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Why The Christian Right Is Rejoicing Under Trump’s Presidency

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Why The Christian Right Is Rejoicing Under Trump’s Presidency

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Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

In early 2016, few evangelical leaders were on Team Trump, as they had Ted Cruz and other conservative Christians to choose from in a crowded Republican presidential field. After Donald Trump embarrassed his GOP competition and became the party’s nominee, prominent evangelicals began changing their tune. Some, including a number of outspoken anti-LGBT activists, worked with the Trump campaign on a large evangelical advisory board. After Trump won the presidency with 81 percent of the white evangelical vote, most far-right Christian leaders who hadn’t endorsed him came around. Many were gleeful, and some even pronounced that God had stepped in and handed Trump the job.

That excitement has grown since the election as Trump prepared for and took office, nominating several ultra-conservative Christians for key posts and promptly following through on several of his campaign promises tailored to evangelical voters. Trump had already picked far-right evangelical Mike Pence for vice president. Then he nominated Betsy DeVos, who was raised in a Calvinist community in Michigan, for secretary of education and Seventh-Day Adventist Ben Carson for Housing and Urban Development secretary, and appointed several other conservative Christians to additional top positions in the administration.

Ronnie Floyd, an Arkansas megachurch pastor and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, told the Washington Post that the Trump administration was full of “followers of Christ,” not just DeVos but Health and Human Services Sec. Tom Price, EPA head Scott Pruitt, Energy nominee Rick Perry, Agriculture nominee Sonny Perdue, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“The administration has been way over the top in giving them visibility and recognition that we can bring values,” said Floyd, who was part of Trump’s evangelical advisory team and gave a prayer at Trump’s prayer service during inauguration weekend.

Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University who was the first major evangelical figure to endorse Trump, has said that hundreds of evangelicals are getting lower-level positions in the Trump administration.

On January 31, Trump nominated the ultra-conservative judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. He’s the judge who wrote the 2014 Hobby Lobby decision, enabling businesses to refuse to pay for insurance coverage of contraception based on “religious objections.” Gorsuch, who is considered to the right of even the late Antonin Scalia, is seen by conservative Christians as someone they can count on to oppose abortion and expand their ability to legally discriminate against LGBT people via “religious freedom.”

“I thank God that if confirmed, this administration will have delivered on one of its most critical campaign promises—to appoint a judge in the mold of the late Justice Antonin Scalia,” said far-right Christian James Dobson, who served on Trump’s evangelical advisory board.

Also January 31, Trump appointed Falwell to lead a higher education task force bent on “deregulating” education. Two days later, Trump attended the National Prayer Breakfast, where in a bizarre speech he pledged to repeal the Johnson Amendment, allowing churches to spend money on politics and potentially operate like super PACs.

Trump reinstated the “global gag rule” (or “Mexico City policy”), which prevents U.S.-funded foreign organizations from discussing abortion with their clients or advocating abortion law liberalization, but he made it harsher than under George W. Bush. This rule now pulls all public health funding from organizations, even to vital AIDS and HIV programs, that address abortion. And the president has promised to overturn Roe v. Wade and to sign a bill defunding Planned Parenthood.

In late January, the Trump administration circulated a “religious freedom” executive order that legalizes discrimination, allowing any government agency or any private business to deny services to LGBT people. Trump has since backed away from that order, but another may come in the near future.

On Feb. 22, Trump went ahead with anti-LGBT discrimination. With Attorney General Jeff Sessions leading the charge, the Trump administration rolled back Barack Obama-era protections requiring schools to allow transgender students to use the restroom that matches their gender identity. Education secretary Betsy DeVos reportedly opposed the move—which some doubt based on her religious beliefs and her parents’ funding of anti-LGBT hate groups—but Trump and Sessions strong-armed her into backing it. The next day, DeVos went on to call Obama’s transgender guidance “a huge example…of overreach.”

