The American evangelical movement, with its undeniable influence in politics and society, has long sparked intrigue and unease. Its strong ties with the Republican Party and notable support for former President Donald Trump have been particularly eyebrow-raising. In a compelling new book, a journalist delves into the intricate world of American Evangelicalism, taking a closer look at its roots, its intertwining with politics, and the consequential effect it has had on the nation.
The book, "The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism," presents a two-fold narrative that investigates the external political crisis instigated by Evangelicalism and the internal spiritual turmoil it undergoes. As a practicing Christian and offspring of an evangelical pastor, the writer is uniquely equipped to illuminate this multifaceted and frequently divisive movement.
Among the most striking discoveries from the research is the manner in which leading evangelical figures rationalized their backing for Trump. Despite acknowledging his shortcomings and contentious behavior, these leaders held the view that preserving Christian America justified the recruitment of someone who did not exemplify Christian values. This justification, as the author points out, is anchored in the sentiment that Trump was battling for their cause, thus meriting support, irrespective of his conduct.
The book also emphasizes the profound association between American Evangelicalism and nationalism. The apprehension of losing power and the conviction that America's fall is tied to declining religiosity have propelled the bond between Evangelicals and the Republican Party. This connection has resulted in the politicization of the church, with clergy delivering political sermons and congregants placing their patriotism above their faith.
While empathizing with the hurt and disenchantment experienced by numerous Evangelicals upset with the path their faith has taken, the author also poses critical questions about the future of Evangelicalism. Is a return to the core tenets of the faith and a concentration on spiritual matters a potential solution for the political crisis? Or is there a need to reassess and salvage what's left of Evangelicalism?
It's challenging to find a common ground due to conservative Evangelicals' extreme viewpoints on topics such as abortion and LGBTQ+ rights, which are contrary to medical science and public opinion. The remaining Evangelicals disheartened by their faith's current status may still adhere to reactionary beliefs, presenting a significant hurdle to any substantial change within the movement.
The future of American Evangelicalism remains foggy. A more rational and less politically driven version of the movement might provide temporary solace, but the deeply ingrained beliefs of Evangelicals make a total transformation hard to conceive. As long as large numbers of Evangelicals continue to oppose abortion rights and LGBTQ+ equality, society's most vulnerable members will continue to be at risk.
The book offers a thought-provoking exploration of American Evangelicalism and its impact on the nation. It challenges readers to consider religion's role in politics and society and to critically assess the beliefs and values that underpin their own faith traditions. Only through transparent and honest dialogue can we hope to address the complexities and contradictions of American Evangelicalism and strive for a more inclusive and just society.