Inside The Mind Of An Evangelical Trump-Supporter


This is a page from a Donald Trump coloring book on sale for $8 at Sam’s Club in Killeen, Texas. Remember that there are people in our country who bought this intentionally and unironically.
(Copyright © 2016 by Wil C. Fry.)

Raised in a politically conservative religious household, I typically have a good understanding of the conservative voter. But I got lost in the maze of 2016. I couldn’t figure out the pathway from “conservative and religious” to Donald Trump.

We saw typically Christian men (Huckabee, Carson, Cruz) flicker and fade during the primaries. We saw typical conservatives (Kasich, Rubio, Bush) rise a bit before disappearing beneath the Trump tsunami. At that point, I assumed that few if any of the religious conservatives I’d grown up with could stick with the out-of-control GOP crazy train. But several of them did, boggling my mind.

At least one made it clear to me that his choice was based on (1) Clinton bad, and (2) Pence good. Trump was basically irrelevant, if not slightly embarrassing. I was afraid to ask the others how they brought themselves to check the Trump box on the ballot. But I didn’t have to wait long to find out.

Less than a week after the election, under a Facebook post linking to a blog entry about the KKK’s support for Trump, one of those religious conservatives responded. The response was startling in its irrelevancy and ignorance, so I have copied it below in its entirety. But first, the thrust of the blog entry to which it responded:

“Many of my devout conservative friends were remarkably quiet when their candidate trashed their personal values. And they were remarkably quiet when their candidate made inexcusable first hand remarks about minorities, women and disabled Americans. And they were remarkably quiet when the dark forces of white supremacists aligned themselves in support of their candidate. I understand why. You couldn’t live with the alternative. So you rationalized out of fear that speaking up would enable it. Well, that risk is gone now. You avoided the end you couldn’t live with. That excuse is gone. And now it’s fair to say that tolerance of that behavior from here on can only be seen as an endorsement of it. So when there’s a KKK rally in North Carolina to celebrate the election of the candidate you support, you no longer have any excuse not to condemn it with the same uncompromising vigor that you condemned Hillary. Let’s see the memes. Let’s see the Facebook posts. Let’s see the outrage.”

This was my sentiment exactly toward my conservative relatives and friends, and I wish I had written it myself. I understand you didn’t like Mrs. Clinton, and that you’re against many liberal/progressive ideas. But surely you’re against the KKK, right? Surely now that the election is over, you can feel free to condemn awful behavior that makes Clinton seem like a saint. Right?

And I was happy to see that one of the religious conservatives from my past responded quickly: “Of course we condemn the KKK.”

Others chimed in, including at least one that I know voted third-party and another that I know voted for Clinton. But before the thread could die out, one more comment came. Read it below and see what you think.

“My vote had nothing to do with race. Both candidates were the same race. My vote was not about gender. I could have chosen someone of my own gender. I voted for LIFE of the UNBORN! I voted against Obama Care because my niece and nephew have diabetes, and Obama Care has driven the price of insulin so high they can not afford to have it, which means in time they will die. I didn’t vote for the third party candidate because there was no chance for a victory there. I am not a racist, I never have been. The same Bible that forbids abortion, forbids hate of those different from ourselves. I voted for Israel. I voted against the politics that caused Benghazi to be a disaster. I do not approve of filthy talk whether it is about men or women. I do not approve of name calling. I have not posted much since the election because I’m trying to let the fires of protest die a natural death. I do not want to add to them by foolish rhetoric. I did my best to vote my beliefs although my candidate is a fallen man, like we all are. I don’t hate him for his sins, neither does God. I do not hate Mrs. Clinton for her sins, neither does God. I don’t hate those who feel differently, and voted differently, neither does God.”

[Note: I’m not printing the person’s name or linking to the thread, because — as usual — I hope to use this quotation as representative of many people who feel exactly the same way. Here, my intent is not to bash someone, but rather to pick apart the faulty thinking that led to a poor decision, in the hopes that all of us can be better.]

First note that no part of this long and meandering comment responded to the original post in the thread. No part of it said “Yes, I voted for Trump, but of course I don’t condone the racist overtones.” Did she not understand the original post? Did she have no good response to it and so went another direction? I’m not sure.