With all the good news for the Christian right coming so quickly, Falwell said evangelicals are “a happy group of people right now.”

Franklin Graham, who gave a prayer at Trump’s inauguration, spoke at a December “thank-you rally” for Trump in Mobile, Alabama, reiterating that God had showed up for Trump on election night. He was thrilled at Trump’s selection of Gorsuch, writing on Facebook, “Once again he has kept a campaign promise—how refreshing!” He concluded his post with this: “Now we need to pray that God will overrule the liberal socialists and progressives who will do everything in their power to block this nomination.”

Ralph Reed, founder and chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and chair of Trump’s evangelical advisory board, was “prominently seated” at a ceremony honoring Gorsuch. In a Fox News op-ed, he praised DeVos for her strong support of public vouchers to send children to private religious schools. DeVos has said she wants to “advance God’s kingdom” through education.

Televangelist Pat Robertson, one of the most extreme right-wing evangelicals of note, came to Trump’s defense after his “pussy-grabbing” comments surfaced. Now Robertson says people who oppose Trump are revolting against God, and he muses that Obama and Democrats may have enacted a conspiracy to take down the shamed Michael Flynn, who didn’t last a month as national security advisor because he lied about having prior contact with Russia.

Tony Perkins, president of the anti-LGBT hate group Family Research Council, is sanguine about Trump upholding religious liberty, which in his case means legal discrimination of LGBT people by “religious” businesses with federal contracts. Perkins also praised Gorsuch’s nomination.

Far-right Christian organizations are also happy with Trump and his executive orders. The Alliance Defending Freedom, which the Southern Poverty Law Center recently classified as an anti-LGBT hate group, said of the gag rule, “The president has done the right and logical thing in reinstating a policy that never should have been rescinded.” ADF was founded by Dobson and several other Christian right leaders in 1994 and since then has opposed equal rights for LGBT people and even pushed to criminalize homosexuality abroad.

Christian leaders aren’t just thrilled with Trump’s actions and promises, they’re gratified by the surprising amount of access they have to the president. Falwell told the Washington Post that he, along with other members of Trump’s evangelical advisory board including televangelists James Robison and Paula White, have never had such easy access to a president. “I’m very shocked by how accessible he is to so many. He answers his cellphone any time of the day or night.”

Trump has also answered his cellphone for Robison. Dobson says he can call Pence on his cell.

Plenty of evangelical leaders oppose Trump, or at least, his refugee ban, but the most extreme members of the evangelical movement are quite pleased.

Few would have predicted Trump’s stellar relationship with far-right Christians. But now that he’s won them over, benefited from their political support, and amassed a White House featuring many evangelical conservatives, LGBT protections, abortion rights, and public school funding are on the line.

Alex Kotch is an independent investigative journalist based in Brooklyn, NY. Follow him on Twitter at @alexkotch.

IMAGE: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (R) swears in Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (L), joined by her husband Dick DeVos (2nd L), at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House in Washington, U.S. February 7, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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12 Comments

  1. ray February 24, 2017

    The Christian Right has little semblance to Christ.

    Reply
    1. iamproteus February 24, 2017

      Ain’t it the truth!

  2. Thoughtopsy February 24, 2017

    So I guess we can sum up the views of the “Christian Right” as:

    “The Means justify the Ends.”

    Wow. I bet that works out great…

    Reply
  3. Aaron_of_Portsmouth February 24, 2017

    Let us consider the term “Christian Right”.

    First and foremost, it is an oxymoron and it runs counter to the very essence of Christianity. As most may long ago had discerned, Jesus made it clear that His Revelation had NOTHING to do with the matters pertaining to governance, when He used “Caesar” as a reference. To wit, we have the verse—“And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.”(Luke 20:25)

    By this statement, which the disciple Luke provided, we see that today’s Christians who go out of their way to align Christianity with politics by calling themselves “The Christian Right”, are going out of their way to contradict the Message of Jesus on this score.
    Their interpretations and distortion of the Message is for the sole purpose of furthering their own personal biases and agendas, and contorting the Bible into a tool so to speak in order to influence politics. This is an example of what Muhammad had in mind when He referred to such distortions of any Messages past and present as “Corruption of the Text”—something that jihadists and “conservative” Muslims are fond of doing with the Qur’an.

