Saturday, August 20, 2016

Why Conservative Christians Are Backing Trump

As regular readers know, I hold few people in lower regard that far right conservative Christians whose most pronounced traits are incessant lying, hypocrisy, racism, and a desire to impose their religious beliefs on all citizens.  They talk constantly about their own supposed faith and religiosity even as they hate nearly everyone and back Republican policies that are the antithesis of the Gospel message.  Some pundits and others are shocked that so many conservative Christians are backing Donald Trump, whereas I see it as a match made in heaven, if you will: foul, self-centered hypocrisy filled pathological liars bonding to one another.  A piece in Salon puts forth an explanation for Christofascist support of Trump in less direct terms, but nonetheless shows the underlying hypocrisy of these people and their always self-enriching "leaders."   Here are excerpts:  
In theory, the religious right should hate Donald Trump. He’s a libertine, he clearly worships Mammon and not Jesus, he has been married three times, he has a long history of bragging about his sex life . . . . But the ugly truth is that the supposed guardians of American morality, religious conservatives, are lining up behind Trump. I spoke with Peter Montgomery of People for the American Way about why.
 Your piece is called “‘God’s Guy’: 25 Religious Right Justifications For Supporting Donald Trump.” What kinds of religious authorities did you look at for this piece?Well, there’s a range of people. There are religious right political figures like Tony Perkins and David Barton and David Lane, who are people that we cover pretty extensively, and then there are some folks who don’t show up on [our] website as much [as those] who are sort of in the “prophet and apostle” category of that wing of Pentecostal Christianity [who tend] to see things in terms of spiritual warfare and demons and the Antichrist. So it’s a mix. Since the primaries, most of the religious right leaders who were in Cruz’s camp are rallying around Trump, and it’s true that some of them are doing so kind of reluctantly. Some based on the Supreme Court, some based on the fact that they just really hate Hillary Clinton. And some have offered this range of religious rationales. 
Some of the folks that you’ve covered seem to believe that Trump is God’s emissary or that he’s here to do God’s will. What’s that about?The religious right hates Barack Obama. They really did everything they could and prayed very hard for him not to get elected or reelected. And some of them actually saw his reelection as a sign of God’s judgment on the country. That hatred also applies to Hillary Clinton.Some of the religious right leaders also distrust the Republican establishment and they think that God is using this sort of bulldozer strongman person like Trump to come in and knock down the establishment of both parties and really clean house. They’ve found examples in the Bible. One of the ones that people reference is King Cyrus, who was not one of God’s chosen people and was not a believer but God had his purposes and used King Cyrus in a way that advanced his wishes. So that’s one of the rationales that has come up for Trump. . . So when Trump destroys everything, why is that considered a good thing in their view?I’ll talk about David Lane in answering that. David Lane is a political operative who organized the event that Trump just spoke at this past week in Orlando and, in fact, Marco Rubio also spoke at. David Lane is a Christian nationalist who believes that America was founded by and for Christians and that it has a covenant with God and a mission to advance the Christian faith. He believes that we have gone far from that mission. And his goal is to use the political process to bring America back to his idea of a Christian nation. . . . for someone like him, the establishment Republican Party has been a disappointment because they haven’t aggressively pursued this idea of a Christian nation. He hopes that somehow kicking down all the walls is going to make that more possible. Somebody else like James Robison believes that God is going to give Trump some kind of high-profile conversion moment like the biblical story of Saul, who used to persecute Christians, having this vision of Jesus and then becoming Paul the Apostle.  Do you often see religious right figures grapple with the fact that the Democrat in the race, Hillary Clinton, is clearly more religious than the Republican?They do not want to grapple with that at all, no. You don’t see a lot of religious right leaders acknowledging her lifelong commitment as a Christian, as a member of the United Methodist Church, even though it’s very much out there. A lot of the religious right leaders, when they say “Christian,” they don’t really mean all Christians. They’re talking about a subset of Christians that share both their theological worldview and their right-wing politics. . . . It’s why we have people on this list talking about Hillary Clinton as channeling the spirit of the Antichrist. How much do you think this rallying around Trump has to do with his statements about Muslims?There are a number of reasons they’re rallying around him, and one is that he’s been a very outspoken critic of radical Islam with his call to keep Muslims from coming into the country. Some of these religious right leaders, as much as they like to posture as champions of religious liberty, they really don’t feel the same way about Islam. They try to make these convoluted arguments that the First Amendment doesn’t really apply to Muslims in the same way because Islam is not a religion but a totalitarian political ideology. I think they like his attacks on Muslims because they think this is a country by and for Christians. The question of religious freedom comes up here, and you see some of these pastors and religious right leaders claiming that Trump is for religious freedom. What do they mean by that?When the religious right talks about religious freedom these days, they’re mostly talking about the right of people to discriminate against LGBT individuals and couples and families. For them, religious liberty is not the kind of shield for everyone to exercise their religion [that] we think of when we think of the First Amendment.  . . . It’s about being able to use religious beliefs as a cudgel against people and policies that they don’t like.

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