I know that Trump voters hate it when the rest of us think they are gullible wahoos being easily conned by a master grifter. Perhaps you saw this article about the bible-believing members of the First Baptist Church in Luverne, Alabama. Somehow, although Hillary Clinton is a lifelong practicing Methodist, they think she is the spawn of Satan. After President Obama led the mourners from the Mother Emmanuel Church massacre in a deeply black church rendition of Amazing Grace, they think he’s the spawn of Satan too and a promoter of an Islamic agenda. Trump, on the other hand, who calls a communion wafer “my little cracker”, is a serial adulterer, lies compulsively and cheats people out of what he owes them simply because he knows they lack the money to fight back, is Chosen by God to Lead American Back to Righteousness as a Christian Nation. I can’t get my head around it any other way than to think they are gullible wahoos being easily conned by a master grifter.
The church members who spoke for the article have various ways of explaining their devotion to Trump. One is that he is being framed. Another is that God often works through sinners. Another is good old moral relativism, a trait I didn’t used to associated with bible-believing evangelicals: Trump is giving them the judges and anti-immigrant and anti-people of color policies they want, so whoever he is as a person doesn’t matter.
Many clergy in the civil rights era — although notably not Southern Baptist ones — put their lives on the line to stand up for what was right. Pastor Clay Crum of this Luverne Alabama crowd can claim no such distinction.
“He was at the end of his sermon. If he was going to say anything about Trump, or presidents, or politicians, or how having a Christian character was important for the leader of the United States, now was the time. His Bible was open. He was preaching without notes.
He looked out at all the faces of people who felt threatened and despised in a changing America, who thought Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were sent by Satan to destroy them, and that Donald Trump was sent by God to protect them, and who could always count on Clay Crum to remind them of what they all believed to be the true meaning of Jesus Christ — that he died to forgive all of their sins, to save them from death and secure their salvation in a place that was 15,000 miles wide, full of gardens, appliances, and a floor of stars.
Not now, he decided. Not yet. He closed his Bible. He had one last thing to say to them before the sermon was over.
“Let us pray.”
“Amen,” someone in the congregation said.”
Honestly, I could never live in Luverne, Alabama, or find common ground with the people of that church. What that means for the future of democracy I don’t know, but I can’t read this article other than with my mouth agape and the certainty that these folks and I live on entirely different planets.