    Therefore, the logical extension of this insight(one which I was only made aware of once I became a Baha’i and read various interpretations of Abdu’l Baha and Shoghi Effendi, which in turn are derived from Tablets and other Texts written by Baha’u’llah Himself).

    It is obvious that Trump and the GOP would know nothing of their contradictory roles being played in light of the Spirit of the Message of Jesus. And were someone to enlighten them on their errors, Trump and the GOP would simply brush this all off as fake information, or being just a Baha’i interpretation. If anyone is able to contradict Abdu’l Baha and Baha’u’llah on this theme, please let me see your “erudite” conclusions that I might see things differently.

    Otherwise, please remain silent, and inform “The Christian Right” of their egregious misinterpretation and twisting of Christianity to suit a materialistic goal—that of power and influence over the personal lives and choices of others without any moral justification.

    Reply
    1. dbtheonly February 25, 2017

      Just for the record, I’d have no problem with your interpretations of the Holy Texts.

      Where I have problems is with those who know the texts and reject them. We’ve talked about the Biblical injunctions about immigration. How does love and consideration of others allow for “pecker checker” bathrooms?

      Trump is the most Godless President ever. Yet the Christian Right embraces him.

      1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth February 25, 2017

        That was Muhammad’s and Jesus’ points. Both Muhammad and Jesus knew what was going on with the hypocrisy that occurred beforehand, and that it was the clerics who were, and still are, the ones who must take full responsibility for being THE active agents leading to an eventual downgrade of Religion’s influence.

        Which should bring to mind, “Why would God allow for His Religion in whatever era to be compromised and at first glance appears to knowingly allow Religion to be riddled by so many clerics who decide to go rogue?”

        The answer, as I’ve been gaining more insight into the nature of the Pattern as more clearly delineated by Baha’u’llah, has to do with 3 major items from my point of view:

        1) The concept of “Theodicy”—A word pertaining to God’s seeming inaction in the face of turmoil and desecration of any particular Religion depending on the Era.
        2) Free-Will—In this realm, humans are granted the right to make their own decision. And that being better informed of “Right” vs “Wrong” enables us to be better informed. But the story doesn’t end there—I’ll have to pick up on that later.
        3) The concept of “The Covenant”—As you may know, every Religion has an “Alpha” and an “Omega”. In other words, no Religion, EVER, was given the right to be THE Religion into perpetuity. Which is why there has been a succession of Religions which have appeared. The approx. cycle between each “Major” Religion has been 1000 years; in between the major Religions, there were “Lesser” Religions/Traditions.
        (In the Qur’an there are two words in Arabic to define the “Station” of each Messenger—“Rasool” refers to a Messenger with authority to bring new Laws and abrogate, if He has the Mandate, previous laws and ordinances. The other kind of Station is termed “Nabi”(pronounced “nabee”), who enlighten humanity but don’t have the Mandate to reveal major Texts, or to bring new Laws. In the Qur’an, surah 11, you’ll find several Messengers mentioned by name—some Muhammad calls “Rasool”, some are called “Nabi”, and then there are some He refers to as both a Rasool and a Nabi.

        And an over-arching feature for this Grand Cycle is what is called “The Greater Covenant”, which defines a “Promise” by God to humanity that He would never leave us without a “Teacher”—sometimes referred to as the Covenant made with Abraham. Then there is a secondary Covenant called “The Lesser Covenant” which is an “agreement” between the Messenger and His followers to remain faithful to the current Religion revealed for the Age. Up until the appearance of Baha’u’llah, this “Lesser Covenant” was always vague, and was never explicitly written down. Which left room open for clerics to choose correctly whenever a subsequent Messenger appeared. Needless to say, the clerics always failed to make the right choice, except in very few cases. Which was why, and still is, the reason that each generation of clerics were always the most vociferous in accepting the next Messenger.
        If you contact local Baha’is in your area they can elaborate further. In the meantime, I highly recommend to you to read the book “The Kitab-i-Iqan”.

