Supporters want ‘Christian morality essentially dictated by law’
A new book by Mercer University Christian ethics Professor David Gushee makes the case that evangelical Christians have become “enemies” of democracy, “seduced” by authoritarian leaders like Donald Trump.
In an interview with Business Insider this week, Gushee discussed his book, “Defending Democracy from its Christian Enemies,” and his own decision to stop identifying as an evangelical Christian, believing the cultural group has become “toxic.”
Gushee said the United States is facing a democratic crisis, and conservative Christians “motivated by what they would consider to be Christian motivations” are a big part of the problem.
“In the US, the immediate crisis is the phenomenon of Donald Trump and the strong conservative Christian support for Trump, which continues to this day,” he told Business Insider.
Trump is a “uniquely dangerous politician” in American history, Gushee said, bringing up his refusal to accept the 2020 election results, the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the Capitol, and his 2024 presidential campaign.
“… but you also have this stubbornly loyal base of support for this man from conservative Christians,” Gushee said.
A Baptist pastor, Gushee said he believes many Christians support Trump because they want to regain control of politics and the culture. He estimated about 25 percent are willing to sacrifice democracy “to get what they want politically.”
If Trump is re-elected, Gushee said he fears presidential term limits could be eliminated, the independence of the judiciary could be compromised, political opponents could be thrown into jail, and the media would be afraid to report honestly and critically.
The real “threat” is not just Trump but an “overall worldview,” he told Business Insider, continuing:
“The worldview is that the kind of civilization we should want is Christian. Officially Christian. Robustly Christian. And they believe that the country will continue to decline and liberalize unless a Christian strong man comes in and says, ‘No, this is how it’s going to be here. You don’t know what’s in your own best interest. I am going to tell you what the laws are going to be and we, the Christian, traditionalist community, are going to tell you what the laws are going to be.’”
Gushee, a Christian himself, said his problem with this is “when that kind of power is concentrated in the hands of political authorities, it is always abused.”
“The early Baptists did not call on Christians to stop caring about the moral tone or direction of culture, but just not to use the coercive power of the state to enforce their vision,” he said.
Whether Trump wins or loses in November, Gushee said Americans must remain vigilant about the future of democracy because evangelical Christians, “a significant minority of the population,” are “seduced by the authoritarian temptation.”
During a 2021 panel discussion at the University of Virginia, another group of professors said white evangelical Christians are racist, sexist radicals who “pose an existential crisis” to the culture that “may end up killing us all,” The Fix reported.