Trump and Deconstruction

March 11th, 2024 / 5 Comments

In our forthcoming book, God After Deconstruction, Tripp Fuller and I address nine reasons many are deconstructing. One reason is Christian Nationalism. We then offer an open and relational alternative.

The sections below come from the book’s chapter on Christian Nationalism. We start by pointing to the election of Donald Trump as the tipping point for many to deconstruct.

Jesus and John Wayne

In her best-selling book, Jesus and John Wayne, Kristen Kobes Du Mez offers a historical argument for why white evangelicals love Trump. Her argument builds from decades of evangelical heroes and heroines, most of whom traded a compassionate Jesus for the rugged masculinity of Christian nationalism. Rather than Jesus, John Wayne became exemplar #1.

Rather than betraying evangelical values, argues Kobes Du Mez, “Trump embodied an aggressive, testosterone-driven masculinity that many conservative evangelicals had already come to equate with a God-given authority to lead.” xiv Support for Trump, therefore, was “the culmination of evangelicals’ embrace of militant masculinity, an ideology that enshrines patriarchal authority and condones the callous display of power, at home and abroad.” She concludes: “Evangelicals did not cast their vote despite their beliefs, but because of them.” 3

Support for Trump had consequences. It “stirred a quiet exodus from evangelical churches,” says Kobes Du Mez. “Younger evangelicals in particular have shown a willingness to abandon the tradition…” This exodus wasn’t limited to youth, however. “I’ve heard from retirees, pastors, and middle-aged suburban moms,” she says, “who have not only come to question their place within evangelicalism but even their identity as Christians in light of what evangelical Christianity has become.” Xviii

Our (Tom and Tripp’s) own surveys and informal conversations confirm this. “I was ready to bail,” says Diana, “when people who claim to be ‘good Christians’ supported a man — Donald Trump — who is so opposite of what I was taught a Christian is.” “The syncretism of politics with conservative religion met its demonic pinnacle in support of Trump,” wrote Jason. “That made any relationship to evangelicalism impossible for me.” Jeff told us that, in his opinion, “the Church was eager to stand with an anti-Christ figure, to trade their moral standing for cultural gains.”

The disastrous Trump presidency did not dissuade most evangelicals from wanting him as leader again. In late 2023, Gary Alan Taylor posted the following on social media:

A new NPR/Marist University poll revealed 77% of white evangelical Christians will vote for Donald Trump in the upcoming election. I’m at an absolute loss at finding any redeeming qualities to this movement if they are going to triple-down in support for one of the most craven, criminal, authoritarian individuals to ever seek office. This is why we deconstruct; this is why millions left church. It’s the culmination of a movement built on white supremacy, domination, patriarchy, and culture warring.

Christian Nationalism

The Trump phenomenon arises in part from the claim that the United States of America is God’s favorite country and Christian Americans are God’s favorite people. Those who believe this feel divinely called to build a nation and culture based on their particular theology and biblical interpretations. The U.S. is a new Israel for whom God is fighting.

At its heart, American Christian nationalism fails to distinguish between a person’s self-identity as Christian from their identity as American. To those who unite these identities, the United States is a Christian nation. An attack on America, therefore, is an attack on Christian faith and God.

Christian nationalists use political power to embed principles in public life that they consider God-directed. In their minds, a nation’s success relates directly to how well it obeys laws supernaturally bestowed. They manufacture culture wars certain God smiles on their efforts. The emerging agenda often includes ideas about Christian privilege in public spaces, marriage as exclusively between a man and woman, specific gender roles and identities, opposition to contraceptives and abortion, denigration of other religions, heightened militarism, subtle or explicit racism, and more.

Many nationalists rewrite history to support their sacrosanct strategies in the present. In doing so, they overstate the role Christianity played in yesteryear and call society today to return to its roots. When critics point out that this history included discrimination against people of color, had little to no role for women in public leadership, oppressed and destroyed native peoples, privileged the wealthy over the middle-class and poor, undermined the legitimacy of queer people, and so on, nationalists are not deterred. Some double down, calling for a revival of what led to such injustices.

Christian nationalists cannot fathom a flourishing world that celebrates pluralism. Their way is the right way; nonChristian people and ideas oppose God’s will. Those who think differently must be evangelized or silenced. Uniformity is prized; diversity is suspect.

God-and-country advocates want a strong military and police force to protect them from those not Christian or not Christian enough. These institutions operate from clear hierarchies and rely upon violence to instill order. Some nationalists support aggression abroad to advance agendas they consider holy, and they justify aggression at home when the goal is conformity. In this, the ways of love are sacrificed for the use of force.

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Bruce Anderson

Sounds like this book will reinforce the polarization that exists in America today.

Bruce Anderson

Also, have you read Robb Smith’s, The Great Release: The Rise of Trump and the End of U.S. Hegemony, or Ken Wilber’s, Trump and a Post-Truth World?

Bruce Anderson

Lastly, have you read, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, by Jonathon Haidt?


Thanks for the response, Bruce. I’ve read some of the books you mention but not all.

While our book documents how Trump has driven many Evangelicals to deconstruct, we’re not partisan in our arguments. We think Christians should engage in politics, but we don’t endorse any particular party.

John Twemlow

I’ve been enjoying Brian Zahnd’s Sunday messages and his BZ’s basement tapes where he is discussing his book “The Wood between the Worlds”. Clearly he advocates the non-violent activist and the putting down of the sword. Excellent messages.

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