This is an excerpt from the chapter "Trump's Vision of America":
Why weren’t my church leaders more concerned about the virus? Because their leader, President Trump, wasn’t concerned. They were reflecting his values. I have come to call it drinking the “Trump Kool-Aid.” I wish I could say that the decision to go maskless and not be as concerned about social distancing was done under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I can’t say that it was. The influence of the Republican Party and its leader had permeated the sermons and now even the conduct of the service. I couldn’t take it…
That brings me to Kenneth Copeland. There are few ministry leaders whose teachings I regard more highly. I have been to several of his ministry conferences and benefitted greatly from the teaching of his wife Gloria and those of his “spiritual sons,” Jerry Savelle and Creflo Dollar. For many years I was a financial supporter of his ministry. I was greatly disturbed, however, by a video that went viral, in which he led an outburst of what would be called holy laughter over the notion that Joe Biden had won the election. I was saddened and shocked.
He led this laughter session in a way that seemed to suggest that there was no way God could be done with the election because Donald Trump was God’s man. He was treating the election results in the same way that the president was, in mocking fashion, in denial. Had he been drinking the Trump Kool-Aid? I found out later that many other high-profile white evangelical leaders had wrongly prophesied that Trump was God’s choice and would be the winner. Kool-Aid on tap.
I understand that Kenneth Copeland later apologized. I’m not surprised. One of my favorite sermons by him was on the topic of “honor.” But his reaction showed me how far President’s Trump’s influence had reached into the body of Christ.
The Republican Party had been reshaped by the president. He had bullied, fired, and threatened the party into his own image. His leadership influence had also been unmistakably stamped on the evangelical church. Many in the church were parroting his views on race and even the coronavirus. I, as a life-long Republican voter, felt left out in 2016. The party became a MAGA-love fest in which I was only marginally included. I couldn’t see myself in President Trump’s vision of a great America.
Certainly by 2020, after the president had spoken out in favor of Confederate monuments and the rebel flag, praised Kyle Rittenhouse and invited the Proud Boys “to stand back and stand by,” there was no room for me at the table of a Trumpian America. But why was there still room for my Christian friends and leaders? The Kool-Aid.
President Trump had sold them on a vision of America in which people of color could sit comfortably on a second-tier or go back to the countries that they came from. The President had either succeeded in reshaping the values of many evangelicals or by exposing the values they already had. In either case, his leadership influence on them was clear for all to see.
I know that all Republicans and evangelicals do not share the president’s views. However, very few that disagree with him come forward to challenge him publicly.
“Millions of Republican voters do not agree with white supremacy, but they delude themselves when they ignore this rotting core of their party. One cannot simply brush off Confederate symbolism, race baiting and incitement of White militia as “just Trump talking” any more than one can pretend the post-election shenanigans are anything but an effort to disenfranchise Black voters so that White votes control the outcome. There is no “But Gorsuch” or “But tax cuts” or “But religious liberty” that justifies this behavior — akin to Whites of the 1950s saying they were not for segregation, just “states’ rights.”
Many pundits are pleading for the nearly 80 million people who voted for Biden to try to understand those who did not, but it is time to implore the less than 74 million who voted for Trump to take off their rose-colored glasses, confront what is at the core of the Trump movement and reject White grievance and Black disenfranchisement. Unless they do, there will be no healing, no reconciliation and no multiracial democracy.” (Rubin, 2020)
Being comfortable with this vision of exclusivity is a form of racism. It's a twisted world view that says that people that look like me deserve to dominate the American political, economic, and even spiritual leadership landscapes. Implied is a superiority complex tied to race and national origin. Embedded within, undergirding this exclusionary mindset is the long-enduring lie that one race of people built America.
Its close companion lie is that white people aren't descendants of immigrants or that descendants of white immigrants deserve a higher status amongst other people because white immigrants "founded our democracy."
These enduring lies support the thought that being born white eliminates the concept of meritocracy. It ignores our country's very founding principles that say all men are created equal and have the same unalienable rights bestowed by God. It says that because I was born white, it trumps any education, talents, efforts, or any other possible credential that you have as a minority.
Because I haven’t heard many Republican leaders or evangelical leaders, for that matter, “confronting” or “rejecting,” I cannot believe that they see that America is indeed in need of “healing” and “reconciliation.” Instead of contending for a “multiracial democracy,” they have embraced Trump’s vision of America.
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