In my twenties I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior in order to belong to the bible fellowship I had been attending with my friends. I “became” (as if that were possible) a born-again Christian just before Jimmy Carter, also a born-again Christian, announced his candidacy for President.
I volunteered every spare moment for Carter’s campaign, a Democrat who proclaimed himself a sinner, saved by Jesus, just like me. After he was elected, some men and women in my small community bible fellowship preached that Carter was a tool of the devil, because he promoted sex education and family planning in public schools (today’s purity tests are abortion and gay rights). I had naively become part of a Christian sub-culture that wanted no government interference in family matters. These Christians yoked Carter’s actions to his character and denounced the whole man as the anti-christ. That’s what evangelical Christians did then.
What Evangelical Christians do now is the exact opposite. Those who support Donald Trump have an ends-justify-the-means theology. As long as abortion is outlawed and gay rights are quashed, the means to get there (coercing Ukraine to dig up dirt on his potential political opponent) are not only ok, but justified, even applauded. Donald Trump’s interior life is not considered important or relevant, nor is the outward display of his character. They worship the end product.
In his book, Prayers of the Cosmos, Neil Douglas-Klotz notes that Aramaic, the language of Jesus “…does not draw sharp lines between means and ends, or between inner quality and outer action.” There are no words in this ancient language for an ends-justify-the means psychology: a person with unrepentant character defects is so unlikely to perform noble deeds that it cannot even be talked about. Logic follows that a person who provides immoral leadership is likely to be of ignoble character.
A guy named Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer established an ultra-conservative, ultra-secret Catholic lay organization in 1928, Opus Dei. Followers learn to abandon their principles, that the ends always justify the means. They believe Trump was chosen by God to protect the unborn fetus and restore Judeo-Christian moral order. Trump’s Attorney General, Bill Barr is Opus Dei (as are other Trump appointees). Doesn’t this explain a lot?
I left that Christian cult years ago. However, I understand, even admire, their members’ rejection of Jimmy Carter because they considered his views on sex education immoral. I disagreed with their opinions but I too measured his character by words and deeds and came to a different conclusion. Perhaps this ancient Aramaic Jesus language trickles into a collective consciousness enabling some to see inner qualities and outer actions as one big squishy blob and accept or reject that whole person.
I keep asking myself what’s wrong with those Evangelical Christian (and conservative Catholic) Trump supporters. Don’t they care that his morally corrupt outsides match his morally incontinent insides? Their religious fervor veils their eyes to the hypocrisy Jesus condemned. They justify the deeds of their beloved lawbreaking reprobate. Have their souls separated from their minds? Or as Rev. William Barber has said, “After this year (with Trump) if you don’t believe in the devil there’s somethin wrong with your fuckin mind.”