This is nothing new, of course: Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council told a caller yesterday that God would no longer protect the United States, thanks to marriage equality. Ever since the Manichaean Augustine of Hippo opened his mouth, conservatives have been looking for the City of God, an effort which has left a morose dunghill in its place.
“Absolutely, absolutely,” Perkins replied, enthusiastically agreeing with the caller: “[We] put ourselves in a very vulnerable position” just like in “1973 when the court basically said it’s open season on the unborn, there were consequences to that and I believe it’s a part of removing God’s hand of protection upon a nation.”
Right. Open season against blacks doesn’t presage anything dire, and that has been with us since the first slave arrived on these shores, centuries before Roe v. Wade. How about the genocide of the Native Americans, which began even before the first slave arrived? Or how about beating gays and transgenders? Or raping women? Or abusing the poor of any background? None of that bothered God?
Or if none of that moves you, how about what we do to our own children in this country?
When Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me” (Matthew 19:14) he didn’t mean hurry them on their way to heaven. But once they’re out of the womb, that is precisely what Republicans do.
Where is Perkins’ head that only the unborn matter to him, and not the living? Jesus didn’t preach about or to fetuses. He preached to the living.
And Perkins is not alone. Take Rick Santorum, Rand Paul, or Ted Cruz who insists freedom is tyranny.
Scott Walker, for crying out loud, after doing his best to destroy Wisconsin, said its God’s plan that he now destroy the entire 50 states by becoming president.
Donald Trump is crass and boorish, but he may prove to be the dung-covered gem in the dunghill. He may not win, but for a moment, a whole bunch of Republicans are forgetting about this God thing. Unlike Walker and Cruz, Trump hasn’t claimed God wants him to run, or that he’s the messiah.
Trump says, “I’m a religious person. I go to church. Do I do things that are wrong? I guess so.”
In fact, look what Trump told Frank Lutz last Saturday at the Iowa Family Leadership Summit, when asked, “Have you ever asked God for forgiveness?”
Compare this to Jeb Bush, who eagerly explains he does so often. (You think you’ve been cringing? Put yourself in the shoes of the Religious Right):
I’m not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don’t think so. I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.
We I take, when we go, and church and when I drink my little wine – which is about the only wine I drink – and have my little cracker, I guess that’s a form of asking for forgiveness, and I do that as often as possible because I feel cleansed, OK? But, you know, to me that’s important, I do that, but in terms of officially, I could say, ‘Absolutely!’ and everybody, I don’t think in terms of that. I think in terms of, let’s go on and let’s make it right.
We all missed this thanks to his next dissing John McCain, but think about how far off the reservation he has gone with this.
His little glass of wine and his cracker. And he got a standing ovation at the end of his talk.
Trump, alone of all the Republican candidates, isn’t acting like a frothing-at-the-mouth religious zealot. In fact, Ed Kilgore at the Washington Monthly said, “everything about Trump screamed the oafish tycoon speaking the unaccustomed language of faith.”
And yet it is Donald Trump who is leading at the polls. Attacking John McCain didn’t hurt him. Dismissing God didn’t hurt him. Of the two, I would argue that the latter is the more important. It is an importance which cannot be overstated.
Erick Erickson claimed, over at Red State, where pregnant women are animals, that, “Donald Trump made a potentially fatal error yesterday in Iowa…. The media might not have noticed. But it was the talk of evangelicals yesterday and today at church.”
But I don’t think anybody is listening to Erick Erickson. Certainly not enough to hurt Donald Trump’s polling numbers.
We can read at Right Wing Watch that “Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference said last week that they didn’t know a single evangelical who supports Trump…”
I don’t think anybody is listening to them either.
Is there actually a niche for a Republican presidential candidate who is not in the thrall of the likes of Tony Perkins?
Will all this come back to haunt Trump? Will the bubble burst? Sure, it’s possible. It is also possible he can provide conservatives a moment of clarity, to show the Republican base that politics can be about something other than religion.
After all, Trump has yet to say a word about mantles of protection or divine snit fits dropping flocks of birds out of the sky. He just eats his little cracker and tries to do better.
This is not to make an argument for Trump. Rather, look at the significance of the moment. However far Trump may go in the 2016 presidential race, he may have shown a way forward for Republican candidates who are not in thrall to the Religious Right, a sort of anti-Reagan, which is ironic given all the comparisons being made to Reagan by his adoring followers on Twitter.
For Trump, this isn’t a war of God’s Righteous Republicans against Liberal Satan-worshipers, but a war of Donald Trump against idiots and fools.
And you know what? That’s kind of refreshing.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.