Progressive Christianity in the Age of Trump: Four Concerns

Since I took a whack at Trump yesterday ("The Bullshit of the Trump Administration") I thought it would be good Lenten practice to focus some self-reflection upon my own progressive Christian tribe.

I have struggled with how to respond to Donald Trump. Like many of you, I woke up the day after the election with a weird, surreal feeling. I felt I no longer recognized my country. How was it possible that Donald Trump was the President of the United States? I still have trouble wrapping my head around that fact.

But I am trying to wrap my head around what happened and how. And a lot of my reflection has been about how the left, progressive Christians among them, might have contributed to the climate that allowed for the rise of Trump. Along these lines I recently read this very good essay in Salon by Willie Davis, Outgrowing the cosmetic left: A liberal plea for fake liberalism to grow up. In the article Davis describes how liberals are just as guilty as conservatives for the rise of Trump, progressive Christians, I'd add, just as guilty as evangelicals.

You might want to push back on that. Feel free. But even if we disagree I'd like to share four things that have concerned me about progressive Christianity over the last ten years, four things that I think caused us to aid and abet the rise of Trump:

1. We've Lost Our Voice on Poverty and Class
I understand the progressive Christian focus on gender, race and sexuality. But by and large, over the last ten years, progressive Christianity has lost its voice on poverty and class. Progressive Christianity just doesn't have a lot to say to the poor, especially in rural communities, or about issues of concern to the poor. (For example, see my recent series on addiction.)

2. We've Demonized Half of America
By and large, progressive Christianity has demonized half of America. According to many progressive Christians half of Americans are racist, homophobic, misogynistic agents of Satan.

Listen, I'll admit it's really hard to thread the needle here. How do you stand up to white supremacy or the patriarchy without demonizing people? I don't know. But what I do know is that a lot of progressive Christian activity on social media isn't even trying.

3. Nothing Distinctively Christian About Progressive Christianity
I've written about this before, and I have another post about this coming out next week, but there's nothing particularly, uniquely or distinctly Christian about the political resistance of progressive Christians. There is zero daylight between many progressive Christians and the Democratic party. Consequently, progressive Christianity functions as the Democratic version of evangelical Christianity, a voting block in our two party electoral system, one half of the yin and yang that created the polarizing, demonizing political gestalt that allowed for the rise of Donald Trump.

4. Progressive Christianity Is Too Parasitical Upon Evangelical Christianity
Progressive Christianity is the moon to the evangelical sun. If evangelical Christianity didn't exist--from purity culture to complementarian gender roles to 81% of evangelicals voting for Trump--progressive Christianity wouldn't have anything to write about. Social media commentary from progressive Christians is devoted almost wholly to the bad behavior of evangelicals. From John Piper to Franklin Graham to Mark Driscoll to the Gospel Coalition to whatever that guy on Duck Dynasty said. If evangelical Christianity disappeared so would huge swaths of progressive Christian writing and Tweeting on social media. Progressive Christian books, blogs and Twitter accounts would vanish completely, or be left completely unrecognizable. Progressive Christianity is far too dependent, parasitical even, upon evangelicalism.

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