Spend any time around the new Trump right, and you’re immediately seized by how closely it tracks that ‘ole time religion—with Trump serving as the charismatic circuit-riding evangelist. People wonder about his deep bond with so many millions of rural Americans, but it’s obvious to observers who grew up in the South—even if Trump’s a New York reality star, he’s still connecting with a deep (and idealized) rural cultural memory.
The result isn’t just enthusiastic political support (political rallies and preacher-style rhetoric are nothing new in American politics) but a sense of identity, fellowship, and religious passion that’s syncretistic with Christianity, with Trump serving as the Lord’s mighty instrument of justice and righteousness.
So, yes, secular religion is breaking out across the land. That’s old news. Here’s what’s new—it’s growing so very dark. We don’t need to repeat all the recent excesses of cancel culture to know that many anti-racist progressives are in the midst of a hunt for ideological heretics, and even the oldest sins can’t be forgiven. Consider that on Friday a Boeing executive resigned after an employee complained about an article he wrote 33 years ago opposing women in combat…
And if you think religious Trumpism is sweetness and light, you haven’t been paying attention. In fact, right-wing Trumpism is trying its best to build its own cancel culture, aimed at purging right-wing institutions of anti-Trump voices—or at abusing them and hounding them online and in real life. Cruelty isn’t just a means to an end. It’s often the point.