The Immoral Majority by Ben Howe
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The Immoral Majority by Ben Howe

The Immoral Majority is part history of the transformation of the evangelical movement in the United States to a position supportive of Trump, part a condemnation of said realignment, and part a plea and exhortation to return to the movement's roots. What makes the book unusual for me is that it approaches the question from a Christian perspective and argues from a Biblical standpoint - in particular, it argues from a pre-Trump evangelical standpoint.

The Immoral Majority

The Immoral Majority
Ben Howe

ISBN: 9780062797117
HarperCollins Publishers, 2019

A very engaging read describing the creation of a new faith specifically designed to protect Trump from the consequences of his failings. Howe isn't just calling out the transformation of the evangelical movement into the Trump-evangelical movement as wrong, he's properly arguing against it, and I predict we'll hear the arguments he lays out from other places. (5/5)

It does so very well. Howe shows that he's not just some random writer, but that he has a good grounding in Christian theology - which is expected, as he grew up in a deeply evangelical family with his father being an apologetics professor and a pastor.

He does show that he's a Twitter warrior, though. The book is written in the same style he uses on that platform - sharp, humorous (sometimes darkly so), and, for want of a better word, high velocity. There are parts of the book where he goes into rapid-fire mode and I could see those getting into the tens of thousands of retweets and likes.

Howe's argument can be distilled to the following: in exchange for political power and financial benefits, evangelical leaders have constructed a theology to protect Trump and have used this new faith to make their parishioners vote for him. The greater argument Howe makes is that this seeking of power and wealth is decidedly un-Christian and therefore intrinsically wrong; and however successful it may be in the short run it will be corrosive to the evangelical movement in the long run and therefore needs to be abandoned.

The book traces the evangelical movement from its birth as a political force and voting block in the late 70:s, through its successes in the 80:s and the transformative events of the 90:s when Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky was an impeachable offense, up to what Howe terms "the shift" when, on June 20, 2016, the evangelical movement's leaders lined up behind Trump in public and realized the creation of the Trump evangelical.

It was a win for Trump. Not because he went in to win hearts, but because he went in ready with a new faith, and with pastors to preach it. And his plan worked.

Kindle edition, location 717[a]

The history is in many ways an eye-opener. Howe has done his homework, and as one who has called the evangelical movement his home he brings a very personal perspective and sharp insights to the history. If you want to know how to subvert a movement, this is the book for you. If you, like me, is an atheist: don't think this can't apply to a non-religious community - the processes Howe describe could with a bit of tweaking work just as well in, for example, the progressive socialism of the Democrats.

But the history of how we got here only makes up about half of the book.

The other half of the book describes and condemns this new faith that was made for Trump: Since the shift, Trump is infallible. Not because he is morally perfect, but because the new faith diligently shields him from any consequences of his failures. There is always an imaginary Hillary Clinton that is the greater evil to Trump's lesser evil, and Trump evangelicals do not hold people to the standard of Christ, but only to the standard of being the lesser evil. Thus, any criticism bounces harmlessly off the "at least he's not Hillary"-shield.

Howe doesn't just state this, but backs it up with arguments from faith and Christian tradition. It is this background that makes the book a very engaging read. He isn't just calling out this as wrong, he's properly arguing against it, and I predict we'll hear the arguments he lays out from other places.

The Twitter-warrior has shared his arsenal of weapons - expect to see them used.