January 18, 2020: The Collapse of American Christianity

Christianity is under threat in America. Today just half of its young people identify as religious. Over a third of Americans identify as nonreligious, a four-fold increase in 30 years. [1] What threatens Christianity in America is not science, reason, or liberals, but Christians. Widespread pedophilia in the Catholic priesthood, sexual predation by or against Nuns, and abuse by Southern Baptist clergy are ancillary compared to wanton betrayal by the flock themselves. Betrayal not hidden or embarrassing to a specific sect of American Christians, it is a badge of honor and part of a creed much more inviting than Jesus. Why? Because open infidelity announces membership that provides a sense of belonging in an individualist nation where belonging is as dead as communities that once provided it.

I was born into a conservative Christian family in the Midwest, which in adulthood, having lived across the country, I found different from other places. In the Midwest, believers were devout in a private way that monitored their own behavior, recognized failures, and sought correction, all without an audience. Quite the contrast when living elsewhere, I found the most “devout” Christianity a public performance, though sporadic and impulsive. The audience took two forms: as others one felt a need to impress, or oneself. Both needed convincing. As though the more flamboyant, effusive, and—to a Midwesterner—outlandish, the more firmly doubt could be concealed.

Today, from among these very people, are those most likely to betray their Savior’s teachings, replaced by a new idol. A focus on those verses commonly known reveals the deception. It comes in the arena Mark the disciple said, “false prophets would lead astray the elect.” [2] Through the influence of one whom John claimed, “does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is the father of lies.” [3] An idol who publicly lied over 13,000 times in 1000 days, while Jesus preached to “Seek the truth,” and Paul said, “We no longer lie to one another, we only tell the truth.” [4] Rather than “Turn the other cheek,” this idol claims to hit back ten times harder. [5] And though Jesus advises to “Pull the plank from your own eye first,” this idol blames only others for his failings. [6] In that celebrated reference to those things that are Caesar’s and those that are God’s, Caesar’s world is paramount to this idol and his supporters, no matter how immoral, corrupt, or treasonous the means to win it. [7] Yet Jesus asked, “What good is it to win the whole world and lose your soul?” [8] With such teachings conservatism once associated, however imperfectly, to shade its politics with moral guidance. No more.

With repeat displays of mental derangement, this idol proudly parades behavior befitting a malignant juvenile. A testament to the arrested development of an admitted adulterer and draft dodger, a thief who would launder millions in stolen Russian money and rip off thousands of students at his fake university for millions more. [9] A man who has fleeced other nations for his financial gain and that of his family, while fleecing American taxpayers by filling his hotels with administrative staff and military personnel. [10] A man who excluded all Sunni countries (where he does business) from his Shia Muslim ban, said to “keep us safe,” while only Sunnis killed Americans on 9/11. [11] A man who told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that help from foreign entities to rig an American election is the right thing to do, and he’d do it again. [12] Then did, when he sought to extort Ukraine into “announcing” an investigation of his political opponent (he didn’t want a real investigation). This was to be exchanged for Congressionally-mandated military aid to fight our mutual Russian enemy—illegal according to the GAO [13]—followed by a cover-up. [14] A man for whom witnessed and documented court and congressional evidence has all the markings of a Putin asset. [15] As all the while his party, propaganda machine, and supporters promote his lies to ensure belonging, placing their clan higher than America or their Messiah. These people excuse their idol’s sleaze by reference to God’s use of the adulterer King David for good, while Paul said to do evil so good may come is wrong. [16] They even block legislation that makes collusion with foreign powers illegal. [17] Among their rally compatriots: QAnon, the Klan, and Neo-Nazis—fanaticism my father and 16-million others enlisted in the US Armed Forces to defend this nation against in WWII, now embraced. As Thomas Paine wrote, “When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind…he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime.” [18]

Who could imagine that such an idol risks losing—like some ancient Chinese emperor—“The Mandate of Heaven,” as evangelical Pat Robertson warned for the “chosen one’s” ineptitude in Syria? [19] Prime example of the magnitude to which these people can lie to themselves, and an echo from the 20th century. It was then history witnessed three different ideologies commit the most egregious of crimes. They, too, called it moral. They, too, branded the press “enemies of the people.” They, too, bathed in the kind of conspiracy theories peddled by America’s propaganda networks today. And they had their own idol. Look what happened to them. As Voltaire said, “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

The integrity of this idol’s Christian Right has collapsed. Immorality is not only their identity, but also their tool. From a newly “results” oriented people touting the economy, for whom moral character was paramount in their abhorrence of Bill Clinton, not his budget surplus and boom economy. Their ends justify any means.

