Many longtime Kossacks know that my passion for turning the hot lights on the worst of the religious right is personal. I was in the very belly of that beast during my days at the University of North Carolina, when I was suckered into joining Waymaker Christian Fellowship, a hypercharismatic and borderline cultish campus ministry that tried to turn me from a liberal Democrat into a Christian Coalition Republican. Their church, King’s Park International Church in Durham, was once the Carolina chapter of Maranatha Campus Ministries, one of the more notorious “campus cults” of the 1970s and 1980s. I’m chronicling many of my experiences there at one of my blogs, Child of the Truth.
One of many things that still makes me vomit about that experience almost a quarter-century later is how my former “brothers” and “sisters” in that bunch were still willing to remain loyal to KPIC and its longtime pastor, Ron Lewis, even after I told them that Lewis had been willfully hiding his Maranatha past. Even when I showed them how Lewis and his church were listed in a directory of “friends and former members” of Maranatha, their response was basically “so what?” All that mattered to them was that they were “bringing the good news of Jesus to UNC!”
This is why the Trump era gave me a very unnerving sense of deja vu. Just like my former “brothers” and “sisters” in Waymaker were more than willing to remain loyal to “Pastor Ron” even though I’d given them information that would lead any reasonable person—let alone someone smart enough to get into Carolina—that he was lying, large segments of the religious right were willing to remain loyal to Trump even though it was obvious he was a thug and reprobate. All that mattered to them was that he was giving them what they wanted on abortion, gay rights, and the courts. Indeed, it turns out that they rallied to him after the “Access Hollywood” tapes after he googled down on his promise to throw Hillary in jail. In other words, all that mattered was that he vowed to “burn (or lock up) the witch!”
To my mind, the textbook example of this mentality isn’t the preachers who are googling down on their prophecies that Trump will be president. It’s Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of GA-14. She identifies as a devout born-again Christian. For instance, her main priority, apart from her windmill-tilting effort to impeach Biden, is throwing red meat to the religious right.
And yet, she makes no bones about her fealty to Trump. Remember, she maintained her objections to certifying Biden’s win even after the riots of January 6—and almost as egregiously, even after Trump was caught on tape trying to shake down officials in her own state.
Even in the face of all of this, Greene has no qualms about showing her loyalty to Trump. For instance, just hours before Biden was sworn in, Greene tweeted this.
And she has let it be known that Republicans break ranks with Trump at their peril.
Riddle me this, Marjorie. You wail about abortion being a vile evil, yet you stand with a man who incited the closest thing to a coup attempt we’ve ever seen in this country’s history, a man who wiped his feet on the very Constitution he swore to preserve, protect and defend? You pitch a hissy fit over a nonexistent change to pronouns, but have no problem peddling debunked lies about election fraud?
Greene’s bloviating may be catnip to the folks back home. Remember, she represents a congested-red swatch of northwest Georgia, from the Chattanooga suburbs to the outer fringes of Atlanta. It has a PVI of R+27 and is deeply fundified. Democrats are lucky to get even 30 percent of the vote here; indeed, no Democrat has crossed that mark since its creation in 2013. Trump has carried this district by ludicrous margins in the last two elections—75-22 in 2016, 73-25 in 2020.
In all likelihood, Greene has bought herself a decade or more in Congress—that is, if she doesn’t bolt for the Senate first (where she would likely get eaten alive by Raphael Warnock). But she did so at the price of selling out her integrity. Greene has an MBA from Georgia, which is a pretty decent school. It’s hard to believe she doesn’t know better. To my mind, it’s evidence that there’s a giant void where her conscience should be.
I look at her, and I think back to my former friends in Waymaker. Many of my former friends in there have gone fast and far at KPIC and at Every Nation, the network of churches of which KPIC is a key member. But they have paid a heavy price for it. By remaining loyal to a guy who believes deceit and guilt-tripping ought to be standard operating procedure, they have shown that they have no soul, no heart, and no conscience. They sold out their integrity in exchange for power—just like Greene sold out her integrity in exchange for power. Such is the story of the religious right—and why it must go down hard for trying to bully us into bowing down to Trump.