For years, secular progressives have said that evangelical social action in America is not about religious conviction but all about power. They have implied that the goal of the Religious Right is to cynically use the “moral” to get to the “majority,” not the other way around.
This year, a group of high-profile old-guard evangelicals has proven these critics right....Sarah Posner defines them as Trumpvangelicals.
you will forgive me if, at least until this crazy campaign year is over, I choose just to say that I’m a gospel Christian.
As Trump's positions on deporting undocumented immigrants and banning Muslim immigration hardened through December and January, his support among white evangelicals grew, culminating in his victories in many evangelical-heavy states, including South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia. ....Schenck readily acknowledges the link, too, between gun worship and race. Evangelicals, he has told me, are driven by fear of a president they think "might be a crypto-Muslim" as well as black-on-white crime....Trump appears to have tapped into the disaffection among neo-Confederates and white supremacists, who can be counted among Trumpvangelicals
So is it all down to race?
Very rarely have white people been willing to completely choose faith over loyalty to the race. White supremacy props up in this country and when the American dream has more to do with power and wealth and possessions than generosity, kindness, and equality, it makes sense that evangelicals, who want that dream for themselves, make Trump their main man.
Maybe, just maybe, the conservative movement has spent so long politicizing religion that Evangelical voters are willing to forgive heresies as long as the politics match. Maybe, just maybe, self-described Evangelical conservatives are flocking to Trump because “Evangelical” in the context of American politics now has less to do with religion and more to do with conservative identity signaling. This may be baffling for members of the Evangelical establishment, who may really be Christian first and Republican second, but it jives with an electorate that is, if anything, Republican first and Christian second.An NPR story confirms, it's not just about religious identity, but a toxic mixture of racism and bullying.
So what is motivating the evangelical voters who are supporting Trump if it's not their faith? One recent study suggested that the best predictor of support for Trump is a preference for authoritarianism, a belief in the need for aggressive leaders. Trump's candidacy is also associated with hostility toward minorities. Some conservative Christians can seem judgmental, but Russell Moore insists there is nothing in the New Testament that, in his words, gives any space for hatred and bigotry.
[F]or the first time in memory, conservative Christians have been sidelined in the Republican Party by another religious movement. The Trumpvangelicals show that, even for values voters, which values matter can change a lot.And in the Guardian, Giles Fraser nails it:
But what the Donald Trump phenomenon reveals is what several intelligent Christian observers have been saying for some time: that a great many Americans don’t really believe in God. They just believe in America – which they often take to be the same thing. God was hacked by the American dream some time ago. “The evangelical church in America has, to a large extent, been co-opted by an American, religious version of the kingdom of the world. We have come to trust the power of the sword more than the power of the cross,” writes Gregory Boyd in The Myth of a Christian Nation.