The rise of Donald Trump has exposed the religious right as morally bankrupt. As harsh as that may seem, it’s hard to conclude otherwise. The nation’s so-called moral guardians have been all-in for a man who plastered a private cell phone number on social media, mocked the disabled, condones violence at his rallies, revels in degrading women, has no qualms about spewing blatantly racist language, and endorses witness intimidation of the worst type.
Any doubt that this was the case should have been erased by how the religious right has begun attacking 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg, the first openly gay man to seek a major party’s presidential nomination. He turned in unexpectedly strong showings in both the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, finishing virtually tied with Bernie Sanders in Iowa and a close second behind Sanders in New Hampshire.
These showings, and Buttigieg’s accompanying rise in the polls, has resulted in the religious right recycling some of its tired and shopworn talking points about gay men being a danger to the national fabric. This would be outrageous in and of itself, but is even more so given the religious right’s continued otherworldly support of Trump.
We saw an example of this after the Iowa caucuses, when American Family Radio’s Bryan Fischer wrung his hands at the thought that anyone could consider Buttigieg to be a good role model for the country. This while Fischer openly and unashamedly beat the drum for a man who has proven time and again to be the most morally bankrupt man ever to occupy the White House.
On Valentine’s Day, the attacks ramped up again–this time from Bert Farias, a longtime pastor and evangelist who is a regular columnist at Charisma magazine. Farias used his latest column to rant and rave about the rise of an openly gay candidate who “who has a husband whom he publicly introduces and even kisses without shame.” He is equally appalled that we, as a nation have supposedly become “desensitized to this most shameful and abominable behavior.”
To Farias’ mind, the fact that “millions of Americans” support Buttigieg can only be described as “the death rattle of a nation.” He argues that Buttigieg’s rise, and the continuing effort to normalize LGBT relationships, is evidence that God has given us over to a “debased mind.”
At first glance, this sounds like a recycled homophobic rant from the heat of the culture wars in the 1990s. But consider that this column came from the keyboard of the same man who opened a recent book, “The Tumultuous 2020s,” by extolling Trump as the man who has “the backbone and character to stand up against the hordes of demonic forces that were intent on destroying our nation.” As Farias saw it, Trump’s foes are “unregenerate, wicked, and unreasonable men.”
So if you believe Farias, it is “unregenerate, wicked, and unreasonable” to point out that we have a president who has no qualms about calling women who cross him “dog” and “horseface,” suggesting they were on their period, or suggesting their cosmetic surgery went sideways. And it is “unregenerate, wicked, and unreasonable” to call out a president who has no qualms about knowingly calling a Latina, two Jews, two blacks and an Arab “savages,” then calling one of those Jews “human scum.” And it is “unregenerate, wicked, and unreasonable” to hold Trump to account for what may be the most ham-handed abuse of presidential power since Nixon.
It has been amply established that Farias and his compatriots have turned Trump into a golden calf–or rather, an orange calf. After all, they are willing to ignore what even a cursory glance at Trump’s Twitter feed would reveal–at bottom, he is the same man who bragged that he could “grab ’em by the pussy” just because he was a celebrity.
But couple this willful ignorance with Farias’ homophobic low blows at Buttigieg. He would have us believe that a man who served our country for eight years in the Navy, who speaks at least eight languages, and who conducts himself with dignity on the campaign trail is not qualified to be president because he engages in “most shameful and abominable behavior.” In light of Farias’ continued support of Trump, his railing about Buttigieg sounds something like this.
Farias and his compatriots’ continued willingness to bow down to Trump would be evidence in and of itself of the religious right’s moral bankruptcy. But by not even trying to mask their homophobia in the wake of Buttigieg’s rise, there is no question about it–whomever Farias and the religious right worship, it definitely isn’t Jesus.
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