Trump's Evangelical Court Prophets: Discussion of Their Refusal to Criticize Him Now Widespread
19 August 2017 | 6:56 pm

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The refusal of Trump's court-prophet evangelical preachers to renounce their role as faith advisors to the president (there is no formal advisory board), as CEOs shut down their advisory council in disgust with his Charlottesville remarks is gaining wider and wider attention:


Charles Pierce at Esquire:

Right now, the president* is wandering through American political life wearing a bell to warn people of his approach. But you know who's hanging in there? 
His preachers.


As Mark Silk suggests at Religion News Service, the reason there hasn't been a blow-up between Trump and his white evangelical court prophets after his disgraceful comments about Charlottesville is that they're telling him what he likes to hear, and are determined to stand — a phrase I'm echoing from NPR's discussion of this issue.

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Matthew Sheffield at Salon

Is anyone surprised that the Religious Right has been a stronger defender of Trump than his CEO councils?

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Jack Jenkins for Think Progress: As President Donald Trump struggles to manage the firestorm of criticism over his controversial remarks on white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, conservative faith leaders are sticking by his side — although his recent comments defending Confederate statues may be testing some of them.

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As Jack Jenkins reports, one solitary member of Trump's evangelical advisory group has walked away — the one most likely to walk away: A. R. Bernard, an African-American megachurch pastor who has taken relatively a moderate (for evangelicals) stand on same-sex marriage. Jenkins also notes that Bernard's decision to walk away is provoking a backlash of belligerence among other court prophets advising Trump.

White, Male, Heterosexual or Heterosexual Posturing — and Privileged to the Nth Degree: What Charlottesville Marchers Had in Common
19 August 2017 | 6:04 pm

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As I watch video clips of and read articles about the young white men who made it their business to run to Charlottesville and march in a Nazi + Klan hate march, I'm struck by their sameness: same young white male faces, over and over again. Oh, I know, the features vary, the haircuts may be different. But these are an iteration of a type, over and over again: white, male, heterosexual or heterosexual-posturing.


And privileged to the nth degree, though they want to pretend to be victims. They claim that they have been muzzled, their free speech curbed, that people want to replace them, but they have quite obviously never faced any real oppression in their entire lives. Let any African-American male (or female), any woman at all, any LGBTQ person behave as they have chosen to behave in public, and there would be swift reprisals for all of those folks.

These men have seldom met any checks for their ugly bullying behavior, and that's one of the things that leaps out most strongly as I listen to them cry and complain now that people are circulating their photos and publicizing their attendance at a white supremacist hate rally — crying and complaining when they chose to appear in torchlight or broad daylight marching at a Nazi + Klan hate march, so those photos are easily accessible. 

Such oppression! Such persecution! Such hate! Our lives are ruined!

We didn't mean it! we were there for the lulz! We're moderate Republicans!

I'm struck by the inability of these privileged young white men to understand that adult choices have adult consequences. Why was this awareness not instilled in them when they were young? Who taught them to imagine themselves as little penis-endowed gods in white skin?

If we could get to the bottom of that question, we might begin to understand something that has gone radically awry in our society and begin to correct it.

+++++

Amanda Marcotte, "Is male fragility to blame for Charlottesville violence?"

I think the single greatest threat, and I’ll say to humanity, at the moment is male fragility, and men just not being able to process their feelings of insecurity, their feelings of anger. I mean, when men get mad, they lash out. 
You see it in school shootings. You see it in terrorist activity. 
Most of the solutions to problems, I think, are simple. You know, like kindness and empathy: The basic things that your mother teaches you. But I think if men could be more honest and reflective about what [makes] them feel insecure. . . . 
What they were chanting in Charlottesville: "You will not replace us." Who is trying? Who is trying to replace you? We’re just trying to make things more of an equal playing field for everyone. 
I think it's just the way that society raises them. Women are raised to have some concern about the way that they look, and they’re encouraged to be more sensitive. A lot of men aren’t.

As astute observers have repeatedly noted (see, e.g., Amanda Marcotte, "Weeping Nazi started off as a 'men's rights activist,' which is no huge surprise"), what hooks many of these young male extremists is the my-masculinity-is-threatened hook first of all. Once they're drawn in by all the faux news telling them that men are under assault and are in danger of being "replaced," they then almost always swallow the hooks of racism, anti-semitism, and homophobia. Hook, line, and sinker.

So much is grounded in the insecure sense of threatened masculinity, and the "right" of men who feel threatened to lash out against those they perceive as weaker and as the enemy — women, people of color, Jews, immigrants, LGBTQ folks, poor folks, etc. 

+++++

An interesting case that illustrates many of the points I'm making: the case of the man recently fired by Google after he circulated a memo far and wide claiming that women are biologically inferior to men (yes, that was the gist of his statement): just like the privileged, pampered young white men who marched through the streets of Charlottesville carrying tiki torches last weekend, James Damore has always enjoyed privilege — the privilege of white skin, male gender, and heterosexual orientation. For pampered, angry young white men who have always enjoyed privilege to claim that they have been discriminated against when women and LGBTQ people gain rights is the height of mendacity.

What has them so enraged is that they are no longer the cock of the walk simply because they were born with white skin, a penis, and a straight sexual orientation. They are determined to try to place people of color, women, and LGBTQ folks back into what they see as the proper places of these subordinated groups of human beings. And in Donald Trump, they recognize that they have an ally, so their anger is now going public.

