Tuesday, October 4, 2022
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Trump’s Embrace of QAnon Makes Religious Right’s Dream Come True

After Trump’s rally last Saturday in Youngstown, Ohio, the figurative notion of “Trump faithful” has taken on an unequivocal literal meaning. That meeting, meant to stir up enthusiasm for Senate candidate JD Vance, the hillbilly-branded toy of Trump-backing tech billionaire Peter Thiel, turned, like all Trump events, into a monologue about wounded pride. of Trump and the almost random search for political revenge. But the choreography, tone and substance of Trump’s appearance told an additional story. The proceedings turned solemn as Trump launched into a calculated and mournful vocal cadence, to highlight the rally’s lament of the rally’s white nationalist cultural confrontation, delivered in QAnon’s apocalyptic key. Trump delivered a litany of telltale signs of runaway American decline under Democratic rule in Washington, from inflation to foreign policy blunders to the tragedy of green energy funding, all to the bloated, kitsch accompaniment of a theme song from good faith of QAnon, “WWG1WGA”, entitled with the acronym of the movement’s slogan, “Where we go one, we all go”. (Trump campaign officials insisted the tearful ambient music was actually a different composition called “Mirrors,” but if it is, it somehow has the same tune.)

The crowd recognized the importance of the moment and began to put their fingers in the air in what is apparently a greeting from QAnon, also symbolizing the unity of the movement. The Youngstown show left many political commentators embarrassed, as the logic of mass persuasion here didn’t really fit with how campaigns are traditionally run. But this denialist perspective coincides with the incomprehensible self-isolating stance that led our pundits to write off Trump and his movement when they first burst onto the scene in the 2016 election cycle. That moment marked an unremarkable watershed for the evangelical right. says Kristin Du Mez, a historian at Calvin University and author of Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation. “In 2016, you saw these radical evangelicals for Trump go mainstream, but even then, this was a long-term process… The leaders of this movement have been telling evangelicals and conservative Christians for generations that they are under threat. ”

This broad dynamic has accelerated in Trump’s scandal-ridden post-presidency, paranoia and conspiracies. “This was a very different kind of meeting,” says Anthea Butler, a professor of religion at the University of Pennsylvania, president of the American Society of Church History, and author of white evangelical racism: The Politics of Morality in America. “It was Trump singing things, this weird song in the background, but he goes on to other things. He tracks with the wake up america tourby Charlie Kirk meetings in arizonaThese are all things that are becoming evangelical political church services. One interesting thing about the Reawaken America tour is that they were doing baptisms…. The Saturday rally was a lot like an altar call at the end of a worship service. The only difference is that everyone was pointing up instead of waving their hands in the air.”


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