In fantasy books, an often used trope for witches or wizards is the glamour.
The glamour is a spell that makes the witch look appealing, attractive, beautiful to our heroes so they trust her. They go into her house. They eat her food. They think about staying the night. She’s so beautiful and kind that she couldn’t possibly be an evil witch that wants to murder us and eat our livers. It’s a point of tension because the reader knows that something is too good about the disguised witch while the characters blindly believe in her innate goodness.
But then, inevitably, something happens, maybe the witch cuts her finger while chopping vegetables or someone says something that makes her angry like, “I’m so glad you’re a beautiful woman and not some ugly crone of a witch” and the mask slips, the glamour drops for a second, and one of the heroes witnesses it. He sees that behind the ornate and beautiful mask, the reality that the witch is hideous in appearance and character. That moment, when the illusion is removed, when the mask slips, that is the truth. The outward appearance was the lie.
Which brings me to religion.
For a long time in this country, religion (and Evangelical Christianity in particular) has held a lofty place among us as the moral arbiters, the line judges of social mores. They would sit atop their ivory thrones and gaze upon the cultural landscape and lament that the rest of us weren’t living up to their “godly” standards of chastity and virtue and people would take them seriously.
And sometimes the mask slips. Like with Trump.
You may ask how people so uptight and moral about sex that they created an entire genre that hawked various purity items could embrace a serial adulterer and twice divorced man who speaks about sexually assaulting women.
Well, because that’s just the glamour.
All that talk about purity and keeping yourself pure? It’s not about sexual purity, it’s about control. Controlling women. Controlling men. Making them feel defective because of their humanity. Making them feel guilty about their sexuality and then selling them the cure, whether it’s purity rings or tickets to a new brotherhood crusade where they can cry and confess that they enjoy the sight of a woman’s breasts.
You might wonder how a people who say they believe that the bible is the very words of God arrive at a conclusion that immigrants and refugees should stay the fuck out of America. That America shouldn’t accept and help the needy and the poor or those fleeing violence. Often violence that we caused.
But that’s also just the mask.
Because in as much as many churches carryout ‘outreaches’ to help the suffering, it’s always over there. Over in their place. Not in our place. Goodness, no. Their place is over there. Our place is here. So we send the youth group to Mexico to stay at an orphanage overnight and pretend to dig a well. The people who run the orphanage practice better hospitality and probably spend more feeding them than they would have spent if they just hired laborers.
But we don’t invite them to come here.
You will find, in fact, that churches are some of the most segregated places in America. That’s because their place is over there with their talk of liberation and social justice. Our place is over here where we can smile and shake hands and not think about injustice or oppression.
We go to our nice, white, shiny, white, happy, white churches and enjoy fellowship with other nice, white, shiny, white, happy, white people.
And that’s the core of it, isn’t it?
That 81% of Evangelicals that supported Trump supported him because he promised to keep America a nice, white, shiny, white, happy, white place for those nice, white, shiny, white, happy, white people like them.
So, as we approach an election in which those 81% of nice white Evangelical voters go to the polls again to support racism, injustice, and white supremacy, don’t listen to their excuses. Don’t tolerate their false piety and hypocrisy.
Remember that beneath the happy, shiny, nice mask is the old ugly witch of white supremacy ready to kill you and eat your liver.
(And because I know some people might find my analogy offensive, I do sincerely apologize to any witches that read this. I’m just drawing on the old tropes and cultural images and do not mean to imply anything negative about your personal appearance or religion.)