Over the last few years we’ve watched as Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Lou Dobbs have competed for the title of “most avowed white nationalist on Fox News.” Personally, I don’t know who I would vote for because they have all been deplorable.
But Tucker Carlson is in the process of adding to his repertoire. He traveled to Tennessee in October to speak at a church in Nashville and, as he says in the video below, it was the first time he has addressed a congregation.
The point of Carlson’s speech was to suggest that the polarized divide we are experiencing in the country these days is not political, but theological. In his framing, it all comes down to whether you believe that God is in charge and humans are powerless. That is the beginning of a classic authoritarian framework, which leaves a certain class of people in charge of enlightening the rest of us about God’s intentions.
But I am most interested in why Carlson, who claims to be a traditional Episcopalian, would find this a good time to frame the issues that divide us as theological. We all know that he has garnered the support of the white nationalists who are part of Trump’s base. The other group that has unequivocally supported the president are white evangelical Christians—who no doubt overlap with white nationalists to some degree. So it probably shouldn’t surprise us that Carlson is now reaching out to that audience as well.
As we’ve seen recently, Trump is starting to lose ground in terms of support—both in Congress and with voters. It is not in his nature to adapt, so we can expect him to simply double-down as the pressure mounts. He’ll need the support of his most ardent followers going forward, which is why we’ll see tweets like this pop out of the woodwork.
Numerous states introducing Bible Literacy classes, giving students the option of studying the Bible. Starting to make a turn back? Great!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 28, 2019
Of course that is all nonsense, as Mark Chancey explains.
The need to shore up support from white evangelical Christians was also demonstrated by Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network where she said: “I think God calls all of us to fill different roles at different times and I think that he wanted Donald Trump to become President, and that’s why he’s there. I think he has done a tremendous job in supporting a lot of the things that people of faith really care about.”
As the president feels increasingly threatened, we’ll be seeing a lot more of this in an attempt to shore up Trump’s support among white evangelical Christians and convince them that the president is engaged in some kind of holy war. That is precisely why Tucker Carlson left the comfort of his television studio and went to church.