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Friday, June 1, 2018

Reza Aslan Goes off on Trump and White Evangelicals

Writer, university professor, and religious commentator Reza Aslan, who has his own cult following among university leftists, has made a video for a site called Big Think.com, in which he maintains that President Trump has converted white Evangelicals- and he underlines "white"- into a dangerous religious cult.

Aslan states that 81% of white Evangelicals voted for Trump in the  2016 election as compared to 67% of black Evangelicals who did not. He points out that their support of Trump stands in direct contrast to the previous position of white Evangelicals who have voted for the candidate who most embodies their moral values, a curious phenomenon given Trump's past history of immoral behavior, according to Aslan. He also goes on to state that Evangelical preachers like Joel Osteen and TD Jakes preach that God wants evangelicals to be prosperous, and Trump fills the bill (as a role model) in that he is very prosperous. Here Aslan slips up because one of those he uses as an example, Jakes, is African American.

First of all, I learned several years ago not to take Aslan's words seriously. This is a man who poses as a scholar and intellectual, and sad to say, he has sold that bill of goods to many within academia and the left. Aslan even had a bizarre show on CNN, which came to an end after he was filmed eating human brain matter with some off-beat Hindu cult in the hinterlands of India, and then  after he called Trump a "piece of sh--" and other choice words.

The first time I caught Aslan's act in person  was in 2011 when he appeared at UCLA with Faisal Abdul Rauf, the snake oil salesman who was trying to build a mosque in New York City's Ground Zero. Suffice to say, Aslan came across as smug and arrogant. The second time was in 2015 at UC Riverside, where he was teaching creative literature.  His topic was Islamophobia. During the q and a, I asked him whether he would give a pass to Christians, Jews, gays,  and Baha'i who were being persecuted in the Middle East and elsewhere by Muslims. He refused to do so saying that just because a white person had a bad experience with blacks, like being mugged, that did not give him an excuse to be racist, a rather poor analogy in my view.

What Aslan clearly misses here is that people, including white Evangelicals, voted for Trump largely because they concluded that the morality of the corrupt Hillary Clinton was worse than that of Trump, added to the fact that Trump supported their political values, if not their moral ones. That is the answer that Aslan's "normal, rational scholars" have missed entirely as they try to figure out "why it happened".

Putting aside Aslan's liberal  biases, there is another point that must be made given that he is a Muslim. (He was born Muslim to Iranian Shia parents, converted to Christianity as a teenager, and returned to Islam.) In addition, he is an activist against Islamophobia. So if you are going to attack any part of another religion, you had better be sure you don't live in a glass house. Evangelical Christians will only be a "dangerous religious cult" if they start calling for the deaths of followers of other religions and carry out those threats with horrific acts of mass murder, including suicide bombings, beheadings, throwing gays off of rooftops, and killing apostates. Evangelical Christians are not doing that. Nor are Evangelical Christians killing people who disrespect Christianity. Nor do they stone adulterers to death. Nor do they bomb or burn down places of worship of other religions. There are no worldwide Evangelical Christian terror organizations like ISIS, Al Qaeda or Hamas, just to name a very few. So what makes Evangelical Christians a "dangerous religious cult" in Aslan's view? They voted for Donald Trump (instead of the corrupt Hillary Clinton).

Oh, I forgot: Aslan is referring only to white Evangelicals (with apologies to TD Jakes).

1 comment:

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Reza Aslan is writing fantasy fiction. "White" evangelicals are a disparate polyglot mass of confusion, as befits Protestants who have no Pope and no bishops. The most theologically conservative demographic in the country is "black" Pentecostals and Baptists, with the Methodist denominations not far behind. Trump is a passing fad. The man never even wrote a "Mein Kampf," and just bounced into a conveniently available party when he wanted to have some fun.