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How white evangelicals found themselves worshipping a golden Trump

February 26, 2021 in Blogs

By John Stoehr

Social media was ablaze this morning with a video taken at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington of a golden statue in the image of Donald Trump. People right away associated the graven image with the golden calf of the Bible—when Moses took so long bringing Yahweh’s Law down from Mt. Sinai that his brother succumbed to pressure to erect an idol to a competing god. “Mentioned in Exodus 32 and I Kings 12 in the Old Testament, worship of the golden calf is seen as a supreme act of apostasy, the rejection of a faith once confessed,” according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. “The figure is probably a representation of the Egyptian bull god Apis in the earlier period and of the Canaanite fertility god Baal in the latter.”

Now, there’s more important stuff going on right now. The parliamentarian of the United States Senate, for instance, ruled last night that the provision in the president’s covid relief package that raises the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour cannot pass by way of “reconciliation,” which is a special budget rule requiring a simple majority instead of the usual 60 votes. That, plus the reluctance of Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to monkey with the rule, means the hard work of governance is becoming visible. By comparison, a statue of “the Golden Ass,” as someone quipped, seems rather petty. I disagree. This image captures something important and dire about the forces that still threaten our republic. It’s worth our time thinking about them.

Why are white evangelical Protestants so obedient to authority? I think because it’s literally beaten into them.

Let’s start with the obvious. Trump’s most reliable supporters are white evangelical Protestants (WEPs). These are the people who are most likely to attend this weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference. You’d think, given how devoutly religious the former president’s supporters claim to be, that they would be outraged by the sight of a golden statue in Trump’s image, an idol akin to the golden calf, a graven image for worshipping a competing god. You’d think WEPs would be discomfited even by the appearance of elevating a mere mortal (Donald Trump) to the level of the Almighty.

I’ve explained many times before how two things that should not co-exist find a way of co-existing. But I have not explained one of the psychological roots of this cognitive dissonance. …read more


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