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.