By James Haught
Donald Trump taught America a great lesson. He showed that this nation has a huge number of racist, sexist, jingoist, gay-hating, Muslim-hating, Hispanic-hating bigots — those Hillary Clinton called a “basket of deplorables.” Trump attracted them by millions through his endless attacks on blacks and other minorities. Deplorables clung to him to the bitter end. Now that Trump is heading for oblivion, where will they go?
Many of the deplorables are white evangelicals. Sociologist Robert Jones, head of the Public Religion Research Institute, says they are the most prejudiced group in the United States.
In his latest book, White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity, Jones asserts that white churches have always been at the heart of racism, helping lock it into the culture. He says born-again whites display bigotry in many different ways.
For example, they are far more likely to shrug when white police kill unarmed black men, dismissing it as “isolated incidents.” And they generally say the Confederate flag is “more a symbol of southern pride than of racism.”
In contrast, young Americans who shun religion tend to feel greater compassion and understanding. They strongly agree when PRRI interviewers recite this statement: “Generations of slavery and discrimination have created conditions that make it difficult for blacks to work their way out of the lower class.” But fundamentalist whites don’t.
As chief researcher, Jones created a “racism index” to identify bigotry. White evangelicals scored worst at 78 percent, while irreligious whites rated 42 percent. Jones told CNN:
“President Trump, who has put white supremacy front and center, has brought these issues from just barely below the surface into plain view…. White Christians have inherited a worldview that has Christians on top of other religions, men over women, whites over blacks.”
Trump has been the champion of the deplorables. He showed everyone how large their cohort is in America. Presumably, they won’t vanish. Where will they go after the King of Deplorables is gone? I hope they slink downward in shame.
* * *
After any election, it’s easy to look back and count various groups of voters who clinched victory. For four decades, researchers have confirmed how white evangelicals secured Republican wins. Now, in the wake of the Biden-Harris triumph, it’s obvious that Democrats couldn’t have won without black votes, or Hispanic ones, or labor union ones, etc.
Educated, intelligent, young adults who say their religion is “none” generally hold compassionate, progressive values: favoring women’s right to choose, supporting gay marriage, advocating climate control, urging low-cost college, wanting universal medical care as a human right for all, backing sex education and the public “safety net” that protects less-privileged people, etc.
These liberals naturally lean to the Democratic Party and have become the largest faith group in its base. Unfortunately, they vote at lower rates — but several freethought organizations mobilized efforts to rouse their democratic instincts.
I hope plenty of research ensues in coming months to pinpoint how much “nones” were decisive in swinging the 2020 election.
*Associates and resources listing last updated May 31, 2020.*
Canadian Atheist Associates: Godless Mom, Nice Mangoes, Sandwalk, Brainstorm Podcast, Left at the Valley, Life, the Universe & Everything Else, The Reality Check, Bad Science Watch, British Columbia Humanist Association, Dying With Dignity Canada, Canadian Secular Alliance, Centre for Inquiry Canada, Kelowna Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists Association.
Other National/Local Resources: Association humaniste du Québec, Atheist Freethinkers, Central Ontario Humanist Association, Comox Valley Humanists, Grey Bruce Humanists, Halton-Peel Humanist Community, Hamilton Humanists, Humanist Association of London, Humanist Association of Ottawa, Humanist Association of Toronto, Humanists, Atheists and Agnostics of Manitoba, Ontario Humanist Society, Secular Connextions Seculaire, Secular Humanists in Calgary, Society of Free Thinkers (Kitchener-Waterloo/Cambridge/Guelph), Thunder Bay Humanists, Toronto Oasis, Victoria Secular Humanist Association.
Other International/Outside Canada Resources: Allianz vun Humanisten, Atheisten an Agnostiker, American Atheists, American Humanist Association, Associação Brasileira de Ateus e AgnósticoséééBrazilian Association of Atheists and Agnostics, Atheist Alliance International, Atheist Alliance of America, Atheist Centre, Atheist Foundation of Australia, The Brights Movement, Center for Inquiry (including Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science), Atheist Ireland, Camp Quest, Inc., Council for Secular Humanism, De Vrije Gedachte, European Humanist Federation, Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations, Foundation Beyond Belief, Freedom From Religion Foundation, Humanist Association of Ireland, Humanist International, Humanist Association of Germany, Humanist Association of Ireland, Humanist Society of Scotland, Humanists UK, Humanisterna/Humanists Sweden, Internet Infidels, International League of Non-Religious and Atheists, James Randi Educational Foundation, League of Militant Atheists, Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, National Secular Society, Rationalist International, Recovering From Religion, Religion News Service, Secular Coalition for America, Secular Student Alliance, The Clergy Project, The Rational Response Squad, The Satanic Temple, The Sunday Assembly, United Coalition of Reason, Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics.
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Image Credit: James Haught.