The Washington Post has done some terrific reporting on the prevailing moods in Trump Country. In an article today a post reporter visited the First Baptist Church in Luverne, Alabama — a town that voted overwhelmingly for Trump — to learn how the congregants square their fundamentalist Christian beliefs with support for someone as blatantly immoral as Donald Trump. It is painful to read the mental contortions involved in their explanations, but a common thread seems to be a fear of the “other”. For some, our former president was the very embodiment of the “other””
She was 67, a Sunday school teacher who said this was the only way to understand how Christians like her supported Trump.
“Obama was acting at the behest of the Islamic nation,” she began one afternoon when she was getting her nails done with her friend Linda. She was referring to allegations that President Barack Obama is a Muslim, not a Christian — allegations that are false. “He carried a Koran and it was not for literary purposes. If you look at it, the number of Christians is decreasing, the number of Muslims has grown. We allowed them to come in.”
“Obama woke a sleeping nation,” said Linda.
“He woke a sleeping Christian nation,” Sheila corrected.
In their mind, Obama and Hilary opened the floodgates for all kinds of “other” people to come into “God’s Own Country”, Trump’s warning of the “rapists and murderers” crossing the border resonates strongly:
Unpapered people,” Sheila said, adding that she had seen them in the county emergency room and they got treated before her. “And then the Americans are not served.”
Love thy neighbor, she said, meant “love thy American neighbor.”
Welcome the stranger, she said, meant the “legal immigrant stranger.”
“The Bible says, ‘If you do this to the least of these, you do it to me,’ ” Sheila said, quoting Jesus. “But the least of these are Americans, not the ones crossing the border.”
And it was President Obama who inflamed the racial divide in this country.
The evidence was all the black people protesting about the police, and all the talk about the legacy of slavery, which Sheila never believed was as bad as people said it was. “Slaves were valued,” she said. “They got housing. They got fed. They got medical care.”
But God sent them Donald Trump. And Trump will lead them to the Promised Land. It is interesting to hear their vision of Heaven that Trump has in store for them — beautiful yards and kitchens right out of HGTV:
“I think it’ll be beautiful — I love plants, and I think it’ll be like walking in a beautiful garden,” said Sheila.
“Have you ever been out at night and looked at the stars?” said Linda. “That’s the floor of heaven, and heaven is going to be so much more beautiful than the floor.”
“I’m going to be in my kitchen,” Sheila said, imagining heaven would have one. “I think it’s going to be beautiful to see all the appliances.”