Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Politics = Religion?

In conversations and on social media following the Presidential election, I have heard some express dismay over the support for Donald Trump by religious people, including religious leaders, when it seems that he may embrace and even embody principles and behavior that deviate from accepted religious practice.  His comments on taking advantage of women, or mocking an ethnic group or a disabled person, do not seem in line with generally accepted religious practice, yet many of the faithful enthusiastically support him. Some observers wonder how can they be so staunch in their support of a person whose statements and behavior seem contradictory to the standards espoused by his supporters.

The answer is complex, but at its base is a very simple fact--much of Trump's support is based in the belief that he will solve many of our real or perceived problems, and faith in that outcome overrides contradictory statements or actions.  His supporters have faith in him, and that faith is so strong that they can consciously and subconsciously overlook and ignore his faults and shortcomings.

People of faith, any faith, have practiced and honed these skills.  All faiths require some rejection of fact or logic.  If a person truly believes in the veracity of the bible, they must reconcile the many disagreements between biblical accounts of human and natural history and observed facts.  Some create elaborate stories to account for such things as dinosaur fossils and evidence for human evolution.  Not all interpret scripture literally, but all must in some way reconcile discrepancies.

The lesson here is that, while we all recognize that a logical dismantling of the basis of someone's beliefs is unlikely to diminish their faith, and in fact may strengthen it, so too is logic, or pointing out inconsistencies or fault in Trump or his positions unlikely to dissuade his followers.  They believe in their leader, their faith is unwavering, and likely strengthened in the face of opposition, even when that opposition is factually and logically overpowering.