The religious right has claimed for some time that all it wants is a place at the table for Americans with “traditional values.” But from time to time, the nation’s so-called moral guardians reveal their true agenda when they think no one is listening or watching. They want to pave the way for a Christianized version of Iran or Taliban-era Afghanistan. And they see Donald Trump as a vehicle to make that happen.
One such mask-off moment came on Thursday night. Evangelicals for Trump, the official Trump campaign group for Christianists, held a campaign event to in Alpharetta, Georgia; a suburb of Atlanta. Predictably, it was laden with red meat.
The most telling moment came from veteran religious right operative Ralph Reed. He told the crowd that reelecting Trump will pave the way for Christians to dominate the country’s politics. No, this isn’t snark. People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch got a clip.
Reed, best known as the front man for Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition in the 1990s, declared that giving Trump a second term was the best way to “make sure that Christians are the head and not the tail” in our politics. Even allowing for the setting, the lack of subtlety was breathtaking. Reed was openly declaring that he wanted a nation where Christians hold most of the political power.
Apparently he’s forgotten about the ban on religious tests enshrined in Article Six of the Constitution. But then again, we’re talking about people who would like nothing better than to see that provision, as well as the First Amendment, put in the shredder.
The rest of the speakers went along similar lines. For instance, Jentezen Franklin, pastor of Free Chapel Worship Center in nearby Gainesville, reminded the crowd that the Supreme Court trumped all else–and yes, the pun was intended. He told them that the next president would likely appoint at least two justices who would “affect your children and your children’s children’s America.” If Joe Biden defeated Trump, Franklin warned, “you won’t have freedom of religion. You won’t have freedom of speech.”
For those who don’t recall, the religious right made what amounted to a Faustian deal with Trump, in part because of the prospect of continuing the conservative majority on the Supreme Court. Never mind that he reveled in degrading women. Never mind that he mocked the disabled. No, no–all that matters to them is the courts. And Franklin has a vested interest in pushing that message. His son, Drake, is executive director of Evangelicals for Trump.
The keynote address was delivered by Trump’s principal spiritual adviser, Paula White. She dropped all pretense of the kinder, gentler fundie persona that we see on her television shows and podcasts. Instead, she offered a message that was pure fire and brimstone. She warned that if you’re even thinking about voting for Biden, you’re voting for a party that is out to “take everything”–your right to worship, your civil liberties, the whole enchilada. She branded Biden a “Trojan horse” who would pave the way for a “radical left agenda” intent on taking God out of society.
She then asked the audience, “Will you stand for God? Will you stand for the church?” Again, the lack of subtlety was staggering–a vote for Trump is a vote for God. This is the exact line that is frequently heard in a lot of fundified churches–especially those in the few parts of the country where Trump still walks on water.
White’s zeal for making us bow and pray to the orange god she helped make is hard to square with how she bills herself as a champion for empowering women. Take this meme she posted to her Facebook feed on Tuesday, for instance.
So if you believe in standing with women, Paula, why are you so fanatically loyal to a guy who revels in degrading women? Oh, that’s right–what really matters is helping pave the way for a Christianized Iran or Afghanistan.
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