Trump’s Supporters Remind Me of Fundamentalist Christians

Let me explain. I am not suggesting that Donald Trump is the ideal presidential candidate for the majority of fundamentalists. Rather, I now see a correlation between the tightly held beliefs of fundamentalist Christians and how Trump’s supporters developed their seemingly unshakable allegiance to him.

I know this may not be a popular post as it discusses my views on religious beliefs to which I do not subscribe. I do have religious beliefs, just not fundamentalist Christian ones. I, in fact, enjoy respectful discussions of politics and religion – those two taboo subjects that we’re supposed to avoid in polite company. My opinion of fundamentalists, however, has not been a favorable one for most of my adult life. In this country, the church representatives who most frequently and publicly condemn people with whom they do not agree seem to be fundamentalists Christians.

In my last post, I pointed out that Donald Trump is the ideal candidate for those who believe the one-sided message supplied by conservative news programming which highlights the most negative aspect of any issue so that blame and derision can be placed on the president (economy, debt, government inaction, not riding a horse topless like Putin, etc.). That conviction is similar to the way religious beliefs are nurtured and reinforced. When you grow up in a faith community which teaches that the bible is the inerrant Word of God, discourages and conducts interventions in response to opposing opinions, and will publicly condemn those with differing views, you have a one-sided stream of information. Whether you’re a believer from the beginning or become Born Again during a pivotal event later in life, you’re wholly committed to the fundamentalist – or Trump – cause.

I was surprised when Ben Carson voiced his opinion that the pyramids were built to store grain instead of their well documented actual use as burial monuments. I think I know how he arrived at that belief though. In the Book of Genesis, the bible tells us that God sent Joseph a message in two dreams that there would be seven years of good harvests followed by seven years of drought. Joseph was put in charge of storing grain from the seven good years so Egypt would be able to weather the seven bad years. He needed to store that grain somewhere and the largest structures that remain from Ancient Egypt are the pyramids. For someone who believes that the bible is the inerrant Word of God – as I suspect Carson does – you would have to develop a reasonable scenario to explain the Genesis reading. Enough stored grain to feed the large Egyptian population for seven years would take up a lot of space – hence, the pyramid idea.

Biblical scholars recognize that there a lot discrepancies in the bible, and many are significant. A couple of examples. The Gospel according to John has Jesus die on Thursday (“the day of preparation”) while the other gospels have him die on Friday. The likely reason: the author of the John gospel wanted to stress that Jesus died to take way the sins of humanity. Therefore, he changed the story so Jesus died at the same time as the lambs were sacrificed (slaughtered) for the Passover meal. The phrase “Lamb of God” to describe Jesus comes only from this gospel. Note that lamb’s blood on the doorframe of a Jewish home saved a Jew’s life on the night God killed all the first-born sons in Egypt to punish the pharaoh for keeping the Jewish people in slavery.

Another example: It is likely that the Jesus birth narratives in Matthew and Luke were added to the gospels at a later time by different authors because the fact that Jesus was born in Bethlehem – the exact place where the Book of Micah predicts the Messiah would be born – is never mentioned again in those gospels. Jesus is always referred to as a Galilean. The birth stories differ in so many ways, in fact, that they can’t both be historically accurate. Where would you go if a census required you to return to the home of your ancestor from 1,000 years ago? Also, there’s no Ancient Roman record of such a census, and very good Roman records exist. (There was a smaller census in a different region which did not require travel that occurred about 10 years after Jesus’ birth. The Luke birth narrative author was probably writing 80-100 years later and used that vague knowledge to place Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem.”

These and many other discrepancies have been known since the mid to late nineteenth century and have been taught in non-fundamentalist divinity schools for many decades. This knowledge is not a obstacle to faith if you believe the bible contains ancient symbolic, poetic, and allegorical messages in addition to some historic facts about Jesus’ life and ministry.

Fundamentalist Christianity, however, grew out of the Reformation method of reading the bible as the inerrant Word of God. When eighteenth and nineteenth century archeological discoveries did not support the Tanakh’s (the Christian Old Testament) description of Judah’s power and reach, many Christians rebelled against the scientific evidence. There was also rebellion against publications such as Darwin’s Origin of the Species and The Descent of Man. From the 1870s a series of Evangelical conferences reinforced a mood of resistance to Darwin’s views and the belief that the bible was not the inerrant Word of God. Between 1910 and 1915, twelve volumes of essays – entitled The Fundamentals – were published in the U.S., and in 1919 the World’s Christian Fundamentals Organization was founded.

So fundamentalist Christianity grew out of a choice to disregard scientific evidence and theological teachings in which the bible stories are considered symbolic or poetic rather than historic. I believe this fundamentalist origin – which may best be described as rejecting experts whose views and findings are not supported by the bible when read literally – has remained a core belief and still directs fundamentalist Christian public and private policy.

The public policy is pretty easy to find. The literally read bible says homosexuality is not allowed, so it’s not allowed. Period. The bible says slavery is allowed, so in the past, the bible was used to show that it was God’s will for people to own other people. The bible still says slavery is allowed, of course, but we just don’t discuss that anymore, let alone that the prescribed penalty for a disobedient son or for wearing clothing of mixed fabrics is death.

The private policy is a little harder to narrow down, but in general, experts and outsiders are not to be trusted, and generalizations may be used to reinforce the point. One example may help show what I mean. On my daughter’s first day as a chemical engineering intern at a plant in rural Tennessee, an hourly plant worker said to her, “You’re from the North. How many abortions have you had?” In other words, this man has been taught in his church and community that Northerners are immoral and not to be trusted.

Okay, so back to Donald Trump’s supporters. They were raised, so to speak, on a diet of one-sided conservative information so they would feel that democrats were the problem. The framers of that argument, however, overshot their target (the democrats) and for Trump supporters, no insider should be trusted or believed. Consequently, the only logical choice is to support the candidate who is the most outsider, and you should not believe information from anyone who is remotely associated with the political establishment or the media (Don’t trust the “Experts”).

If I did my job right, you should be able to see the correlation between Donald Trump’s supporters and fundamentalist Christians. And you can trust me – I’m an outsider. I’ve never run for political office and only started blogging about this stuff a month ago.

About tonyj126

I'm a 50+ married man who always seems to have a large backlog of work to do, but also a lot of flexibility in my schedule. Much of the work I do is volunteer or taking care of extended family members. I suffer from, as my priest calls it, "the sin of self-sufficiency," which means I can figure out how to do most things myself, and consequently, reduce the need for community to solve problems. As a logical extention (at least to me), I find myself called to comtemplate the country's and the world's woes and offer my observations. I hope someone out there will find them useful.
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