Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who's set to retire in January when his term expires, is speaking with more freedom these days knowing he won’t be vying for GOP votes this fall.
The Illinois Republican's opposition to Donald Trump after the Jan. 6 attack has turned him into a pariah — not only among fellow party members, but within his family as well. And he has a message for the people who pitifully believe their support for Trump and God are one and the same.
On Tuesday’s inaugural episode of "Alex Wagner Tonight," Kinzinger discussed a letter he received from conservative relatives after he called on Cabinet officials to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office in the wake of the Capitol riot.
"Adam, oh my, what a disappointment you are to us and to God," Kinzinger's relatives wrote in the letter.
Asked to respond to the letter, Kinzinger said people generally fear being "kicked out of the their tribe" so they may accept Trump because conservatism is such a large part of their identity. He went on to denounce pastors who push Trumpism from the pulpit.
“Many pastors in this country are failing their congregation,” Kinzinger said, claiming they’ve created a culture of religious fanaticism that leads people to “equate Donald Trump with the person of Jesus Christ.”
The congressman's reflection spoke to the very real and documented alliance between Trump and the Christian right. This relationship is often framed as an uneasy pairing, but that notion gives conservative Christians too much credit. Trump has shown an eagerness to wrap himself in biblical rhetoric to justify his power and impose his oppressive will — but conservative Christians do, too. It was always silly to think right-wing Christians would reject Trump because he's crass and abusive — as if some denominations didn't have a history of engaging in abhorrent behavior.
Kinzinger’s remarks just highlighted a relationship that’s been years in the making and shows no signs of breaking.