A mass prayer rally in Boston in 2016, held by evangelist as part of a tour to urge evangelicals to vote. Photograph: Elise Amendola/AP
once said: Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven. So I went out of my way to piss people off telling the goth kids they were prisoners of Satans lies, handing anti-abortion literature to the loose girls, and forcing science class to run late while I debated evolution with the teacher.
My entire identity became wrapped up in being disliked by a specific group of people, and they were happy to accommodate me. Trump has had no problem arousing hatred from those same worldly people, creating what appears to some like an imploding presidency, while others see a heroic martyr against liberalism.
I never used to watch [political news] much, but when he started campaigning I was watching it, Eike said. Ive been thoroughly angry at the media. I was pleased to see him put them in their place. It was refreshing.
You can hear the frustration in Eikes voice when he brings up the sports announcer Robert Lee, whom
ESPN removed from a Virginia football game over the similarity of his name to the Confederate general. Its the sound of the disdain for political correctness, shared by white evangelicals from coast to coast, that Trump taps into every time he outrages liberals on their behalf.
After nearly eight months in office, its becoming clear that many of Trumps actions are not ideologically based, but designed to inspire maximum outrage from climate-scientists, academics, feminists, LGBTQ rights activists pretty much every demographic that evangelicals hate. Whether hes banning transgender soldiers from serving in the military, pardoning a vigilante sheriff, or refusing to properly distance himself from white supremacists, its not about the act itself, its about the negative reaction he gets from liberals.
A sense of persecution
Youll never get anything done in government with this approach, but thats not the point. Just as the point of my witnessing to the lost souls of my public high school wasnt to convert them to
Christianity, it was to see how persecuted I could be.
Which is a remarkably addictive sensation, one that became a competitive game for me and my fellow young believers. My youth-group friends and I would share stories of being punched, spit on, or called the biggest loser in school the way other kids would brag about sports or sexual conquests. Just as Morrissey fans discovered loneliness to be a fashionable accessory, we wanted to emulate the sociopathy of our messiah, who
said in the book of John: If the world hates you, know that it hated Me before it hated you.
Justified or not, white evangelical Christians
increasingly believe they are the most persecuted demographic in the US today. But I dont believe that evangelicals are interested in rectifying their status as a hated demographic, and would never protest for better treatment (or consciously demonize any racial minority the way the white supremacists do). For them, being despised by the world is a badge of honor that will ensure them a heavenly reward.
And Trumps sinking approval numbers only endears him to them all the more.
Theyre angling for an agenda to be passed, but in the meantime, all the Meryl Streep speeches, New Yorker cover drawings and Hillary Clinton memoirs are only going to make evangelical voters dig their heels in deeper come 2020.
I believe were on the right side of history, Eike said. Trump came into this opposed to the whole Washington establishment. They have bogged him down and are trying to destroy him. But hes holding them back. The crybabies.