***

But those first two sentences, though… “My vote had nothing to do with race. Both candidates were the same race.” Yes, almost ALL candidates in the history of the U.S. have been white. But clearly some of them were better for equality than others. Clearly one of these two candidates was better for racial equality than the other. Clearly one of them ran a campaign that the white supremacists of our nation loved. And you were okay with that.

Conclusion: missed the point.


The 2016 election map from the day after the election (not all votes had been counted at this point). Note how much of the country went red. These are the people who write comments like the one I’m rebutting in this entry.

***

“My vote was not about gender. I could have chosen someone of my own gender.”

Of course you could have. But what’s important here isn’t that one of the candidate was a woman and the other was a man. Rather, what was important is that one of them clearly treated women like interchangeable entertainment devices, while the other fought for gender equality. One of them shamed women for their weight, their looks, their periods, and the other candidate didn’t.

Conclusion: missed the point.

***

“I voted for LIFE of the UNBORN!”

Ah. Here it is. I’m fairly certain that for 90% or more of the people I know who voted for Trump, abortion was among their top two issues. Interestingly, many of them are also against safe sex education in public schools and easily obtainable contraceptives, the two things known to be most effective at preventing abortions. Interestingly, most of them are in favor of severely reducing public assistance to poor families with children.

But for many, many years, they’ve been convinced that a “D” next to someone’s name means “murdering babies” and an “R” next to somebody’s name means “saving the lives of the unborn”. I know, because I was told that too when I attended those churches.

Then I learned that banning abortion doesn’t stop abortion; it simply makes it drastically more dangerous for the woman, both in terms of her health and in terms of incarceration. This is what conservative evangelicals desire: people who have or perform abortions should be punished, both with severe health risks and imprisonment.

This is where they want their religious beliefs to control the government, and this is where they want the government to be bigger, stronger, and more invasive, despite other rhetoric claiming otherwise.

Conclusion: uninformed, hypocritical, theocratic, vengeful

***

“I voted against Obama Care because my niece and nephew have diabetes, and Obama Care has driven the price of insulin so high they can not afford to have it, which means in time they will die.”

As I’ve discussed before, the Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect. It was just better than other solutions being offered at the time (and orders of magnitudes better than what Republicans were suggesting). And no, the ACA (“Obamacare”) had nothing to do with the rising prices of insulin. It was greed that did that. Pure, unadulterated greed. It turns out that insulin prices were skyrocketing a decade BEFORE the Affordable Care Act was passed, and that the price was raised by the companies that make the drugs, not by any bureaucratic ACA rule. But don’t try to confuse conservatives with facts, right?

Notably, the ACA did nothing to bring costs down, did not restrict insurance companies or pharmaceutical companies from raising their prices — problems that existed long before Obamacare, and which will exist long after Obamacare.

Conclusion: misinformed or willfully ignorant

***

“I didn’t vote for the third party candidate because there was no chance for a victory there.”

My thoughts exactly. I was kind of surprised to find this bit of wisdom thrown into the midst of the other nonsense. But passing on a third party candidate left us with two. There was no requirement to choose the worst one.

***

“I am not a racist, I never have been. The same Bible that forbids abortion, forbids hate of those different from ourselves.”

Isn’t it weird how people who haven’t yet been accused of racism suddenly deny they’re racists? But at best, you saw the racism inherent in the campaign and decided you were okay with it.

Further, the Bible neither forbids abortion nor forbids racism. As for the former, it’s remarkably quiet about abortion, except for that one time (Numbers 5:11-31) where God ordered abortions in cases of infidelity. As for the latter, you can pick and choose what the Bible says about racism. There are remarkably insightful passages where Jesus pierces the tribalism of the Jews (for example: the story of the Good Samaritan), or when the apostles realized that Gentiles could be saved too (Acts 10:34-35). But then there are the dozens of places where God says to commit genocide on nations “because they do not worship me” (Deuteronomy 20:16-18, Joshua 10:40, and Jeremiah 50:21, just to name three examples).

Conclusion: answering an accusation that wasn’t made, then lying about the Bible

***

“I voted for Israel.”

No you didn’t. Israel wasn’t up for election in this campaign.

***

“I voted against the politics that caused Benghazi to be a disaster.”

Again, no you didn’t. You voted Republican, the very party that caused Benghazi to be a disaster — by denying funds for increased security measures (source) and then later by using the deaths of four Americans as a partisan tool to go after the woman they’ve always hated, spending nearly $7 million dollars (source) in an attempt to deflect blame from themselves.

