Berny Belvedere, an evangelical Christian and philosophy scholar, has written a scathing essay at Quillette about the devolution of the religious conservative movement under President Donald Trump.
Belvedere in particular zooms in on the role that greed has played in transforming the evangelical movement from a social cause into a sleazy — and highly lucrative — business for political operatives.
“Since Christian conservatism is built to withstand pressures to adapt, it becomes susceptible to all kinds of grifters and status-seekers,” he writes. “In many ways, belief consolidation sets up the perfect scam: Opportunists seeking fame and wealth can find in Christian conservatism a system that doesn’t require of its leaders continual reinvention—you master a fixed set of values and beliefs and let charisma do the rest.”
Belvedere then explains how political operatives have managed to slip in new ideas into the evangelical belief system — such as a staunch belief in unfettered capitalism — that are nowhere to be found within the Bible.
“Within American conservative Christianity, what these leaders do is funnel biblical content, cultural distinctives, and nationalistic tropes into a mix that ordinary believers imbibe as what it means to be authentically Christian,” he writes.
And it’s this essential corruption of the basic tenets of Christianity, writes Belvedere, that have opened the door for evangelicals to embrace Trump, who is a walking violation of the Ten Commandments.
“Conservative believers are bombarded with a message that conflates support for Republicans with what it means to possess a vibrant Christian faith, with the latter only being actualizable by faithfully and energetically embracing the former,” he concludes. “This is power. And, as an evangelical myself, I do not think we should have it.”