Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Things I've Read Recently About Religion and America Under Trump: "Dear White Christian Trump Supporters: We Need to Talk"

Things I've read in the past day or so, commenting on the dangerous political situation we're now living through in the U.S. and the world at large, and the role of religion and religious groups in this situation — statements I'd like to recommend to you:

Jeremy W. Peters, "For Religious Conservatives, Success and Access at the Trump White House":

A group that has felt shunted aside by the Republican establishment is finding doors open more quickly and willingly than it did even under friendly presidents like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. 
Mr. Trump has given many conservative Christian leaders his personal cellphone number. He has solicited their advice for filling key positions. He has invited them to the White House. . . . 
Now that he has the movement's support, he has good reason to keep its adherents happy. He needs them to preserve his cobbled-together base of voters. And given how few votes put him over the top in the Electoral College — 77,000 total in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where socially conservative Republicans are a key constituency — he may indeed owe them the election.

Susan M. Shaw, "Dear White Christian Trump Supporters: We Need to Talk":

I'm afraid that what you want is a nation that conforms to your interpretation of the Bible. That's where we really run into trouble because that would require you to force your particular conservative Christian beliefs on everyone else. I don't understand how people who want to claim religious liberty for themselves are so unwilling to give it to everyone, which is actually the premise of true religious liberty. . . .
We're talking about actual human lives. If we were talking about predestination or modes of baptism or premillennialism, I'd say, sure, let’s agree to disagree. The stakes are pretty low. But if we're talking about the rights of people to access housing, clean water and air, and healthy food or the possibility of a nuclear arms race or discrimination written into law or women losing basic life-saving health screenings, or young black men being incarcerated disproportionately, or Native peoples having their sacred sites desecrated and their water poisoned, or Muslim people being targeted for their faith, then the stakes are much higher, and I cannot simply agree to disagree.

Emma Green, "These Conservative Christians Are Opposed to Trump — and Suffering the Consequences":

What's significant about these women's stories is that they appear to fit a broader pattern. Some conservative Christian communities seem to have become allergic to political disagreement of any kind, especially when their members speak out about Trump or Republican policies. . . . 
In some conservative Christian communities, there is space for disagreement on issues like racism, refugees, and elections as long as people agree on the fundamentals, including same-sex marriage and abortion. But in many other places, this does not seem to be the case—it's Republican politics all the way down. Those who disagree may have to choose whether to log off of Twitter and stay quiet, or start looking for a new job.

Emma-Kate Symons, "How Pope Francis Can Cleanse the Far-Right Rot from the Catholic Church": 

Simply put, the Vatican is facing a political war between the modernizing Pope Francis and a conservative wing that wants to reassert white Christian dominance. . . . 
The situation facing the Catholic Church raises alarming parallels with the ideological warfare that split the Vatican in the 1930s when ethnic nationalism was sweeping Europe under Mussolini and Hitler and when fascist forces infiltrated the highest echelons of the church. In 1937, Pope Pius XI published an encyclical in German denouncing the Nazi regime and its racism. The diatribe infuriated Hitler, but the focus was more on Nazi persecution of Catholics than laws targeting Jews. . . . 
The lesson of history has not been lost on Francis. After President Trump's inauguration, he warned that rising populism could produce a new Hitler. But now, as Europe faces historic elections that could bring extreme-right nationalists back into power across the continent for the first time since World War II, he must act. The bellicose anti-Islam invective being marshaled by figures such as Burke shares much in common with the vicious anti-Semitism many Catholic clerics adhered to in the 1930s, when they saw Jews as a danger to the Christian West whose rights must be restricted.

Latino Theology reponds to the preceding America tweet about Chaput:

Mark Silk, "The Problem Conservative Religious People Should Have with Trump": 

At the moment citizens' resistance is more in evidence than congressional push-back, but while we’re on the subject, let’s think about the role for religious leadership in combatting autocratic demagogues. 
Demagogues succeed by whipping the anxieties and yearnings and animosities of the populace into a moral crusade. Get rid of illegal immigrants, keep Muslims out, restore the industrial economy of the 1950s, make America great again. 
What the demagogue cannot abide are alternate sources of moral authority — above all religious ones. Subvert or co-opt the churches, as Hitler and Mussolini did, and your domestic opposition disappears. Fail to do so, as the Polish Communist Party did, and you’re left with a major locus of resistance. 
Of course, the religious left has taken to the barricades. But liberal Protestants, Reform and Conservative Jews, and social justice Catholics are the usual suspects. 
As [David] Frum writes [in the Atlantic], 'The duty to resist should weigh most heavily upon those of us who—because of ideology or partisan affiliation or some other reason—are most predisposed to favor President Trump and his agenda."*
On the religious front, it's the conservative Catholics and white Evangelicals who are most predisposed. Unfortunately, most have sold out for a mess of anti-abortion pottage. . . . 
Come on religious conservatives. Call this spade a spade.

Sunnivie Brydum, "Sorry, National Review: 'Religious Freedom' Bills Do Permit Bigotry": 

To be clear: in 30 states, it is expressly legal to fire someone because they are transgender. In 28 states, an employee could marry their same-sex spouse on Sunday, then be fired on Monday for putting a wedding photo on their desk. These aren't hypothetical dilemmas—real people lose their livelihood every year because a supervisor didn't approve of their sexual orientation or gender identity. 
So while Desanctis points out that there is currently no law directly approving anti-LGBT discrimination, the policies she's advocating for in her piece would change all that. The draft executive order, FADA, and similar "religious liberty" efforts nationwide would create a blanket license to discriminate, provided one claims their 'sincerely held religious belief' has been offended. But even here, it's important to note that the word "religious" is intended to mean "conservative Christian."

Brydum is responding to Alexandra Desanctis in National Review.

*For the sake of clarity (since I am excerpting), I have taken the liberty of lifting a link to David Frum's article from earlier in Mark Silk's essay and inserting it here.

(I'm grateful to Jim McCrea for emailing me a copy of Emma-Kate Symons' article.)

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