Paranormal Research in Time of Trump: Beware!
Ben Franklin (1706-1790)
Four out of 5 white evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump. Although a majority of people identifying themselves as “Christian” did not vote for him, he has embraced the white evangelical Christian interpretation of the Bible. And that interpretation does not favor a belief in the paranormal.
According to a 2005 Gallup Poll, 3 out of 4 Americans believe in one or more aspects of the paranormal, which is defined as a “psychic or mental phenomena outside the range of normal.” Phenomena may include believing in ghosts, angels, Bigfoot, aliens, etc. Simply put, the paranormal is the unexplained. And the spectrum is vast.
The Bible includes a lot of unexplainable mysteries. By definition, these mysteries fall within the spectrum of the paranormal. However, most televangelists rebuke this. They claim the Bible does not approve of the paranormal. They can’t identify precise passages. (There aren’t any) Often they take lines out of context hoping not to be challenged. Likewise, a lot of their followers disapprove of the paranormal. They are vocal in their condemnation. To them the “paranormal” is un-American. Unfortunately, these televangelists have Trump’s ear.
Enter Newton Leroy “Newt” Gingrich, former Speaker of the House of Representatives from Cobb County, Georgia. Back in June, Newt declared that legislators should dust off the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) by re-instating the anti-free expression committee to root out “radical Islam.” When Newt was not selected as Mr. Trump’s running mate, he backed off his stance until now. Newt reenvisions a modern form of the committee. Now he wants a committee formed to roundup people who oppose the viewpoints of Trump. And let’s face it: Trump gets his viewpoints from those around him—namely millionaire televangelists.
Newt’s comments beckon back to the day of governmental censorship and McCarthyism. The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) was established by the US House of Representatives in 1938 to monitor communist behavior in Americans. Building off of the anti-communist sentiment after World War II, HUAC hit its stride in the 1950s by abusing its subpoena power and ability to blacklist people whom the committee members felt were communist sympathizers. Those summoned before the committee who exercised their Constitutional rights were stripped of those very rights. People lost their jobs, reputations, and property on the whims of committee members. HUAC’s most vocal proponent was Senator Joseph McCarthy, hence the nickname “McCarthyism.” It was a dark time in US history.
To be clear: the HUAC targeted people for exercising freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of political beliefs. It was a tool to punish left-wing activism. The hypocrisy remains that the HUAC was ultimately un-American.
Newt wants people to believe he is a historian. He’s not. He has a narrow viewpoint of what qualifies as “American.” Further, Trump’s vision of an “American” is predominantly Christian—white evangelical Christian. Here is where the warning comes in: Paranormal research and investigations go against the white evangelical Christian leanings of Trump and his supporters. In the Age of Trump, one should error on the side of caution, at least until we know where he stands with his un-American committee.