Yesterday, The New York Times printed an op-ed by Molly Wicker, a junior at Grove City College, under the headline “A Conservative Christian College Protest of Mike Pence.” I see this as part and parcel of the MSM’s ongoing love affair with the fanciful narrative that younger white Evangelicals no longer seek to fight the culture wars. This generational “sea change” has been the subject of endless think pieces. There’s just one teensy, tiny problem with these think pieces. Namely that there is no white Evangelical generational sea change.
In Ms. Wicker’s op-ed, we see a slight variation on the theme, one related to the deluge of attempts made during and after the 2016 U.S. election cycle to distinguish “real” Evangelicals from the ones who voted for Twitter-Maniac-in-Chief Donald J. Trump. Of course there’s one itty-bitty problem with that story too. Namely that it’s entirely false. At this point, regular church attendance actually predicts higher Trump support among white Evangelicals. I really hope there are some pundits out there blushing and maybe finally taking their rose-colored glasses off, because damn it, I told you so (for example here and here).
Here’s the main problem with this particular brand of wishful thinking, of which I take the Times‘ publishing of Ms. Wicker to be an example: it ignores that fact that consistent, “values voting” theocratic politics is not any less authoritarian or dangerous to democracy than Trumpism. Sure, most white Evangelicals who attend church regularly wanted Ted Cruz during the primaries. So, let’s praise them because consistent theocratic authoritarianism of the type represented by Cruz and so-called Vice President Mike Pence is so much better than Trumpist kleptocratic authoritarianism (in which Trump is pursuing the theocrats’ agenda anyway)? #SorryNotSorry, but no. For lack of a better term, “principled” theocracy is no better than Trumpism for the American people, and as far as I can tell, Ms. Wicker is perfectly content to be a “principled” theocrat. For that reason, in order to help drive the point home, I’ve decided to post screenshots of some of the key passages from Ms. Wicker’s op-ed below, along with translations of their meaning. And if you doubt that Evangelical colleges are as bad as all that, I suggest you read this.
We’re too Holy for this School, too Holy for this School, so Holy We Rule
Translation: We young white Evangelicals have standards thankyouverymuch. We like authoritarians who don’t “grab them by the pussy” and don’t go with those who do!
Translation: Down with safe spaces! Except for ours, of course. That’s different, because we have the Truth, and it’s really mean of you not to accept that and our religious freedom to dominate you. Politely.
Translation: Again, if you are going to “grab them by the pussy” and get caught, you have to at least learn to speak the language of repentance to meet the standards of today’s discriminating young white Evangelicals. Come on, this isn’t hard.
Translation: The theocratic revolution will be polite. Why’d you have to sell out, Mikey?
Translation: We are actually protesting the invitation of Mike Pence. Politely. It’s kind of a big deal. Please clap.
Translation: My hope is that Mr. Pence, as a Christian, will promote the greater good of American theocracy the way it’s supposed to be done–with a pleasant demeanor. A Christian is someone who takes women’s, gay people’s, and trans people’s rights away quietly, with an unassuming Hoosier smile, while never using a curse word. Compassionately. Duh.
Translation: As with any contemporary Christian music hit worth its “salt” (pun intended), it is necessary to end on a cheery note. So let’s hear it for quietly, politely taking people’s rights away, maybe with a post-impeachment President Pence in charge, which I will just slightly hint at with the utmost propriety. The brashness of President Trump has no place in American authoritarianism. In conclusion, we young Grove City College students are not like those Evangelicals. No really. Please clap.
8 thoughts on “Young Evangelicals Insist the Theocracy Will Not be Trumpian: Please Clap?”
I’ll give you a standing ovation, Mr Stroop, but Ms. Wicker can sod right off to that Evangelical Hell she’s so damned scared of. I’ve been aware of and watching this slow creep for almost as long as you’ve been alive. I began to see it with Reagan and the so-called Moral Majority, and it has continued it’s march towards a theocracy ever since. I swear they read Margaret Atwood in 1985 and saw a blueprint, not a dystopia in “The Handmaid’s Tale”. Ever since Pence’s selection as VP, I’ve wondered if letting Trump implode so that Pence takes the Oval Office isn’t the underlying plan. The problem is that with Trump, it’s far more likely to end up more like “A Canticle for Liebowitz”, than the theocracy they dream of.
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You are so right, in every particular. I remember how horrifyingly plausible and prescient I found The Handmaid’s Tale thirty years ago. The march towards theofascism has been nauseatingly constant ever since Raygun, with a few pauses and detours for sanity here and there. Fortunately, the farce of last November’s stolen ‘election’ has made people so angry (at long last….) and put all the racism, homophobia, misogyny, and theocratic fascism (wait, that’s redundant, lol) SO OUT THERE that I don’t think the Republic of Gilead will be happening here.
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I attended this college from 1992-1996 and I cannot tell you how disgusted I am by this NYTimes piece. Thank you for this translation as it helps explain why I had such a visceral reaction to Miss W’s op-ed.
I did take the time to respond to the article on the Times site and a current GCC student took issue with my characterization of the school by stating he’s sorry I’ve had a troubled life (!?) and no professors teach racism or sexism or bigotry.
I have a rather lovely, untroubled life and my professors did teach all those things- and they did so with that same sincere and innocent posturing favored by Pence.
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Thank you very much for sharing this.
All civilized humans have visceral reactions to kinder, gentler theofascists like the emetic Ms. W. Her pitiful attempts at prose (a ‘rift between ideological and political conservatism?’ ‘evangelicals have long demanded?’ Darling, we know you’re young and imbecilic, but really. Thirty-five years of grifting, cheating, lying, felonious ‘evangelists’ AND ‘evangelicals’ all loudly professing their JAHAYZUSSness as they break every law known to man? Not all of us grew up staring at Faux Noise on our smartphones, honey–your attempt to rewrite history is only yet another Big Lie, but one completely unworthy of Goebbels. He , at least, was smart.
This reminds me of the other recent “young evangelicals fight back” story — the young pregnant high schooler who was punished by her school, a “Heritage Christian Academy,” where “pro-life” values are said to prevail. In her (and to some extent her family’s) sincere and no doubt difficult effort to push back, there was also a fundamental affirmation of their core of shared beliefs and values with the school. Clearly this young woman is a victim, but also attached to her abusers, and willingly so. It seems to me this Grove City College student exhibits a slightly older, far less personally injured version of the same psychology. Everyone wants to be true to their school — the price of a total resistance or critique would be membership (and other things), one way or another. That’s not a price most people will pay. Should they be browbeaten because of it? How does that help? I think we’d agree the younger victim of straight up abuse (and civil rights violations that are shamefully legal in the US) is not to be treated to the level of scorn you’ve heaped on Wicker, who decided to take a public stand of her own, preemptively; she had not been not attacked; she is probably 20 or 21 years old. But I still wonder if this is the best way to reach people like her. Maybe that’s not a goal.