The sobering assessment of Sarah Posner of Type Investigations published in Monday’s New York Times, entitled, “That Editorial Won’t Sway Evangelicals,” argued that Mark Galli’s editorial in the influential Christianity Today magazine last week, endorsing the impeachment and removal of Trump, won’t change anything.
That’s because, she argued, “Trump’s evangelical defenders may truly believe he is anointed, or they may just relish the unparalleled authority he has granted them” but are “not likely to give up on (their) divine leader, or on (their) newfound power, no matter what the impeachment proceedings uncover.”
Despite much of what she concluded about the leadership of the so-called evangelical movement in the U.S., backed up by white evangelical followers 81 percent of whom voted for Trump in 2016 and 80 percent of whom polls now show oppose impeaching him, her view of the monolithic nature of this bloc of Americans is flawed.
It is a view that put an entire movement into a categorical box which cannot be penetrated from the outside. Insofar as this movement appears like a traditional mind-controlling cult, in the manner described by anti-cult expert Steven Hassan (in his book, “The Cult of Trump”), Posner avoided looking inside the tortured minds of those trapped in it.
Superficially, when U.S. Rep. Leo Ryan in November 1978 first arrived at the Jim Jones cult compound in Guyana, he found that the more than 900 people there were happy and content being there. It was only when he was about to leave that he found the tip of a proverbial iceberg, a note and then a handful of followers who wanted out with him. Then they, Ryan included, wound up being shot to death by Jones’ militia en route to the airport, with over 900 Jones followers subsequently killed by enforced cyanide consumption shortly after.
As with the Jonestown cult, certainly not all in the heretical American evangelical cult today will break free, mentally and physically, the minute Galli or anybody else calls out the profoundly immoral nature of the false gods in charge, the sons of Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell, and others.
But there are far too few in our culture today who are willing to do what Rep. Ryan was willing to do in 1978, to fly to the remote compound in Guyana to look into the ugly body of the evil beast and to speak to its victims directly.
They are not willing to do what Augustine of Hippo did in the death throes of the Roman Empire in the fifth century A.D., when he exposed the evil fallacies of the rampant immoral cults operating in the name of Christianity in his day, known as the Manichaen, Arian, Donatist and Pelagian heresies. By so doing Augustine affirmed the core of the authentic Christian faith.
So-called evangelicals today are mirror images of the cult heretics of Augustine’s age who bestowed divine will onto a corrupt view of the Holy Spirit that bypassed the other two components of the Trinity and permitted a false claim of divine inspiration on their own false prophets.
Thus, the Trumpist “evangelical” fakers of today can claim a divine calling that mandates their sad followers swear allegiance to a horribly corrupt and immoral heathen that is paying them, and that ignore the Gospel that calls for imperatives deriving from, for example, Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan.
If anything, America is suffering today from a crisis of moral ignorance. Too many today neither understand nor appreciate why a morality grounded in the precepts of America’s Founding Fathers, for example, is so critical to the perpetuation of a democracy that is respectful of all persons.
The media is sorely lacking in this moral guidance such that it routinely abdicates a responsibility to discern effectively between truth and lies, touting the former and denouncing the latter as it should.
Trapped in the evil cult of Trumpist “evangelicalism,” among others, are countless persons, especially oppressed women and youths, who are yearning to be mentally, morally and physically liberated, including many of whom may not even know it yet, but need the likes of a Rep. Leo Ryan to help set them free.
Nicholas Benton may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.