Class Warfare Blog

September 29, 2020

Trump-Supporting Evangelicals Make More Sense Now

Filed under: Culture — Steve Ruis @ 10:23 am
Tags: , , ,

I have been reading Pascal Boyer’s book, Religion Explained, and he makes the point that one should think of religious groups more along the lines of coalitions than of groups of people bonded by common beliefs. Clearly Christians fight amongst themselves more than they fight people of non-Christian beliefs (in the U.S.). So, they form a coalition amongst a few people within their religion, which is based upon a cost-benefit analysis. (They figure the cost of leaving vs. the benefits of staying. Coalitions serve prosaic purposes.)

Fundamentalists often respond with violence when their “cultural norms” are challenged . . . or at least that’s what it seems. But Boyer states:

“We can get a better sense of fundamentalist reactions if we describe more precisely what is so scandalous about modern influence in a religious milieu and if we take into account that the reaction is a matter of coalitional processes (My emphasis here. S). The message from the modern world is not just that other ways of living are possible, that some people many not believe, or believe differently, or feel unconstrained by religious morality, or (in the case of women) make their own decisions without male supervision. The message is also that people can do that without paying a heavy price. Nonbelievers and believers in another faith are not ostracized; those who break free of religious morality, as long as the abide by the laws, still have a normal social position; and women who dispense with male chaperones do not visibly suffer as a consequence. This “message” may seem so obvious to us that we fail to realize how seriously it threatens a social interaction that is based upon coalitional thinking. Seen from the point of view of a religious coalition, the fact that many choices are made in modern conditions without paying a heavy price means that defection is not costly and is therefore very likely.” (All emphases, other than the one noted as being mine, are Boyer’s.)

So, evangelicals support Trump, not because he is like them, but because he is punishing the transgressors; making those gays and queers, and illegals pay a price for their “decisions” . . . because if there isn’t a heavy price to pay for violating their norms (whatever the heck they might be), people will defect from their coalition in increasing numbers.

This is why fundamentalists can’t wait for you to get your comeuppance in the after life. They need to have you punished in the here and now to show the benefit of staying in their particular coalition.

At least this makes some sense.

The bullshit of trying to make Mr. Trump into a Christ-like figure just makes no sense at all, so the root of “he shares our beliefs” also makes so sense, but this does. In essence: he hates the people we hate and is punishing them for their bad decisions, which supports our coalition by making it harder to conceive of defecting from it.


  1. Interesting points. Reminds me of Richard Carriers observation about how religious rituals and beliefs include embarrassing and or bizarre aspects by design. Going through religious rites, declaring belief in absurd doctrines, etc, all serve to bridge burn with outsiders and make leaving difficult for believers to do. That makes survival of the belief system more likely in an evolutionary sense, and therefore such features are predictable aspects of any religion that survives. The nonsensical aspects of belief are actually a feature rather than a bug.

    The points you cite hit another dimension — punishment for transgressors has also been a long standing religious feature and for somewhat similar reasons.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Matt Barsotti — September 29, 2020 @ 10:42 am | Reply

  2. This makes sense, but I think there’s another layer underneath which is less conscious. In a sense coalitions are formed as group/tribe survival strategies. The control of women, in-group marriage, the rejection of birth control and abortion — these are ultimately reproductive strategies disguised or justified as ideology.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by The Pink Agendist — September 29, 2020 @ 12:41 pm | Reply

    • I was thinking the other day why the frenzy over abortion now unlike in the 70s. I don’t think many Latinos would get one being mostly Catholic and maybe not too many blacks either. I realize I’m speaking in generalities. And I think it has been mostly white women who do and perhaps even middle class and upper who do…again generalities.
      So maybe the game plan is to keep white women having more babies so the whites don’t get over taken in population and lose white privilege.

      Liked by 2 people

      Comment by maryplumbago — September 29, 2020 @ 5:14 pm | Reply

      • I think that’s definitely “the plan”, but I don’t think most people understand that’s what’s happening on a conscious level. I think that in more or less the same way that there’s sibling rivalry, or that children have a tendency to be sceptical of their parents re-marrying, there’s an animal instinct to try to keep resources in one’s own tribe or socio-cultural group. If we look at racism as a partner to reproductive strategy, it seems very efficient. How many minority babies die in childbirth vs. white? How many minority mothers die during childbirth vs. white? What’s the blacks to whites murder ratio?

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by The Pink Agendist — September 29, 2020 @ 5:39 pm | Reply

        • I don’t think racism goes as deep as figuring the consequences you mention. Most of those statistics are researched to support the idea already had. I think racism is paced from one generation to another and rarely questioned, just reinforced. The attitudes supporting such stances goe deep, however. My partner was raised in an evangelical family and the idea of voting Democrat would make people in those circles feel ill. So, the passions that used to support racism and patriotism, etc. are now being infused into politics. We vilify political “others” as if they bore diseases … .

          On Tue, Sep 29, 2020 at 5:39 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:


          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by Steve Ruis — September 30, 2020 @ 7:34 am | Reply

          • Did you see this in the Guardian the other day?
            I wonder if a similar system applies to to how we rationalise other behaviours.


            Comment by The Pink Agendist — September 30, 2020 @ 5:33 pm | Reply

            • I just started reading her book … and currently I am focussed on reflective versus nonreflective interpretations of experiences. Many of our experiences are processed subconsciously and many of these things turn into beliefs (believe it or not :o).

              More and more I see that our problems are not with our experiences but with our interpretations.

              I hope you are enjoying this wonderful Fall (pandemic included) and that you and your partner are well and happy. The only thing that would make me perfectly happy (I choose to be happy most of the time) would be the tossing from office the execrable Mr. Trump.

              On Wed, Sep 30, 2020 at 5:33 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:



              Comment by Steve Ruis — October 1, 2020 @ 1:02 pm | Reply

      • That is literally what some of these groups, especially the white supremacist ones, preach, that they need to breed more white babies to try to keep up with non-whites. It is literally right out of Nazi propaganda, the “Lebensborn”.

        Liked by 2 people

        Comment by grouchyfarmer — September 29, 2020 @ 10:17 pm | Reply

        • Indeed; but the way the concept gains traction is by being dissimulated into the mainstream. I’ll give you an interesting example, my grandparents were all born in different countries, and one of them is Brazilian. The Brazilian branch of the family was raised to believe that Brazilian Indians (natives) are lazy, and that Blacks are hard workers, but only under the proper instruction of Europeans. That’s an example of a rationalisation which ultimately ends in a hierarchy where the value of life per member of one group will be lower than that of others.

          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by The Pink Agendist — September 30, 2020 @ 6:17 am | Reply

          • I’d certainly agree with that. It was the same thing here. The prejudice was part of the very culture and deeply ingrained, and goes back for generations. My wife and I tried very, very hard to break that chain with our own kids and I think, hope, that we succeeded. But it was hard to watch the other kids in their generation being indoctrinated into the same casual, unthinking racism and stereotypes of their parents and grandparents.

            Liked by 1 person

            Comment by grouchyfarmer — September 30, 2020 @ 7:24 am | Reply

      • It used to be the case that only Catholics had abortion as an issue. Most everyone else it was a meh … until it was decided that it would make a great wedge issue and then there was a campaign to sell the issue to evangelicals and others.

        On Tue, Sep 29, 2020 at 5:14 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:


        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Steve Ruis — September 30, 2020 @ 7:28 am | Reply

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