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The Congressional District Hall of Shame

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According to FiveThirtyEight, “there are 17 congressional districts where at least 70 percent of the population is non-Hispanic white, at least 30 percent identified as evangelical Christian in 2010, and voters sided with Trump in the competitive portion of the 2016 GOP nomination contest.”

Here are those 17 congressional districts:

Share of population is …Trump electoral margin in …
DistrictCurrent PartyNon-Hispanic whiteEvangelical Christian2016 primary2020 general
AL-04R83%54%+29.4+63.4
MO-08R9033+9.4+56.0
TN-01R9142+19.8+54.1
GA-09R7739+24.2+54.0
GA-14R7636+25.8+48.1
TN-06R8835+14.0+47.1
AR-01R7642+7.2+41.2
AR-04R7141+4.6+38.1
SC-03R7443+10.1+37.5
TN-04R7935+16.0+36.8
TN-07R8038+13.8+35.6
AL-06R7644+12.4+35.3
TN-03R8245+18.0+32.4
TN-08R7238+7.8+32.2
TN-02R8644+15.0+29.1
AL-05R7239+20.5+27.1
AR-03R7537+1.1+26.7

These districts are clearly the strongest Trump bastions in the country. One of the most interesting is #5 on the list, Georgia’s 14th district. That’s represented by the infamous Marjorie Taylor Greene, the self-styled “Trump candidate,” anti-semite, gay basher, Islamophobe and gun freak, who put up a transphobic sign outside her office.

For me, the essential fact about these people—besides that they’re white and mostly live in the old Confederacy—is the high degree of evangelical so-called “Christians” among them. (I put it in quote marks because I don’t think there’s anything remotely Christian about them.) What is it that makes these evangelicals so ignorant, prejudiced, angry and anti-American?

To answer that question, you have only to consider a few essential points. First, they’re taught—by their ministers—to believe in the authority of nothing but the bible. Not science. Not objective fact. Not history. Not even common sense. Only the bible, according to these hucksters such as Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell Junior, Pat Robertson and James Dobson. Only the bible contains the “word of God.” Anything contrary to the bible must, therefore, be—not the word of God, but the lies of Satan.

Now, you and I, dear reader, would never fall for this psychopathic delusion. We actually utilize our God-given brains to interpret and analyze the world. But evangelicals don’t use their brains the way we do. We use our frontal lobe—the seat of cognitive skills, such as reason and analysis. The evangelicals, by contrast, use the reptilian, or primal, brain. This is usually referred to as the seat of the Four F’s: Feeding, Fighting, Fleeing and Fucking. It’s true that evangelicals also sometimes depend on their frontal lobes to do things that require a minimum of human intelligence, such as driving a car or working a personal computer. But most of the time, evangelicals sublimate the functions of the frontal lobe to the fears and hatreds that infest the reptilian brain—fears and hatreds summoned by their preachers, and stoked by Trump.

What this means is that in America, those of us who want to live in a country governed by reason and fact are not alone. We have to share our borders with delusional people. If they were simply delusional the way your Great Aunt Margaret is delusional—having a conversation with her husband Alfred who’s been dead for thirty years—we wouldn’t really have to worry, we’d just have to make sure that Aunt Margaret didn’t hurt herself or anyone else. But these evangelicals are not simply delusional in that way. These people hate. They hate with a passion. They hate the people their preachers, and Trump, tell them to hate: queers, Mexican “rapists,” Islamic “terrorists,” Blacks, “woke” liberals, Jews, journalists, college graduates. And they act on their hatred: their bible commands them to wipe out their enemies, the way Abraham wiped out the Elamites: brutally and thoroughly. Because murder, you see, isn’t really a “sin” if it’s focused against the enemies of God.

You can see that when you’re dealing with people who believe that God has given them the right to destroy whole groups of other people, what you have on your hands are madmen. In a just world, such people would be locked up in mental institutions and treated compassionately by trained professionals. Sadly, we don’t live in such a world. We can’t lock evangelicals up, because they have a right to their point of view under our Constitution. At the same time, they can’t be reasoned with, for all the reasons I stated above. “Reason” doesn’t work with them, any more than “reason” works with actual reptiles. How do you convince, say, a Komodo Dragon to be a nice, well-behaved model citizen? You can’t. A Komodo Dragon will do what Komodo Dragons do, and an evangelical will do what evangelicals do.

Being the reasonable, well-adjusted person I am, I want to be able to live side-by-side with these evangelicals without either of us causing harm to the other. This can be done, theoretically, in two ways: we can have elections in which everybody agrees to abide by the outcome. But you know how that turned out in the 2020 election. The evangelicals decided not to abide by the outcome, and the result was Jan. 6. The only other way I can think of to get along with evangelicals is to hope that at least a few of the more influential among them will see what a dangerous, ugly force they’ve unleashed in America. Surely there have to be some out there who took a good look at Trump, his nasty family and the louts who made their insurrection on Jan 6, and concluded that maybe, just maybe, they made a really bad decision. Because they really did.

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