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The term ‘evangelical’ has crumbled into meaninglessness in the era of Trump: professor

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As the evangelical Christian movement began to rise in politics before the 1980 election, there was a fork in the road that forced the self-described “Moral Majority” to make a decision in regards to which candidate they supported: the devout Christian Jimmy Carter, or the divorced Hollywood actor Ronald Reagan.

Writing for the Atlantic, Baylor University professor of humanities Alan Jacobs says it was the Moral Majority’s decision to go with Reagan that “inaugurated the affiliation of white American evangelicals with the Republican Party that has lasted to this day.”

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While Carter’s support for abortion rights played a significant role in evangelicals’ choice to go with Reagan, it was the overall drift towards a more progressive stance on racial and sexual issues embraced by the Democratic party that alienated social conservatives, many of them in the South, as Jacobs writes.

But as the decades passed and American church leaders in almost all denominations became less interested in traditional Christian doctrines and more interested in what some scholars have come to call moralistic therapeutic deism, a larger and larger proportion of white evangelicals became what Pew Research calls “God-and-Country Believers.” These folks, almost all of whom are white, may not attend church often or at all, and they may not be interested in, or even aware of, the beliefs that have typically characterized evangelical Christians, but they know this much: They believe in God, and they believe in America, and they love Donald Trump because he speaks blunt Truth to culturally elite Power, and when asked by pollsters whether they are evangelicals, they say yes.

According to Jacobs, “God-and-Country Believers” are now married to the Republican Party, and as a result, the identity of evangelicals and Trump supporters now goes hand-in-hand. Now, the term “evangelical” has completely lost its meaning.

This transformation of evangelical from a theological position to a “racial and political” one is not just bad for serious Christians; it’s also a prime driver of the increasing hostility of liberals to religion in almost any form. Those who have insisted on yoking (a very vague notion of) God and (a very specific account of) country may soon find themselves dispossessed of both.

In the wake of Trump’s election, Jacobs argued in a blog post that evangelicals need to take back their identity from the political ideologues who’ve stolen it. But in the months since, he’s now starting to believe that may not be possible, thanks to a “strange and inadvertent conspiracy of Trump supporters and journalists” who’ve worked to “put an end to a useful term that once described a vital tradition in the Christian faith.”

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Bill Barr denies giving the order to gas protesters for Trump photo-op

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America's top law enforcement office on Friday denied giving the highly-controversial order to gas protesters prior to a photo-op with President Donald Trump holding a Bible.

"Attorney General William Barr says law enforcement officers were already moving to push back protesters from a park in front of the White House when he arrived there Monday evening, and he says he did not give a command to disperse the crowd, though he supported the decision," The Associated Press reports.

"Barr’s comments in an interview with The Associated Press on Friday were his most detailed explanation yet of what unfolded outside the White House earlier this week. They come after the White House and others said repeatedly that the attorney general ordered officers to clear the park," the AP reported. "Shortly after officers aggressively pushed back demonstrators, President Donald Trump — accompanied by Barr, Pentagon leaders and other top advisers — walked through Lafayette Park to pose for a photo at a nearby church that had been damaged during the protests."

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Steve Schmidt breaks down why Joe Biden should be an ‘easy’ choice for moderate Republicans

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On MSNBC Friday, former GOP strategist Steve Schmidt criticized Sen. Lisa Murkowski's (R-AK) claim that she was struggling over whether to support the president — and laid out why she should unequivocally decide she doesn't.

"We saw the president direct violence against peaceful protesters this week, and seen the president lie to the country nearly 20,000 times," said Schmidt. "We've seen the president divide the country and incite violence. And we've seen a level of ineptitude in this historic pandemic that defied description, but included standing in front of the nation when tens of thousands are dead, talking about his ratings or telling the American people that it is a good idea to ingest or household disinfectants. We've seen a president preside over the shattering of an economy. We have seen a president race-bait, demean, disgrace his office, to desecrate the bonds of affection that exist between us as Americans."

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Jeb Bush wonders why Republicans are not ‘stepping up’ to condemn racism

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Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) wondered on Friday why more Republicans were not standing publicly against racism.

"I have said it before and I will say it again now: the GOP must not tolerate racism. Of any kind. At any time," his son, George P. Bush, the Texas Land Commissioner posted on Twitter.

He urged local GOP officials in Texas to resign for sharing racist posts on Facebook.

Jeb Bush praised the post.

"Proud of my son," he posted on Twitter.

"Are other Republican elected officials stepping up?" he wondered.

https://twitter.com/JebBush/status/1269057568015605761

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