This Politico story about conservative evangelicals who have stood by Donald Trump’s every scandal, lie, and act of cruelty suddenly now becoming profoundly upset because Trump said goddamn is further indication that the conservative evangelical movement is every bit the cesspool of insincere cultish malevolence its critics claim it to be. We do not have to be polite about this: After decades of the same behavior, no group of malevolent faux-Christians has ever stumbled into decency after a kind-hearted talk from other Americans has convinced them not to be raging, toxic asses working to the detriment of their nation, their communities, and their own families. It does not happen.
Anyone who still supports Trump after his myriad racist comments, after child separation, after his attacks on refugees fleeing violence, after his comments on women, two dozen reported assaults and several alleged rapes, and absolute indifference to any suffering other than his own is a garbage human being and will, barring an epiphany that it is beyond our power to manufacture, remain one, no matter how large a gold-colored cross they tuck themselves behind. To tolerate the steady drumbeat of lies and cruelties but get envapored over the embedded swear words is the perfect encapsulation of religious conservatism, as phenomenon and as movement.
In this version of Jesusness, torture is fine. Swear words are not. Blocking food distribution to the hungry and medical aid to the sick is Christlike; swear words are not. Turning away refugees fleeing violence, calling them diseased, or inherently criminal, or ethnic dangers to our “culture,” is what Jesus Himself would do, in the red-letter sections of the New Testament. Swear words, however, are right out. Whether a child should live or die should be determined, as the Lord instructed, by whether the child’s friends and relatives can raise sufficient funds in a bake sale to render treating the child at least marginally profitable; for government itself to step in is an abomination unto the private sector. But swear words, we must reiterate, are forbidden.
And any and all sin is forgivable, and is in fact so inconsequential as to not even require forgiving, from sexual assault, adultery, and rape to financial scammery to bearing false witness to a deep-seated personal vindictiveness that elevates do harm to perceived enemies into a foremost daily obsession—so long as you do not say shit or fuck or goddamn, words that poke through the tissue-thin veneer of decency that wraps loosely over all the worst of personal vulgarities and allows even the darkest and most self-absorbed soul to insist that they harbor the voice and will of The Lord Our God and you, Outsider, do not.
We’ve been here, literally, for decades. At this exact point. We have long hosted our own movement of casserole-bearing theocrats, all clamoring to do to America what they imagine the Apocalypse will do to Israel, but sooner—so that they can enjoy it properly and see off each person on their you had it coming list. But you’re going to eff it up completely, fellow traveler, if you say swear words in your speech and break the illusion of holy decree. Holier than thou doesn’t work if the thou suspects you are not in fact God’s literal gift to humanity, Town Gossip Edition, and much in the same way that virulent racists are now using cartoon frogs or the okay gesture as ironic self-identifier, religious conservatives who have long removed themselves from abiding by the most exhausting of New Testament edicts have chosen the but at least we do not say “goddamn” to identify themselves to their peers.
Your neighbor may be a front-lawn racist, may sport a bumper sticker on their car demanding we nuke the Arabs and take their oil, may own three guns, two of which are reserved for pre-emptive murder if somebody needs murdering, may be a domestic abuser, may be a liar and a cheat, may cackle with cruelty in conversations about what to do with certain children or certain immigrants, but you will know they are your specific subsect of something-resembling-Christian if they say gosh darn instead of the other thing. The rest is open to interpretation.
Of course they support Trump—Trump is the very embodiment of what conservative Christianity ought to look like, an endless cycle of nasty score-settling and giving other Americans the what-for interspersed with ritualistic mysticism like the laying-on of hands. Then it’s back to the torture-promotion, the barring of refugees, and the insistence that the poor and the sick pay their own way or die trying. Materialistic charlatans have been sitting themselves down on spray-painted golden thrones and claiming to be television messiahs since the invention of the medium; every one of them has claimed that they are closer to God than you are because they have their own private jet.