When thinking of the rise of far-right leaders like Donald Trump, an important aspect that needs to be discussed is the Rapture. In a nutshell, this is the belief that at some, unforseen moment, God will blow a trumpet, the saved Christian souls will float up to Heaven, thus kicking off a tribulation period before God gets ready to destroy everything and send everyone to their eternal resting place. First of all, it is a gross misinterpratation of select passages in the Bible. Even UK conservative theologian N T Wright takes issue with this interpretation, arguing instead that at some point, God will recreate Earth in restored form. From this perspective, it is important to look after everyone and the planet because this will eventually be our permanent home. This is an important distinction, and it is why belief in the rapture is not a harmless belief that should be respected. If you and all your loved ones are going to be taken away to a perfect paradise, why worry about such things such as climate change? This is something that the Church actively needs to take on, because the secularist answer of waiting for people to leave religion is not cutting it. See how closely the Republican Party in the US is tied to this evangelical movement? Do you think we are safe if these people have their hands close to the nuclear button? Even if belief in the rapture does not have majority support, there are enough people who believe in it to make this belief system a major threat. That's another reason why the right-wing evangelical movement hates what it calls socialism. This allows for people's lives to become so difficult and without hope in this life that they will eagerly welcome a chance to move into eternal bliss with the blast of a trumpet.
So how can the Church respond to this? Barbara Rossing argues that the Book of Revelation (which figures very prominently in this theology) is a reframing of the Exodus story in the context of the Roman Empire. From this perspective, the Exodus story is about an enslaved people escaping the captivity of their empire and establishing a society based on justice and peace, rather than violence, domination, and oppression. In this context, it's not about a group of people way back when, but an historical theme that we see repeating throughout human history. In this context, it is not about God sending people to their final resting place at some distant future, but the ongoing struggle for dignity and justice for everyone and for the planet. In Exodus, God is said to have told Moses to go to the king of Egypt and demand liberation for God's people. This was a radical concept in the day. People of the day prayed to the gods they fashioned out of stone and wood to rescue them, but here you have God saying that the people have to take responsibility for the well-being of their communities. The promise to Moses is not, "believe in me, and I will blow a trumpet and rescue you." The promise is, "go to the king, seek your liberation, and I will be with you." If you look closely at the Exodus story, you see that God is not portrayed as intervening on behalf of the oppressed slaves until Moses makes this demand of the king. I find it ironic that so many preachers encourage people to passively pray to a God who will magically rescue them, when I see the call of Moses as an explicit rejection of this way of thinking. Even in Revelation, there are calls to actively resist, from not taking the mark of the beast in charge of the empire, to coming out of the empire altogether (metaphorically or literally). If the Church can take on this challenge and reframe in this way, offering people real hope, will reduce the influence that this dangerous theology has over public life.