Joseph Cotto, 1/31/2017 [Archive]

Donald Trump and the Post-Christian Right

Donald Trump and the Post-Christian Right

By Joseph Cotto


Do you read 'The Washington Post'? If not, have no fear: little of consequence is being missed.

However, it would be a lie to say that everything there is unworthy of at least a few moments. A recent article by George W. Bush's ex-water boy Michael Gerson offers some insight on a long-held opinion of mine.

Gerson, like many Bush appointees, is a neocon who dislikes Donald Trump. He would prefer an America which intervenes in foreign governments, serves as a doormat for the world's huddled masses, and enthusiastically backs globalism -- namely, although not only, by offering support to the European Union.

Gerson's political views are inspired by his evangelical Protestant faith, which he often feels compelled to share to the point of boredom.

After Trump's inauguration, Gerson took his fellow white Christians to task for supporting the Donald, which was portrayed as something way out of alignment with Jesus's ideals.

"What of those Christians who supported Trump because of his nativism?" Gerson asked. "God help them. Quite literally."

This reading from the Book of Michael also related "that the Christian church was one of the first great global, multicultural institutions, with a center of gravity moving from the Middle East to Europe to North America and now to the global south. The very nature of the faith relativizes nationalism ---- brothers and sisters can be found across the most hostile borders, and any man or woman we encounter will outlast every country."

As a Humanistic Jewish pantheist who often believes he is shouting into the wind about Christianity's leftist nature, Gerson's words are a welcome reprieve. To have a G.W. Bush acolyte and Republican activist, of all people, point out the obvious is the cherry atop the sundae.

Being a sociopolitical realist with hardcore skepticism -- if not fear -- of mass movements, the syrupy groupthink Christian doctrine champions (e.g. all men are capable of all things with Jesus, so let us pray) has always been an anathema.

When said groupthink meets real-world politics, trouble builds atop trouble. The myopic, utopian character of Christianity leads people to believe that countries should not have borders, pursue their own interests to the detriment of foreigners, advocate for national sovereignty, or promote individual profit at the expense of the 'greater good'.

After all, what polity could be more Christ-like than global governance -- complete with wealth redistribution to ensure comprehensive equality?

If each follower of Jesus is spiritually related to the next believer, then why keep the flock separated? Assuming Christ was real -- not a wise move, in my opinion, but that is another story for another time -- there can be scant doubt he would love the EU and United Nations.

Jesus also could be counted on to demean Trump, the Republican Party, and anyone dedicated to material self-preservation as money-changers outside Jerusalem's synagogue.

Memo to all 'Christian conservatives': What did you think that stuff about wealthy folks getting into heaven with greater difficulty than a camel fitting through a needle's eye meant? How could a conservative, or even moderate, religion have caught on with the poor and oppressed from Israel to Peru?

Why were so many of the same demographics that embraced Christendom easily converted to Marxism? Might there be any structural similarities between these belief systems?

Please, be honest with yourselves.

The ascension of Trump is significant to our nation's story for several reasons. Among the most important of these is that the Donald attracted Christian voters without becoming a tool of the Religious Right. He sketched a blueprint for future politicians to win on secular, rather than theological, arguments.

If the GOP continued to nominate candidates who emphasize theo-conservatism, not only would a diminishing number of voters be appealed to, but a profound act of hypocrisy played out.

Essentially, politicians would be crafting rightist arguments from a leftist guidebook, all the while castigating those who point out the obvious.

America is in dire need of many things, but a post-Christian brand of mainstream conservatism tops the wish list.

Thankfully Santa is now delivering the goods. Merry Trump-mas, everyone!

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Copyright 2017 Joseph Cotto, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joseph Ford Cotto is, the editor-in-chief of The San Francisco Review of Books. Email him at joseph.f.cotto@gmail.com.

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