In the early 2000s, white evangelicals became solidly locked into the Republican Party, and they have voted for GOP presidential and congressional candidates by 4-1 margins ever since. In 2002, Reed gave an object lesson in faith-based mobilization as chairman of the Georgia Republican Party when he flipped the state from Democratic to Republican control.
After Bush left office and Barack Obama assumed the presidency, the wheels of Buchanan-style political religion began to turn freely again. Hostility to Islam became a wedge issue through the birtherism that made Obama out to be a Muslim born in Kenya, the Fox News-driven “ground zero mosque” controversy and state referendums against the establishment of “Shariah law.”
The 2010 midterms featured the tea party — or, to be precise, sundry organizations that bore its name. Created to protest taxes and the Affordable Care Act, the organizations drew heavily on white evangelicals, who were five times more likely to support than oppose it. Decked out in Revolutionary War garb, the partiers presented themselves as God-and-country patriots.
The tea party turned out to be a warmup for Donald Trump, who made white evangelicals his most fervent supporters as he constructed an America First ideology based on Islamophobia, closed borders, beggar-thy-neighbor tariffs and religious liberty for his religious supporters. What fireside chats were for Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency, political rallies were for Trump’s. The Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol was their apotheosis.