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Why it is Impossible to Have Meaningful Discussions with Evangelical Trump Supporters

trump holding bible

Recently, a friend of mine asked her Trump-supporting friends on Facebook to defend the violent clearing of protesters so the President — Bible in hand — could have a photo op in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church. My friend sincerely wanted to understand the thinking behind such support. (Please see Donald Trump’s Bible.)

Here’s the first response she received:

You’re assuming what you are seeing is the real story. Watch the documentary at outofshadows.org, research the 6 men that own 95% of the media outlets and explore their political alignments and NWO [New World Order] connections.

As Christians, we all know there is an enemy and he/they have a plan to create a New World Order/One World Government. It’s easy to spot who wants this simply look for their speeches. George Bush Sr., Bill Clinton, George Bush, Obama. They’ve all given speeches about the NWO. As Christians we serve God almighty, but do not be mistaken, the enemy has his servants as well in very powerful places. (Ephesians 6:12)

These riots have nothing to do with George Floyd. They have everything to do with Election 2020. If you believe otherwise, I’m sorry.

For 4 years, we’ve experienced Fake Russia Collusion, Impeachment for nothing, a Wuhan Biolab created coronavirus, and now Antifa riots all before the next election. It’s time for everyone to wake up.

What are we to do with such comments? How do you even begin to reach people who think like this? Or have they committed an unpardonable sin of sorts? This man is white, educated, and rich, so not your typical hillbilly with a sixth-grade education and a meth habit. How is it possible for someone to go so far down the proverbial rabbit hole that he loses all sense of reason?

Quite frankly, this kind of thinking scares the shit out me. Is it beyond the pale for these “patriots” to seek a “second amendment remedy,” especially if their demigod Donald Trump is not reelected? Will these Christians accept any electoral outcome except a Trump victory? What happens if Sleepy Joe — Trump’s pet name for Joe Biden — wins and the Democrats control both houses of Congress? Democrats will, most certainly, make swift work of undoing some of the damage inflicted by Trump and his lackeys. How will Evangelicals respond to these reversals?

Typically, I don’t talk politics on my personal Facebook account. In recent days, I have become so enraged over what I am seeing on the nightly news that I decided to make a couple posts about what was going on.

troops on the steps of lincoln memorial

Here’s what I wrote:

Never thought I’d see the day when a U.S. President would use active military personnel to wage war against the American people.

and

Military troops on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. This should sicken every thinking American. We see this in China and other dictatorships, not America.

My friends whom I have met through this blog generally supported my statements. Birds of a feather flock together, right? I was, however, quickly reminded of the fact that most of my friends don’t live in white rural northwest Ohio. Several local residents decided to respond to my posts. That they do so is quite strange since they never comment on anything of mine except the photographs I post from local high school sporting events. It became clear, to me anyway, that my posts hit a nerve. How dare I disparage their man with facts.

Here’s what one young 100% Trumper said:

Are you kidding me! Have you seen the city’s? [sic] It’s called LAW AND ORDER! Pretty crazy to see a Presidential candidate say he was going to DISARM America. You are worried about a President doing what he’s supposed to do, only because his name is Donald Trump. Shame on you!

I responded:

Not only do I watch the news, I grew up in the 1960s. I’ve seen a lot of history. Trump is a self-aggrandizing narcissist who only cares about his reelection. The only shame here is his behavior. You might want to educate yourself about the use of military troops on US soil. It is FORBIDDEN by law, except in dire circumstances— say, the Civil War. Trump did what he did in D.C. because Washington is not a state. It is the responsibility of the Park Rangers and D.C. police to protect government property. And even here, the militarization of the police is troubling. They’ve become soldiers instead of peacekeepers. Trump finally got his military parade. Too bad he trashed the law, Christianity, and the American people to get it.

I received no further comment from this man, save a link to a Federalist article. No discussion on the merits of my comment about the legality of Trump’s actions. Nada, zip, nothing.

This shouldn’t surprise me. I have spent most of my life living in rural Ohio — both in southeast and northwest Ohio. I know that politically I am viewed as a strange duck, a black duckling in the midst of white ducks. The same goes for my lack of religious faith. I love living in the sticks, but I am increasingly depressed by the intractable ignorance I see around me. I don’t want to come off sounding like a know-it-all liberal elitist, but damn, can’t anyone see what Trump is doing to our republic?

