Tuesday, March 20, 2018

What might undermine evangelical support for Trump

I suspect we will see a crisis in evangelical support for Trump, if, as I suspect, Stormy Daniels comes out and says that Trump paid for, and encouraged her to get, an abortion. That would make him in the eyes of the pro-life movement, a baby-killer not in the sense of being pro-choice and opposing government efforts to stop abortions, but actually being a contributing cause of an abortion, or even several abortions. Would THIS be a bridge too far?

68 comments:

Legion of Logic said...

Three problems and/or loopholes with that analysis, off the top of my head, if that's what she does.

One, it will be very easy for Trump fans to dismiss her claim based upon who she is, particularly if Trump denied it. "Oh yeah I'm going to believe the porn star!"

Two, it will primarily be left-leaning outlets reporting on it and pushing a disaster narrative, which will further increase the skepticism.

And three, all Trump would have to do, even if he admitted it, would be to acknowledge that he made a terrible mistake and has felt awful about it ever since, and then to appear on TV or Twitter and ask forgiveness in a humble manner, slipping in the fact that he nominated Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court as evidence of his pro-life views.

No, I don't think Stormy Daniels will even register as a blip to anyone right of center.

Jimmy S. M. said...

I doubt that's it, she would be on the pill or IUD in her line of work. And I agree with LoL, there's no moral failing of this guy they won't find excuses for as long he's delivering gorsuches and 'triggering libs'

Starhopper said...

Hmm... Let's look at the tape.

His cultist supporters did not abandon him when he disparaged POWs and insulted a bona fide war hero.

They stuck with him when he blasphemed Sacred Communion ("my little cracker") and said he had no need to ask for God's forgiveness for anything.

He retained his base of support despite his serial adultery, his bragging about sexual assault, and his sexist, disparaging comments about female political opponents.

They gave him a pass when he attacked a Gold Star family (and later, showed contempt for a grieving widow of a soldier slain on his watch in Niger).

They did not flinch when he debased our civil discourse, sinking the common denominator beneath the Marianas Trench. ("Little Marco, Crooked Hillary, Sloppy Steve" etc, etc.)

They shrugged their shoulders when he praised neo-nazis while criticizing black activists exercising their constitutional right to free speech.

They turned a blind eye to his lining his and his family's pockets thanks to the American taxpayer. (And where are his promised tax returns?)

They couldn't care less when he disparaged entire continents ("shithole countries") and introduced institutional racism into our county's immigration system.

They continue to deny his ongoing treason, and his sucking up to dictators and strongmen everywhere.

They actively enable his pathological lying and utter contempt for the truth.

The make excuses for his trashing of what what was once the envy of the world - our nonpolitical justice system.

They act like they live on another planet when they hear of the too numerous to list multiple scandals in nearly every cabinet department. (Oh, wait. They don't hear of them, because they live in the bubble of Fox News.)

They say not a word when he fires a decent public servant hours before he is scheduled to retire, and then gloats about it via twitter.

So what is there so special about his unseemly affair with a porn star that would make this a Red Line they cannot cross.

Our fake president lies every day (heck, every hour - possibly every time he opens his mouth), but he did once utter the straight truth - when he said he could shoot somebody in the streets of New York and not lose any support.

Truer words were never spoken.

Legion of Logic said...

Starhopper, I hate to defend Trump, but there are some things in your post that are problematic.

"his sexist, disparaging comments about female political opponents"

His insults against female political opponents are no worse than his insults against male political opponent. I think it is one of the many failings of the left to automatically assume an insult is worse simply because the target is female or has dark skin. Either insults are problematic or they are not.


"They couldn't care less when he disparaged entire continents ("shithole countries") and introduced institutional racism into our county's immigration system."

While his phrasing was pathetic, many countries prefer their immigrants to bring tangible value (doctor, engineer, etc), so I think the thought itself isn't so easily dismissed. Regarding the second part, what precisely are you talking about? What is this "institutional racism"?


"They continue to deny his ongoing treason, and his sucking up to dictators and strongmen everywhere."

What is this "ongoing treason", as treason has a specific legal definition? And conservatives had the exact same complaints about Obama regarding cozying up to problematic leaders. I'm equally impressed or unimpressed with both groups' grievances.

"They actively enable his pathological lying and utter contempt for the truth."

While Trump has taken lying to a new blatant level, I've never seen a single leftist complain about any of the numerous lies told by Obama and his administration. Nor did conservatives care about Bush administration lies. Hypocrisy blunts many a criticism.

"our nonpolitical justice system"

There is a lot of evidence that things in fact get political within the Obama Justice Department and FBI - but you won't see that in a CNN/NBC bubble.

"decent public servant"

This is actually not a confirmed fact, as there is enough questionable evidence to warrant investigation.


"Our fake president"

This sort of hyperbole is a credibility destroyer, as Donald Trump is in fact the constitutionally installed President of the United States.


Starhopper said...

I call him "our fake president" as a commentary on his continual calling anything he doesn't like "fake" (fake news, fake memos, etc.). It's not hyperbole - it's irony.

Starhopper said...

Legion,

Now I know you are a believer in Aristotelian logic. For instance, if A is equal to B, then B has to be equal to A.

I bring this up in reference to your own bringing up alleged Obama and Bush "lies" and Obama supposedly "cozying up to" dictators. Now I am assuming you are condemning such behavior, right? Well, if that's the case, then you must, by the principle that B is equal to A as well as A being equal to B, condemn similar behavior by our current president.

On the other hand, if you choose to give him a pass on certain behaviors, then you can no longer (rationally) criticize Obama or Bush. Now I myself am on the record as condemning many actions on the part of every president since Gerald Ford, the last president I wholeheartedly and unreservedly supported in my lifetime. (There are 2 others in that august company, but I'll leave their identities as an exercise for the reader.)

Legion of Logic said...

