Commentary

Several churches are worshipping the gospel of Trump just as much as Christianity

Donald Trump gets blessed by Christian evangelicals.
Donald Trump gets blessed by Christian evangelicals. Photo: Right Wing Watch

There’s a new movement in Christianity, and it’s god is Trumpism.

While nondenominational Christianity has been around for a while, the rise of Trump seems to have turbocharged its growth. In turn, the movement has fused religion and politics — specifically Trumpism — so closely together that they are virtually indistinguishable.

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According to the Washington Post, more churches are increasingly becoming “part of a growing Christian movement that is nondenominational, openly political and [have] become an engine of former president Donald Trump’s Republican Party.”

Some of the largest congregations in the country now subscribe to Trump’s acolytes.

“Its most successful leaders are considered apostles and prophets, including some with followings in the hundreds of thousands, publishing empires, TV shows, vast prayer networks, podcasts, spiritual academies, and branding in the form of T-shirts, bumper stickers and even flags,” the Post notes.

In this world, many believe Trump was chosen by God to restore America as a Christian nation. These followers seem undeterred by the fact that Trump is a thrice-married philanderer, stiffs his workers, and generally demonstrates the kind of morality that would make Satan smile.

It’s Trump’s rhetoric that leads these followers to worship at his altar.

“Increasingly, this is the world that the term ‘evangelical voter’ refers to — not white-haired Southern Baptists in wooden pews but the comparatively younger, more diverse, more extreme world of millions drawn to leaders who believe they are igniting a new Great Awakening in America,” the Post observes. Needless to say, the vision of America that this movement wants to see has no room for LGBTQ people.

It’s not as if the movement’s followers are shy about making their inclination toward theocracy know. “Can you imagine if every church took a more active role in society?” one believer told the Post, extolling the benefits of a Christian political system.

“If teachers were preachers? If church took a more active role in health? In business? If every church took ownership over their communities? There would be no homeless. No widows. No orphans.”

There would also be no LGBTQ people.

This is the version of evangelicalism that is the backbone of the GOP. But despite its increasing hold on the party, it is overall also a shrinking movement. As a group, the nondenominational churches are rising in membership — but as a whole, evangelicalism is shrinking.

A new survey by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) found that evangelicals now constitute 14.5 percent of the American population. That figure stood at 23 percent in 2006.

Shrinking numbers should mean less influence, though it doesn’t — it means something worse: fiercer battles. Faced with the fear that the world they prefer is disappearing, the Trumpist evangelicals are going to do everything possible to battle change.

They believe they are engaged in a holy war. For them, that’s a fight to the death.

As the Post puts it, “the ultimate mission is not just transforming individual lives but also turning civilization itself into their version of God’s Kingdom: one with two genders, no abortion, a free-market economy, Bible-based education, church-based social programs and laws such as the ones curtailing LGBTQ rights now moving through statehouses around the country.”

Observers have been quick to point out the dangers of the new movement outlined in the story. “This is the backbone of Trump’s Jesus fascists,” tweeted best-selling author Frank Schaeffer. He has written extensively about his own strict evangelical upbringing.

“PAY attention! Nondenominational congregations have surged from being virtually nonexistent in the 1980s to accounting for roughly 1 in 10 Americans in 2020.”

“We think we are in a political battle, but a large part of America is living through a moment of spiritual ecstasy,” Annie Applebaum, a staff writer at The Atlantic, tweeted. “This is how theocracies are born.”

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