There has been a constant refrain over the past few months that the evangelical right and the Tea Party are losing favor among voters and the public in general and are definitely on the wane. This is due, in no small part, to the courts at all levels adhering to the U.S. Constitution and not whatever “silly holy book” the religious right holds near and dear to their black-as-night and inherently cruel hearts; their holy book has no connection to the Jesus they claim to follow in the Christian bible. However, despite reports of their demise, evangelical Republicans are winning elections in a nation where they are in decline, and in spite of continually rejecting the validity of the United States Constitution according to their religion.
On Wednesday after evangelical, wealthy businessman, and anti-government Tea Party hero Matt Bevin was elected as Kentucky governor, many pundits wondered; “what happened in Kentucky?” After all, there has only been one Republican governor over the past four decades in Kentucky and with evangelical Republicans making fools of themselves on the national stage on an hourly basis, it appeared even Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul Kentuckians would reject a tea party evangelical fool like Bevin.
After all, Bevin did openly campaign on taking away healthcare from Kentucky voters and using his conservative Christian authority to thumb his theocratic nose at the federal judiciary and U.S. Constitution; particularly in defending an elected official claiming god supersedes the U.S. Constitution and federal court orders. It was a sure-fired recipe for success in a nation where Republicans have parlayed religious fanaticism, cruelty toward other Americans, and religious rejection of, and opposition to, the nation’s founding document into electoral victory everywhere; except of course the White House.
Kansas’ Governor Sam Brownback used religion, in the form of summoning “the fetus,” to win reelection in Kansas after massive economic failings, an angry populace, and trailing badly in polls leading up to election day. Bevin, a self-anointed “strong conservative Christian” and “anti-government crusader” followed suit with his own religious weapon. Specifically, it was the Kim “god supersedes Constitution” Davis weapon that helped propel Bevin to victory. That, and promising cruel Kentucky voters that if they elected a “true Christian conservative” as their governor he would put an abrupt end to Medicaid expansion and restrict Kentucky residents’ access to healthcare through the state’s healthcare exchange.
Apparently, tea party hero Bevin subscribes to every Republicans’ Christianity that restricts Americans from having access to medical care; a very important part of America’s neo-Christian dogmata. It is the same brand of Republican Christianity that demands that its adherents disobey government authorities regardless it is a very substantial sin in the “actual” Christian bible. A holy book that neither Kim Davis nor her evangelical savior Matt Bevin ever read, but they are “onward Christian soldiers” all the same.
A couple of weeks ago the Associated Press obtained some emails that Davis sent appealing for prayer and a savior just before she was sent to jail for violating the Constitution and disobeying a federal court order; not for her radical religious beliefs. Davis’ messages are typical of a religious extremist, but besides revealing what true religious fanaticism looks like, they offer insight into religious Republicans across the nation like Matt Bevin who are winning elections they should not be competitive in and easily prevailing because Democrats are terrified of mentioning religion.
Religious Republicans approach elections like war and despite legislative setbacks, the Constitution, or Supreme Court rulings; they never concede defeat. Any setback is little more than the start of the war and they never consider they will not prevail. That mindset was revealed in one of Davis’ messages to her fellow evangelicals like Matt Bevin. She said, “This battle has just begun, but I am confident God is in control of all of this!” Even on the way to jail, Davis knew that because this is 21st Century America where religion eventually trumps the laws, the Constitution, and the Courts, she would prevail and right on schedule her savior revealed himself on Friday.
On Friday, Bevin announced in a news conference at the State Capital that instead of helping Kentucky residents procure healthcare, living-wage jobs, better transportation, schools, or environmental protections, his first action will be following through on a religious campaign pledge. Bevin assured reporters that, “One thing I will do right away is remove the names of the county clerks from the Kentucky marriage forms;” a major demand of Kim Davis and the evangelical fanatic sect. It will be an auspicious start for Bevin, because more than one federal judge prohibited Kim Davis from removing the clerks’ names from the marriage licenses, but that is just the kind of thing Kentucky voters expected a “strong conservative Christian” GOP governor to do; unilaterally reverse something objectionable to religious fanatics who reject the validity of the Supreme Court marriage equality ruling. It is important to remember that one of Bevin’s first acts is going to be follow through on a critical religious campaign pledge and it reveals what Kentucky voters who put Bevin in the governor’s mansion expected; the majority of whom are obviously the religious right and tea party and on the decline.
It is noteworthy that part of Bevin’s recipe for electoral victory in Kentucky was being a champion for his, evangelical fanatics’ and Davis’ ultimate goal; American governed by theocracy. And, it is a winning recipe the GOP continues to employ successfully as they take over America state by state. All the while, Democrats struggle to keep pace with an admirable, but misplaced, focus on being religiously correct by never citing religious zealotry as the cause of so much of America’s dysfunction; something much of the rest of the world sees but is unafraid to talk about.
It is true that Democrats are feeling fairly confident, and in many cases cocky, about next year’s general election, but they cannot seem to comprehend the power and resolve of the Republican religious right. In Kentucky, Matt Bevin should have never won the governor’s race any more than Houston voters should have rejected an equal rights’ ordinance based on the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment, by a very wide margin. However, in both instances the evangelical malcontents prevailed and whether it is due to Democratic voters’ apathy or underestimating the evangelical right’s resolve, a “strong conservative Christian” is only the second Republican Kentucky governor in four decades and Houston has legalized discrimination based on religion firmly in place.
Statistically, religion is on the decline in America and the tea party is waning. And yet, the groups continue gaining power across the nation. It was refreshing to hear former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton say on Friday that “American voters and citizens have to get out and vote.” One thing is a sure as the Sun rising in the East; if Americans do not get out and vote, the same thing that happened in Kentucky and Houston last Tuesday will happen nation-wide next year.
Evangelical extremists, whether tea partiers or not, always get out and vote in every election and they always vote for Republicans in very large numbers. Now if only Democrats would make a special effort to demonstrate to moderates that a major contributor to this country’s problems is conservative Christians and moderates pandering to evangelical fanatics forcing religion on the country, voters might wake up. It is unlikely though, because while evangelical fanatics push the country closer to a theocracy every two years, Democrats continue to sit home and gloat that the religious right and tea party are on the decline.
Image: AP/Timothy D. Easley/Reuters/Brendan McDermid