*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*
Over the course of the last several years no small number of pundits and commentators have trumpeted the demise of the religious right and their masters at the Vatican. As the recent election appeared to look bleak for Trump, and by extension the Republican Party and evangelical movement, it did appear to many that Trump would take down the religious right along with the Republican Party. Of course none of that transpired as predicted. Instead, as this column warned, the religious right turned out in force to increase their power and authority over government and even if the results were different, the religious right would have transformed an electoral defeat into a new and improved persecution complex that a sympathetic Republican majority would take advantage of.
No matter how one assesses the Trump-evangelical love-fest, it is obvious that the religious right was more than willing to install a lying sexual predator, one who specifically admits to never asking forgiveness, if he pledged to give them what they wanted: power to impose compliance to their religious beliefs over the government and the people. Those beliefs included three specific areas the evangelicals demand be implemented according to their, and the Vatican’s, dogmata. They want a Supreme Court justice who will repeal Roe v. Wade, something Trump promised is a priority of any nominee and something that will “happen automatically.” They also demand that Planned Parenthood be defunded, legal protections to discriminate against any American who doesn’t embrace evangelical dogma, and the requirement that health insurance plans cover birth control is abolished. Of course they want much, much more, but those are first on their agenda to set the stage for inserting their religion into all aspects of government; there is no other legitimate reason for any of their demands.
Like much of the damage a Trump administration will wreak on the people and the nation, the idea of religion driving legislation and policy comes from a minority of the population. Evangelical malcontents only make up 26 percent of the population, but since they turned out in force at the ballot box for their chosen candidate their agendas are going to be implemented – from a very significant minority position. However, it was a big enough minority position to carry Trump to victory. According to the chief executive of the Public Religion Research Institute and author of “The End of White Christian America,” Robert P Jones, “The wall of white Christian voters held.” And according to Mr. Jones; the religious right “held” because so-called “values voters” were not turned off by Trump’s sexual harassment and predation of women, pathological lying, refusing to pay taxes or stiffing subcontractors, and not because Christians are the forgiving type, they are not. As Mr. Jones said,
“Trump has really changed their entire political ethic. It’s moved from a principled basis to more of a utilitarian ethic, where the ends justify the means.” Translation: Christians embraced the sinner and his sins as their own as long as he pursues their theocratic agenda. It is an agenda Trump will pursue with urgency because it will not affect his wealth one way or the other, and because his choice for vice president is an avowed evangelical fanatic.
With Pence advising Trump and a stellar evangelical record of supervising legislation against women’s choice and marriage equality, evangelical leaders are confident and are finally resting assured that not only will they have access to the White House, they will have a supervisory role along with their seat at the domestic policy table. And, it is worth noting that with a Republican-controlled Congress and Supreme Court, they will wield substantial authority over the population from their 26 percent minority position.
As the fanatical chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Ralph Reed said, “I am confident he will do as president what he said he would do as a candidate.” As one of the primary motivators responsible for mobilizing the evangelical right responsible for Trump’s victory, Reed knows Trump will have to deliver or face the evangelicals’ religious wrath. Trump is highly unlikely to ignore evangelicals because both evangelicals and Catholics turned out to for Trump “at even higher rates than they voted for the last two Republican presidential nominees, John McCain and Mitt Romney,” according to Pew Research Center analysis.
For far too long people have written off the religious right, values voters, social conservatives, moral majority, or whatever the Dominionist theocracy movement wants to call itself only to see it emerge with renewed stamina. And now they are boasting an earned sense of entitled authority over the direction of the nation and the population – from a minority position.
It is worth reiterating, yet again, that the evangelical movement was in its death throes several decades ago when it persisted in segregating schools in the South only to find a new cause célèbre to elect Republicans courtesy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). It was the USCCB that encouraged the religious right to abandon its support for contraception and Roe v. Wade and convinced them it was in Republicans’ best interests to oppose them vehemently as an abomination to their god. Unfortunately for Americans, evangelicals find most of the country an abomination to their god and now that they are co-owners of the entire government, there is more to fear than just a corrupt celebrity sitting in the White House ruling to increase his personal wealth and power.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.