph Reed to the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins. Another is Jim Bakker.
According to Posner, “Inside this ecosystem, impeachment is, at best, a partisan sideshow concocted by Democrats to distract the public from Trump’s many important accomplishments. At worst, it is a satanic scheme to upend God’s plan for America — which was to install Trump in office in order to ensure the nation is governed by Christians who espouse ‘biblical’ values.”
One of Trump’s top allies in his Christian Right outreach, Kilgore observes, is Florida-based evangelist Paula White — who preaches an ideology called the Prosperity Gospel. In contrast to all the Catholics and Mainline Protestants who equate greed, materialism and avarice with sinfulness, the Prosperity Gospel associates a fat bank account with being a good Christian and poverty with moral failings. So when Republicans go out of their way to hurt the poor, proponents of the Prosperity Gospel see that as righteous Christian behavior.
Kilgore warns, “No, these people are not going to abandon Donald Trump. They are now so complicit in his presidency that to question him is to condemn themselves to a judgement too terrible to contemplate.”