Trump, Russ Moore, and white Southern Baptists...

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The Donald is a repulsive figure, personally. But don't blow off his supporters by supposing they vote for The Donald because of his three wives, his hair, or his seemingly conscienceless lying. There's something deeper going on here. The New Yorker gets it:

Trump also grasped what Republican élites are still struggling to fathom... The base of the Party, the middle-aged white working class, has suffered at least as much as any demographic group because of globalization, low-wage immigrant labor, and free trade. Trump sensed the rage that flared from this pain and made it the fuel of his campaign.

...When he vows to “make America great again,” he is talking about and to white America, especially the less well off. The ugliness of the pitch will drive some more moderate and perhaps more affluent Republicans to sit out the fall election...

Reformed believers are ground zero of the "more affluent" and we're not known for our sympathy for poor white trash.. They're not a popular cause among the elite. But look at Bernie Sanders:

The Democratic Party has a strange relationship with the white working class. Bernie Sanders speaks to and for it—not as being white but as being economically victimized. He kept his campaign alive last week, in Indiana, in large part by beating Clinton nearly two to one among whites without a college degree.

As I keep saying to friends and family, no matter how repulsive we find The Donald... 

personally, Secretary Rodham Clinton and her supporters are much more so. Sadly, though, Christians find them easier to swallow and get less riled up about the things they do and say than the things The Donald says and does.

So, for instance, if you were to ask Reformed leaders like Russ Moore which candidate is guilty of "identity politics" right now, he'd trot out an oped piece for the New York Times attacking his fellow Southern Baptists, past and present, for being nativists. Moore starts his oped piece in the Times by smearing his fellow white Southern Baptists in some church he refuses to name "in suburban Birmingham, Ala." We have his own word for it that, back during the Civil Rights movement of the sixties, when "civil rights protesters were beaten and children were blown apart by bombs, church members had said nothing."

Moore goes on to condemn these unnamed Southern Baptists for standing "silent in the face of atrocity," for being "too cowardly to speak up for righteousness."

These are the things Russ very much wants the chattering classes to know are his judgments about the poor white Christians who are The Donald's supporters. They're just one more iteration of the white Southern Baptists who "said nothing" when "children were blown apart by bombs."

Russ lies.

There was no Southern Baptist congregation in Birmingham, black or white, that didn't grieve and mourn and get sick to their stomach over the four little girls—Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, Addie Mae Collins, and Denise McNair—who died September 15, 1963, the day 16th Street Baptist Church was bombed. Yet having set the scene fifty years ago, Russ goes on to condemn the "white American Christian who disregards [Trump's] nativist language."

Meanwhile, the New Yorker has more discernment than Russ. Here's what they say about the hypocrisies of progressives:

Identity politics, of a different brand from Trump’s, is also gaining strength among progressives. In some cases, it comes with an aversion toward, even contempt for, their fellow-Americans who are white and sinking. Abstract sympathy with the working class as an economic entity is easy, but the feeling can vanish on contact with actual members of the group, who often arrive with disturbing beliefs and powerful resentments—who might not sound or look like people urban progressives want to know. ...The growing strain of identity politics on the left is pushing working-class whites, chastised for various types of bigotry (and sometimes justifiably), all the more decisively toward Trump.

Last fall, two Princeton economists released a study showing that, since the turn of the century, middle-aged white Americans—primarily less educated ones—have been dying at ever-increasing rates. This is true of no other age or ethnic group in the United States...

According to the Post, these regions of white working-class pain tend to be areas where Trump enjoys strong support. These Americans know that they’re being left behind, by the economy and by the culture. They sense the indifference or disdain of the winners on the prosperous coasts and in the innovative cities, and it is reciprocated.

It's not time for Christians to love The Donald—don't accuse me of saying that. Yet it is time for Christians to love the uneducated, red and yellow, black and white.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!