Why do white evangelical Christians who once promoted “family values” and proclaim still the nation’s moral decline continue to support Donald Trump? I have to believe that they see what we see, his pathological aversion to the truth, his sexual improprieties, adultery, misogyny, racism, bigotry, faithlessness, corruption, and incompetence as a leader? Is it only because they want to be certain that the President appoints another conservative nominee like Justice Neal Gorsuch should a vacancy occur on the Supreme Court?
These white evangelicals represent an estimated 40% of the voting electorate, according to a 2016 Pew exit poll. 80% of evangelical Christians voted for Trump. This means that 32% of the roughly 40% that approves of Trump’s presidency are evangelical white Christians.
In Sunday’s New York Times (March 31, 2018) Amy Sullivan wrote (“Democrats are Christians, Too”) that many evangelicals voted for Trump because the Republican Party is now baked into the evangelical community’s DNA following decades of “fearmongering about Democrats and religious liberals.” She explains that white evangelicals supported Trump because they fundamentally disagree with Democrats on the wedge issues of homosexuality, gay marriage, and abortion. Even if they didn’t like Trump personally, they couldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton.
Sullivan acknowledges that there are many thoughtful “never-Trump” conservatives such as columnist Michael Gerson who wrote in The Atlantic that Trump is “blinded by political tribalism and hatred for their political opponents…[that] little remains of a distinctly Christian public witness…[that Trump is] deeply and defiantly ignorant,” that he “suffers from serious moral impairment and is dangerously unqualified.” (“The Last Temptation” – https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/04/the-last-temptation/554066/)
But might there be another reason that evangelical whites stick with Trump – “The Rapture?”
The “Rapture” is the belief that in the end of days after a final cataclysmic battle led by the Antichrist and engulfing the world, believers in Jesus Christ (both the dead and the living) suddenly will be resurrected and will meet their Lord in the air, all before the time of God’s wrath. This end-time will be characterized by famine, earthquakes, an epidemic of new diseases, dissention in society and between nations, and war – a time of chaotic misery from which the people will crave delivery and a savior.
Everything Trump does makes this country and the world less safe including his withdrawal from international agreements, his bellicose talk against North Korea, his love-affair with Vladimir Putin, his divide and conquer strategy pitting whites against peoples of color, his cozying up to alt-right fanatics and neo-Nazis, his attacks on non-white immigrants, and his constant delegitimization of the media and the institutions of our democracy. All may be understood by evangelical white Christians as preparing the ground for a cataclysmic event that will usher in the end-of-days “Rapture” followed by the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Evangelicals don’t talk about this, but “The Rapture” is fundamental to their evangelical Christian theology and is the only explanation that seems to justify why these people stick by this immoral president.