'New Yorker' Editor: Evangelicals Back Trump Due to 'Xenophobia' and 'Nativism'

December 27th, 2019 8:46 PM

On Thursday’s Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough held a panel discussion focused on “what it would take for evangelicals to turn on President Trump.” In what has become a commonplace occurrence on Morning Joe, members of the panel attempted to portray evangelicals as racist.

Scarborough began the discussion by noting that “a split of sorts has emerged among evangelicals after the publication of Christianity Today put out that editorial calling for Donald Trump to be removed from office.” 



The New Yorker’s Michael Luo, who wrote a piece with the title, “What it would take for evangelicals to turn on President Trump,” contended that white evangelicals support President Trump because of “a fusion of cultural beliefs, religion and culture that mix together, particularly actually around the sense that America is in decline and that America was founded as a Christian nation...those kinds of cultural beliefs are actually shared with Trump.” According to Luo, these “shared cultural values” include “xenophobia, nativism, the sense of protection of...a sense of what they thought that America used to be and what it should be.

This kind of rancorous commentary directed at evangelicals should not have come as that much of a surprise. Earlier this week, Rev. Al Sharpton appeared on Morning Joe and claimed that Trump-supporting evangelicals “would sell Jesus out” for a “shameless con man.”

During a previous appearance on Morning Joe, Sharpton accused evangelicals of “submitting to white nationalism,” while another guest, liberal Rev. Jim Wallis, portrayed white evangelicals as “resistant to a multiracial future.” Another one of Morning Joes favorite evangelicals, Pete Wehner, has slammed Trump-supporting evangelicals for “degrading themselves and the movement so badly.”

After Scarborough attacked Trump’s “overall policies that seem to be unduly harsh on the poor,” left-wing Rev. William Barber joined the Trump-bashing and claimed that Trump’s policies are “fundamentally against a Jesus-based morality and a constitutional morality.” Obviously, the “Jesus-based morality” that Barber has in mind correlates perfectly with the left-wing utopia envisioned by the likes of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Towards the end of the segment, Karine Jean-Pierre of Moveon.org made sure to trash the President because he “took away food stamps from 700,000 people.” Barber picked up on that point by comparing Trump to “Caesar, who was about greed and lying and oppression.” Even during Christmas vacation, the sanctimonious crew on Morning Joe can’t seem to let go of their obvious hatred of the President of the United States.


A transcript of the relevant portion of Thursday’s edition of Morning Joe is below. Click “expand” to read more.


Morning Joe


08:37 AM


JOE SCARBOROUGH: Now, a split of sorts has emerged among evangelicals after the publication of Christianity Today put out that editorial calling for Donald Trump to be removed from office. Let’s bring in now, for more on the nexus of politics and religion, the Rev. William Barber, he’s President of Repairers of the Breach and co-chair of The Poor People’s Campaign, a national call for a moral revival. Also with us, editor of The New Yorker.com Michael Luo, Luo, he is actually out with a piece entitled “What it would take for evangelicals to turn on President Trump.” David Ignatius and Karine Jean-Pierre are with us still as well. Michael, let’s talk about your piece. First of all, 80 percent of evangelicals, white evangelicals, voted for Donald Trump in 2016. I don’t know that I expect many of them to turn on Donald Trump any time soon. It is fascinating though that the…really sort of the center of Christianity is asking God, asking Jesus for forgiveness and Donald Trump has said time and again he just doesn’t need to do it.

MICHAEL LUO: Yeah, it’s a big mystery obviously. It’s something I have thought about a…a long time. You know, as somebody who goes to church myself, somebody who’s followed politics a long time, trying to understand why evangelicals came out in such large numbers for Trump, white evangelicals. I mean, a big thing that I found and what I write about in my column is that it’s actually less about religion but actually the culture around the religion, which I think is a really important distinction. There’s a lot of interesting social science research that’s been coming out looking at what exactly drove the white evangelical vote and it’s not about economics, it’s not about ideology. It’s actually these, this fusion of cultural beliefs, religion, and culture that mix together…particularly actually around the sense that America is in decline and that America was founded as a Christian nation, and there…there’s actually a lot of…those kinds of cultural beliefs are actually shared with Trump; and what makes white evangelicals vulnerable to a populist leader like Donald Trump, and…and it’s…it’s both sort of depressing and…and it gives a little bit of hope. Depressing in terms of it’s…it’s actually seems to be less transactional, less about Trump’s views on judges and conservative judges and things like that and more about certain shared cultural values around xenophobia, nativism, this sense of protection of…of what…a sense of what they thought that America used to be and what it should be.

