The legend of humans making a bargain with the Devil is a thousand years old, dating back to the story of , who supposedly signed a blood pact with the Devil to become a bishop. Theophilus regretted this deal, and by fasting and praying gained the intercession of the Virgin Mary to regain his soul. Since the 16th century, German writers have produced of the story of Dr. Faust and Mephistopheles, the most famous of which is the play by , completed in 1832. His Faust seeks worldly knowledge and sensual pleasure, ruining the life of the innocent Gretchen. He is also saved from damnation by the Goddess, representing eternal womanhood.
The conflict between profane success and moral integrity, represented as a human choice between Satan and heaven, was worked into in many languages. Oscar Wilde published in 1890, portraying moral degradation as transforming the painting of Gray. American versions are the short stories by Washington Irving in 1824, and by Stephen Vincent Benét in 1936. In Benét’s tale, the courtroom arguments of Daniel Webster save the farmer Jabez Stone, who had bargained his soul for prosperity.
The Faust theme was even written into a by Douglass Wallop in 1954, “The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant”, where the Devil helps the Washington Senators defeat the dominant Yankees. brought this story to Broadway the next year.
I think this bargain describes the modern plight of many American Christians, especially evangelical Christians, who have made a – you give us political policies we want and we will accept your anti-Christian character.
Many Republicans have condemned Trump’s character in the harshest terms. During the Presidential campaign, the said Trump was “a huckster” and “a menace to American conservatism”. said he was a charlatan, an American Mussolini, a louse, a tapeworm, the very epitome of vulgarity. , an evangelical speechwriter for George W. Bush, calls Trump “the least traditionally Christian figure—in temperament, behavior, and evident belief—to assume the presidency in living memory.” used the Faust comparison right after Trump’s inauguration.
Trumps’ perverse sexual behavior, about which he has openly bragged, his defrauding of students at Trump University, his use of his “charitable” foundation for personal enrichment, all exemplify his character. He has never shown the slightest adherence to Christian principles and publicly stated his disinterest in Christian virtues, such as humility, and repentance. He lies every day and admits it.
The evils represented by Trump are indelibly displayed in his policy of breaking up immigrant families: deciding to start an entirely new policy of separating parents and children; falsely blaming others for his and his administration’s decisions; saying he can’t do anything about it and then stopping it. Yet evangelical leaders and voters have tied their political fortunes to him, because he offers his Presidential help in their political crusades.
Trump did not suddenly lead evangelicals astray. For years they have ignored universal messages about the importance of helping the poor and the unfortunate, and about welcoming the stranger. But they still proclaimed themselves to be morally vigilant. White evangelicals were the most critical of political leaders who “committed immoral personal acts”: in 2011, only 30% said such a person “can behave ethically” in office, less than any other religious or political group. Since Trump came on the scene, nearly half of American evangelical Protestants have about morality and politics: just before the 2016 election, 72% said this was possible, more than any other group.
Instead of acting like a religion, firmly based on timeless values of moral thought and behavior, American evangelicalism now resembles a cult. Conservatives who support Trump, like , and who oppose him, like , both recently talked of a personality cult around Trump. A year ago, Jerry Falwell, Jr., said, “I think evangelicals have found their .”
Not all evangelicals have made this devilish bargain with Trump. 28% of evangelical Protestants in a 2014 survey. The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the US, “That we denounce and repudiate white supremacy and every form of racial and ethnic hatred as a scheme of the devil.” Their new president, Pastor J. D. Greear, has from identification with the Republican Party.
W.W. Jacobs’ 1902 story reveals the poisonous gifts that black magic can bestow. Trump’s promise that he will is precisely the kind of bargain that devils make.
Have evangelical Trump supporters bargained away their souls?
June 29, 2018