Kristin Kobez Du MezSep 3, 2020
Jesus and John Wayne
How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation
One of the most perplexing elements of Donald Trumps’s 2016 electoral victory was the overwhelming support he received from white Evangelicals, a demographic that has stubbornly clung to him in the face of everything he has done. The fact that a thrice-married reality-TV star has been able to hold onto the ‘moral majority’ through thick and thin the last few years seems to many to be a sort of cultural contradiction.
However, some would argue that the Evangelical support of Trump makes total sense given that, in spite of his supposed moral failings, he was just the sort of man they were looking for.
This is the argument my guest today, Kristin Kobes Du Mez, makes in her new book Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation (Liveright 2020). The book traces a century of Evangelical ideas around masculinity, gender, family and identity, and how these ideas became intertwined with ideas around nationalism, militarism, foreign policy and race. The result is a book that covers a century of cultural and intellectual development, and gives us a sense of how Trump turned out to be the right man for the job of winning the Evangelical vote.
Kristin Kobes Du Mez is a professor in the history department at Calvin University. She is also the author of A New Gospel for Women: Katharine Bushnell and the Challenge of Christian Feminism (Oxford 2015). Her writing has appeared in a number of outlets including The Washington Post, and she regularly blogs at Patheos’ Anxious Bench.