A lot of publications, both on the left and on the right, have questioned why evangelicals (and to a lesser extent Mormons) would support Donald Trump for president. Trump’s religious bona fides are weak, he’s a boor and an unrepentant philanderer. Yet somehow, on June 21, he will be meeting with 500 of the top evangelical leaders in the US to more or less accept their endorsement.
The answer to this question has been brilliantly illustrated on the popular HBO series Game of Thrones, (which in turn draws on late medieval European politics for inspiration.) In Game of Thrones the egotistical, sexually immoral, unpopular, and (mostly) incompetent house Lannister has a precarious hold on the throne of Westeros. They’re desperate for money and support. As a result, they turn to The Church.
The Church has no great love of the corrupt Lannisters, but they agree to support the Lannister claims to the throne and forgive outstanding debts with one condition: The Church will be allowed to re-form its militant order, which is in effect an independent army and police force controlled by the Church and not the king. The desperate Lannisters agree, without really considering the potential consequences.
Here, in the real world in 2016, the egotistical, sexually immoral, unpopular, and (mostly) incompetent Donald Trump is desperate to solidify his base as he pursues a strategy of maximizing his demographic advantages with white people. This strategy doesn’t appear to be viable without evangelicals, so a desperate Trump has turned to church leaders for their support.
Evangelical leaders made two demands: appoint conservative justices to the Supreme Court who will give broad latitude to religious freedom claims, and lifting the laws and regulations preventing churches from directly engaging in politics. Trump, much like the Lannisters, has agreed to these demands without really considering the consequences.
Should Trump get elected, and enact his promises, we will have our own Faith Militant order in America.