On paper, Donald Trump and the Republicans are in a very perilous position. According to FiveThirtyEight, Trump’s average approval rating stands at 42.8 percent–the second-worst for a newly elected president on record at this stage of his presidency. All indications are that at the very least, the House is going Democratic. Most pundits are of the same mind as University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato, publisher of the famed “Crystal Ball.” Two weeks ago, he argued that any talk among Trump diehards of a “red wave” is wishful thinking. Watch here.
Sabato told MSNBC’s “MTP Daily” that the red wave “ain’t going to happen.” As he sees it, the real question is “how big the blue wave is.” Indeed, FiveThirtyEight gives the Democrats an 84 percent chance of taking the House, and projects Democratic gains to be mostly in the 35-45 seat range.
And yet, Trump is still standing–in large part because the religious right is still solidly in his corner. For the better part of three years, the nation’s so-called moral guardians have been working overtime to warn evangelicals against opposing Trump. Their explanation? God put Trump in the White House, and the devil is going all-out to keep him from not only making America great again, but making America Christian again.
Seen in this light, it should come as no surprise that a number of religious right figures have joined the Trump diehards in trying to paint the opposition to Trump as a nefarious plot orchestrated by liberal megadonor George Soros. In case you missed it, it’s more or less an article of faith among covfefe drinkers of all shades that those taking part in anti-Trump protests and other efforts to derail Trump’s agenda are being paid to do so by Soros.
Earlier this month, Charisma magazine, the nation’s largest Pentecostal/charismatic-oriented magazine waded into this swamp by openly wondering whether Soros was the Antichrist. The fact this article even appeared at all says a lot about the standards of Charisma’s founder and publisher, Steve Strang. By asking whether a wealthy Jewish man is somehow the Antichrist, Charisma sailed very close to the line of anti-Semitism.
On Wednesday, Strang took it upon himself to answer that question. Strang conceded that Soros wasn’t the Antichrist. However, he warned his readers that “it’s obvious he operates in the spirit of the Antichrist” as defined in 1 John 4:3.
And every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and is already in the world.
But Strang didn’t offer any extraordinary evidence to support this extraordinary claim. Rather, he peddled what has become standard right-wing shibboleth–Soros bankrolls “many of the attacks on conservative, biblical values,” and many of those taking part in the protests we’ve seen over the years “are paid to come and stir up trouble.” He claimed that while the protests look spontaneous, they are actually fueled by “billionaire radicals” like Soros.
Strang was speaking in code–one with which this charismatic/Pentecostal liberal is all too familiar. He’s effectively saying that those who oppose Trump are being played by the devil. He issued a similar warning and explanation last week, when he claimed that this country is in a “spiritual war” between left and right–and the demons are on the left.
But Strang wasn’t done. He wagged his finger at former Bush 43 speechwriter and prominent never-Trumper Michael Gerson for calling out the seeming hypocrisy of religious right leaders who “wink at Stormy Daniels and wink at misogyny and wink at nativism.” In response, Strang trotted out quotes from prominent religious right leaders like Tony Perkins, Robert Jeffress and Richard Land saying that they supported Trump solely because of his conservative agenda.
If the message wasn’t clearer earlier, it was crystal-clear now. The publisher of one of the leading ostensibly Christian publications in this country is asking us to ignore Trump’s outrages just because of all the winning. That same publisher is saying that if are concerned about the outrages coming from this White House on a daily basis, you’re probably on Soros’ payroll–and are thus being played by the Antichrist.
If there’s any difference at all between that mentality and the mentality that drives college sports fans who have no problem with winning at all costs, I don’t see it. When a collegiate program decides the rules don’t apply, it may result in a lot of wins. But without fail, whenever such programs get busted, the damage from any ensuing sanctions can hobble them for years to come.
Similarly, whatever good Trump may do in office is not worth the shame and disgrace that he brings to his office and this nation on a daily basis. The American people know this. That’s why Trump has struggled to get his approval ratings out of the 30s and low 40s for most of his tenure. If the publisher of a Christian magazine believes that’s the product of a demonic trick, then there’s no longer any doubt. Strang has turned Trump into a golden calf–or rather, an orange calf.
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