If you’re not happy with the current condition of the United States, you can thank Christians.
This is so in two senses. In the near term, as the chart above shows, Christians in every group except Hispanic Catholics voted over 55 percent for Trump. Had only Christians voted, Trump would have won the popular vote easily. The other large group of Christians who refused to vote for Trump was African Americans, who are heavily Christian, but only voted for Trump by 8 percent.
This illustrates how (white) Christians are the source of the problem. They created this whole mess. It is stunning how many people in the United States still automatically expect Christians to act in morally admirable ways. They never have and there is no reason to think they will start any time soon.
Christians are really pushy. From the establishment of the religion, they first took over all of Europe — we hear often that Christmas was a pagan holiday that Christians coopted as they invaded Europe and persuaded/coerced nearly the entire population to adopt their silly religion.
A few hundred years later, not content with taking over Europe, Christians decided they needed to stick their noses into a local dispute near the city where Jesus was apparently born in what was then a heavily Muslim region. The crusades already exhibited various themes in Christianity that persist to the present, including conflict between groups of Christians and persecution of Jews, as well as more generally being a fight between Christians and Muslims — sound familiar?
At the end of the fifteenth century, having expelled the Muslims from Spain and consolidated its regions under a single monarchy, the famous Queen, Isabella, chose to finance the voyages of Italian explorer Columbus, the first European whom many people knew of as having arrived in what we now call “the Americas” in 1492, although we now have evidence that stone age Europeans may have settled on the east coast of “the Americas” even before the Asian ancestors of modern Native Americans.
By the time Columbus showed up, however, descendants of Asians had long since taken over all of what we now call “the Americas.” We have no reason to think that any of them had any interest in Christianity, which they cannot have known about before any of its adherents arrived. They cannot have been very happy with Christians at first because the Christians brought with them guns and disease and killed off thousands of Natives just by spreading diseases that were endemic in Europe but unknown in “the Americas,” such that Native Americans lacked all immunity to them. The Christians also discovered large deposits of gold and silver and started forcing the Natives to mine it for shipment back to Spain.
It’s hard to conceive now, but imagine that a foreign population suddenly showed up in your neighborhood and forced you to perform menial labor to enrich people far away whom you had never seen. Pretty amazing. But that’s what Christians did. That Central and South America are heavily Catholic now, five hundred years later, is testament to how effectively good Christians forced their religion onto people who had never heard of it.
By the time the English started settling in North America, the beginnings of the United States and Canada, the Protestant Reformation had started, setting off two hundred years of Christians killing other Christians over what flavor of Christian to be — impressive, huh? — and England had become nominally Protestant under King Henry VIII, such that the English people who settled in North America were almost entirely Protestant, and some of them among the most militant Protestants on the planet.
As with the Catholics to the south, the Protestants in North America started killing off Natives with disease and warfare. As English settlers in the more southern parts of North America began to produce commodity crops to sell back in Europe, they needed more labor to increase their profits. They imported fellow Europeans as indentured servants, who would earn their freedom and some land if they survived, which did not happen often, but they also followed the example of the settlers on the islands of the Caribbean, where the Native population had died entirely, leaving Christians to import Africans as slaves.
At first, the English saw Christian belief as the distinguishing factor determining if one could hold another person as a slave, which might not be a status for the slave’s entire lifetime. The first Africans in colonial Virginia were indentured servants and received the same “freedom dues” upon completion of their servitude as any European.
But the labor shortage remained acute, and Christians are greedy as well as pushy, so they gradually decided to use skin color rather than religious belief as the quality that determined one’s eligibility to be a slave.
Not happy with the persistent problems of race and racism that we inherited from 246 years of slavery and another 100 years of legal segregation of the descendants of former slaves that continue to plague our politics in the United States? Thank Christians. They created the system.
Christianity as the hegemonic belief system in the United States — almost to a person, every individual who played a leading role in the American Revolution and the drafting and ratification of the Constitution was Christian of some sort — has left the United States with a substantial minority, a diminishing minority (happily), of its population who are willfully ignorant and resist modern education and scientific information. Because they can rightly claim that people like them used to control the United States, they tend to be very unhappy with the loss of control they now experience. They are typically very conservative, both in the literal sense of trying to preserve the privileges their ancestors used to enjoy without question — unchallenged white male supremacy — and in the specific, Republican sense of being very mean and ungenerous in their politics.
Non Christians, and those Christians who have chosen to import a more modern, liberal sensibility into their Christianity, for whatever reason, wonder incessantly how so many Christians can support Donald Trump as president. The answer is simple — he is one of them. It seems very doubtful that Trump has any actual beliefs in his head, except the iron clad commitment to pursuing whatever goal he thinks will most likely benefit him personally in the near term. It is not obvious how this commitment is inconsistent with Christian morality, given our knowledge of religious leaders’ bad habit of molesting children, to take a particularly egregious example of immediate gratification at the expense of sound, reasonable moral constraint.
Christian leader James Dobson explains why he thinks Trump is a Christian. More importantly, for those of us who have some substantial commitment to a rational (that is, non Christian) worldview, nothing about Trump’s behavior is at all inconsistent with how Christians have behaved since they showed up in “the Americas.” He racist. The first Christians had no hesitation using Natives as slaves, then imported Africans as slaves when they exhausted the Native labor pool or, as in the Caribbean, had literally killed every Native person. Trump is sexually abusive and irresponsible. Rape has long been a tactic for subduing a population after an invasion. We know that slave owners in the United States routinely raped slave women, both for the immediate gratification and for the benefit of adding to their stocks of slaves when their slave women bore children. Christianity as an ideology has always inculcated a profound contempt for women.
And they did this specifically and emphatically as Christians. The Spanish and Portuguese built Christian churches throughout Central and South America. The English and other Europeans who settled in North America built churches throughout North America. Slave owners in the United States had various verses and stories from the bible they used to justify slavery.
Trump is vicious and greedy. Christians were so eager to profit from the mining of gold and silver, and later from commodity agriculture, that they were happy to use slave labor, first Natives, then Africans, to increase their profits. All of the wealth in the United States ultimately rests on slave labor.
Pretending that there is the slightest tension between Trump’s most vicious qualities and Christian belief is rank, ahistorical nonsense. People in the United States only marvel at Christian support for Trump because, even among people who choose to resist it, the bad habit of automatically assuming Christians should act morally persists fulsomely enough that no one wants to know too much about the overwhelming mounds of historical evidence that Christians have always been racist, sexually abusive, and greedy, everywhere, but especially in “the Americas.”
It is far past time for people in the United States to get honest about how horrible Christians have acted throughout their history in “the Americas” and stop expecting them to do any better.
Regardless of what he believes, Trump acts like a model Christian, and neither of them is corrigible.