This will be my final post regarding the ‘World of White Evangelicals,” because of their out-sized influence that they’ve been exerting over the republican President Donald Trump and his Republican Party. Of note, the White Evangelism community in the USA comprises a minority at about 26% of the population who self-identify themselves as Evangelicals; however, its members have voted in 2016 for President Trump by a margin of 80%, plus, they continue to approve of his presidency at rates that exceed 70%. They add up to over 35% of the president’s base of voters.
It doesn’t help that this Evangelical community including the president’s 2 key peoples in his administration are entrenched in the belief that the republican President Donald Trump has been sent by God to represent and champion their causes.
In addition, the president frequently relies on a group of Evangelical Christians within the White House for spiritual guidance.
Of the 26% of the US population who self-identify, about 11% are from more mainstream denominations like Catholicism and the various Protestant churches.
Since these rapture end time Evangelical believers do not share their thinking with outsiders as they are fully aware of how they’ll be viewed as loonies, how can you assess if an individual is one of them?
They don’t show any signs of humility, an attribute exhibited by Christians who truly walk the talk. They act defensively to justify their actions when questioned by others but there’s never a hint of an admission that their prideful thinking is flawed.
A true Christian wouldn’t be caught dead excusing away the president’s desire to forcibly separate children from refugee parents who were seeking asylum at the US SW border in 2018. True Christians wouldn’t buy the lie, the whataboutism platitudes as some declare how President Barack Obama also separated children from refugee parents. Under President Barack Obama, this separation policy was a rare event due to special circumstances like an abusive parent, whereas, this was a standard practice under President Trump’s administration for several months.
They display the kind of mind-set that an audience would develop by watching almost, exclusively FOX TV, as the right wing pundits pontificate on their beliefs, share conspiracy theories, display an almost totally blind loyalty to the president. They’ll cover for the president, no matter what he does.
On 7/18/2014, Boze Herrington of The Atlantic penned the following analysis which could be titled, the diary of an Evangelical community…”
Excerpts from “The Seven Signs You’re in a Cult:”
“I was shocked. For 7 years, I had spent hours every day with Bethany, eating and talking and praying. We had been best friends. She was 27, newly married; she had just completed her nursing degree. I felt like she would always be part of my life.”
“Now, she was gone.”
For three weeks, Hannah and I had been trying to contact leaders at International House of Prayer University ( IHOP) about a prayer group that we, Bethany, and many of our friends had been part of—a small, independent community.”
Several years ago, the founder of IHOP, Mike Bickle, created a list of seven ways to recognize the difference between a religious community and a cult. Written down, the signs seem clear:
1. Opposing critical thinking
2. Isolating members and penalizing them for leaving
3. Emphasizing special doctrines outside scripture
4. Seeking inappropriate loyalty to their leaders
5. Dishonoring the family unit
6. Crossing Biblical boundaries of behavior (versus sexual purity and personal ownership)
7. Separation from the Church
“But when it’s your friends, your faith, your community, it’s not so obvious. For several years, roughly two dozen people, all younger than thirty, had been living together in Kansas City, Missouri, and following the leadership of Tyler Deaton, one of our classmates from Southwestern University in Texas. In the summer of 2012, Tyler had married Bethany; by the fall, she was dead. What started as a dorm-room prayer group had devolved into something much darker.”
“That semester, we became close friends. Early on, I felt as though Tyler often tried to manipulate people into doing what he wanted, but he was also a committed Christian, zealous and humble. Inspired by his sensitivity toward others and bravery in confronting his personal demons, I learned to ignore my initial reservations and trust him.”
“Two years later, in the summer of 2007, Tyler returned from a trip to Pakistan and announced that God was going to launch a spiritual revolution on our campus. Those of us who knew him well were surprised by the changes in his personality. He had always been extraordinarily perceptive, but now this ability had reached uncanny levels. He could describe conversations he wasn’t involved in that were taking place on the other side of campus. He said God was always speaking. He claimed he could tell what we were thinking, when we were sinning; he said he could feel in his own body what God felt about us.”
“When I found out he and Bethany were meeting every night for prayer with their two roommates, June and Justin*, I begged them to let me join. It was discouraging to see some of my best and only friends at Southwestern sharing an experience from which I was excluded; I wanted to belong to their group. I was lonely and bored, and I wanted to experience something extraordinary before I left school: a mystery to solve, a battle to fight, a romantic quest, like the heroes in the stories I had read. All my favorite songs and stories ended with some powerful and often tragic moment of catharsis. I wanted college to end like that. If it didn’t, my life would be boring, anti-climactic … normal.”
“I had always imagined my life in terms of a story, and now Tyler was offering me the chance to be a part of one. He had developed a distinctly Charismatic vocabulary of “spiritual warfare” and claimed he was communicating directly with God. He said the five of us had been chosen for a dangerous but important mission: changing the nature and understanding of Christianity on our campus. Like the characters of Morpheus or Hagrid, he became our escort into a secret community where evil was battled at close quarters and darkness lurked around every corner.”
“That first semester was exhilarating. Our prayer experiences were very emotional; sometimes, we wept. Though I secretly had doubts about the authenticity of the group’s beliefs, I was profoundly moved by the courage and loyalty my friends were showing towards one another. It felt like being in an epic adventure, in which each of the main characters bravely faces his or her own weaknesses while bonding together in the heat of battle.”
