Saturday, December 17, 2016

Trump and an Emboldened Christian Right

When he met with Christofascist leaders last summer in New York, Donald Trump, a/k/a Der Fuhrer, sold his soul - assuming he has one - in order to win the support of these foul theocrats and, more importantly, their networks that could be used to motivate their robotic followers to go to the polls and vote for Trump.  Trump has kept his promises to these hate merchants and, to date, his appointments have included a who's who of anti-LGBT zealots.  Therefore, it is no surprise that the Christofacists feel quite triumphal at the moment.  Long term, their willingness to support a Vladimir Putin backed candidate may come back to haunt them, just as happened to German denominations that rallied to Adolph Hitler. A piece in New York Magazine looks at the current moment and what I hope could be the longer term downfall of the Christofascists.  Here are excerpts:
Before the 2016 elections, amidst evidence of some stress in conservative evangelical leadership circles over the religious implications of the community’s strong support for Donald Trump, the possibility that this could represent the Last Hurrah of the Christian Right as we have known it was a pretty lively topic of discussion. Personally, after years of challenging the wishful-thinking premise of secular folk and religious progressives alike that the Christian Right was on the decline, I argued in October that the spiritual gymnastics associated with supporting Trump might stretch the alliance of religious and nonreligious conservatives to the breaking point.
The big question for those triumphant Trumpites of the Cloth will be whether and how quickly he delivers on his big promises to this particular constituency.
For conservative evangelical clergy, the shiny bauble held out by Trump that they most value is probably repeal of the Johnson Amendment that prevents outright ex officio electioneering by leaders of tax-exempt nonprofit organizations. That will require a statute. But the fact that this involves the Internal Revenue Service will probably be enough to justify nestling the provision into one of the budget reconciliation bills congressional Republicans will probably seek to pass next year, making it both relatively inconspicuous and filibuster-proof. If Republicans fail to do this, it will be noticed with dismay by its intended beneficiaries.
The bigger item probably most valued by politically active conservative evangelical laypeople is a reliable vote on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and if possible Obergefell v. Hodges (the decision that legalized same-sex marriage) — though the latter is probably a stretch —while also strengthening “religious liberty” protections for conservative Christians who don’t want to contaminate themselves with same-sex marriage rites or access to contraceptives by women. Thanks to the current vacancy on the Court, this is one promise Trump will be expected to keep almost immediately, and if he double-crosses the Christian Right with a nominee that is less than 100 percent certain on these issues, its Senate allies could credibly threaten to prevent confirmation.
Aside from repeal of the Johnson Amendment, fully defunding Planned Parenthood will be a must-pass budget item for the Christian Right. And they will be very avid for Trump to back Education secretary Betsy DeVos (assuming she is confirmed) to the hilt as she tries to convert federal education funding into a lever for convincing states to move public-school dollars into private-school vouchers.
All in all, 2017 looks like it will be a happy, fulfilling year for the culture warriors of the Christian Right, but there are some potential stumbling blocks in the path of a renewed “marriage of convenience” with the GOP.
Evangelical leaders are divided over immigration policy, which is likely to be a hot-button issue after the inauguration, as it was during the campaign. And any fresh incidents of Trumpian crudeness and overt hostility to Christian values could serve as an irritant as well. You can expect Mike Pence to serve as a soothing ambassador to this constituency if the Boss gets all heathenish again.
But the long-term tensions between the religious and political interests of conservative evangelicals, and their tendency to conflate those interests, have hardly been dispelled by an election victory.
If in the next few years the Christian Right turns out to be “losers,” as Trump would put it — either losing in elections and policy fights, or by losing their own professed convictions — the crisis people like Moore sensed when the Trump candidacy slouched towards Bethlehem to be born could return in a big-league way.

Of course, the Christofascist ignore the reality that their homophobia, racism, and general misogyny are repulsive to the younger generations and that to the extent they "win" with Trump, they in reality only accelerate the flight of people from religion and Christianity in particular.  I continue to believe that the Christofascists will ultimately kill Christianity - which overall will be a good thing. 

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