Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Modern Day Pharisee Evangelicals Look to Rescue GOP

I try not to reference articles from the same publication more than once per day, but I could not pass up this second piece in the New York Times that looks at the plan on the part of evangelical Christian organizations to mobilize a massive voter turnout operation in the lead up to the 2018 midterm elections.  For these groups and their followers, the fact that the GOP's agenda is the antithesis of Christ's social gospel message and/ot the fact that Donald Trump is close to being the antiChrist when it comes to living a life that is the diametrical opposite of the Christian message seemingly is irrelevant.  Instead, their sole focus is on supporting a man/political party that gives them deference and that attacks and denigrates their perceived enemies, gays and Muslims leading the way in terms of those most hated. The take away, for me, is that anyone who values the separation of church and state needs to redouble their efforts to support Democrat candidates and urge family and friends to vote come November, 2018.  Here are article excerpts:

The conservative Christian coalition that helped usher President Trump into power in 2016 is planning its largest midterm election mobilization ever, with volunteers fanning out from the church pews to the streets to register voters, raise money and persuade conservatives that they cannot afford to be complacent this year.
But the cumulative weight of scandals in Mr. Trump’s private and public life is threatening to overshadow what the religious right sees as its most successful string of policy victories in a generation. And Republicans will be up against not only a resurgent liberal opposition to Mr. Trump but also the historical disadvantages that burden any party in full control of Washington, especially in the first off-year congressional elections of a president’s term.
The vast majority of evangelical Christians are digging in for Mr. Trump, despite accusations by a pornographic film star and a Playboy playmate that he had separate affairs with them shortly after his wife, Melania Trump, gave birth to their son. Those controversies, paired with the multiple women who accused him of groping them before the election and his own boasts of sexual aggressions, have highlighted the unyielding support of a political bloc that once put moral behavior at the center of its political judgment.
“Now even the Christian culture is O.K. with it,” said Jim Daly, the president of Focus on the Family, one of the nation’s largest evangelical groups. “That’s the sadness,” he added. “The next time a Democrat in the presidency has a moral failure, who’s going to be able to say anything?”
But Christian conservatives say Mr. Trump has also more than honored his end of the bargain . . . He has begun the process of moving the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, won the confirmation of numerous judges and a Supreme Court Justice who seem likely to advance their anti-abortion cause, moved against transgender protections throughout the government, increased the ability of churches to organize politically . . .
“I don’t know of anyone who has worked the evangelical community more effectively than Donald Trump,” said Ralph Reed, the chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, which this year plans to devote four times the money it spent in the 2014 midterms.
A poll released last week by the Public Religion Research Institute found white evangelical approval for Mr. Trump at its highest level ever: 75 percent. Only 22 percent said they had an unfavorable view of the president.
The message to energize Christian conservatives has twin purposes: to inspire them to celebrate their victories and to stoke enough grievance to prod them to vote. . . . leaders of the movement plan to lean hard into a message that fans fears and grudges: that the progressive movement and national media mock Christian life and threaten everything religious conservatives have achieved in the 15 months of the Trump administration.
Leaders of the Christian right have not only largely accepted Mr. Trump’s flaws and moved on; they seem to almost dare the president’s opponents to throw more at him. Ms. Nance said she heard a common sentiment from volunteers and supporters who did not seem bothered by the allegations of Mr. Trump’s infidelity.
The danger for Republicans is the many evangelicals who do not like what the president is doing. His petty insults, coarse language, lack of humility and private life are difficult to square with Christian faith, opponents say. The president has helped devalue character, morality and fidelity as essential qualities in political leaders, they say.
A meeting of evangelical leaders in Illinois last week featured a frank and candid discussion of the president’s failings, prompting some pro-Trump attendees to walk out.
The take away is that the "leaders" of the evangelicals will disseminate yet more calls to fear and hatred while underscoring their utter moral bankruptcy as they link evangelicals to a man devoid of basic morality.  One can only hope that as a result revulsion for evangelicals will grow and the exodus of Americans from organized religion will accelerate. Christianity has become something hideous under Trump supporting evangelicals. 

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