God’s Bully? Trump and the Christian Right

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Conservative Christianity would like us to believe that God wants faithful Christians to repress and demean women’s self-expression and sexuality “for their own good.”

One example comes from the now disgraced Evangelical pastor, Mark Driscoll, who blamed women for their husbands’ infidelity because they weren’t sexy enough and had “let themselves go.”

This is bullying and it sounds awfully familiar.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump engages in repeated, unrepentant attacks on women. It is surprising, therefore, that four-fifths of white evangelicals support Trump. This exposes the negative attitudes toward women behind the Right’s claim to family values and moral authority.

As a woman of faith and seminary student, I recognize that demeaning women is not unique to the Right. Many on the Left attacked and humiliated Melania Trump for plagiarizing portions of her RNC speech. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton made troubling comments about women implicated in her husband’s infidelity.

Yet, as Chris Hedges, former investigative reporter and seminary trained cultural critic, explains, the hypermasculinity of the Christian right “crushes the independence and self-expression of women” so that men can counteract their own loss of independence to the absolute rule of church leadership.

Popular culture’s word for this kind of behavior is “slut-shaming.” It is a unique, culturally-approved form of bullying and a pernicious theme throughout the presidential race. NoBullying.Org defines slut-shaming as, “the act of making a girl or a woman feel guilty about certain sexual behaviors that deviate from societal norms.”

Popular culture also engages in slut-shaming. The film Easy A (2010) is a Scarlett Letter for the modern age. Emma Stone plays Olive, a high school student who pretends to have had sex with multiple guys to boost their reputations, exchanging her “virtue” for personal gain. She endures relentless slut-shaming, especially from classmate Marianne, who embodies the Christian Right:

Marianne calls Olive a “trollop” who is “going to hell.”

As a Christian chaplain-in-training, I want to highlight how this specific bullying of females is embedded in conservative Christian theology. It is sometimes hard to see because it is masked behind “modesty,” which weaponizes the bible and oppresses women from birth.

This biblically based bullying of women is offensive because it runs completely contrary to the ministry and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, seeing God as “bully-in-chief.”

Compare these statements:

Jesus told the woman living a sinful life, “Your sins are forgiven.” (Luke 7:36-50)

Evangelical leader and Trump endorser, Pat Robertson, blamed “awful-looking women” for marital problems.

Jesus healed women on the margins of society, praising them for their faith. (ex. Mark 5:21-43)

Trump said, (of candidate Carly Fiorina), “Can you imagine that, the face of our next president? I mean, she’s a woman, and I’m not supposed to say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?”

Jesus chose women to follow him (Luke 8:1-3) and as the first to witness his resurrection. (John 20:10-18)

The Christian Right pretends that bullying women is biblical and God-sanctioned.

As a woman of faith and seminarian, I’ll stick with Jesus.

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3 thoughts on “God’s Bully? Trump and the Christian Right

  1. Jessica,
    Thank you for this thoughtful examination of the intersection of Christian faith, women, and the presidential election. Other than those who have been content to denigrate women, Christians who support Donald Trump, along with the other Americans determined to vote Republican in this election, must be spinning with cognitive dissonance as they are forced to go against values they have historically held dear in order to support such a candidate. To align oneself with such a misogynist and bully must require shutting down parts of the heart and head. I hope those hearts and heads will fight back in the name of compassion and reason enough to make their owners come around. Deborah

    Like

  2. Great job Jessica. I’ll stick with Jesus too. I saw a horrifying video of the Trumpettes today who literally think that Trump is a God right under Jesus. I cannot even comprehend the idea of God in the form of Trump who represents the opposite of everything I have learned from Jesus. Trump has dredged up the wretched underbelly of this country which includes those who would love to have women go back to being barefoot, pregnant and quiet.

    Liked by 1 person

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