This week, a Religious Right organization that I follow closely, Family Research Council, sent me the following press release:
FRC is an off-shoot of Focus on the Family, an organization once headed by the terrible child psychologist (His Dare to Discipline! has been used to justify violence against children for a generation) James Dobson. FRC started as the research arm of that organization before becoming an independent group that seeks to influence policy toward the ends of religious conservatives: against abortion, gay rights, taxes, and environmental regulation and for the upward distribution of wealth and militarism.
While faithful Christians should recognize the devil in Donald Trump, FRC, like most other Religious Right organizations and their leaders, has embraced him, downplaying or ignoring his crassness and hatefulness and instead seeing him as a King Cyrus—if not a godly man, then a man called by God to lead American Christians out of this period of perceived persecution and into, ideally, a theocracy.
Historian John Fea, of Messiah College, calls this kind of Christian a “court evangelical”—and the term should sting. Rather than serving the people by challenging their evil king, as Joseph and Daniel and Esther did, court evangelicals are quick to bend a knee to King Donald. Writes Fea in The Washington Post:
The court evangelicals are changing the religious landscape in the United States. The Trump presidency is only six months old, but it is already beginning to alter long-standing spiritual alignments. It seems as though Christians are not changing Trump, but rather that Trump could be changing Christianity.
Fea’s case is well-made at his blog, The Way of Improvement Leads Home, and readers who want the follow the ample evidence he provides of religious conservatives’ present-day Constantinian shift should check it out. Fea provides enough examples to make those who take Jesus’ words that “the last shall be first” seriously very uneasy.
Case in point: the headline on that press release.
It references Psalm 100, a passage familiar to many Christians because it appears in the lyrics of a popular worship song. Here is the entire psalm:
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his[a];
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Here, the people are rejoicing to enter into God’s court. In FRC’s version, they are rejoicing to enter into Trump’s.
A major conversation is happening on a subreddit scene devoted to Trump as “God Emperor.” Reddit is a cesspool of misogyny, racism, and homophobia—but it’s also a place that gives us a decent preview of what Trump enthusiasts are about. Conservative Christians should be deeply offended by what is an obvious affront to the first commandment. Instead, they’re some of the biggest pushers of a vision of Trump-as-God.
I’d encourage any reader who is a fan on FRC to contact the organization here and let them know that their Trump-worship isn’t just politically dangerous—it’s blasphemous.