Culture Wars/Current Controversies

The Uneasy Alliance of Evangelicals and Conservatism

Trumpism is dividing the evangelicals.

By D.G. Hart, The American Conservatism

Since Ronald Reagan’s defeat of Jimmy Carter in 1980, evangelical Protestants have been a seemingly solid segment within American conservatism. “Seemingly” is important, because conservatives often scratch their heads at evangelical habits of mind. Some of the pundits who have had the biggest platforms during the Trump years, for instance, are Michael Gerson, Peter Wehner, and David French. All have been overwhelmingly critical of Donald Trump. Their objections are almost always moral.

In August of 2018, for instance, Gerson wrote in The Atlantic about Trump’s many moral failings, from support for partial-birth abortion to boasts about his genitalia, as a way to plead with evangelicals not to support but to “exorcize” the president. French tallied Trump’s wickedness in a publicized debate with Eric Metaxas at a Q Summit (not to be confused with QAnon) in the spring of 2020. For good measure, he called Trump “malicious, cruel, corrupt, incompetent,” attributes not exactly identical to the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Meanwhile, Wehner’s reason for writing his book The Death of Politics (2019) was to help fellow evangelicals see that “Trump is precisely the kind of person our system of government was designed to avoid.”

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