Why White Evangelicals Worship at the Altar of Politics: A Conversation with Sarah Posner

By Andy Hale

Let’s not sugarcoat it, the church in America is at a critical crossroads. No, it is not the intersection of the pandemic and what life will be like afterward. Instead, this is a theological crisis, decades in the making, of what happens when you wed the desire for religious rightness with political partisanship. 

Since the days of James Fifield Jr.’s Spiritual Mobilization of the 1930’s to the push under Eisenhower to have “In God We Trust” imprinted on all U.S. currency, from the rise of Falwell’s Moral Majority to the backing of Donald Trump as the candidate for the Republican Party, Evangelicalism in America has had an unhealthy marriage with the political machine. 

This isn’t the first time it has happened in history and it certainly will not be the last. However, this is a moment in the American church’s story to pause and consider the past, the present, and the future. 

A movement, once boasting of the essential faith credentials of their political candidates, has been compromising on their core values for the sake of power. It might be a harsh assessment for many, but consider why white Evangelicals worship at the altar of politics? 

“The multiple passes that the Christian right gave Trump, who couldn’t cite a Bible verse or articulate even the most basic tenets of Christianity, was a sharp break from its litmus test for other presidential candidates,” said Sarah Posner, national reporter and author.

Posner has been following the White Evangelical movement for the last several decades, reflected in her writing for The Washington PostThe New York TimesThe Guardian, and Rolling Stones.

Her latest work is entitled Unholy: Why White Evangelicals Worship at the Altar of Donald Trump. We sat down with Posner to discuss the book and what’s next for this faith movement.

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This podcast episode is brought to you by The Center for Congregational Health, Baptist Seminary of Kentucky, and McAfee School of Theology Doctor of Ministry program.

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Andy Hale is the creator and host of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Podcast. Hale is the senior pastor of University Baptist Church of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, following eight years as the founding pastor of Mosaic Church of Clayton and five years as CBF’s church start specialist. Follow on Twitter @haleandy

3 thoughts on “Why White Evangelicals Worship at the Altar of Politics: A Conversation with Sarah Posner

  1. We likely would not have had a strong Civil Rights movement without the black church. We likely would not have elected President Biden without the black church. I agree the church should not be involved in politics but could you could not tell that to CBF. Your comments show our blindness to our own faults at CBF.

  2. What’s your point? That the Black church advocating against inherently racist policies in the practice of governance is somehow the moral equivalent to White Evangelicals supporting and continuing to back a lying malignant narcissist who’s behaviors should be abhorrent to every Christian?

  3. It bears repeating here: Evangelical Christians voted for Trump because he was the lesser of two evils. They weren’t voting on a new pastor.

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