"I call him "our fake president" as a commentary on his continual calling anything he doesn't like "fake" (fake news, fake memos, etc.). It's not hyperbole - it's irony."

Ah, gotcha. I do think fake news is a problem that permeates the news industry on both sides of the spectrum, but Trump's usage isn't exactly even-handed, to say the least.

I'm the guy that tends to make both sides mad at me. During the Obama administration, by far my biggest complaint was that he was a progressive. Yeah he told lies and yeah his administration did a bunch of things I didn't like because of our political differences, but I had no problems with Obama as a person (beyond certain things that many progressives do, like paying too much attention to skin color or gender). Trump, on the other hand, does not even come close to meeting the minimum moral criteria for who ought to be in office, left or right. I simply don't trust a word he says or any of his motivations.

That said, I'm not unduly concerned over Trump's foreign policy adventures, nor was I bothered by Obama's actions that upset the conservative world. In both cases they know things I don't, so it's hard for me to be an armchair foreign policy expert. Neither has even remotely blundered to the extent that Bush did.

Where I make both sides mad is when I point out the very great similarities between the Tea Party/Republican freakouts over Obama and the current hysteria over Trump. Political disagreement is one thing, but I think both sides took the emotional opposition just a little too far. I would expect us to be in a huge war and all people darker than a tan to be enslaved or dead if the only information I had on Trump's policies was the emotional state of the left. I simply don't see the justification for that level of hate, and the same goes for what happened during Obama's years. Republicans being a "party of no" was pathetic then, and Democrats are pathetic for doing it now.

Starhopper said...

All good points. Some of them are not relevant to my own views. I do not "hate" Republicans - I was one a good part of my adult life, from Nixon right up to the first Bush presidency. Many of my most admired presidents were Republicans. But all the points I brought up, regardless of how you think I should have rephrased them, are valid. Trump's numerous demonstrated moral failings in his personal life ought to make him toxic to anyone who cares about character and public example. Be honest, can any (sane) parent point to our current president and tell their child, "I want you to grow up to be just like him!"?

And sometimes one is obligated to resist evil, and I regard Trump's demands for personal loyal to himself (rather than to the Constitution) to be an objective evil, and a clear and present danger to our country.

I served in the Defense Department as director of the organization responsible for collecting and disseminating lethal threat information to US and allied deployed forces worldwide. I had hundreds of personnel under me around the world. I controlled an entire constellation of satellites. Our standard for success was getting the right information to the threatened party within 2 minutes or less. 121 seconds was counted as a failure. Now I 100% opposed our invasion of Iraq, and even at work was unhesitatingly vocal about my opposition. From the day of the invasion to the day of my retirement, there was a sign on my desk (I still have it) that read "Not in my name. No war in Iraq!" (And keep in mind, I was the boss!) But you know what? For years, I dutifully exerted myself every single day to provide the maximum effective support to the war effort, and demanded the same from everyone who worked for me. Because although I personally disagreed with my country's policy in this matter, there was no conflict with the Constitution involved. I had taken an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution (an oath that every federal employee must take).

But if I was ever ordered to violate than oath (I never was), I would have refused to carry out such illegal instructions. If push came to shove, I would have resigned. That is the DUTY of everyone who works for the government. The Constitution comes before any individual, no matter what his office, and certainly before one's own opinions.

Trump is in violation of the Constitution (and worse, insisting that others do the same) in more ways than I can list in a blog posting. It would take a book.

SteveK said...

You probably would see reduced support. Whether that reduced support 'sticks' come election time depends on the realistic alternatives. Most people won't vote for 'the best' candidate if they have little chance of winning. It's true in politics just like it's true in NCAA tournaments. There are thousands of morally perfect-ish candidates with zero chance of winning.

Victor Reppert said...

Does this sound like hypocrisy? "I have nothing to hide, and these things never happened. But dammit Stormy, you had better live up to that nondisclosure agreement!"

Christians defending Trump hurt the credibility of Christianity. I hope they start smelling the coffee.

Victor Reppert said...

1 John 1:8-9 New International Version (NIV)

8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

How does this fit in with nondisclosure agreements? By the way, the NDA was supposed to include information about paternity. Why is Trump trying so hard to shut this woman up? He is already a known womanizer, so this shouldn't really surprise anybody, should it? What could she say that he didn't already say on Access Hollywood and Howard Stern? Maybe I have been watching too much Columbo, but this just doesn't add up. Just one more thing.....

Legion of Logic said...

I too have wondered exactly what is supposed to be so shocking about this story. It would be one thing for a George W Bush or a Barack Obama to have a porn star scandal, but Trump? It would be more shocking to NOT have such a scandal.

Starhopper said...

"what is supposed to be so shocking about this story"

My money is on the threats of physical violence. And if not that, there might be some very embarrassing pictures or tapes out there.

SteveK said...

Victor
>> "Christians defending Trump hurt the credibility of Christianity"

I can defend a sinner but not defend the sin, can't I? Yes I can. Christ is our example.

If I can't ever do that without hurting the credibility of Christianity than you'll have to explain how ANYONE can be defended.

Starhopper said...

You can certainly "defend" him, if by defending you mean encouraging him to repent and reform his life ("Go, and sin no more.").

What you may not do is to support him in his sin, or to approve of him, or to be an enabler, or to turn a blind eye to his sin.

SteveK said...

I can defend someone in many different ways (not just they way you stated it) while I also avoid defending his sin.

Starhopper said...

Define what you mean by "defending", because other than how I defined it, I don't see how such a thing is possible.

SteveK said...

Defend = argue for = support in good conscience

Ex: I can argue for (defend/support) you holding onto your current job despite the fact that you managed a brothel 5 years ago and are involved in tax fraud.

Starhopper said...

Interesting. But where such "support" gets sticky, is when a person's sins have an ongoing effect on his job performance (such as lining one's pockets, or by their exerting undue influence on policy decisions, or by creating a bad example). Then such support becomes enabling.

