Unlike many on the right, I long ago ceased to view evangelical and similar conservative Christians as nice and decent people. Instead, I concluded that hypocrisy, hatred of others, and often racism are the pillars of their belief system. In yet another piece in the Washington Post belatedly lamenting what has become of the GOP in the context of the rise of Donald Trump, Michael Gerson finally seems to be opening his eyes to the hypocrisy of the evangelical crowd that is supporting Trump. For Gerson, support for Trump is a betrayal of Christian values. In my view, the phenomenon merely underscores the hypocrisy that has always been main stream among evangelicals. Here are column highlights:
The reality is that pride is a hallmark of evangelicals who are narcissistic in their belief that they are better than others - those deemed to be "sinners" - as the selectively pick and choose Bible passages to condemn and denigrate others while ignoring their own lack of morality and decency. Donald Trump is in perfect company with these hypocritical and hate-filled people.Of all Donald Trump’s political skills, perhaps the most impressive is his ability to persuade people to support him by suspending their deepest, lifelong beliefs.The same can be said of some pro-lifers, who must look past Trump’s previous support for partial-birth abortion and his inability to provide a serious rationale for his pro-life conversion (other than the obvious political imperative).Many evangelical Christians are now in a similar position. In considerable numbers (Trump was the presidential choice of 42 percent of them in a recent poll), they are attracted to Trump’s unvarnished populism and his identification with middle-class anxiety and anger.The greater problem for evangelicals is found not in the field of biology but of theology. Trump’s defining personal and public characteristic is pride. In making America great again, he offers not a set of political ideals or policies but he himself. He, he says, is better, smarter and tougher than our corrupt and stupid leaders. Pride is his platform.It is also, in the traditional Christian view, a vice, and a particularly pernicious one. “The essential vice, the utmost evil is Pride,” wrote C.S. Lewis. “Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere flea bites in comparison; it was through Pride that the devil became the devil. Pride leads to every other vice; it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”Why is pride so dangerous? Because it is never sated, and always breeds conflict. “Pride is essentially competitive,” said Lewis, “while the other vices are competitive only, so to speak, by accident.In our personal experience, we know that pride is often at the root of resentment, rivalry, jealousy, antagonism, greed and a desire for revenge. It is the unifying conviction of evangelicals that people eventually come to the end of their ego and need to look upward; upward from the foot of the cross.A narcissistic leader is always at enmity with other people and groups, and cannot be a unifying figure. As Abraham Lincoln displayed, the capacity to heal requires humility and empathy. A narcissistic leader is vindictive, keeps lists of his grievances and enemies and is vulnerable to the abuse of power. A narcissistic leader finds it difficult to feel sympathy for those regarded as failures and losers, for the wounded and disabled, for strangers, refugees and the vulnerable.