The persecution complex among right-wing Christian fundamentalists shows no sign of slowing down
Man praying while holding the Bible (Shutterstock.)

Rep. Steve King of Iowa faced backlash, even among some fellow Republican, in January when he wondered aloud to the New York Times: “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” But as disturbing as King’s remark was, he has expressed no remorse for it: the Iowa congressman views himself as a victim of persecution. And Eugene Scott, in an April 24 op-ed for the Washington Post, explains that this feeling of persecution is common among right-wing Christian fundamentalists.

At a town hall event in Cherokee, Iowa on April 23, King declared, “This is a Christian nation, and I’ll prove it to you.” And Pinky Person, a 90-year-old evangelical pastor and King supporter, told the crowd, “Christianity is really being persecuted, and it’s starting right here in the United States.”

Scott, in his piece, observes that the Christian Right not only feels persecuted because of Culture War issues like gay marriage and abortion, but also, because of immigration and a fear of the U.S. becoming “more racially and religiously diverse.”

Scott observes, “For all of the attention given to the reasons for the close relationship between the GOP and white evangelicals because of their shared stances on social issues such as abortion and LGBT rights, white evangelicals’ increasingly hardline views on immigration have almost made the Republican Party their exclusive political home — and King is one of their leaders.”

Scott notes that in a 2018 Washington Post/ABC News poll, 75% of white evangelicals had a positive view of “the federal crackdown on undocumented immigrants” under the Trump Administration. And those evangelicals, Scott writes, appreciate President Donald Trump for his draconian stand on immigration.

Scott concludes his piece by stressing that the more King offends his detractors, the more his Christian right supporters are drawn to him.

“King will likely continue to make headlines for his views on immigration and race and attract criticism for it,” Scott asserts. “But in doing so, he is also signaling to a swath of the American public that is anxious about Trump’s possible defeat that the country they call home could look quite different if those like King are defeated.”