While campaigning for presient in 2016, Trump gleefully stated: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” I thought, at the time, that statements such as this one would surely derail Trump’s campaign. Four years later, I must admit Trump was right. When it comes to his Evangelical base — especially those who live in rural states — Trump seems to be coated with Teflon. Nothing sticks to him. Not his lies. Not his policies that harm rural voters. Not his callous indifference towards the death of over 105,000 American from COVID-19. As long as Trump gives the appearance of being Christian and pro-life, Evangelicals are going to vote for him.

Waiting for Evangelicals to have some sort of come-to-reason moment is a waste of time. It ain’t going to happen. And that, my friends, is downright depressing.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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7 Comments

  1. Avatar
    BJW

    It’s quite depressing. There are some people that aren’t fervent Trump lovers, but they are generally not even interested in politics. I have a friend who does love Trump, and she tried to goad me into an unwelcome political discussion. Needless to say, that friendship is hanging on a thread.

    I post stuff on public posts, hoping that I might reach someone with truth. People who come along and argue and don’t read the article, get their comments deleted. One woman told me I was stirring stuff up. Well, that earned her a permanent block. We will get through this, dammit, somehow.

  2. Avatar
    ObstacleChick

    What’s disturbing to me is seeing otherwise intelligent people who believe conspiracy theories. I have spent a lot of time reading about the psychology behind people believe outlandish things, but it doesn’t make it any easier to determine how to engage with them. Facts don’t matter to them; indeed, they are more likely to double down on their beliefs in the face of facts. And when you combine conspiracy theories with belief in supernatural beings behind everything, and I just can’t have a conversation with people like that. We come from too disparate mindsets.

  3. Avatar
    Diane

    Magical thinking, conspiracy theories, disregarding facts, makes life easier when you don’t have to think.

  4. Avatar
    Martijn Linssen

    Well, it shouldn’t come as a surprise, but it takes only one single requirement: you can’t treat it as politics – because it isn’t

    What you describe Bruce, the comments you receive, the way that dialogues (cough) unfold, that all reminds me of only one thing: religion

    Not religion in the sense of spiritually being interested in that one more thing that must seriously be out there, but Religion as a lifestyle, a culture, a habit, that what makes you a card carrying member of the club.
    There’s no reason to that, there’s only hearsay, make believe, and peerception (sic). You hear the majority opinion, you copy it, you echo it, you spread it. It doesn’t matter what it says and whether it makes sense, just do it. Anyone who likes what you do is a friend, others are the enemy

    Politics and religion aren’t that far apart really. In practice, both only divide and hardly ever unite. I’m quite sure your fellow people know much less about Trump than you do, but that’s not the point: the point is they are perfectly able to spread the message. That’s the goal, to be a good girl or boy

    I think

  5. Avatar
    Caroline

    I live in a state that has a significant rural population, like all of our states. I happen to live in the most progressive part of the state where there is definitely more money and where many more people have advanced degrees and higher education in general. I have a friend who has a cabin in the northern part of the state. She says it’s so weird to go there at the moment because they are absolutely sure that Covid 19 is a hoax and that their rights are being taken away if they are asked to wear a mask in a public place. There are also a much larger number of those small seriously evangelical churches in that part of the state. I think the difference between rural and not rural is the same everywhere. (Although there are definitely some crazies in our community too, but they’re less vocal because they know they’re the minority.) I feel like the answer is always education, education, and more education to teach people how to think for themselves and to discern what is credible and what isn’t. I would rather pay higher taxes and more in general to live than to live among so many whose beliefs and motives frankly scare me. I know everyone isn’t able to do that, and I know I am privileged. We don’t make lots of money, but sacrifice because it’s worth it to us. It’s the same reason I know I couldn’t live in any southern state. The constant religious undertones would drive me nuts.

  6. Avatar
    Reverend Greg

    When I was a conservative, I thought liberal Christianity was a threat. Now I realize it’s white evangelical Christianity that is the menace.

  7. Avatar
    Sharon Drosehn

    Bruce, your answer to the guy included telling him the law re use of the military. Now he and others who read your answer are more informed. So, take heart that your comment probably was an influence for the good.

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