Trump and White Evangelicals

Now that I’ve reached the point where I can be somewhat analytical about the election results, I wanted to put together my thoughts on one part of the voting population I can wrap my head around: white evangelical Christians, particularly in the suburban Midwest where I grew up. This group made up made up 26% of the electorate according to Pew Research, and 81% of them supported Donald Trump.

How they could justify his distinctly un-Christian behavior during the campaign is its own huge discussion — but for now I want to focus on the aftermath, and the dynamic between white evangelicals and minority groups.

One time I was at a family reunion in Wisconsin, and an older relative was telling us about how she’d supported an immigrant family in her community whose child had died. As she described the distinctly non-Christian funeral rites performed by the grieving parents, she said, “And the really sad thing is, they had no idea of the joy that we have through Jesus.”

Of course this was meant with kindness and sympathy, but her comparison of the immigrant family’s emotional journey to our family’s has always stuck with me. It’s a theme I notice whenever I look back on Bible study lessons about other cultures and religions when I was growing up: they believe what they believe because they don’t realize how much happier we are.

Muslims would immediately embrace Christianity if they could only experience our true faith for a moment (so the argument goes). Gay couples believe they love each other but are secretly unhappy because they can’t reach the higher, purer love of straight Christian couples.

And here’s the kicker to this philosophy: deep down, other cultures know we’re right. We all sense the Divine Truth in our hearts like a compass needle pointing North, but non-Christians don’t want to accept it, so they create religions and cultures and traditions that are pale imitations of the truth. Even supposedly secular institutions like Science or Feminism are fake religions with fake gods, attempting to fill the Christ-shaped hole in their hearts.

So you can imagine how evangelicals feel about someone voting for Clinton.

That’s what bugs me about this push to “get out of our bubbles” and try to understand each other — because even at their kindest and most sympathetic, even if they concede that liberal voters aren’t terrible people, white evangelicals think they’ve already got us figured out. They know our lives better than we do, and they’ll be praying for us.