Conclusion: either lying or badly misinformed

***

“I do not approve of filthy talk whether it is about men or women.”

This is probably true (from what I know of the person). But clearly you were willing to look past it in Trump’s case. Also, the “grab them by the pussy” controversy was NOT about “filthy talk”; it was about sexual assault.

***

“I have not posted much since the election because I’m trying to let the fires of protest die a natural death.”

This, hidden deep in the paragraph, is probably the saddest part to me, assuming she’s talking about those who protested Trump’s election (this was posted in November 2016, long before the Women’s March and others). Basically: “just be quiet and let Trump do all those horrible things he said he would do” (and all the things the rest of the GOP said it would do).

No, we’re going to protest. Bank on it.

***

“I did my best to vote my beliefs although my candidate is a fallen man, like we all are. I don’t hate him for his sins, neither does God. I do not hate Mrs. Clinton for her sins, neither does God.”

This is a big bag of what-the-heck right here. Stipulating that in your world-view all people are “fallen” (Romans 3:23, for example), then what should have made a difference in your vote isn’t whether they “sinned” (since everyone has sinned, right?), but what they propose to do about it after election. One proposed horrible things; the other proposed helping people. And you chose the former?

Further, claiming to know what God does or doesn’t feel about it is not only alarmingly egotistical, but is yet another way to slip religion into a conversation that isn’t about religion at all.

Conclusion: excuse to preach

***

“I don’t hate those who feel differently, and voted differently, neither does God.”

Hopefully, with the exception of the unsupportable claim in the final clause, this is how we all feel. I don’t hate people who voted differently than me, and I don’t expect that they hate me either.

But the fact remains that you heard what he said, saw what he did, noticed who was allying with him, and inexplicably figured out ways to ignore all that in order to keep pushing for a regressive theocracy.

***

• Wrap-up

These evangelicals are still out there, still supporting Trump — or in some cases being very, very quiet about current events.

But in my experience, this one person’s sad excuse for a response is representative of hundreds of comments from conservatives, especially Christian conservatives. If you’ve missed these comments, I recommend visiting Donald J. Trump’s official page on Facebook — look under any of his posts to see the supportive comments from these misguided people.

Here, I’m not suggesting a solution, because I can’t think of a way to help someone whose worldview is so misinformed. But I post this because I know some of my readers aren’t in regular contact with the fundamentalist, evangelical voters that they hear so much about in the news.


Note: I began writing this entry in mid-November 2016, within minutes of seeing the comment in question. But my draft got pushed back as other topics came up, and as I have other things to do besides blogging. I nearly deleted it and moved on, but decided that because the sentiment is still strong among certain groups, it was worth finishing this entry.


10 Comments
  1. Dana says:

    (I would like this post – a hundred times, in fact – but I don’t want to sign up for a wordpress account, so I can’t.)

  2. The question I fear answered is whether the woodwork can’t contain them anymore by virtue of its thinning or by population explosion behind it. Clearly, they are crawling out of it. And they probably applaud news like this http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/02/14/oklahoma-lawmaker-wants-fathers-permission-for-abortions/

    • Wil C. Fry says:

      They did indeed applaud that news. As for your metaphor question, my tentative answer is “probably a bit of both”.

  3. Mammon says:

    Some of my family and friends from college are of that mindset that stopping abortion is the deciding issue, and that making it illegal is the only solution. It’s such an emotionally charged topic that it’s very difficult to break through the existing beliefs, so playing to that cornerstone which informs many people’s politics is probably one of the most effective strategies the GOP employs.

    • Wil C. Fry says:

      Well said. Some of the ones I know are literally willing to accept *anything* else from a candidate, no matter how bad, as long as that candidate promises to stop abortions. And NONE of them will accept the facts: that the only things known to stem the tide of abortions are: (1) contraception, (2) comprehensive sex ed, and (3) eradication of poverty.

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    • Wil C. Fry says:

      Ah. Comment like Kiersten’s are why I’m glad I only have a handful of loyal readers. I can’t imagine dealing with nonsense like this on a daily basis.

      • Dana says:

        I think you’re being spammed by a bot. Jack’s reply on the other thread reads exactly like Kiersten’s.

        • Wil C. Fry says:

          They’re similar, to be sure. These days, it’s hard to tell the difference between poorly written spam and actual comments from stupid people.

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