Victor Reppert said...

Some jobs involve public trust. A good example would be the job of a church pastor. A church pastor who has an extramarital affair with a parishioner has violated the trust of his congregation. Even if that pastor has terminated the affair and reconciled with his wife, the trust of his church has been broken, and he shouldn't be allowed to remain in his position or be reassigned to a different congregation (a lesson some Catholic bishops failed to understand, which hurt the credibility of the Catholic Church). If you are a welder, and you have an extramarital affair, this probably won't affect the quality of your welding.

The fact that Trump might have had consensual affairs some twelve years ago is not all that troubling in itself. The fact that he is willing to go to considerable lengths to make sure no one talks about it, conduct that he is currently engaged in, is very troubling. Russians, for example, have a history of luring people into compromising situations and blackmailing them. The fact that he may have at some point forced himself on women is very troubling.

The fact that he has denied multiple sexual allegations against him, and said that none of these things ever happened creates a problem.

Victor Reppert said...

This is because either they really have to all be lying, or he has to be involved in an ongoing lie about these incidents. And these are accusations of Trump doing exactly what he says he does on the Access Hollywood tape and the Howard Stern interviews. On what basis can you possibly believe Howard Weinstein's and Lawrence Krauss's accusers and not Donald Trump's?

There are Christians who minimize Trump's wrongdoing and the extent of it in the name of "forgiveness." Such forgiveness was certainly denied to Bill Clinton during the impeachment hearings. You can forgive people, to be sure, but what happens to trust is significant.

Legion of Logic said...

Victor: "On what basis can you possibly believe Howard Weinstein's and Lawrence Krauss's accusers and not Donald Trump's?

There are Christians who minimize Trump's wrongdoing and the extent of it in the name of "forgiveness." Such forgiveness was certainly denied to Bill Clinton during the impeachment hearings. You can forgive people, to be sure, but what happens to trust is significant."

Agreed, and I think this highlights a broad trend in people, at least in the West - political tribe is central to everything. I've watched Christians, left and right of center, respond calmly, politely, and reasonably to vicious atheist attacks on their intelligence and beliefs, and then seen these same Christians fly off the handle if their Trump or their Obama is attacked.

Joe Hinman said...

Trumps own hypocrisy and lies undermine Christian support but about 79% of evangelicals have forgotten what the Gospel is about.

Meanwhile, on Metacrock's blog

The philosophical composition of physicalism has superseded the use of terms like materialism although it really is the same thing, One thing many physicalists rule out is consciousness or mind. Some atheists try to use the dependence of mind upon physical body as a counter to belief in God. I take that to task here.

Joe Hinman said...

Agreed, and I think this highlights a broad trend in people, at least in the West - political tribe is central to everything. I've watched Christians, left and right of center, respond calmly, politely, and reasonably to vicious atheist attacks on their intelligence and beliefs, and then seen these same Christians fly off the handle if their Trump or their Obama is attacked.

Glad to hear you say that, I;ve nasty to atheists and to Trumpies, at least i'm consistent,

Joe Hinman said...

If trump could be tagged with causing abortion, would he be seen as a "baby killer?" Reagan had the same power over his base,we called him the Teflon president, nothing would stick to him. This is a true cases of Kuhns model proving itself beyond science. Anomalies are absorbed into the paradigm until finally there are too many and the paradigm starts to give. Will this be to many?

Joe Hinman said...


Blogger Starhopper said...
Hmm... Let's look at the tape.

His cultist supporters did not abandon him when he disparaged POWs and insulted a bona fide war hero.

They stuck with him when he blasphemed Sacred Communion ("my little cracker") and said he had no need to ask for God's forgiveness for anything.

He retained his base of support despite his serial adultery, his bragging about sexual assault, and his sexist, disparaging comments about female political opponents.

They gave him a pass when he attacked a Gold Star family (and later, showed contempt for a grieving widow of a soldier slain on his watch in Niger).

They did not flinch when he debased our civil discourse, sinking the common denominator beneath the Marianas Trench. ("Little Marco, Crooked Hillary, Sloppy Steve" etc, etc.)

They shrugged their shoulders when he praised neo-nazis while criticizing black activists exercising their constitutional right to free speech.

They turned a blind eye to his lining his and his family's pockets thanks to the American taxpayer. (And where are his promised tax returns?)

They couldn't care less when he disparaged entire continents ("shithole countries") and introduced institutional racism into our county's immigration system.

They continue to deny his ongoing treason, and his sucking up to dictators and strongmen everywhere.

They actively enable his pathological lying and utter contempt for the truth.

The make excuses for his trashing of what what was once the envy of the world - our nonpolitical justice system.

They act like they live on another planet when they hear of the too numerous to list multiple scandals in nearly every cabinet department. (Oh, wait. They don't hear of them, because they live in the bubble of Fox News.)

They say not a word when he fires a decent public servant hours before he is scheduled to retire, and then gloats about it via twitter.

So what is there so special about his unseemly affair with a porn star that would make this a Red Line they cannot cross.

Our fake president lies every day (heck, every hour - possibly every time he opens his mouth), but he did once utter the straight truth - when he said he could shoot somebody in the streets of New York and not lose any support.

Truer words were never spoken.

Starhopper I would like to use thison face book do you mind?

Joe Hinman said...

Starhopper: "On the other hand, if you choose to give him a pass on certain behaviors, then you can no longer (rationally) criticize Obama or Bush. Now I myself am on the record as condemning many actions on the part of every president since Gerald Ford, the last president I wholeheartedly and unreservedly supported in my lifetime. (There are 2 others in that august company, but I'll leave their identities as an exercise for the reader.)"

Nixon and Johnson right? they didn't do anything wrong,

Starhopper said...

