In the white working class, there are far too many wolves: heroin, broken families, joblessness and, more often than we’d like to believe, abusive and neglectful parents. Confronted with those forces, we need, most of all, a faith that provides the things my faith gave to me: introspection, moral guidance and social support. Yet the most important institution in our lives, if it exists at all, encourages us to point a finger at faceless elites in Washington. It encourages us to further withdraw from our communities and country, even as we need to do the opposite.
It’s hardly surprising that into that vacuum has stepped Donald J. Trump. For many, he is the only thing left that offers camaraderie, community and a sense of purpose. Predictably, Mr. Trump fared best among evangelicals who rarely attended church. In Missouri, for instance, Ted Cruz beat Mr. Trump 56 percent to 30 percent among frequent churchgoers; among those attending church only “a few” times per year, Mr. Trump won handily.
Mr. Trump, like too much of the church, offers little more than an excuse to project complex problems onto simple villains. Yet the white working class needs neither more finger-pointing nor more fiery sermons. What it needs is the same thing I needed many years ago: a reassurance that God does indeed love us, and a church that demonstrates that love to a broken community.
J.D. Vance, “When Paranoia Replaces Piety”, The New York Times (26 June 2016), SR8.