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Here are some articles and video clips you may want to read/see, after you've read the preceding commentary: 

Allegra Kirkland, "White Nationalists Are Feeling The Squeeze After Charlottesville Backlash"

David Badash, "Watch: Student Who Attended White Supremacist Rally Says It's 'Disturbing' to See Such Hatred – Against Him"

David Ferguson, "'My life is over': 21-year-old Charlottesville marcher whines over 'outing' by anti-fascist group"

Kali Holloway, "5 White Supremacists Whining About How Unfair Things Are After Charlottesville"

David Ferguson, "'I’m terrified': Neo-Nazi blubbers like a baby in video reporting he’s wanted for arrest in Charlottesville"

At #EmptythePews, Evangelicals Speak Out About Choice to Leave Churches After Election of Donald Trump: Is There Parallel Catholic Discussion?
18 August 2017 | 3:00 pm



We don't live in 325, or 400, or 1200, or 1600.  We are living now, and Jesus is calling us to the work of the Kingdom now.  The things that were said and done in the past can be a resource and a guide for us, but the work is in the here and now.  We cannot hide from that work by taking refuge in the past.  The past will not save us, and it will not save anyone else. . . . 
White American Christianity has a horrible track-record on race. Christianity generally has a horrible track-record with regard to gender and LGBT issues. If we feel like we have to live with one foot in the past, we get into a position where we feel we have to "deal" with that reality. But our attempts to "deal" with that reality almost inevitably lead to paralysis, because there is no way for us to "deal" with these facts. The past consists of ghosts, and all of these attempts to "deal" with them just give them more power. The only solution is to move forward and focus on the world that we live in, the one Jesus is calling us to work with.  I can't change the fact that the Kingdom as expressed in previous eras did not do right by all sorts of folks, but I can work to make sure the Kingdom is doing right by those people now.   
That, to me, is what Jesus means by "let the dead bury their own dead."  
~ Michael Boyle, "Let the Dead Bury Their Own Dead"

Chris Stroop has created a Twitter hashtag for folks who are leaving or have left evangelical churches due to their churches' support of Trump. The hashtag, #EmptyThePews, is generating valuable discussion among that particular segment of the U.S. Christian community. Some samples:

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As I have noted here previously, though a poll done soon after the 2016 elections showed an astonishing 14 percent of respondents saying they had left their churches following those elections, I have seen very little discussion of or follow-through on these findings. Though some commentary at the time the poll was released suggested that those leaving their churches after the elections were both pro-Trump and anti-Trump, I strongly suspect that the latter predominate in those 14 percent. And that they have left churches that have allied themselves with and are supporting Donald Trump . . . . 

It's obvious why church leaders would not want to study the results of such a poll. It's perhaps less obvious why the media would not seek to pursue this discussion — except that the mainstream media have long given a pass to the churches when it comes to discussing frankly and honestly the deep racism of white Christians in the U.S., which is at the very foundation of the choice of a majority of white Christians in the U.S. to vote for Donald Trump in 2016. This topic is treated by the mainstream media as no news at all, and there's a direct line from the cover-up of honest discussion of this topic in the mainstream media to the fact that Trump won the White House with the support of the majority of U.S. white Christians.

After Chris set up the #EmptyThePews hashtag, I jokingly remarked on Twitter that perhaps someone should set up a similar hashtag to invite Catholics who have left Catholic parishes following the 2016 elections to offer similar testimony. I do know it's out there. A Catholic theologian friend of mine on Facebook shared a posting this past Sunday (among friends, so I am not linking it here) stating that he and his family got up and walked out of the homily in their parish in West Virginia, when — a day after the Charlottesville events! — the priest delivering it chose to focus on the friendship of Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II. Nary word about what had happened just down the road in Virginia the day before . . . .

And I shared the following tweet yesterday:

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This does not mean, of course, that either of these lay Catholics has now left the Catholic church. I know for a fact that my theologian friend on Facebook has not done so, and I am very glad he remains, living his witness to the Christian gospels and what it means to walk in Jesus' footsteps within the institution. 

I have also read on Twitter in the past week discussions between lay Catholics and a defiant priest  (white, or need I say this?) who has been tweeting support for Donald Trump, and defiant justification of his decision to vote for Trump. I myself responded to his defiant tweets about this — and do not want to provide a link to this discussion, because I don't want to give this character more publicity. 

I say that I was, in some sense, joking when posted my tweet about a Catholic discussion group on Twitter discussing Catholic disaffection from the church following the 2016 elections for the following reason: I seriously doubt that there has been a widespread walkout from Catholic parishes after the elections. My visceral sense is that most Catholics who intended to walk away from the church or from participation in it have done so by now due primarily to the abuse crisis and the shameful, morally shocking cover-up of that crisis by the hierarchy — and, in some cases, especially among younger Catholics, due to church leaders' unrelenting attacks on LGBTQ folks and women.

After Charlottesville, the best that the pastoral and lay leaders of the U.S. Catholic community have been willing to offer the church they lead — and this is absolutely typical — is the weak gruel of "a mix of encouraging, problematic, and inadequate" mumbles that ultimately mean nothing at all. Mumbles that stand nowhere except tacitly with Donald Trump and his odious white-supremacist base . . . . In contrast to the unambiguous words these pastoral and lay leaders wish to utter about the "real" moral issues confronting us now, contraception, same-sex marriage, and abortion . . . .

The Catholics who remain in the pews, the white Catholics quite specifically, the ones with institutional and financial clout and ownership in the U.S. Catholic church as an institution, a majority of whom voted for Donald Trump with the tacit and sometimes overt encouragement of the U.S. Catholic bishops: they're true believers. They're now true believers in the Republican party, the majority of them. Their religion is now totally melded to the Republican party, and it could advance a golden calf for the office of president, and they'd still — gladly, gleefully — pull the Republican lever.

Am I wrong to think this?

The graphic, based on Pew Research Center polling, is by Marcia Clemmitt at CQ Researcher.


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