Thanks for speculating, Joe, but no - they would be Eisenhower and Kennedy. You might even throw Truman into that mix, but I was too young to appreciate him at the time. As to Johnson, I have very mixed feelings about him. I believe that had there been no war in Vietnam, he would be ranked amongst our all-time greatest presidents. But it's impossible to ignore how truly awful he was at foreign policy.

SteveK said...

Victor: "You can forgive people, to be sure, but what happens to trust is significant"

I completely agree. Trust is associated with some task/goal you are trusting them to achieve and there are many different tasks/goals that a person can be entrusted.

Forget Trump, can an unrepentant sinner be entrusted (and defended) to faithfully achieve some task that you are interested in completing? Yes. We do this all the time with non-believers.

Does it "hurt the credibility of Christianity" to take a risk and trust (and defend) an unrepentant sinner to do something that you want done? For some reason you are saying "yes" and I don't get it.

You may not trust a person for various reasons, and I might for various reasons (or vise versa). We disagree but so what? Disagreements don't undermine Christianity.

It could turn out that trusting this person was a very unwise thing to do, but that hasn't been proven yet so that wisdom only comes into our view as 20/20 hindsight.

Victor Reppert said...

SteveK: The President's FIRST duty is to uphold the rule of law and the Constitution of the United States. That comes before nominating pro-life justices, or cutting taxes, or supporting Israel, etc. Unless you have been looking at him through Fox-colored glasses, I think the answer concerning Trump is overwhelmingly NO. It was bad enough that many Christian leaders supported him at election time, but I think I can understand it up to a point. At that time there was the contrast with Hillary. With respect to his extramarital relationships, I think we have the right to ask him to just come clean, and either tell the country that he doesn't think he has a duty to be a faithful husband because he has considers that requirement to be an outdated religiously-based prudish moral rule, or to say that he is deeply repentant for the disrespect for marriage, in word and deed, that he has shown in the past and that he has amended his behavior in the meantime. This is especially true for Christians who look to a Republican President to support traditional marriage and who find same-sex marriage to be a treat to that institution. Don't such Christians have a right to know if the President they are supporting respects the institution of marriage as they understand it? And shouldn't such Christians demand such answers from the President they support?

Someone willing to make a payment of amount a few times my annual salary to keep someone silent is someone who is liable to be blackmailed by a foreign government to keep other improprieties quiet. His ability to put the American people first and uphold the Constitution has to therefore be questioned.

Evangelical leaders are getting up on TV and giving Trump a whole bunch of breaks that they wouldn't give Clinton or any other previous President. Worse yet they focus on the actual affair, when the attempt, in violation of campaign finance laws, to keep someone from talking about the affair is far more serious. And if he has people out making threats of physical violence, this is worse.

I am tired of hearing that the public policy bottom line is all that matters. A President who can't uphold the rule of law, who is so compromised that we can expect nothing but scandal after scandal, is someone who the American people will sooner or later turn against. I liked a lot of John Edwards' public policy proposals. But his character was so compromised that I would be far more comfortable with Mitt Romney in the White House than him. I think those who voted for Trump should have seen the handwriting on the wall when they voted for him back in 2016, but this constant talk of "mulligans" and "we believe in forgiveness" is nauseating and with a lot of people yes, it damages the credibility of Christianity. The Franklin Grahams and Tony Perkinses, not to mention Paula White, who says its a sin to oppose our President since God raises up kings, (How come we didn't hear that when Obama was in office), yes, they do give opponents of Christianity ammunition.

SteveK said...

>> "Evangelical leaders are getting up on TV and giving Trump a whole bunch of breaks that they wouldn't give Clinton or any other previous President. "

Treating different people in different situations differently isn't unusual. Do you treat all liars the same or do you give some added grace because 'all liars deserve to be treated exactly the same' seems overly simplistic?

>> "I am tired of hearing that the public policy bottom line is all that matters."

I'm tired of hearing this distortion, but that's just me.

>> "but this constant talk of "mulligans" and "we believe in forgiveness" is nauseating"

Really? Christ had a lot to say on that subject.

Lest you think I'm defending all the sins that Trump has committed, I'm not. I think I've made that clear. If he's breaking the law or paying for abortions I won't defend that so don't accuse me of doing it. I will, however, defend Trump in other ways.

steve said...

"I suspect we will see a crisis in evangelical support for Trump, if, as I suspect, Stormy Daniels comes out and says that Trump paid for, and encouraged her to get, an abortion."

Did your prediction come true?

"That would make him in the eyes of the pro-life movement, a baby-killer not in the sense of being pro-choice and opposing government efforts to stop abortions, but actually being a contributing cause of an abortion, or even several abortions."

i) Correct, that would make him a babykiller by prolife standards.

ii) However, the way you frame the comparison is morally slippery. Proabortion politicians are complicit in murder on a far larger scale.

"Would THIS be a bridge too far?"

i) Again, there's a problem with how you frame the issue. This isn't, or at least it shouldn't be, a question of supporting *Trump*. Rather, it's a question of supporting or opposing the policies of the Trump administration. Likewise, it's about comparing the policies of his administration with policies of a Democrat in the White House.

ii) In addition, it's morally twisted logic to say that if Trump is guilty of facilitating murder (i.e. abortion) in the past, but the policies of his administration are more protective of babies, he should be replaced by a Democrat president who actively supports policies that promote murder (abortion) on a wider scale.

"He is already a known womanizer, so this shouldn't really surprise anybody, should it?"

True.

Starhopper said...

Our current president thoroughly disgusts me, but single issue voters disgust me even more.

steve said...

As to forgiveness, it's not my place to either forgive Trump or withhold forgiveness. Since he never wronged me personally, i'm not entitled to forgive him. And in any event, forgiveness is conditional. Contingent on contrition. Trump is proudly impenitent.

Starhopper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Starhopper said...

SteveK,

Why, in 2018, are you still going on about Hillary Clinton? the last election is ancient history.