SCARBOROUGH: You know, it’s interesting, Reverend Barber, that the Christianity Today op-ed actually focuses on Donald Trump’s personal moral failings; which you point out are not impeachable. But I…I just wonder looking…looking from 30,000 feet; whether it’s not some of the policies as it pertains to the harshness, the intended harshness of separating babies from their mothers, the intentional harshness of what’s gone on at the southern border. Regardless of where you stand on, you or I, where we may have different views on immigration and but…but regardless, it seems to me it’s the policies, the overall policies that seem to be unduly harsh on the poor, on all of those that Jesus talked about in Matthew 25 that…that certainly seems to be more disturbing for certain religious leaders.

WILLIAM BARBER: Well, it is, Joe, and thank you so much. You know, that article is powerful and problematic. It’s powerful because it’s forcing us to have this conversation about morality again in the public square. It’s problematic because it just focuses on his personal immorality and talks about his benefits politically. But the reality is when you look at Trump and his allies’ policies, they are fundamentally against a Jesus-based morality and a constitutional morality, whether that’s refusing to give living wages to the working poor but giving tax cuts to the greedy, locking up children and families in cages, spreading the lie about voter suppression…voter suppression is not real, trying to appoint racist judges. When you look at the bible, now not just the Republican talking point but Isaiah 10, Isaiah 58, Luke chapter 4, Matthew 25, those are, if you will, impeachable in terms of a Jesus-based and a constitutional morality; and the more we move back in that direction, we are seeing some evangelicals who don’t call themselves evangelicals because the term has been so messed up but they’re breaking from that because it does not line up with a Jesus-based morality and a constitutional morality.


08:44:17 AM

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: Reverend Barber, you…you talk about; clearly, you did…laid out about the pers…the personal versus the policies. You know, we’re in the middle of this Christmas season, this holiday season. Donald Trump kicked off, took away food stamps from 700,000 people, so you’re right.

BARBER: Exactly.

JEAN-PIERRE: The policy really hurts people to the core. And…and you think about the historical context as well, of how powerful leaders has used religion to stay in power. I guess my question to you is how do you break that? We talk about how this is kind of a cultural dynamic and…and how much…how much of that is of the politics is…is involved in that? How do you break that? How do you get to the other side and really reach people?

BARBER: Well, first of all, we have to understand that and Christmas season’s a good time to talk about it because you juxtapose Jesus with Herod and Caesar and Jesus is always counter to Caesar, who was about greed and lying and oppression. Secondly, we have to remember these great traditions we’ve forgotten; when evangelicals supported abolition of slavery and women’s suffrage and civil rights and the New Deal and the peace movement, those movements are a part of American life as well; and thirdly, we have to be a movement…now, I would differ some with your guests. We are finding in the poor people’s campaign a national call for moral revival, thousands of people that are breaking now. In fact, we are planning now a mass Poor People’s Assembly Moral March on Washington June 20th because thousands and thousands of the people from the hills of Kentucky to…to, to the delta of Mississippi are coming together across race to say there are five issues we ought to be addressing religiously: Systemic racism, systemic poverty, 140 million people living in poverty and low wealth, ecological devastation, the war economy, and we must challenge this false moral narrative of religious nationalism that is masquerading itself as evangelicalism and it is not true evangelicalism from a biblical base. And so, we…we have to be a movements and we have to remember especially in this season that we’re in now; and it’s happening all over the country. Thousands of people are coming together and we’re going to be in Washington on June 20, 2020.