Yet, America’s Founders wrapped morality into our form of governance, where the means were made a moral matter more vital than the ends. Delays, checks, and balances were meant to frustrate tyrants, encouraging moral means to win over corruption. If means don’t matter, why not adopt a more efficient tyranny than the messy nature of republican democracy?

An old story illustrates the moral process of Jesus and the Founder’s: A man can secure a million dollars for his church to feed the poor if only he can win a foot race. Should he cheat? Imagine the benefits his church could provide, while his corrupt means corrupt his ends. But supporters of this idol, Donald Trump, say the system is rigged against them, they’re forced to cheat (and forever revive Hillary to hate as though she's still here to beat). At least immoral actions might produce positive material outcomes, violating Jesus, Paul, and the Founders.

So put Jesus in the runner’s place. Knowing his contestants are swindlers, would he practice corruption to win? An individual who stood for truth all the way to the cross when he could have cheated truth and Pilate to save his life. This practice of the Right’s duplicity ignores that immorality has no check and balance. Corruption is unlimited in what it seeks and how it seeks it. What will the Right do when losing the election, the corruption they sanctioned turns against them? They’ll be calling for their Redeemer, morality, and justice. That is, if they can lose after they've rigged state systems.

I, too, feel the populist anger, my hometown eviscerated of factory jobs; globalization that gave sovereignty to corporations, not nations; and I bristle at the authoritarianism of political correctness that dictates how I can talk, what I must defend and reject. But the treason we saw from our ex and twice-impeached executive, his party, and lie factories, all opposed to character and morality matters to me more. As the Founders knew, ethical actions must be sustained or liberty is lost. To endorse a lawless criminal in violation of the Founder’s and Jesus—both of whom the Christian Right pretend to revere—dooms this republic founded on moral means. [20] What a surprise that immorality would have tangible costs to American Christianity and America as world leaders laughed at the idol behind his back and the world turned to China.

Part of the appeal of Christianity is its emphasis on ethics in an unethical world filled with habitually unethical humans. While I still pine for Reagan and revere the Teachings, I’m no longer a Christian by traditional definitions, nor would I join associations of people who so zealously vandalize their faith. This degeneracy will only hasten its collapse. Though it’s hard to remember, American Christianity is not a monolith, as evidenced by founder Billy Graham’s Christianity Today when it defined Trump as “grossly immoral,” calling for his removal. [21] Or as Baptist News Global’s Jeff Brumley wrote, “evangelical support for a scandal-ridden [Trump] could spell the end of Christianity in the United States.” [22] Not without rejoinder by evangelical loyalists, including the president of Christian Liberty University, Jerry Falwell Jr., notable for his alleged nepotistic administration, trafficking in nude photos of his wife, and investments in a Miami brothel. [23] After all we now know, what we’ve seen, and what the world has experienced as a result of Trump’s malevolent seizures, and yet an overwhelming majority of “evangelical” / “conservative” / “Republicans” still support him. [24] This is a cult. As Minister of Church Affairs, Hans Kerrl said in 1937, “True Christianity is represented by the Party, and the German people are now called by the Party and especially the Fuehrer to a real Christianity.” [25] Evidence that in the perennial contest between everlasting salvation and political power, the here-and-now wins.

