A “masterful and meticulous”* feat of reportage that explains one of the central mysteries of the Trump era: the unholy marriage of Trump and the evangelicals, as officiated by the alt-right.
*Jane Mayer, author of Dark Money
Why did so many evangelicals turn out to vote for Donald Trump, a serial philanderer with questionable conservative credentials who seems to defy Christian values with his every utterance? To a reporter like Sarah Posner, who has been covering the religious right for decades, the answer turns out to be far more intuitive than one might think.
In this taut inquiry, Posner digs deep into the radical history of the religious right to reveal how issues of race and xenophobia have always been at the movement’s core, and how religion often cloaked anxieties about perceived threats to a white, Christian America. Fueled by an antidemocratic impulse, and united by this narrative of reverse victimization, the religious right and the alt-right support a common agenda–and are actively using the erosion of democratic norms to roll back civil rights advances, stock the judiciary with hard-right judges, defang and deregulate federal agencies, and undermine the credibility of the free press. Increasingly, this formidable bloc is also forging ties with European far right groups, giving momentum to a truly global movement.
Revelatory and engrossing, Unholy offers a deeper understanding of the ideological underpinnings and forces influencing the course of Republican politics. This is a book that must be read by anyone who cares about the future of American democracy.
Posner (God's Profits), reporting fellow at Type Investigations, reveals in this trenchant study the modern white religious right as a group anxious about losing power in a changing country and determined to rebuild America with white Christians at its center. To many observers, Posner writes, white evangelicals' support for Donald Trump is mysterious: after decades of championing moral values in politics, why would they back a liar and adulterer with no history of religious observance? Her answer is straightforward: evangelicals overlooked his less savory characteristics because he was committed to white Christian nationalism. This broader historical view posits that Trump is not an aberration but a fulfillment of 40 years of organized political strategy, and that many of his actions while in office admiring foreign dictators, promoting views based in far-right extremism are mirrored in the history of the American religious right. While Posner can get bogged down in the details, as in her meticulous debunking of the notion that Christian nationalism arose in opposition to abortion, overall she is convincing. Posner's authoritative investigation will be a must-read for those interested in the connections between the Trump presidency and evangelicalism.