Donald Trump is likely to leave office as the only president in the history of opinion polling to never reach a 50 percent approval rating. Indeed, he struggled to get his numbers out of the low 40s. So how was he able to hang on? A key reason was undoubtedly the religious right’s almost otherworldly loyalty to him.
For the better part of four years, dating from the time Trump locked up the Republican nomination, the nation’s so-called moral guardians embarked on an all-out campaign to bully the nation into bowing down to him. It certainly worked with white evangelicals. After all, Trump garnered the support of 81 percent of white evangelicals, and maintained approval ratings in the 70s for the better part of his tenure.
The obvious question–how could Trump’s support be that high, despite all of his outrages? Well, one of Trump’s most loyal evangelical foot soldiers might have inadvertently given us an answer. He warned an evangelical critic against speaking ill of Trump, and explained that opposing Trump is tantamount to opposing the Almighty himself.
For much of the week, the tubes have been abuzz about how Christian author and speaker Beth Moore upbraided her fellow believers for their slavish loyalty to Trump.
Moore’s words were aimed directly at the pastors and televangelists who have done everything short of making Trump a god–and bullied their followers into bowing down to him.
Although she made clear that we shouldn’t trade Trump worship for worship of Joe Biden, Moore’s tweetstorm caused one Trump-worshiping pastor to go into a conniption fit. Namely, Johnny Enlow, a prominent author and speaker in the New Apostolic Reformation, an overtly fascist offshoot of the religious right that believes it can bring about the Second Coming by taking over the world.
A number of Trump’s early religious right backers came from the NAR, as they saw him as a vehicle by which they could take over the “seven mountains,” or forces, that influence our culture–business, education, family, religion, entertainment, media, and government. In other words, we have a wannabe fascist propped up by actual fascists.
So it should come as no surprise that when Enlow learned about Moore’s tweetstorm, he hit the ceiling. In an open letter to Moore posted to his Facebook page, Enlow told Moore to consider the possibility that God was using Trump as “His key instrument for this time.” He then proceeded to warn Moore against questioning that possibility, and explained that in doing so, she was treading on dangerous ground.
Would it not be an egregious offense before Him for a leader in the Body of Christ such as yourself to not recognize that reality because of some personal wound, grudge, blindness or preference? And worse to then encourage other leaders towards similar mutiny equivalent?
To Enlow’s mind, Christians who oppose Trump are going down the same path that many others in the Bible did when they didn’t accept “who God sent as his key instrument” for their time. It led him to wonder, “Would not anyone championing “God” above honoring the leader this very God had chosen–actually be in rebellion to God?”
For Enlow, the answer to that question is a resounding yes. He warned Moore that she was “in resistance to God’s instrument of choice of the hour,” and that resistance was leading her to “champion foolishness against God.”
This sort of talk has been SOP in much of the evangelical world for four years, if not longer. If you go to a religious-right aligned church and you harbor even a few doubts about Trump, you’ve probably run smack dab into fatwas that opposing God’s “key instrument” is tantamount to opposing God himself. One of my friends, a left-leaning charismatic/Pentecostal like me, found this out the hard way. She was drummed out of the church where she’d spent her entire life because she supported Biden.
But there’s a good sign this bullying campaign didn’t work. According to exit polls, 72 percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump. As ludicrously high as that number is, that’s still a nine percent drop from his 2016 numbers. Given that Trump made little to no effort to broaden his base, even a small downtick in his base would have been lethal. As it turned out, the dropoff in white evangelical support for Trump is almost double Biden’s 4.8 point lead in the popular vote.
The numbers don’t lie, folks. Despite four years of ham-handed bullying, a significant portion of evangelicals looked at Trump and didn’t see a “key instrument” for God. They saw a man who ran this country like a crime boss. And contrary to what Enlow would have you believe, they weren’t rebelling against God. They were rebelling against a man who was a clear, present, and existential threat to the republic.
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