Republished from Refined Right
HBO’s Bill Maher took to his Nov. 4 Real Time show to slam Christian Evangelicals for supporting Donald Trump:
“Before leaving this election behind we must all thank Donald Trump for the one good thing he did,” said Maher. “He exposed evangelicals who are big Trump supporters as the shameless hypocrites they have always been. I don’t know if you noticed, but Republicans didn’t get to play the Jesus card this time around because it is hard to bring up the ten commandments when your candidate spent his life breaking all of them. Trump’s commandments are like the regular commandments with LOL at the end.”
Maher would spend most of the segment crudely listing commandments and directives Trump has broken as well as pointing out his poor command of chapter and verse.
At face value, it’s silly to expect or assume that blue-haired church ladies at any point seriously viewed Trump as the next Thomas Aquinas and many others likely never saw him as a paragon of Christian morality/family values in the first place.
Many evangelicals, with whom I as an atheist almost certainly agree on very little, probably see him similarly as I do – riddled with flaws, yet nonetheless a bulwark against much worse that is nonetheless praised and mollycoddled even to suicidal ends by mindless, preening NIMBY multiculturalists of the progressive left who are more interested in broadcasting their own self-appointed moral supremacy than doing anything to benefit the people they claim to represent.
“Well, I think Maher is way off,” said Autumn Price, Refined Right Managing Editor and devout Christian. “He’s confused Christians who rely on grace with Christians who are legalistic. Biblically speaking, every candidate will be “evil” in the sense that no one is perfect. I think Christians should be praying for their leaders and nation regardless, and I get that there has been some hypocrisy, but being a hypocrite doesn’t excuse hypocrisy if that makes sense.”
“It is hypocritical for Maher to criticize evangelicals for supporting a flawed candidate, considering his own political background. To tie to all believers based on grace to other believers based on legalism is wrong. I’m sure there has been hypocrisy in the church among Christians, as all of mankind is prone to it, but it does not excuse the action of being hypocritical to point out hypocrisy.”
Maher pounds evangelicals based on his legalistic interpretation of their decision to vote Trump, the reality is much more complicated.
“Christ’s sacrifice brought about a new covenant, one with salvation by grace, not by works. For Protestants, at least.”
I’ve not shied away from possibly contradictory passages in scripture in my criticism of Christianity, but clearly being an evangelical isn’t as simple as crudely checking off blocks on a list.
“Christians are called to love one another as Christ loved the church, to extend grace as Christ did, not be legalistic in their approach. To do so attempts to cheapen the sacrifice of Jesus. Christians should by no means ignore the commandments, but sin is a part of human nature. It is grace that freed us from it, not the law. While Christians should obey them, it does not save them.”
“He is the world’s least godly man,” said Maher. “Jesus saw the good in whores and lepers, but if he met Donald Trump he would say ‘Sorry man, that’s a preexisting condition.”
“Bill’s comment is crazy, to be honest,” said Autumn Price. “Jesus wouldn’t do that at all. As for me, I know Trump isn’t my savior. I haven’t heard any Christian that I’m personally acquainted with to say that he would save us. We aren’t looking for a savior. We already have one. We are looking for a leader. Hillary Clinton isn’t it.”
Trump could, with great creative license, be considered a Christ-like figure to the disaffected political dissidents of all stripes outside the progressive left; the working stiffs who are the “whores and lepers” so to speak, discarded by a broken economy and abandoned to drown in permanent economic precarity with little to lose and nothing to look forward to; denounced and abandoned by the media and political establishments as “deplorable”, vacuously and reflexively smeared as racists/sexists/bigots/homophobes/etc..
It also might be possible to have fun with Trump supporters at places like Reddit’s /r/The_Donald, one of the major hubs for his supporters online, but still not particularly love voting for him; the reasons people vote for Trump are as numerous, varied, and complicated as his obvious flaws.
It’s easy to dump on evangelicals for making what many might sympathize with as a painful calculation, calling them evil and gullible for making what they felt was the right choice despite any misgivings about the entire slate of candidates before them, their candidate of choice included.
It’s easy to dismiss them as hypocrites for not crudely checking off blocks on a list of commandments before they cast their ballot.
I’ve long criticized evangelicals for a number of reasons, almost certainly as crudely as Maher did Nov. 4.
But as he and Sam Harris pointed out in the infamous “gross and racist” exchange with Ben Affleck, there’s a difference between criticizing ideas and attacking people.
I will continue to criticize evangelicals and Christianity where I see fit and necessary.
But bashing, and smearing evangelicals personally for voting as they do for the reasons they do isn’t going to shame them out of their decision and may have the opposite effect of confirming that they are beset on all sides by forces more hostile to their faith than anything Trump has ever said on a secretly recorded tape.