Minister who built religious right now appalled that it led to the rise of Trump
Reverend Rob Schenck was known for helping to build the religious right in the 1990s. Over the years, he has diminished from the spotlight, as he underwent a transformation to challenge his beliefs in the era of President Donald Trump.
In an interview with Mother Jones about his new book Costly Grace: An Evangelical Minister’s Rediscovery of Faith, Hope and Love, Schenck shares his worries about the similarities between evangelical churches and the Republican Party.
He wrote about the parallels between Adolf Hitler’s evangelical churches to the churches today.
“I do think there are very close parallels with Germany 1931, 1932, and Hitler doing the same thing, and Christians in Germany were exhausted,” Schenck wrote. “Most of the population felt marginalized, especially among the working class, and inferior.”
Schenck wrote in his book: “American evangelicals were on the brink of a moral disaster, as our pastors and other leaders lacked the theological tools to protect them from being cynically exploited by politically motivated actors.”
He also blamed President Donald Trump for the “collapse” of evangelicalism in America and said he revealed America’s sinful nature.
“I say in the book that the Trump phenomenon may portend the total collapse of American evangelicalism, which for me would be sad, but not the saddest thing. We have an old phrase in evangelical parlance built on some biblical texts: ‘What the devil means for destruction, God means for good.’
He continued: “So, could God use this terrible thing in the end to bring about a better form of evangelicalism in America? We may reach a toxicity level where the patient must succumb, but we believe in the resurrection, so out of death can come life… So, maybe this is the demise of what we now know as American evangelicalism, and largely, the Trump phenomenon is a symptom, rather than a cause. We made this terrible deal with Donald Trump because we were already demoralized. He didn’t demoralize us—he is the evidence of our demoralization.”
Schenck, who used to be a huge advocate for anti-choice work, now fights for a pro-life cause and supports gun control. He said the book is for evangelicals searching for the truth.
“The other group I had in mind were the disaffected evangelicals, mostly young people who have left the evangelical fold. Part of the reason they can’t process [what has happened in the evangelical church] is because we have refused to name these failures. Once you name them, that can be very, very helpful to someone’s recovery,” he said.