The question for evangelicals today is not do they prefer Clinton or Trump - the question is do they continue to support a traitorous, pathological liar who daily degrades our public discourse and who is using the office of the presidency to line his own pockets and those of his family? Clinton has nothing to do with that question. Surely you would prefer a President Pence?

SteveK said...

I'm not going on about Hillary. I never mentioned her. I quoted Victor who mentioned Hillary in his comment, but that is it.

Reading comprehension. It's a real thing. Try it.

Starhopper said...

Your posting has so many back and forth between quotes and your own words that it is impossible to tell which is which. Perhaps you should put the quotations in italics?

SteveK said...

I've carried on conversations like this for years - thousands of comments in hundred of threads - and this is the first time I've heard "it is impossible to tell". You are an extreme outlier, or lying. You're telling me it's impossible to know which are my words?


Victor: "You can forgive people, to be sure, but what happens to trust is significant"

I completely agree.


------------

>> "but this constant talk of "mulligans" and "we believe in forgiveness" is nauseating"

Really? Christ had a lot to say on that subject.

Starhopper said...

I'll go for "extreme outlier". I've always wanted to be one of those!

steve said...

Perhaps Starhopper should take a remedial course in the function of quotation marks.

SteveK said...

The conventional use of quotation marks isn't enough, steve. It's not clear unless you have quotes + plus italics. Only then is it possible to understand who said what.

Starhopper said...

Well, my main mistake was mistaking "steve" for "SteveK". Most confusing.

Anonymous said...

In theory, defending someone's actual bad actions can reflect poorly on Christianity by making it look as though all the rules are hypocritically only for "other people". In practice, it's hard to take seriously someone who evaluates major world religions based on partisan political squabbling on the Internet. Likewise for someone who thinks this a problem with "Trump" and not equally for Christians who support Clinton or Obama, or any side of any contentious cause anywhere.

It's not just instincitve (and often petty) tribalism at work: people are provoked by the unfair (and also partisan) way they are attacked. Trust me, you will get different responses from saying, "Trump is a bad fellow, but voting is about gambling on the lesser of evils; how do you weigh the various issues?" vs. "Trump is a bad fellow, and since you voted for him YOU ARE A BAD PERSON TOO. IN FACT YOU'RE BETRAYING THE CHRISTIAN FAITH ITSELF!!!" Of course such accusations make people take it personally and get defensive.

Trump, frankly, isn't a big deal. The attention he gets is (like his attention-span) loud but fleeting. If his immoral behaviour has any lasting effect at all, it will be a mild contribution to the momentum of what is already rotten in society. Certainly, the same people weren't rationalising Bill Clinton's behaviour the same way — but Clinton was president a quarter century ago. He's one of the stones that paved the way for making President Trump possible. And making excuses for "our guy" wasn't new then, or two thousand years ago.

A much more serious problem is Christians who rationalise immorality on principle — who make excuses why fundamental teachings of the Christian faith across the centuries should not be taken seriously. They detract from Christianity by undermining its authority, promoting relativism, and making it appear officially hypocritical because the rules are only for "other centuries".

So, for example, Christians who make excuses for abortion. Or same-sex "marriage". Or who defend their own various denominations — let's be honest: anyone who calls himself Christian and isn't Catholic or Orthodox is contributing to one of the greatest real scandals against the Faith. The Great Schism was bad enough, but the countless fractured denominations we have ended up with today are a genuine stumbling-block for some honest seekers in a way that political name-calling on Twitser just isn't.

Getting upset at the perversity around Trump (his own and others') is confusing the symptom for the disease. The symptoms are genuinely unpleasant and worrisome, but the real problems, political, social, and religious, are rooted elsewhere. As for what would really undermine evangelicals' support for Trump — how about an actual, effective, sincere Christian leader? (Anyone know where we could get one of those??)

SteveK said...

>> "the question is do they continue to support a traitorous, pathological liar who daily degrades our public discourse and who is using the office of the presidency to line his own pockets and those of his family?"

You are an expert in demagoguery. A real gem. Have you stopped beating your wife yet? If not, why not?

Whoever this fictitious character is, I would not support that behavior. I don't support sinful behavior, remember? I do support sinful people carrying out various tasks and doing it imperfectly and in their own unique way.

Does this mean I would demand this person leave the presidency? Maybe. I'd have to know the details and consider them.

I can tell you that I didn't demand it when Obama was president, so my answer so far has been a consistent 'no'. There might come a time when I would change my answer.

One Brow said...


>> "the question is do they continue to support a traitorous, pathological liar
>> who daily degrades our public discourse and who is using the office of the
>> presidency to line his own pockets and those of his family?"

You are an expert in demagoguery. A real gem. Have you stopped beating your wife yet? If not, why not?


It's fair enough to say that Trump is not traitorous (strictly speaking), nor is he personally using the office to line his own pockets (rather, his family is using the office to line Donald Trump's pockets and theirs).

It's disingenuous to confuse a explicit description with an implied accusation.

Starhopper said...

"how about an actual, effective, sincere Christian leader? (Anyone know where we could get one of those??)"

Hmm... I would hazard a guess that the most sincerely Christian presidents we've had in my lifetime (which goes back to Truman) would be Jimmy Carter, George W Bush, and Barack Obama.

So you can see there is no apparent correlation between one's faith and one's political leanings. You can be a sincere Christian and also be a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green, Independent, or practically any of the European parties.

Legion of Logic said...

Mr Green: "anyone who calls himself Christian and isn't Catholic or Orthodox is contributing to one of the greatest real scandals against the Faith."

And Protestants believe Catholics are the single most damaging entity against Christianity.

I myself believe that division is critically damaging to the faith, but while I'm always happy to read honest apologetics, to this day I have not read a convincing defense of the claim that the Catholic Church is the "true" church.

