In yesterday’s DM we considered the rise of billionaire media moguls with their agendas for a post-democracy America.
Rupert Murdoch, Elon Musk, David Smith (the new owner of the Baltimore Sun) and the remaining Koch brother, who is again before the Supreme Court with a proposal that would essentially wipe out all oversight of environmental regulation, qualify.
Trumpism’s sure grip on Evangelical voters is clear from the recent Iowa primary caucuses. Rhetoric emerging from “believers” is nothing short of idolatry. One leader called Trump “both David and Goliath.” Trump is promoting a recent video called “God Made Trump” in which he is portrayed as the Second Coming. In a recent poll of Republicans, 64% consider Trump a “person of faith” and only 13% called Biden a “person of faith,” even though he is a practicing Catholic who attends church regularly. Trump does not attend church regularly, but as religion reporter Sarah Posner puts it, he “is now the leader of the Christian right.”
Many Trump supporters compare him to Jesus. “When Jesus died, he died for us, so when Trump is facing all these things, he’s doing it for us in our place.” Studies show that over “40% of self-described ‘evangelicals’ today go to church once a year or less.”
Former evangelical Tim Albertas says evangelicalism is a “competing religion” based not on the bible but a grievance-centric faith of people angry that white supremacy and male domination are being challenged. Amanda Marcotte says, That Iowa evangelicals turned out to back Trump isn’t a betrayal of their values. It reveals the values that always fueled their movement: values of racism and sexism. Their religious identity is built through podcasts and YouTube channels that discuss politics and ‘what’s going on in the world’ from a rightwing world view.*
In a current New York Times article entitled “The Deification of Donald Trump,” we learn that Trump is called “the chosen one” and depicted as Moses parting the Red Sea in the “God Made Trump” video. **
The late Catholic monk Thomas Merton had words for what we are seeing today: Religion of “half religious people” constitutes “the greatest orgy of idolatry the world has ever known, and it is not generally thought by believers that idolatry is the greatest and fundamental sin.”
* Amanda Marcotte, “With Donald Trump’s Iowa landslide, evangelicals reveal who they really are,” Salon, January 16, 2024.
**Thomas B. Edsall, “The Deification of Donald Trump Poses Some Interesting Questions,” New York Times, January 17, 2024.
See Matthew Fox, A Way To God: Thomas Merton’s Creation Spirituality Journey, pp. 203-224.
And Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society, pp. 209f.
Banner image: “In God we trump.” Image by Fabio Gaglin on Flickr.
Queries for Contemplation
Do you, like Merton, recognize idolatry in some of today’s politics and ideologies and billionaire-backed media and supreme court cases? Why do you think Merton says idolatry is the greatest and fundamental sin?
A Way to God: Thomas Merton’s Creation Spirituality Journey
In A Way to God, Fox explores Merton’s pioneering work in interfaith, his essential teachings on mixing contemplation and action, and how the vision of Meister Eckhart profoundly influenced Merton in what Fox calls his Creation Spirituality journey.
“This wise and marvelous book will profoundly inspire all those who love Merton and want to know him more deeply.” — Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism
Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society
Visionary theologian and best-selling author Matthew Fox offers a new theology of evil that fundamentally changes the traditional perception of good and evil and points the way to a more enlightened treatment of ourselves, one another, and all of nature. In comparing the Eastern tradition of the 7 chakras to the Western tradition of the 7 capital sins, Fox allows us to think creatively about our capacity for personal and institutional evil and what we can do about them.
“A scholarly masterpiece embodying a better vision and depth of perception far beyond the grasp of any one single science. A breath-taking analysis.” — Diarmuid O’Murchu, author of Quantum Theology: Spiritual Implications of the New Physics