Scott Tibbs

The constant self-sabotage of the Elite

By Scott Tibbs, May 27, 2022

As I was listening to The Bulwark podcast, Charlie Sykes scoffed at the differences between two congregations profiled in an article for The Atlantic: At the good church, "people wear sweaters and sing softly." At the bad church, "people dress for a barbecue." That is the precise moment when I turned the podcast off and deleted the file.

I grew up in a blue-collar background in a small town. I have known my whole life that the cultural elites look down on those of us in the middle of the country. The disdain for people who live in the South is even stronger. We see this locally, as people who are part of the Indiana University community look down on Bedford, Bloomfield and Spencer. I did not vote for Donald Trump in 2016, but the times I was tempted the most was when Hillary Clinton and her supporters attacked rural blue-collar voters.

And that is my point: This is how you got Trump. As strange as it was, a billionaire from New York City who had donated to Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi became the hero of rural blue-collar voters in 2016, and that support has intensified since then. For all of Trump's flaws, he was able to connect with those voters in a way few had before. And Trump's popularity was in many ways a reaction to elitists in both parties looking down on them. The Bulwark, which was founded to oppose Trump, is hardening the resolve of Trump supporters and even converting marginal voters into Trump supporters.

So what was the point at scoffing at a church where people dress casually? Does that have anything to do with which church has the Biblically correct doctrine? Does it demonstrate which political ideology is more in line with Scripture? Does it demonstrate the truth or falsehood of what people in the church believe to be factually correct? No, it does none of those things. It is childish schoolyard mockery, something Sykes should have left behind when he graduated from high school fifty years ago.

Much can be said about Christians embracing fringe conspiracy theories, especially QAnon and the Pizzagate hoax. The leadership of my own church has written a lot over the past two years about the need to respect civil authority as Christians nationwide have raged against mandates and restrictions surrounding COVID-19. Even a "moderate" can have some useful things to say on the question of how conservative Christians engage politically. But when you veer into snobbery, you immediately lose credibility with people who might otherwise be willing to listen to your argument. No one likes a snob, except for other snobs.

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