Don't want to derail the thread, so if you happen to have a link to what you feel is a good defense of that claim, I'd be happy to read it.

Legion of Logic said...

Starhopper: "Barack Obama"

Based upon...? Because every prominent atheist I saw speak on the subject was certain Obama was an atheist. What did you observe that they (and I, for that matter) missed?

Starhopper said...

Amazing Grace. 'Nuff said.

Legion of Logic said...

While I'm too jaded to be impressed by any politician singing in a church, I'll admit that my knowledge of Obama's relationship with Christianity never extended past his attendance of a Black Liberation Theology church, which I view at best as...loosely Christian?

Joe Hinman said...


The obligatory post about the Resurrection for Easter Sunday, But rather than go over the guards on the tomb one more time I examine the contribution Easter faith to modern notions of progress in History.

Metacrock's Blog

Joe Hinman said...

I said Nixon and Johnson ans a Joke,I lived in the 60s no way I could say they did nothing wrong.,

One Brow said...

Black Liberation Theology church, which I view at best as...loosely Christian?

Just out of curiosity, are there tenets of Christianity you see as being essential or central that are not a part of Black Liberation Theology?

Starhopper said...

"a Black Liberation Theology church, which I view at best as...loosely Christian?"

Legion, are you familiar with soon-to-be canonized Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was a leading advocate for liberation theology?

Pictured as a Venn diagram, a circle labeled "Liberation Theology" would be entirely contained within a larger circle labeled "Christianity". There is no conflict between the two.

Legion of Logic said...

One Brow,

It's not so much what they leave out as what they add. Here are some quotes from some of their members, including the founder James Cone:

"It's an attempt to teach people how to be both unapologetically black and Christian at the same time."

"Black theology is a theology of black liberation. It seeks to plumb the black condition in the light of God's revelation in Jesus Christ, so that the black community can see that the Gospel is commensurate with the achievements of black humanity. Black theology is a theology of "blackness." It is the affirmation of black humanity that emancipates black people from white racism, thus providing authentic freedom for both white and black people. It affirms the humanity of white people in that it says "no" to the encroachment of white oppression."

"It is evident, then, that the main difficulty which most whites have with Black Power and its relationship to the Christian gospel stems from their own inability to translate traditional theological language into the life situation of black people. The black man’s response to God’s act in Christ must be different from the white’s because his life experiences are different."

"I still regard Jesus Christ today as the chief focus of my perspective on God but not to the exclusion of other religious perspectives. God's reality is not bound by one manifestation of the divine in Jesus but can be found wherever people are being empowered to fight for freedom. Life-giving power for the poor and the oppressed is the primary criterion that we must use to judge the adequacy of our theology, not abstract concepts.”


Much like conservative and progressive Christians who distort their own faith with their political views, Black Liberation Theology looks to be using Christianity as a tool for another agenda. Christ does not seem primary, but rather decrying oppressors and racism (and likely seeing racism where it doesn't exist, which causes other problems and is one of the reasons I disliked Obama, but that's a digression).

It seems to me that the only reason one would choose a BT church over any other church would be the emphasis on racial identity and left-wing identity politics and social power dynamics over Christian identity. If Christ is not primary, it's Christian-themed at best.

Legion of Logic said...

Starhopper: "Legion, are you familiar with soon-to-be canonized Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was a leading advocate for liberation theology?"

I am not, but I looked him up on Wikipedia (authoritative source, I know) and it seemed that he wasn't overly interested in the type of liberation theology that Black Liberation Theology belongs to.

"According to Jesús Delgado, his biographer and Postulator of the Cause for his canonization, Romero agreed with the Catholic vision of Liberation Theology and not with the materialist vision: "A journalist once asked him: ‘Do you agree with Liberation Theology’ And Romero answered: "Yes, of course. However, there are two theologies of liberation. One is that which sees liberation only as material liberation. The other is that of Paul VI. I am with Paul VI."[31] Delgado said that Romero did not read the books on Liberation Theology which he received, and he gave the lowest priority to Liberation Theology among the topics that he studied."

And this (I assume is authentic) guidance from the Vatican seems to also warn against that form of LT.

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19840806_theology-liberation_en.html

One Brow said...

Much like conservative and progressive Christians who distort their own faith with their political views, Black Liberation Theology looks to be using Christianity as a tool for another agenda. Christ does not seem primary, but rather decrying oppressors and racism (and likely seeing racism where it doesn't exist, which causes other problems and is one of the reasons I disliked Obama, but that's a digression).

It seems to me that the only reason one would choose a BT church over any other church would be the emphasis on racial identity and left-wing identity politics and social power dynamics over Christian identity. If Christ is not primary, it's Christian-themed at best.


In my experience, the theme of liberation from sin/threat of hell/etc. is central to almost all Christian denominations, and this just adds racism to that list. By contrast, your link discusses the tendencies to Marxist themes, and I am not aware of significant Marxist tendencies in black liberation theology.

I agree that one would choose a church based on its speaking to one's identity. I am sure you have chosen a church that is minimally involved with the black racial identity, as that clearly does not speak to you. Most Catholics I knew chose the mass they attended, in part, based on the atmosphere and the priest they felt spoke to them. That does not mean their services were centered on something other than Christ. From the services I have attended and the videos I have seen, there is a central focus on Christ in black liberation churches.

Based on what you have typed, I can only conclude that the reason you don't see the centrality of Christ in the quotes you provided from Cone is a distaste for the political consequences of black liberation. Your statement that Obama was "likely seeing racism where it doesn't exist", as if such a place/condition existed, provides further proof that you are blind to the reality here.

Legion of Logic said...

One Brow: "In my experience, the theme of liberation from sin/threat of hell/etc. is central to almost all Christian denominations, and this just adds racism to that list."