“Bethany continued to be my closest friend in the group. We confided in one another—including our mild doubts about the group. One night in early November, a few of the group members tried to “heal” a girl with cerebral palsy, even pulling her out of her wheelchair and dragging her around the chapel. Word quickly spread around campus that the girl had been miraculously healed, but I told Bethany I wasn’t convinced that anything really unusual had happened.”
“Near the end of November, she admitted she had feelings for Tyler. She said God had told her they were going to be married, once he was fully healed of his struggle with homosexuality. During vacations, we would discuss this for hours. She cried regularly.”
“Around this time, Tyler attended an IHOP conference. At the four-day gathering in Kansas City, Missouri, where the movement is based, he joined 25,000 other young people to pray for spiritual revival on college campuses throughout America. He heard the evangelical leader Lou Engle share a dream he’d had, in which college students were cutting off the heads of their professors, suggesting the end of the “spirit of intellectualism” that gripped academia. He heard Bickle declare that God was raising up a prophetic generation that would perform “signs and wonders,” and numerous stories of angelic visitations.”
“After Tyler returned from the conference, his experiences with the supernatural seemed to intensify dramatically. As we walked across campus, he would see an army of demons carrying banners in front of the library. At the end of January, God revealed to him that his calling in life was to be an apostle and train God’s “final people.” When Bethany and June insisted that we find mentors who could train us and brought us to visit a Christian couple who lived nearby, Tyler “discerned” that the husband was living in “graphic sexual sin.” Somehow, when he said this, the rest of us realized we had all been feeling the same thing. We never went back.”
“I was profoundly affected by IHOP’s teachings. I began to seriously consider the possibility that we were living in the last generation. The teachers and staff all had a message for the students: Everything we thought we knew about the world was wrong. We had been poisoned by a liberal culture teaching seductive lies about “love” and “compassion” that the devil was using to prepare his end-times deception.”
“Before joining the prayer group, I had been a fairly tolerant person. Now I was different. I was belligerent toward my gay and atheist friends. I picked fights and insulted them viciously. But I felt justified; I thought they were blind to God’s truth.”
“As the prayer group expanded, it became an enchanted sphere where supernatural things seemed to be happening all the time. I began having ominous dreams in which the school was flooded and taken over by monsters. Once, we found a candy wrapper in the ceiling of one of our members, Micah Moore; we burned it, because God showed us that it had been used to practice witchcraft. In the everyday college world of exams and choir concerts and dining-hall meals, these episodes seemed outlandish—and to outsiders, maybe even disturbing. But within the Gnostic dream world of our small Charismatic enclave, they seemed perfectly normal. By the end of the next semester, several of us were already making plans to move to Kansas City.”
“I was kicked out of the prayer group for the first time a year and a half later. Roughly two dozen of us were now living together in group houses in Missouri, sharing our money and working part-time jobs while we attended classes at IHOP University. Three nights a week, we worshiped together.”
“Tyler and other members of the group claimed I had a “wicked heart, prone to self-protection, anger, unforgiveness, and hate” and a “malicious, accusatory, group-rejecting, self-protective hatred towards most people.” After an intense night of confrontation in the fall of 2010, the group stopped speaking to me. I continued to live in the house, but I was completely isolated.”
“Why did I stay? I was conflicted. All of my friends said I had a serious problem—so serious that I had been effectively quarantined. These were my closest friends in the world. I began to wonder if they might be right. Maybe I truly was hateful, malicious—wicked. I no longer trusted my own instincts.”
“We had prophecy time at least 3 nights a week. During these sessions, the group would sit in silence and listen for the whisper of God’s spirit. Everyone said similar things, although they often ended up being proven wrong later. Those who disagreed were called out for being arrogant and rebellious and were forced to repent.”
“And I was beginning to face my own doubts. My questions about the group had been accumulating for years, but one night, I heard the group praying against me in the next room. That moment helped me admit something to myself, something big: They weren’t actually hearing the voice of God. My friends and I were all being whipped into a frenzy by the delirious tonic of prophecy and persecution fantasies.”
“The week after Bethany and Tyler’s engagement in February 2012, the men came to me and asked me to leave the community. At first I was distraught. If I moved out, I would be walking away from all my best friends. On the first day of April, I moved out. The rest of the group was forbidden from contacting me, and I wasn’t invited to the wedding.”
I say this because while I’ve been writing a series on this White Evangelical community to attempt to garner some understanding as to why these folks are so reliant on an authoritarian, flawed leader, like President Trump, I’ve been keeping an eye on his US Attorney General William Barr as he has been testifying before the the US Congress. This is a man who used to enjoy decent reputation based on his prior stint as an attorney general and a reasonably good resume, but now he’s throwing his honor, any prestige he had, out the window. Professionals who claim they’ve known him for 30 years, are in shock.
Why would he do this? It’s like the news cycle has gone psycho.
His actions make no sense. As the US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said, “He’s gone off the rails” because during the hearings he has acted as if he’s the president’s personal advocate instead of fulfilling his role as the head of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) which is supposed to represent the people’s interests.
But there are “evangelicalized” white Catholics. If he counts himself as an fundamentalist/ Evangelical who’s convinced that the president has been sent from God, then this could explain his outlandish actions, as he moves heaven and earth to protect his boss, President Trump.”