First published on Christian Controverser
Back in a previous post on this blog the idea was floated that evangelical leaders had decided Trump was anointed / appointed by God to his role as US president, this was predicated on the strong language being used by these leaders to describe what would happen if Trump was impeached or lost the election, and subsequent events where these leaders have invoked various conspiracy theories to explain the election loss and claimed Trump can still win despite all of the losses his campaign has experienced. At the time the notion of a divine appointment was not possible to prove, it was just an educated guess. Now, in an October 29, 2020 article at activist site Right Wing Watch that digs in depth into the fervent support that Charisma Magazine has given to the Trump campaign, this idea is discussed in detail. The post looks into the promotion of various anti-Democrat conspiracy theories being circulated by Charisma, and the truth is, they are far from alone in the evangelical community, with similar views aired nightly on CBN by host Pat Robertson, among others. Charisma has been sourcing and publishing material from people closely connected in far Right circles with associations to Breitbart and other publishers. Additionally, Charisma’s publisher claims the Democrats party are primarily responsible for undermining US democracy, yet appears silent on the active GOP engagement in voter suppression in numerous states it controls. Somewhere along the way, truth became partisan, and with it, the evangelical church in American became another institution split along political lines.
The reference to Trump’s supposed Godly calling comes in a single sentence near the end of the article and is not expanded upon in any way therein. But more clues can be found in frequent references made by Trump evangelical supporters to the concept that Trump is a modern day “Cyrus”, an allusion to the pagan king of Nehemiah’s day, who received inspiration to enable the exiled Jews to return and rebuild Solomon’s Temple in the city of Jerusalem. This concept has been widely explored in the mainstream media, this article from 11 January 2020 in the Guardian being one such example. Notably, it immediately invokes a direct linkup with Zionist nationalism in modern day Israel and the US government’s heavy involvement there, and particularly the beliefs of dispensationalist evangelicals in the US as key proponents of a heresy that a third temple must be built in the ancient Biblical capital in order to help usher in the “end times” and the second coming of Jesus Christ.
The dangerous deception in this belief is that Trump responded just as his evangelical cheerleaders thought he should. He stacked his cabinet with conservative Christians, he actioned the long-deferred relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and his policies have strongly pushed back against litmus evangelical social concerns in areas like abortion, transgenderism and immigration. He appointed three conservative justices to the Supreme Court and a near-record number of appointments to lower courts across the US. Numerous other policies implemented by his cabinet, VP Pence and the Republican-controlled Senate have continued the broad trend of Trumpism aligned with strongly moralistic conservative evangelical beliefs that have divided even the US evangelical community down strong partisan lines, let alone the rest of the world.
The real truth behind the Cyrus-Trump parallels is that they are essentially founded on political expendiency and pragmatism. Traditionally, evangelicals have been reluctant to compare leading politicians with biblical figures, making this situation somewhat unique for Trump. Many Republican presidents have been at least nominally Christian, especially since the Reagan era. The conservative evangelical community in America had hoped to get another leading faith-aligned candidate into the presidency in the primaries for 2016 – just as they always do. When it became obvious that Trump would be the GOP candidate, they came up with the Cyrus comparison to swing support behind him.
Fundamentally though, and chillingly for a national with a proud democratic founding and track record like the United States of America, the biggest issue from invoking comparisons with a historical monarchical figure is that they have absolutely supremacy over their subjects and next to no accountability. As far as Trump’s evangelical acolytes are concerned, his election is the first step towards a theocratic government. Somewhere along the way, democracy will cease to exist in its current form because when you are appointed by God you are only accountable to him and to your fellow believers, and the bulk of the US population who aren’t Christian or specifically supporters of the Trump-inspired stream of evangelicalism don’t have any rights at all. This sounds and is outrageous in whole-world terms, but is not so far fetched in the fervency of American Christian nationalism, whose supporters believe the US was founded as a Godly nation and should be one today.
The most recent kind of evangelical cheerleading for autocratic unilaterial decision-making by their King Trump has been the suggestion aired by a prominent Floridan preacher on Charisma 16th December 2020 that the president should declare martial law to overturn the election results in key states and re-run them under military control. In the interview with Charisma publisher Strang, the latter reveals he believed election fraud would be the no.1 reason Trump could lose an election; apparently, the idea that in a democracy, voters could legitimately vote out a massively incompetent leader, a far more likely scenario, is beyond belief. Now, numerous news outlets have reported that the martial law idea, advocated by Lt Gen Mike Flynn, was recently aired in a heated meeting in the White House. Flynn is already tied up intimately with conservative evangelical campaigning for Trump (he was the key speaker at the recent Jericho March) and ultimately it is the support at this level that has significantly enabled Trump to continue refusing to concede and seeking ways to overturn the election outcome. The real problem for credulous conservative evangelicals is that despite the corrupt behaviour of key Republican leaders and politicians, they are no closer to their desired theocratic government than they ever have been at any time in US history, in reality. It is far more likely with the high level of political polarisation and continual perpetuation of historical racism that America will enter a second Civil War, than that Christian nationalists will achieve their aims.