Donald Trump and Christian Nationalism

More from our inbox:

  • Effects of Plea Deals in the Georgia Election Case
  • The Mind of a Sniper in Ukraine
  • ‘Protect the Innocent’
  • Endurance for Marathon Helpers, Too

Credit…Mark Peterson/Redux

To the Editor:

In “One Reason the Trump Fever Won’t Break” (column, Oct. 2), David French argues that since today’s Christian nationalists are theologically inarticulate, they must be driven by “emotion, prophecy and spiritualism.” This misunderstands the way religious traditions work.

Like other religious movements, today’s white Christian nationalism is fueled by habits of heart and mind that have been passed down from generation to generation, which is to say they are historically and theologically grounded.

These habits include a racialized view of America as a caste society, an unshakable suspicion that government elites are conspiring against us, the fear that those beyond our border are intent on doing us harm, and the conviction that the United States is an instrument of divine purpose, “the greatest nation on earth.”

These religious habits can be traced to the very origins of the English colonial experiment in North America. They have always been a part of American culture, and we should not be surprised that they continue to shape our public life today.

Pretending that Christian enthusiasm for Donald Trump is just some kind of mass psychosis or mob mentality may allow some Christians like Mr. French to feel better about themselves and their churches. But they need to confront a deeper truth: There is something compromised at the core of the white American Christian tradition.

John Fanestil
San Diego
The writer is the author of “American Heresy: The Roots and Reach of White Christian Nationalism.”

To the Editor:

David French’s column was well written and analytical, but it did nothing to stop me from shaking my head at the biggest contradiction in American politics today: Why does the religious right love Donald Trump?

Mr. Trump is amoral and irreligious. His personal and business lives are full of actions, such as multiple marriages and liaisons, allegations of infidelity and questionable business ethics, that mock evangelical behavior. He flaunts his personal, business and legal challenges. In short, his life story is everything that traditional evangelicals should be expected to abhor.

The only explanation is that Mr. Trump and evangelicals have a symbiotic relationship that puts both in positions of power and influence. Regardless, that fact still flies in the face of the traditional honest fervor that motivates conventional religious people. I would like to see additional columns that explain why the Trump-evangelical bond won’t break anytime soon.

Andrew J. Sparberg
Oceanside, N.Y.

To the Editor:

This column reminded me of when Donald Trump said: “I consider it a great badge of honor. … Essentially, I am being indicted for you.” Sounds like an upside-down Bible to me. Mr. Trump’s new messiah persona is very scary to me as a thinking Christian.

Mary Ewing Rixford

Effects of Plea Deals in the Georgia Election Case

Jenna Ellis in 2020. During a public hearing Tuesday morning in Atlanta, Ms. Ellis pleaded guilty to a felony charge of aiding and abetting false statements and writings.Credit…Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press

To the Editor:

Re “Jenna Ellis, Former Trump Lawyer, Pleads Guilty in Georgia Election Case” (nytimes.com, Oct. 24) and “Chesebro’s Georgia Plea Deal May Increase Peril for Trump” (news article, Oct. 21):

The danger that the guilty pleas of Jenna Ellis, Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell poses to former President Donald J. Trump and his remaining co-defendants in the Georgia election case extends beyond their prospective testimony.

Had early trials gone forward, it would have given counsel for the remaining defendants, including Mr. Trump, a crucial preview of the prosecution’s case against them. By depriving defense counsel of such a road map, the prosecutors will benefit from an element of surprise that they might otherwise have sacrificed.

Moreover, the guilty plea of Ms. Ellis underscores yet another danger for Mr. Trump and his remaining co-defendants: The more defendants who plead guilty and agree to cooperate with prosecutors, the greater the pressure on those remaining to do likewise, especially considering the relatively lenient deals that Ms. Powell and Mr. Cheseboro received. Of course, that pressure will only increase if and when additional defendants take plea deals.

How will this affect the fate of Mr. Trump and his remaining co-defendants? Only time will tell.

Michael Silk
Laguna Woods, Calif.

The Mind of a Sniper in Ukraine

Credit…David Guttenfelder for The New York Times

To the Editor:

“‘I’m Not Proud of This’: War Through the Lens of a Sniper,” by Thomas Gibbons-Neff (Ukraine Dispatch, Oct. 22), was affecting, thought-provoking and sympathetic.

To some degree, snipers have always seemed to me to have a sort of “glamour” that distinguishes them in the humdrum brutality of war — and I have read about their exploits as far back as the famed sniper exchanges on the Russian front in World War II.

I have always wondered, though, what they think about as they perform this most skillful of murderous tasks. Do they experience regret as they squeezed the trigger? Pride? Vengeance? Pleasure?

Does a sniper retain his or her humanity while carrying out his or her duty? How can that be? Do they even think about such things in the course of boredom and battle?

In his wonderful dispatch, Mr. Gibbons-Neff, a former Marine infantryman, manages to explore all these questions and to allow the reader to see into the mind of a sniper. And, unsurprisingly, that sniper’s mind is determined, questioning, perceptive and empathetic — exactly what we might best hope for in a superlative soldier.

Michael L. Rynne
Wellard, Australia

‘Protect the Innocent’

To the Editor:

I am a mother, a grandmother, a wife, a daughter, a teacher, a friend and a woman. I understand the hearts of other women with families and loving friends they hold dear.

The actions of Hamas were brutal, and as a Jewish woman my first thought was with the victims in Israel. But I don’t want the government of Israel to act in kind. I want it to seek out only the perpetrators and to show the people living in Gaza that we mean them no harm.

We should not kill other people’s families because we know what it is to love our own. We are not cowards; we will round up those who are willing to kill randomly, but we will protect the innocent even though our innocent were slaughtered.

Diana Caplow

Endurance for Marathon Helpers, Too

Credit…Kimberly Elliott

To the Editor:

Re “One Partner Runs the Marathon — and the Other Does Everything Else” (Style, nytimes.com, Oct. 21):

I wish all of these supportive partners of marathon runners the best. My husband is about to run his 39th consecutive New York City Marathon, on Nov. 5.

I think that I’ve experienced it all: a freeze on our social plans, constant talk of running, too frequent pasta dinners, going to sleep early, dropping off his water at different locations on a run, sports doctor visits — and having blood withdrawn, spun and returned to his body to heal his knee, injections on his knee, etc.

There is one plus, though. My husband gave up drinking alcohol when he started running, so now whenever we go out socially, he is always my designated driver.

Carol Shurman
New York

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