Friday, August 30, 2019

If Evangelicals Are Supporting Trump Because They Can't Cope With Women's Bodies, Maybe They Should Skip The Election This Year And See A Psycho-Therapist Instead


Trump's support among white evangelicals hasn't sunk much despite the discomfort some of them feel about a few of his noticeably anti-Jesus policies and about the way he comports himself. 80% of white evangelicals voted for him in 2016 and, if the election were held today, 77% of them say they would do the same now. Writing for the Washington Post, Andrea Lucado cited a Maris poll for NPR and PBS from last month, in her piece that ran yesterday, How the female body became the scapegoat for white evangelicals. She pointed to the fact that 70% of white evangelicals reported hating Hillary Clinton, overwhelmingly because of her stand on women's Choice. "As a white, evangelical-raised Christian," wrote Lucado, "I am frustrated, angry and confused by the continued support of Trump even when his first term is coming to an end, but I can’t claim to be surprised." Not only do 65% of evangelicals oppose abortion-- a relatively new phenomenon; American evangelicals used to back Choice and deride Catholics for opposing it-- but "Americans who oppose the legality of abortion (27%) are significantly more likely than those who support the legality of abortion (18%) to say they will only vote for a candidate who shares their views on the issue."
I have grown suspicious of the way some evangelicals identify with their pro-life status so deeply that it affects every political decision they make.

French literary critic and philosopher René Girard studied how ancient civilizations relied on the tradition of the scapegoat. Girard claimed that scapegoating was necessary due to what he called “mimetic desire,” which, put simply, is the fact that we want what others have. This coveting ultimately leads to conflict only resolved through an act of violence, usually cast upon one victim chosen by the tribe: the scapegoat.

Girard found that this method of scapegoating changed when Jesus arrived in ancient Palestine. Jesus himself was described as a scapegoat, a “lamb led to slaughter” (Acts 8:32). But Girard argued that the circumstances around Christ’s crucifixion symbolized the end of the need of scapegoating. As he explained in his book “I See Satan Fall Like Lightening,” “Jesus is innocent, and those who crucify him are guilty.”

Girard theorized that because Jesus’ innocence was known by those in attendance at his crucifixion (See the accounts of Pontius Pilate in Matthew 27:23-24 and of the centurion in Matthew 27:54), the curtain was pulled back on the scapegoat method. It was finally clear that the truly guilty are those who scapegoat, not the scapegoat. The crucifixion symbolized the final sacrifice and negated the usefulness of the scapegoat tradition.

Even though Christianity was founded upon this very sacrifice, some have not gotten the message that scapegoating has ended.

Although the pro-life movement has made steps toward helping women through pregnancy, many of its tactics to prevent abortion are sometimes driven by shame. Each movie that portrays the horrors of the procedure, each image of a fetus, each hand-scribbled sign bobbing up and down outside a Planned Parenthood seems to be pointing a finger and asking, How could you? And the finger is always pointed at the woman. Her decision, her body, her fault.

What I have seen in the pro-life movement and elsewhere in evangelical culture is this ancient reliance upon the scapegoat mechanism, and the scapegoat is always the same-- the female body.

Purity culture-- an evangelical movement that reached its height in the late 1990s and early 2000s-- promoted a core message of abstinence before and outside of marriage. The way this sexual ethic was taught to me and many others badly warped my view of sex, the body and gender. Only in recent years have I been able to clumsily untangle the message from my faith, namely the weight, guilt and responsibility the movement put on females.

When learning about sex and purity, I was taught my virginity was my greatest commodity, therefore, I must protect it at all costs until I was married. Marriage and childbearing would be the pinnacle of my existence-- a belief many evangelicals still hold today. Just this week, Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, suggested being a parent is what makes one human.

According to purity culture, the protection of my virginity was up to me. I remember many lectures about the importance of girls’ dressing modestly so as not to let our brothers stumble into the sin of lust. I once heard a youth leader say that a mere glimpse of a bra strap would cause a boy to have impure thoughts.

I was warned about how often boys thought about sex and the warning’s undertone was a warning for me: Don’t lead him into temptation. It was up to me to keep myself pure and to keep my brothers in Christ pure, as well. If I had sex before marriage, I would not only taint myself, but I would also own the guilt of causing the male I had sex with to have sex with me.

It made for a world nearly impossible for a girl to do right and for a boy to do wrong.

The shame and guilt that drove purity culture is the same shame I see driving the pro-life movement today. And like purity culture, the woman is the scapegoat. She is the one making the decision. She, and she alone, is at fault.

The fact that white evangelicals still as a whole support Trump for a 2020 reelection with abortion as the flag over their crusade points to an important truth: Evangelicals are still obsessed with female bodies, controlling them and blaming them.

Recalling Girard’s theory of mimetic desire, this leads me to wonder, what is the desire behind the scapegoat of the woman’s body? What do evangelicals want that others have? Is it power? Is it fame? Is it women themselves?

Or, do they fear what an end to their scapegoat mechanism would do? When the woman, or scapegoat, speaks, it causes unrest. It causes a dismantling. Look what it did to former Southern Baptist seminary president Paige Patterson, one of the most prominent religious leaders of the late 20th century. Is the pro-life movement just a convenient, moral excuse to keep the woman as scapegoat, and, therefore, maintain order?

Whatever it is, the pull to isolate a presidential vote to one issue is strong enough to blind many evangelicals to what Jesus would care about today: the poor (He was.), the immigrant (He was one.), the marginalized (He was.), the person of color (He was one.). It seems the primary rock some evangelicals are standing on is one in which the woman’s body is scapegoat, in which she is sacrificed.
President of the Evangelical States of America, Pig Man

And this isn't just about people in some backward part of Alabama or Oklahoma. How about Long Island? Nancy Goroff is running for a Suffolk County congressional seat held by anti-Choice fanatic Lee Zeldin. Yesterday, Goroff told her supporters that "Trump has instituted a 'gag rule' that prevents doctors from giving full medical advice to their patients. It has forced Planned Parenthood out of Title X, putting at risk wellness exams, STD and HIV screenings, birth control, and contraceptive education that millions of people count on. As a scientist, I believe medical decisions need to be made with the best information possible, and I don’t believe the government should stand between a patient and their doctor. Anti-choice politicians, like my opponent Lee Zeldin, are part of the problem and need to be replaced. Zeldin has voted to defund Planned Parenthood, to allow for 'personhood' legislation and to repeal the Affordable Care Act-- stripping health insurance from tens of millions of Americans. Overall, he’s voted against Planned Parenthood 30 times THIS YEAR-- and not once in favor of the women who need their help. When it comes to women's healthcare, Zeldin chooses policies that ignore the facts and data. As a scientist and a mom... I will work to debunk the lies about Planned Parenthood and fight to restore critical funding for it."

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At 7:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would be logical to assume that a population of people so fucking stupid and gullible as to believe in a god of hate and intolerance that loathes half of his/its human creations, would be succeptible to such extreme rationalizations for their own hatreds and fears.

The more psychologically and emotionally stunted and flawed these morons are, the more easily they can be cajoled into such "scapegoating".

In Germany in the '30s, economic circumstances conspired to make those Christian assholes scapegoat the jews (, labor unions, communists et al, at first anyway...).

In America, it's just a seemingly infinite capacity to hate. We have no other excuses. Well, we're also dumber than shit. I suppose the latter plows the field for the former.

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