And it appears that the added racism is the dominant tenet, the reason to be BLT and not, say, Assembly of God. If you have information otherwise, I'll certainly look it over. Speaking of other information, here is another quote from the founder of the BLT movement, James Cone: ""Theologically, Malcolm X was not far wrong when he called the white man 'the devil.'" I suspect Cone has/had a few issues that influenced the theology.


"By contrast, your link discusses the tendencies to Marxist themes, and I am not aware of significant Marxist tendencies in black liberation theology."

I would assume they are referring to the viewing of the world through the lens of oppressor vs oppressed, power dynamics, class struggle, etc. Cone was not a stranger to Marxist theory.


"I am sure you have chosen a church that is minimally involved with the black racial identity, as that clearly does not speak to you."

Being told I'm a racist and part of the problem because I'm white does tend to make me an unreliable ally to such people. It's unlikely I'd be welcome at one of their congregations anyway.


"From the services I have attended and the videos I have seen, there is a central focus on Christ in black liberation churches."

That could be the case, but a denomination that is one step from considering fellow brothers in Christ "the devil" because they have a lighter shade of skin is a problematic denomination, at best. Unless the founder of the denomination has no influence to the churches within? Is judging people based on their skin color not a central part of the doctrine?


"I can only conclude that the reason you don't see the centrality of Christ in the quotes you provided from Cone is a distaste for the political consequences of black liberation."

What are these consequences of which you speak? Being declared a racist and oppressor by people who don't know me? And I believe the quotes speak for themselves about the racial lens through which the doctrine is interpreted, rather than the other way around. Yes, all Christians do this at one point or another without even realizing it, but BLT requires it.


One Brow: "Your statement that Obama was "likely seeing racism where it doesn't exist", as if such a place/condition existed, provides further proof that you are blind to the reality here."

You took a statement that is referring to individual instances in which racism was not a factor, and responded as if it was referring to a larger picture of society. Obviously racism exists, but not in every instance in which Obama or other progressives claim it exists.

Victor Reppert said...

I encountered liberation theology in seminary. There are different degrees to which it can be taken. One of my church history professors, Justo Gonzalez, was into liberation theology, but seemed quite thoroughly Christian in his theology. But the Catholic Church, under John Paul and Cardinal Ratzinger, came down hard on it.

One Brow said...

And it appears that the added racism is the dominant tenet, the reason to be BLT and not, say, Assembly of God. If you have information otherwise, I'll certainly look it over.

I see it as a distinguishing tenet, as opposed to a dominating one.

Speaking of other information, here is another quote from the founder of the BLT movement, James Cone: ""Theologically, Malcolm X was not far wrong when he called the white man 'the devil.'" I suspect Cone has/had a few issues that influenced the theology.

If liberation is key to Christianity, then the quote is understandable. Oppressors (intentional or otherwise) are blocking Christian values. With more context:

The demonic forces of racism are real for the black man. Theologically, Malcolm X was not far wrong when he called the white man "the devil." The white structure of this American society, personified in every racist, must be at least part of what the new Testament meant by demonic forces.

A little further down:

Therefore, when blacks assert their freedom in self-determination, whites to are liberated.

I would assume they are referring to the viewing of the world through the lens of oppressor vs oppressed, power dynamics, class struggle, etc. Cone was not a stranger to Marxist theory.

You are free to assume anything you like. It's easier than looking up the works and reading them.

Being told I'm a racist and part of the problem because I'm white does tend to make me an unreliable ally to such people.

Is there a difference between being told you are a racist and being told you are supporting a racist power structure? Have you done anything to help dismantle the racist power structure?

It's unlikely I'd be welcome at one of their congregations anyway.

If you came to listen and learn, I think you be very welcome at most congregations.

That could be the case, but a denomination that is one step from considering fellow brothers in Christ "the devil" because they have a lighter shade of skin is a problematic denomination, at best. Unless the founder of the denomination has no influence to the churches within? Is judging people based on their skin color not a central part of the doctrine?

I don't see such judgment in the parts of Black Power and Black Theology I've read. Perhaps you should try digging deeper than a single mined quote, chosen with an agenda to discredit Obama via Jeremiah Wright?

What are these consequences of which you speak? Being declared a racist and oppressor by people who don't know me?

Why are you so worried about what other people call you? I always found it amusing when people called me a racist.

And I believe the quotes speak for themselves about the racial lens through which the doctrine is interpreted, rather than the other way around. Yes, all Christians do this at one point or another without even realizing it, but BLT requires it.

Well, maintaining that belief is certainly easier than looking at the source material, and reading the quotes in context.

You took a statement that is referring to individual instances in which racism was not a factor, and responded as if it was referring to a larger picture of society.

Racism is always a factor in the life of a black person. It touches who they marry, their educations; what jobs they can get; how they are treated by police, store clerks, people walking down the street, etc.; where they can live, the type of credit they qualify for, basically everything. If you don't understand that, you're really not qualified to criticize Cone's position.

Obviously racism exists, but not in every instance in which Obama or other progressives claim it exists.

For example?

Legion of Logic said...

One Brow: "You are free to assume anything you like. It's easier than looking up the works and reading them."

It's also easier to make assertions than to link material demonstrating your case. Do you have a recommendation?


"Is there a difference between being told you are a racist and being told you are supporting a racist power structure?"

Not if both are asserted without evidence by people who know nothing about me.


"Have you done anything to help dismantle the racist power structure?"

Apparently not being racist doesn't count. What precisely am I expected to do that would fall under "dismantling the racist power structure"? Also, I don't care if idiots call me racist, but their irrational mindset should be taken into consideration when I distinguish them as friendly or hostile to me, as it were.

"Perhaps you should try digging deeper than a single mined quote, chosen with an agenda to discredit Obama via Jeremiah Wright?"

So all of my quotes are a single mined quote meant to discredit Obama? Did you read what I wrote? I suspect at this point it doesn't matter, since you are apparently convinced you know my motivations. People who see racism under every rock are very hard to deal with rationally.


