Dr. Hollis Phelps, Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Mercer University in Macon Georgia explains why calling out White Evangelical hypocrisy is a failed exercise. He posits that one must play their game.
The White Evangelical movement is less about religious doctrine, and more about power and their Bible have all the passages they need as reference points.
I invited Dr. Phelps to Politics Done Right (PDR) to discuss his excellent article titled “Maybe It’s Time to Admit that the ‘Grotesque Caricature’ of White Evangelicals is the Reality” that we deconstructed and analyzed on our previous show.
I asked Dr. Phelps who are these white evangelicals that he wrote about in detail. He said they are a substantial portion of the population and an influential voting block.
"If you can get White Evangelicals if you can get their vote as a whole," Phelps said. "Then you can swing an election."
"If White Evangelicals hadn't lined up behind Donald Trump," Phelps continued. "Then Donald Trump wouldn't be president. I think he knew that going in. And he played it in his favor. So White Evangelicals, are in large measure, responsible for electing Donald Trump to the presidency."
Dr. Hollis Phelps deconstructs the White Evangelical
Dr. Phelps did not fall into the trap in which many are of the false belief that Donald Trump is responsible for our political corrosion. In fact, he said that it was not surprising that the White Evangelical lined up behind Donald Trump.
"White Evangelicals in the United States," Phelps said. "They constitute primarily, a political movement. And I think it is important to keep that in mind that religion and politics are never separate entities."
The professor said White Evangelicals since the Moral Majority has always been seeking political power. Moreover, he said, they have a vision of what they think America should be. Phelp noted White Evangelicals believe America must be a Christian Nation.
"Donald Trump in that sense gave them precisely what they wanted," Phelps said. "They are not interested in electing a 'moral figure' who is going to be some sort of moral exemplar that they can pattern their lives after. They are interested in someone who is going to give them what they want."
Phelps said White Evangelicals want so-called religious freedom, which is a euphemism for denying some people their rights. Long term, they want to stack the court with judges amenable to their position.
Later in the interview, Dr. Phelps used the story of Samson in the Bible's Book of Judges to illustrate precisely why Progressives calling out White Evangelicals on what they perceive as hypocrisy does not and will not work.
"Samson is held to be this great outstanding individual," Phelp said. "And even if you look at kids Bibles, he is pictured as a strong musculous person children should emulate and so on and so forth. But if you read his story, he is a horrible individual. He lies. He cheats. He commits genocide. He is not someone you would want to have as a moral example. Yet according to the narrative, he does God's will. So there is in the Bible some sort of support for this line of thinking."
In other words, Donald Trump may be Samson to Evangelicals and as such condemning their Christianity for supporting Trump is fruitless. Trump fits within the core belief system of the White Evangelical.
Also published on Medium.