Religion scholar compares white evangelical Christians to a "cult" under Trump's presidency

It's a compelling case

By Brad Reed
Published April 22, 2018 8:29AM (EDT)
FILE - In this Nov. 24, 2015, file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The list of prominent evangelicals denouncing Trump is growing, but is anyone in the flock listening?  The bloc of voters powering the real estate mogul through the Republican primaries is significantly weighted with white born-again Christians. As Trump’s ascendancy forces the GOP establishment to confront how it lost touch with so many conservative voters, top evangelicals are facing their own dark night, wondering what has drawn so many Christians to a twice-divorced, profane casino magnate with a muddled record on abortion and gay marriage.   (AP Photo/Willis Glassgow, File) (AP)
FILE - In this Nov. 24, 2015, file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The list of prominent evangelicals denouncing Trump is growing, but is anyone in the flock listening? The bloc of voters powering the real estate mogul through the Republican primaries is significantly weighted with white born-again Christians. As Trump’s ascendancy forces the GOP establishment to confront how it lost touch with so many conservative voters, top evangelicals are facing their own dark night, wondering what has drawn so many Christians to a twice-divorced, profane casino magnate with a muddled record on abortion and gay marriage. (AP Photo/Willis Glassgow, File) (AP)

This article originally appeared on Raw Story

Gear BrainReza Aslan, a religion scholar and former CNN host who has written extensively about Islamic fundamentalism, is featured in a new Big Think video in which he asks the question of whether the followers of President Donald Trump constitute a “religious cult.”

Aslan begins by noting that Trump received unprecedented support from American evangelicals during the 2016 presidential election — even more than former President George W. Bush, who identified specifically as an evangelical.

 “This makes no sense,” Aslan said. “Especially when you consider that Trump is not just the most irreligious president in modern history — that his entire worldview makes a mockery of core Christian values, such as humility and empathy and care for the poor.”

To examine why this could be, Aslan pointed in part to the rise of the so-called “Prosperity Gospel” that was once seen as completely heretical by most Christians, but that now has garnered a significant following.

“The essential gist of [Prosperity Gospel] is, ‘God wants you to drive a Bentley,'” Aslan explained. “That what Jesus really wants for you is material prosperity… Many white evangelicals looked at Donald Trump and what they saw was a wealthy man, and that wealth, as far as they were concerned, was just a sign of God’s blessings.”

However, Aslan said this alone does not explain why evangelicals, who once were the most likely people to say that a politician’s personal morality matters, now say that they aren’t at all interested in the president’s morality.

“Atheists in America think a politician’s morality is more important than white evangelicals,” Aslan said.

“The only explanation I have for it,” he continued. “Is that Donald Trump has turned a large swathe of white evangelical Christianity into a cult — a religious cult.”


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