Several observers have been quick to praise Michael Steele, “former seminarian,” for castigating “evangelical” Trump supporters.
This is ridiculous on multiple counts.
First, Steele helped create this mess. He was Chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) when President Obama took office and actively encouraged his Republican buddies in their sedulous quest to oppose anything Obama proposed. He was very helpful in this project because, as a black man himself, with his participation in the Republican hallelujah chorus, he helped dampen the obvious conclusion that racism played a major role in Republican opposition to Obama.
The Donald and Christians are a match made in hell. They cooperated to put him in office. The Donald is the logical outcome of Republican politics and policy since Nixon and Steele is a prominent part of that sordid history. His whine about the results of his own nefarious actions are too little, too late. The “evangelical” approach to politics has been quite obvious since at least the 1970s. They have never made any secret of their desire to dictate their own Christian conditional moral prejudices on the entire country and they have always been loyal toadies to the Republican Party. If Steele had not noticed this when he became Chair of the RNC then he is truly a moron of impressive proportions.
Where was he in 2016, when his Party was busy picking a major disaster as its candidate for president?
The larger point that we need to note here is that this sudden zeal to try to insulate Christianity from the politics of Trump by calling his Christian supporters “evangelicals” is a total failure. The U.S. has excelled above all else at proliferating flavors of Christianity, but, at the end of the day, either they all accept the same ridiculous myth as the basis for their faith, or they don’t. There are countless versions of the bible, but they all contain essentially the same core story.
As a historical question, the “evangelicals” are by far the most loyal descendants of the Christians who stole the continent from Natives and farmed it with African slaves. If you accept U.S. Christianity, you accept this history. You may find it embarrassing. You may wish to redeem it.
But trying to pretend that Trump and his minions participate in some tradition that is distinct from your own is not a logical or historically valid move. Culturally, the United States is an overwhelmingly Christian nation, and the history of that Christianity has never been pretty, from Columbus to the Donald. A quite straight line runs from one to the other, through the conquistadors killing off and enslaving Natives left and right, through the slave trade, which North as well as South participated actively in, and slavery itself, to the riots in Boston in opposition to school busing for purposes of racial discrimination, Christians in “the Americas” have no more to be proud of than their ancestors in Europe, with their persistent persecution of Jews and bad habit of killing each other over which flavor of Christian to be.
Steele’s whining about Trump’s “evangelical” supporters is profoundly unconvincing.