BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Despite the assassination of eleven Jewish men and women at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue -- the worst anti-Semitic attack in American history, pipe bombs sent to Democratic Party politicians, CNN, George Soros and actor Robert DeNiro by an avid Trump supporter, the murder of two elderly African Americans by a white supremacist, and the incredible uptick in anti-Semitic, and anti-Muslim incidents since his election, President Trump continues to traffic in fear and loathing. And despite his recent calling for troops to be sent to the border to stop the ginned-up "invasion" of refugees coming from Central America, white Christian evangelicals, who make up about 25-26% of the electorate in midterm elections, are sticking by their man.
Statistics clearly show that "the biggest bump in hate crimes in recent history coincides with the period since [Trump's] presidential campaign began," Daniel Benjamin, Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the U.S. State Department and the director of The John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College, recently wrote at Time.com. "This is not just a matter of correlation but causation. Trump's incendiary rhetoric, from his accusation that Mexicans coming to the U.S. were rapists to his claims that the caravan of impoverished Central American migrants coming north included Middle Easterners–aka 'terrorists'–has given license to those who peddle hatred to emerge from the shadows."
On Tuesday, October 30, Axios reported that Trump was floating plans to issue an executive order "that would remove the right to citizenship for babies of non-citizens and unauthorized immigrants born on U.S. soil." The right to birthright citizenship is contained in the 14th Amendment, which states, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." According to most analysts, Trump does not have the power to remove birthright citizenship by executive order, so this appears to be another pre-election incendiary talking point in an attempt to solidify Trump's white nationalist and conservative Christian base.
With the midterm elections rapidly approaching, white Christian evangelical leaders are turning their backs on refugees, while ramping up their support for Trump's Christian nationalism.
On Monday, October 29, CBN News' David Brody reported that "there will be a special Midterm Elections 'Call to Prayer' [on Thursday evening November 1] that will include Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, Pastors Paula White and Robert Jeffress, Tony Perkins, Ralph Reed and other, 'special guests.'"
Without a hint of irony, the "Call to Prayer" is being called "non-partisan." And, interestingly enough, in a CBN story about the capture of Cesar Sayoc, the man suspected of sending the bomb packages, there was no mention that Sayoc is an avid supporter of Trump.
Vox's Dylan Scott recently noted that white Christian evangelicals are "the president's most loyal base, … and they will play a critical role on Election Day."
"In 2011, white evangelicals were the most likely group to deem personal morality important in a president, according to the Public Religion Research Institute," Karen Tolkkinen recently pointed out in Echo Press' "It's Our Turn" weekly column headlined, "White evangelicals: the ultimate chameleons." "By the time President Trump was elected, they became the least likely group to say that."
In a Washington Post column titled "This is why white evangelicals still support Donald Trump. (It's not economic anxiety.)", Janelle Wong, professor of American studies at the University of Maryland, College Park, and author of Immigrants, Evangelicals and Politics in an Era of Demographic Change, writes: "white evangelicals are more conservative than other whites on policy issues including welfare, climate change and immigration. Their conservative reaction to demographic change is at the heart of their political agenda and perhaps a response to increasing racial diversity within their own religious community."
In the past few weeks, President Trump has hitched his political future to the so-called refugee caravan slowly making their way toward the Southern border. In a Foreign Policy story headlined "White Evangelicals Have Turned on Refugees," Christopher Bishop pointed out that right-wing media outlets are working overtime to stoke fear among the Trump base -- including white evangelical Christians -- that refugee invaders are heading for the U.S.
Bishop wrote: "White evangelical Protestants, … have recently played a powerful role in pushing anti-refugee policies, especially against Muslims, that have dramatically slashed numbers and left thousands suffering."
While some evangelicals expressed their disapproval of Trump's original "zero tolerance" policy, which resulted in the separation of hundreds of children from their parents, for the most part the conservative evangelical community is "animated by Christian nationalism, which scholars characterize as a 'view of the United States as a fundamentally Christian nation.'"
Bishop added: "The cruelty of Trump's migration policies is for the most part not reluctantly acquiesced to by evangelicals, but actively supported."
Religious Right activist Gary Bauer has, according to People for the American Way's Right Wing Watch, "been fanning fears of what he calls 'the Migrant Army'."
"It is important to understand that there is much more to this caravan than what the media are telling us," Bauer wrote recently. "Does anyone really think that a few Central Americans just happened to decide to walk to America and arrive just before the election? This is a well-orchestrated political operation." Bauer warned readers of "the lies you're being told," questioning "why are there no journalists asking" about who is funding the caravan.