"Racism is always a factor in the life of a black person"

The subsequent manner in which you elaborate on this claim is impossible to refute even in principle, so I'm not too interested in attempting. However, I suspect many/most conservative black people would disagree that the problem is as extensive as you assert. I would need some very compelling evidence to believe otherwise. Preemptive statement on my part, obviously racism exists, but I have seen no evidence that it permeates literally every facet of black people's lives. I'm calling BS on that one without seeing evidence that would convince a conservative black person that they can't even marry without encountering racism.


"For example?"

I'll need some convincing that you are capable of objectivity toward Obama before I waste my time answering (though a quick Google search demonstrates my point). Your characterization of my multiple Cone quotes as a single quote from Wright meant to discredit Obama indicates you are just a little too defensive of him for me to have an Obama discussion with. That is never productive when I attempt it.

One Brow said...

It's also easier to make assertions than to link material demonstrating your case. Do you have a recommendation?

I quoted from Black Power and Black Theology, using the free online preview.

Not if both are asserted without evidence by people who know nothing about me.

So, you understand that when people call you (or me) a racist, it's not about what you feel? That it is not a claim you are a bigot?

Apparently not being racist doesn't count.

See, just above, you said that there was no difference between being a racist and supporting a racist power structure. Now, you are saying there is a difference. When you make up your mind on that, it will be easier to use terminology in a way you can understand.

What precisely am I expected to do that would fall under "dismantling the racist power structure"?

I don't know enough about your life to say more than it needs to be active and regular, as opposed to passive and rare. Perhaps you could talk to some local organizations, some coworkers, etc., if you want to try.

Also, I don't care if idiots call me racist, but their irrational mindset should be taken into consideration when I distinguish them as friendly or hostile to me, as it were.

Why would you think you were important enough to rate being hostile to?

So all of my quotes are a single mined quote meant to discredit Obama?

The one quote you gave as saying racism was the dominant tenet certainly was. When researching it, I saw it on a few websites talking about Jeremiah Wright, and how Obama going to his church was a bad sign for America. You offered it with no context, and gave it a meaning that, in context, it did not have (as my larger quote should have shown you).

However, if you came across the quote in a different context, that is relevant. Where did you find the quote, and why did you choose that one?

At any rate, which of your other Cone quotes do you think show hostility to you?
It is the affirmation of black humanity that emancipates black people from white racism, thus providing authentic freedom for both white and black people. It affirms the humanity of white people in that it says "no" to the encroachment of white oppression.

The black man’s response to God’s act in Christ must be different from the white’s because his life experiences are different.

Life-giving power for the poor and the oppressed is the primary criterion that we must use to judge the adequacy of our theology, not abstract concepts

One Brow said...

Did you read what I wrote?

Yes. Did you think some part was misunderstood or overlooked? If so, I will be happy to look at it again.

I suspect at this point it doesn't matter, since you are apparently convinced you know my motivations. People who see racism under every rock are very hard to deal with rationally.

Racism has little to do with your motivations, and it is not under every rock; it's easily visible and out in the open to those who care to see it.

The subsequent manner in which you elaborate on this claim is impossible to refute even in principle, so I'm not too interested in attempting. However, I suspect many/most conservative black people would disagree that the problem is as extensive as you assert.

I can also find people who deny the earth is round. There is a reason black conservatives are almost as rare as flat earthers.

I would need some very compelling evidence to believe otherwise.

If you care to do the research, there is plenty there.

Preemptive statement on my part, obviously racism exists, but I have seen no evidence that it permeates literally every facet of black people's lives. I'm calling BS on that one without seeing evidence that would convince a conservative black person that they can't even marry without encountering racism.

Interesting that you think people are convinced by evidence.

I'll need some convincing that you are capable of objectivity toward Obama before I waste my time answering (though a quick Google search demonstrates my point).

To you, I am sure it does.

Your characterization of my multiple Cone quotes as a single quote from Wright meant to discredit Obama indicates you are just a little too defensive of him for me to have an Obama discussion with. That is never productive when I attempt it.

I didn't say it was a quote from Wright, I said it was "chosen with an agenda to discredit Obama via Jeremiah Wright".

However, you are correct that I should not judge. How did you first come across that quote, and considering the full context of it, why did you think it mattered to this conversation?

Anonymous said...

Legion of Logic: Certainly, and it's not as though the Catholics (and Orthodox) don't have plenty of scandals of their own. In this particular case, either of those two Churches has a sort of visible and practical unity which Protestant or others lack, and so, to that extent, do not contribute to scandals of unity to the same degree (of course, it takes two to refuse to tango!). Now Protestants would rightly point out that unity in matters of error is not something to be desired... which just goes to show why crying "scandal" is not always helpful, and can in fact backfire.

As to the issue itself, I think the solution must be to "be deep in history", to use Newman's phrase; his Apologia pro Vita Sua is worth reading. (That is, the underlying question is where the authority of the Church lay (or continues to lie in the present day), and questions of individual teachings or practices are separate matters.)

Legion of Logic said...

One Brow: "If you care to do the research, there is plenty there."

"Interesting that you think people are convinced by evidence."

I'm having difficulty reconciling these two thoughts.

I will read the resource you cited.

One Brow said...

One Brow: "If you care to do the research, there is plenty there."

"Interesting that you think people are convinced by evidence."

I'm having difficulty reconciling these two thoughts.


Me too. Ultimately, humans are convinced by the emotional response, evidence can at best prepare them to be convinced. Very rarely, a person can detach themself enough from a topic that evidence alone is sufficient. However, I am appreciative that you are willing to do some more reading.

jdhuey said...

https://www.salon.com/2018/04/05/have-christian-nationalists-staged-a-soft-coup-with-trump-as-their-figurehead/


I'm not sure I buy this analysis in toto but it does somewhat explain the peculiar relationship between Trump and the Evangelicals.