The other day, I asked what is wrong with Republican voters. Carol Wolman is an MD and a psychiatrist and she endeavored to bring some light to the question with this guest post:
Climate Anxiety And Tribulation
-by Carol Wolman, MD
We live in Biblical times. Fires, floods, famines, pestilence are all
prophesied in various books of the Old and New Testament. Some
passages will be quoted in this article, as a way of understanding the
great divide in our country.
Everyone has climate anxiety these days. Most of us have been
impacted by increasingly ferocious floods, fires, monster storms,
drought, rising sea level, the pandemic.
The 25% of Americans who believe, or want to believe, that Trump is
still president cope with climate anxiety by living in an alternate
reality. This is based on a hijacked version of the Bible. The same
book that guided Martin Luther King and many other fighters for
equality, peace, freedom for all, has now been turned into an
instrument of pernicious forces. The fundamentalists who now claim
the Bible seem intent on destroying our democracy, taking away our
freedom, and wrecking the biosphere beyond repair. Thus the Bible
has been discredited, and its wisdom ignored.
All of this was carefully plotted by oligarchs in the 1970’s, working in
think tanks like the Hoover Institute. The false interpretation of the
Bible was ramped up to emphasize subjugation of women, reliance on
a strong father figure, dumbing down of the population. A popular
series of sci-fi books, the Left Behind series, amplified the message.
In these books, believers are beamed up to join Jesus. (1
Thessalonians 4: 17 we who are still alive and are left will be caught up
together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be
with the Lord). They simply disappear, leaving behind all their
belongings, even the clothes they are wearing, to the bafflement of
those “left behind.” It’s glorious, and painless.
You’ll get pie in the sky when you die-- it’s a lie. (Joe Hil)
George Lakoff explains it all in his book Don’t Think of An Elephant.
The oligarchs engineered the indoctrination and politicization of
fundamentalist churches, which then took over the Republican party.
Within 30 years, they controlled the US government, first during the
GW Bush administration, and recently with Trump. (During the last
administration, Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Pompeo
openly expressed belief in the rapture.) The rapture cult has enabled
the oligarchy to legally plunder the planet and concentrate wealth
through the electoral process.
What is the psychology behind this? How does it work? We’ve
heard about QAnon paranoia, antivaxxers, antiabortionists, racists,
climate deniers. But what provokes the loyalty, the fanaticism that led
to the January 6, 2021 insurrection?
A core group of Trump supporters have a set of beliefs which goes
something like this. “We are the Elect, fundamentalist Christians who
believe the Bible is gospel. Trump was sent by God to hasten the
destruction of the biosphere, in order to fulfill prophecies about the
Tribulation. This corrupt earth will disappear. Trump has been
anointed to rule God’s Kingdom on earth. The Forces of Darkness
stole the election from him, and it’s the job of his followers to reinstall
Although many people who voted for Trump do not consciously hold
these beliefs, they identify with the sense of belonging to the Elect.
This explains the religious fervor of the insurrectionists, and the
devotion of his core voters.
Of course, the central laws of Christianity-- love the Creator of life,
and love your neighbor, are totally ignored by those who buy the
myth. Peace and justice go out the window.
Since the Trump followers are Bible-based, we can only hope to reach
them by reclaiming the sacred books, and showing the true meaning
of the passages. These verses are ambiguous, and give us a choice.
We can take them literally, or understand them as they are meant to
be understood, as referring to the purification of consciousness and
expansion of cooperative intelligence, so that we can make peace and
solve global problems The sacred books tell us which choice to
Deuteronomy 30:19 "I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse: therefor choose life, that you and your descendants my live."
A simple example of the rapture cult and its fallacies is playing out
now. To these people, the vaccine and the mask are the mark of the
Rev 13: 16-17 (The Beast) forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free
and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that
they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the
beast or the number of its name.
And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest
day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who
receives the mark of its name.”
Only if they refuse the jab will they avoid the torment. Only if they
refuse to wear masks will they be eligible for “the rapture.”
Of course, in reality, their refusal to accept “the mark of the beast”
makes it more likely that they will die a horrible, tormented death on a
respirator, in an ICU. If the hospitals are overflowing with their
“saved” friends, they may end up on oxygen in a hospital corridor.
Yet, despite this obvious clash between what they believe and the
horror of what actually happens, they cling to their faith. Even
Trump’s acceptance of the vaccine, and his weak, belated
endorsement doesn’t shake their world view.
They have chosen death, for themselves and for life on the planet.
How can the Creator of life be on their side? From what spiritual
source does the power of their movement come from?
Perhaps MAGA hats are the mark of the beast.
The deep comfort of this alternate world view underlies, I believe, the
tenacity to which the GOP holds to Trump. The worse the climate
catastrophe, the worse the plague, the happier they are that Judgment
Day is near, and the more they cling to him. There is a desperation to it, a kind of psychotic certainty that only Trump can save them, and
so he must be restored to power.
If we who choose life are to succeed, we have to reclaim the spiritual
power which is rightfully ours. We deserve the sense of
righteousness which can overwhelm the pernicious myth that Trump
can save anybody. We have to actively love life, truth, justice, and our
neighbors, including the whales and the bees. Only by aligning
ourselves with the Creator of life, can we save the planet