How Donald Trump has destroyed the White Evangelical church as we know it
President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks at the Liberty University commencement ceremony, Saturday, May 13, 2017 in Lynchburg, VA (Official White House Photo By Shealah Craighead).

An extensive report in the New York Times follows a pastor who thought he would lead his hometown church for the rest of his life, until he started to question the role of the Baptist church in American politics.

Arkansas Pastor Kevin Thompson explained that things have changed a lot for him over the past several years.

"Across the country, theologically conservative white evangelical churches that were once comfortably united have found themselves at odds over many of the same issues dividing the Republican Party and other institutions," said the Times report. "The disruption, fear and physical separation of the pandemic have exacerbated every rift."

For Thompson, he thought of the teachings of Christ, letting those guide him as he questions the turn of Christianity.

"Jesus talks about how he is the truth, how central truth is," Thompson told the Times."The moment you lose the concept of truth you’ve lost everything.”

The story explained that within churches themselves, people are clashing over the role of the church in politics. It didn't start with Donald Trump. As far back as 1918 the Southern Baptist church has pushed back against women's progress, wrote historian Elizabeth Flowers. It dates back to excluding women from the clergy, as teachers, and even deacons.

"When Southern Baptist women formed a national organization to support missionary work in 1888, they had to hold their first meeting in a Methodist church down the street from the Baptist church where the Southern Baptist Convention was meeting," wrote Susan M. Shaw in The Conversation. "Until the 20th century, only men gave the organization’s report to the Southern Baptist Convention."

The Times explained that churches were already suffering with attendance before the pandemic. After it's even worse. The number of Americans who identify as Christians is slipping.

"Forty-two percent of Protestant pastors said they had seriously considered quitting full-time ministry within the past year," the Times said, citing a new survey by the evangelical pollster Barna. It's an increase of 13 points since Jan. 2021.

Sociologist Michael Emerson from the University of Illinois warned that a "seismic shift" is about to happen in the evangelical community thanks to Donald Trump. There are two camps, he explained, those who support Trump's policies in the church and conspiracy theories and those who wish the church was less poltical.

Read the full report at the New York Times.

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