Christianophobia Is Honey to Samantha Bee
I tortured myself this week. I decided to look at Samantha Bee’s “takedown” of the religious right for its alleged support of Trump. Sadly, it was yet another example of why some comedians should stick to comedy instead of social analysis. They might be funnier. (Is it too much to ask that a comedy routine be, you know — amusing?) I’ve seen routines by John Stewart that were unfair but they at least partially redeemed themselves by eliciting a chuckle every now and then.
Let me save you nine miserable minutes and tell what you happens in this clip. Bee touches on many of the Christianophobic stereotypes in her description of Christians as anti-science, mind-numbed followers of evil leaders and racists. I guess she missed other gems such as describing Christians as stupid and ignorant — but hey, you only have so much time for anti-religious bigotry in a nine-minute video.
So to save you the time, I will summarize the clip by telling you that Bee thinks that religious right support of Trump is tied to that movement’s racist origins. I am not going to deny that some conservative Christian groups have racist roots, nor that we as Christians have played, and continue to play, a major role in the racial alienation in our society. But to explain voting in 2016 with video clips from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s is peculiar to say the least.
Let me clue Bee and her ilk in on something: The people running conservative Christian political movements today do not hold the exact same ideas their predecessors held forty years ago. In fact, some of the same old people have changed their minds for the better. Yes, people can learn and grow.
Nowadays we also have these things called “opinion polls.” If one is going to argue that the religious right is responsible for Trump, first look to see how evangelicals reacted to Trump. The polls actually show that evangelicals who are active in their churches — the type of people we expect to make up the religious right — were less supportive of Trump than other Republicans were. Do not take my word for it. Check it out here, here and here.
So Bee’s entire premise, that Trump emerged due to the religious right’s support, is empirically false. Her trip down Memory Lane cannot explain Trump’s victory. I have no problems criticizing my Christian brothers and sisters when they are not doing what they should. But it is appropriate for me to defend them when they are innocent. In this case they are.
Now that we are down to a Republican and a Democrat candidate, most white evangelicals will likely vote for Trump over Clinton. In a future op-ed I will explore the case for NeverTrump. But the average Christian’s preference for Trump over Hillary in the general election is not evidence that conservative Christians wanted Trump. They didn’t. When the primaries were still going on, more serious Christians chose other candidates over Trump.
There are those who are responsible for Trump. Many marginalized whites who do not see themselves as having a voice are hoping to find one in Donald Trump. Trump has had certain media fans whose hatred of immigrants is so strong that they treated him like the Second Coming. Blame Fox News and other media for not interrogating Trump in a serious manner. But given the actual polls and the lack of support for Trump among most conservative Christian leaders (who tended to divide between Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz), it is not reasonable to blame the religious right for Trump.
Bee had the same opportunity to find out these facts. She didn’t. Either she is lazy or she did not want to find information that disturbed her carefully crafted narrative. I assume that it took at bit of time and effort to locate the old footage she used, so I’m thinking that it wasn’t laziness at work. She and those who think like her prefer to keep the narrative and ignore the facts. Christianophobia sells.