Wonder why alleged Christians are Trump Supporters? David French has a report that explains much

is the headline over a column by David French about a news story you not have heard about — almost certainly if your primary news sources are from the right wing media bubble. (The link should provide full access.) Here’s how it starts:

Let me share with you one of the worst and most important recent news stories that you’ve probably never heard about. Late last month, the Southern Baptist Convention settled a sex abuse lawsuit brought against a man named Paul Pressler for an undisclosed sum. The lawsuit was filed in 2017 and alleged that Pressler had raped a man named Duane Rollins for decades, with the rapes beginning when Rollins was only 14 years old.

The story would be terrible enough if Pressler were simply an ordinary predator. But while relatively unknown outside of evangelical circles, Pressler is one of the most important American religious figures of the 20th century. He and his friend Paige Patterson, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, are two of the key architects of the so-called conservative resurgence within the S.B.C.

The details are horrendous, not least because the abuses went on for years and were known at high levels within the SBC — but nothing was done. But what’s also of note is that French reports how the double standard works. Conservatives can give chapter and verse of every scandal on the Left — including those that are wholly imaginary — but when it comes to the Right?

…We’re all left with the disturbing and humbling reality that whatever our ideology or theology, it doesn’t make us good people. The allegedly virtuous “us” commits the same sins as the presumptively villainous “them.”

How does a typical conservative activist deal with this reality? By pretending it doesn’t exist. Shortly after the Pressler settlement was announced, I looked for statements or commentary or articles by the conservative stalwarts who cover left-wing misconduct with such zeal. The silence was deafening. If you mainly receive your information from right-wing sources, the odds are good that you haven’t seen this news at all.

And if people on the Right do hear about things like this? “Conservative partisans can simply cry “media bias!” and rely on their followers to tune it all out. To those followers, a scandal isn’t real until people they trust say it’s real.” This is a dynamic Sara Robinson detailed in her introductory piece about authoritarian movements. Scroll down to her descriptions of leaders and followers

If you’ve been wondering why Donald Trump has such a following among the Christian Right, it’s because they’ve been conditioned by their religion to accept the leadership of patriarchs who can do no wrong, whose authority is not to be questioned, and their conviction that they are the only truly moral actors. It’s how they can support a rapist with 91 criminal cases pending against him.

Here’s three selections from the top comments on French’s article:

Gilby

Visiting my hometown in the rural south, this reality is apparent. I can ask, ” How can you support this, given x, y, and z?” only to find that they’ve never heard about x and y, and have heard only an upside-down version of z. You might as well be bringing them dispatches from some foreign land. There’s a whole landscape of information they have been carefully shielded from.

I was standing in a bookstore, with a large Christian section, and I overheard the follwoing conversation.  One woman told the other one that she finally was divorced from her physically abusive husband.  The other woman asked why she put up with physical abuse.  She said that she and her husband went to counciling with their minister of the faith this article is about, before she sought a divorce.  Her friends and other church leaders had urged her to do so for their pre-teen children.  At the counciling she said she could tell the minister was taking her husbands side.  The counseling went on for a few weeks, with another abuse episode.  The minister at the last session they had, suggested the following.  If you know he is capable of abuse, why do you do the things that set him off?  You need to modify your behavior.  After all he is a provider, and the father to your children.  She said she never went back, and shortly filed for divorce.  Apparently protecting the men is the paramount mission for this denomination.  I admit I was disturbed that a minister would take that position, it is the abused person’s fault that they are abused.  That pretty well goes with this article.

Exactly right. I listen to several hours of talk radio every day. It’s a weird obsession, I know. But that’s exactly what happens on talk radio. They highlight the tiniest moral infraction by some professor or left-wing activist and make all about how “the left is evil”. And they ignore or make light of giant scandals on the right. The result is that they don’t live in the real world. They are almost entirely convinced that Biden is “the most corrupt president in the history of America”, despite the fact that there is zero evidence to prove it. This is a much bigger problem than most Americans realize.

It’s worth repeating that those who think we should be putting efforts into getting their votes is not the most efficient use of resources. As Sara Robinson notes in her later writings on the subject, followers of this kind of mind set are not easily persuaded by outside actors. It takes something they experience as a betrayal of their trust and their beliefs within their community to get them to look elsewhere. (The comment above from Fred is an example.) Robinson suggests the way to deal with them when they are ready to make a break is to isolate the leaders and give their followers looking for an alternative a safe landing zone

If you are wondering why there is such a good fit between the Christian Right and the anti-democratic authoritarian GOP of Donald Trump, this commentary by French provides some important clues. This kind of behavior is all through the “Moral Majority”.


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