        I hope this helps. And you are the type of person, as are many of the women here, who’ll be better able to comprehend this book. I still have to refer to it in order to gain new insights into what I overlooked. The same as when I studied Linear Algebra and Quantum Physics, and still study today. My level of ignorance was astounding then—now, it’s less astounding and still there’s plenty of room for improvement.

      2. Oddworld February 25, 2017

        The Christian Right have a long history of backing anyone who promises them the power to continue their discriminatory policies. It looks like the Puritans are back in power after a long absence.

        1. dbtheonly February 26, 2017

          But they have achieved such “power” by embracing a man who lives a life opposite to what they stand for. Have they sold out? Have they co-opted Trump?

          “They have sewn the wind and shall reap the whirlwind”

          1. Oddworld February 26, 2017

            They didn’t sell out. One can not sell what one never had and that is true Grace.

  4. dtgraham February 25, 2017

    Oh, I fully understand the objections to Presidents Trump’s governing philosophy and his way of seeing problems and solutions, and so on. People will differ on that. However, his rock solid commitment to fundamentalist Christian values and principles can never be questioned. I understand why the Christian right has never challenged that and why they’re now rejoicing, in the way that the Lord of hosts has blessed them with Trump. For all you liberal socialist heathens, here are just a few of the quotes from the way, the truth, and the light, … Donald Trump.

    “That must be a pretty picture, you dropping to your knees.”

    “You know, it doesn’t matter what the media writes as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of a$$.”

    “My favourite part [of ‘Pulp Fiction’] is when Sam has his gun out in the diner and he tells the guy to tell his girlfriend to shut up. Tell that bi**h to be cool. Say: ‘Bi**h be cool.’ I love those lines.”

    “I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”

    “Look at that face. Would anybody vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?! (Fiorina) I mean, she’s a woman, and I’m not supposed to say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious? ”

    “She is a dog who wrongfully comments on me.”

    “A person who is flat-chested is very hard to be a 10.”

    “Her a$$ is too fat.”

    “You have to treat ’em like sh!t.” (women)

    “I moved on her like a bi**h, but I couldn’t get there, and she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony ti*s and everything.” (It’s not clear who Trump was talking about.)

    “I’m automatically attracted to beautiful [women]—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything … Grab them by the pu**y. You can do anything.”

    Do I have an amen?

    Reply
    1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth February 25, 2017

      What you have cited is an accurate assessment of Donald according to his own prerecorded statement.

      And anyone who accepts any man who thinks of women that way, is on the same level as such a person. That is, they are less than human.

  5. Independent1 February 25, 2017

    Given that the term “Conservative Christian” is an oxymoron, the title of this article should really be The Fake-Christian Right is Rejoicing Over Trump’s Presidency.

    Just by definition, a conservative is virtually always more concerned about how his or her actions will impact him or herself; or even ones family; rather than how what he or she does will impact the lives of others; be that positively or negatively.

    While a True Christian, is always looking to make sure that his or her actions are always having as positive an affect on the lives of others; whether family or not; even if that demands a significant sacrifice on his or her part.

    Not only did Jesus say in Matthew Chapter 22 that the 2nd major commandment aside from Loving God with all our heart, was that we should ‘Love our neighbor as ourself’; and that that commandment essentially sums up all the lessor commandments together.

    Saint Paul in writing to the Philippians actually extended that message in Chapter 2 by saying that a True Christian should think more highly of others than they do of themselves. Something that clearly no true conservative could ever do in all honesty to themselves.

    Philippians 2:3
    Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,

    Reply

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