I’ve sparred with people like this for years and frequently learn from them. Their denials, obfuscation, and mental acrobatics prove miracles do happen. Rational analysis, right-reason, and truth are an obstacle to winning their political arguments. Psychological perversions like this have not been witnessed in such breadth and depth in America since Southern Christians justified slavery with Hebrew Scriptures. One would do better to debate democracy with the Taliban. And while much is said about a return to civility in America, when it comes to their sacred dogmas, to approach these people with civility is like taking a Bible to a knife fight. Just what Putin wanted. He won. America was defeated.

And now, thanks to advances in cognitive psychology and a bit of history, we know why. Aside from Putin’s leverage of our gullibility, the Right didn’t betray all they once stood for without help from the Left and primate biology. Next time, after this our 5th of 5 irregular installments portending America’s monarchy, and a return to the bimonthly Monday: March 2, 2020.

[1] Allen Downey, The U.S. Is Retreating from Religion, Scientific American, October 20, 2017.
Jana Riess, "Religion declining in importance for many Americans," especially for Millennials, Religious News Service, December 10, 2018.
[2] Mark 13:22
[3] John 8:44
[4] John 8:32, and Ephesians 4:25
[5] Matthew 5:39
[6] Matthew 7:5
[7] Mathew 22:21
[8] Matthew 16:26
[9] Brett Williams, Our Dear (mafia) Leader, Goodreads, December 24, 2019.
[10] Ibid
[11] Wikipedia, Trump travel ban.
Patrick Cockburn, Donald Trump puts US on Sunni Muslim side of bitter sectarian war with Shias, Independent, 21 May 2017.
[12] Lucien Bruggeman, 'I think I’d take it': In exclusive interview, Trump says he would listen if foreigners offered dirt on opponents, ABC NEWS, June 13, 2019.
[13] Emily Cochrane, Eric Lipton and Chris Cameron, G.A.O. Report Says Trump Administration Broke Law in Withholding Ukraine Aid, New York Times, Jan. 16, 2020.
[14] Elie Honig, The Trump cover-up is unfolding before our eyes, CNN, December 31, 2019.
[15] Brett Williams, America is asking, “Are Trump and his Party, traitors?”, Goodreads, January 6, 2019.
[16] Romans 3:8.
[17] JORDAIN CARNEY, Senate GOP blocks bill to require campaigns report foreign election assistance, The HILL, 06/13/19.
SOPHIA TESFAYE, Sen. Marsha Blackburn takes one for Trump, defends flow of Russian money, SOLON, JUNE 14, 2019
[18] Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, Prometheus Books, 1984 (1794), pg. 8
[19] Kim Bellware, Trump ‘in danger of losing the mandate of heaven’ over Syria decision, Pat Robertson warns, Washington Post, Oct. 8, 2019.
[20] While Right-wing radio talker, self-designated Christian, and devotee of our moral process document, the Constitution, Rush Limbaugh asserts “Trump is results oriented…and results mean there’s no need for process.” 1/9/2020 Apparently, Limbaugh’s a Bill Clinton fan now as well.
[21] MARK GALLI, Trump Should Be Removed from Office, Christianity Today, DECEMBER 19, 2019.
[22] JEFF BRUMLEY , Support for Trump could spell end of the evangelical church. But when?, Baptist News Global, MARCH 19, 2018.
[23] BRANDON AMBROSINO, My Weekend at the Falwells’ South Beach Flophouse, POLITICO, August 25, 2017.
Frances Robles and Jim Rutenberg, The Evangelical, the ‘Pool Boy,’ the Comedian and Michael Cohen, The New York Times, June 18, 2019.
Brendan Skwire, Jerry Falwell Jr. Sends Pictures Of His Half-Naked Wife To His Buddies:, Progress Pond, Sep 9, 2019.
[24] Philip Bump, A popular theory for Trump’s popularity among Republicans appears to be wrong, Washington Post, Jan. 8, 2020.
[25] William Shrier, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany, Touchstone Simon & Shuster, 1990, pg. 239. Likewise, though ideologically different, be they evangelicals or any Trump-idol-supporting Christian, these people hate liberals more than they love Jesus. And what is liberal? Whatever their propaganda machine says it is, from science and scientists to wind power and LED light bulbs.
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Published on January 18, 2020 09:19
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