Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Dangerous Rise Of Christian Nationalism

Trump minion Sebastian Gorka applauds as he campaigns for Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore
In numerous posts I have noted the growing overlap between white supremacists and Christofascists.  True, the link has long been visible to anyone who has regularly followed "family values" organizations who claim to be Christian for any period of time.  Be it Family Research Council and its president, Tony Perkins, with well documented ties to white supremacist groups, or The Family Foundation based it Richmond which traces much of its linage back to segregationists who supported "Massive Resistance" and the closure of all public schools, beneath the surface a strong level of racism has been present.  Enter the Trump?pence campaign and its open call for racism and bigotry and what had once remained under the surface has flowed to the surface.  Worse yet, evangelical Christians are now openly aligning themselves with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and white nationalist.  The result is a dangerous form of Christian nationalism that excludes more Americans than it accepts as legitimate citizens.   A piece in Huffington Post looks at this dangerous development.  Another piece in the Charlotte Observe looks at Franklin Graham who is openly embracing this toxic ideology.  First these highlights from Huffington Post:

Many have believed the accusations against Roy Moore of sexual assault and harassment against teen girls to be massively hypocritical since for years he’s presented himself as a hardcore evangelical man of faith, and he has a loyal white Christian evangelical following.

But what if Moore’s alleged actions actually meld with a religious belief among some evangelicals, even if the adherents won’t outright admit it?

Moore in fact represents an extremist wing of an already theocratic-leaning base of the GOP that believes all women must be subservient and submit ― as Mike Huckabee, who hasn’t pulled his full-throated endorsement of Moore, infamously once said of women with regard to their husbands, expressing his own “Handmaid’s Tale” dream come true ―  and that would no doubt include young women such as teen girls.
And since the advent of Donald Trump, this more extreme group of evengelicals has cleaved away from others and joined the alt-right and white nationalists, led by former Trump White House advisor Steve Bannon ― who is a front line warrior for Moore’s election campaign ― and which include white supremacists and racists like those we saw in Charlottesville. 

Jack Jenkins, senior religion reporter at Think Progress, has been charting the growth in the Trump era of Christian nationalism ―the melding of some evangelicals and their beliefs with nationalistic movements and ideologies ― in several excellent and important articles. He, too, puts Roy Moore at the nexis of the white nationalist movement and the extremist evangelical movement. 

As someone who has covered the Family Research Council’s annual Values Voters Summit (VVS) for years, I, along with other observers, saw a marked difference in the speakers and in the crowd this past October, . . . . Some long-time leaders like those from the Southern Baptist Convention ― whose Russell Moore is a Never Trumper ― were not there, along with their followers. They were replaced by Steve Bannon, Sebastian Gorka and other white nationalists and their followers who never had an interest in VVS and are far from what anyone would think of as devout Christians.

White Nationalism and Christian Right Unite at Values Voter Summit,” was the headline of Adele Stan’s piece on Bill Moyers.com last month.

It’s no secret that the alt-right and white supremacists like those we saw in Charlottesville aren’t just about white supremacy; they’re about male supremacy as well, as we saw in their brutal, misogynistic attacks on Heather Heyer after her murder by a white supremacist. Let’s not forget last year’s headlines on Breitbart ― then and once again led by Steve Bannon ― from “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive And Crazy” to “Would You Rather Have Your Child Have Feminism or Cancer?”

The Moore evangelical defenders, and the politicians who pander to them, mostly claim that they do not believe the allegations from nine women to be true, and that the charges are part of some wide-ranging political hit job. Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas said the allegations were all concocted to destroy Bannon.

But Alabama GOP governor Kay Ivey actually admitted she has reason to believe the allegations but also believes it’s still important to elect a Republican and will vote for Moore. This no doubt reflects the belief of many Alabama voters who continue to support Moore in polls, and many evangelicals and white nationalists across the country who still support Moore ― and still support Donald Trump, who of course is an accused sexual assaulter as well. 

It’s becoming clear that, for many evangelicals and many in the alt-right and white nationalist movements, sexual assault against women and girls is not only not a deal-breaker for a candidate but is also perfectly acceptable, whether they want to admit this or not. The uniting of white nationalists and the religious right, and the rise of Christian nationalism, is premised not only on the false idea that people of color, LGBTQ people and other minorities are exerting too much control, but also very much so on the belief that women ― coming forward now and speaking out about sexual assault and demanding equality ― must be put in their place. 
The piece in the Charlotte Observer links Franklin Graham - who is someone in the Christian Right only because of his famous father - to this toxic trend.  Here are highlights:

Franklin Graham came under fire Friday when he took to Twitter to defend Roy Moore, the GOP’s embattled Alabama U.S. Senate hopeful who in recent weeks has had several women accuse him of sexual misconduct from decades ago when they were teenagers.
In a tweet that has been shared thousands of times, Graham slammed Moore’s critics and claimed some of Moore’s biggest detractors in Washington have done “much worse” things.

The Charlotte faith leader’s defense of Moore was met with criticism by many who saw the tweet as dismissive of the seriousness of child molestation. People wondered why Graham hadn’t alerted authorities if he is aware of Congress members who’ve done worse than what Moore is accused of.

“A reminder that Moore has been accused of sexually molesting a 14 year old girl and sexually assaulting a 16 year old girl,” CNN anchor Jake Tapper responded on Twitter. “Who’s guilty of ‘doing much worse than’ that, Reverend? Seriously, this is a matter for law enforcement.”

“You literally just defended sexual contact with minors,” Rick Wilson, a Republican political strategist, tweeted. “You're a brand, not a pastor.”  “You know you've gotten off mission when you’re defending allegations of sexual assault and molestation for the sake of a culture war,” writer David Roark responded.

A coalition of religious leaders in Alabama issued a letter in support of Moore and condemning the media for reporting the story, CBS News reported.

"We stand with Judge Roy Moore, a man of integrity who has never wavered from his valiant defense of the unborn, the Ten Commandments, and the Constitution. We are confident the voters of Alabama will not be fooled by suspiciously timed accusations without evidence and will reject the politics of personal destruction led by the Washington Post," the letter stated, referencing The Washington Post story that interviewed Moore’s initial accusers.

Meanwhile, other religious leaders were in Alabama on Saturday to oppose Moore’s run for congress.  The Rev. William Barber, former North Carolina NAACP leader, took aim at Moore’s values as a Christian, AL.com reported. “True evangelicalism is not what you say, but what you do and how you challenge the systems of the world,” Barber said.

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