Sunday, February 28, 2016

"I Love the Evangelicals!": More on Love Affair Between White Evangelicals and Donald Trump

As the week turns, more articles I'd like to recommend to you all about the hot and heavy love affair between white evangelicals and Donald Trump:

Jim Wallis offers a breakdown of who, precisely, is supporting Trump (white evangelicals, older ones, mostly male, and less educated than the norm), and how embarrassing this is for him as a white evangelical:

It is older white evangelicals who are mostly voting in the Republican primaries and now are increasingly supporting Donald Trump.  . . . 
In this week's Nevada Republican caucus, Donald Trump received more evangelical votes than any other candidate (40 percent over his nearest competitor, Ted Cruz, at 26 percent), as Trump also has done in South Carolina and New Hampshire. . . . 
Data from a number of sources (Public Policy Polling, YouGov, and MSNBC among others) show the extent to which Trump has tapped into a set of deeply rooted racial attitudes. Here is the factual data about who his supporters are and what they say they believe. They are 91 percent white, 58 percent male, 43 percent with a high school degree or less, 50 percent between 45 and 64 years old and only 2 percent under 30, with most making under $100,000 and describing themselves as "conservative" or "very conservative."

I'm not wild about Jim Wallis because he has dragged his feet about supporting LGBT people and LGBT rights (and, that's to say, he drags his feet about recognizing his own unmerited privilege as a straight white male), but he's right about the fact that (white) evangelicals should be royally embarrassed this election cycle. They've shown the whole culture in an eye-opening way that they haven't stood for Christian values in the public square since the U.S. bishops got into bed with them in the religious right movement, but for something else entirely — something more disreputable, which began with their opposition to integration in the 1950s and 1960s.

Amanda Marcotte reminds us of why the religious right came into being in the first place (It's about the racism):

The religious right was formed to protect segregation, so it's no surprise they're drawn to Donald Trump. . . . But really, this evangelical fervor for Trump isn’t all that surprising when you consider the history of the religious right in this country, a history which suggests these voters are less motivated by faith than they are motivated by conservative ideology. "Jesus" is just the word they apply to their beliefs to make otherwise repulsive reactionary politics seem moral and righteous. Evangelical voting behavior makes way more sense if you assume the politic views come first and the Bible is just the rationalization for them.

As Kerry Eleveld points out (and this hasn't been noted often enough), white evangelicals jumping on the Trump bandwagon are very specifically targeting LGBT Americans and marriage equality: 

One of the brow-raising revelations of the week was that white evangelicals largely voted for a thrice-married secularist over a Bible-thumping son of a pastor in both South Carolina and Nevada, breaking with Iowa evangelicals who delivered the Hawkeye State to Ted Cruz. . . .  
Donald Trump has become the life raft evangelicals are clinging to, lest the tsunami of social change pull them under—a torrent caused by the onset of marriage equality. He legitimizes their disdain for changing social attitudes and demonstrates that bigotry is still a winner, even in today’s environment. And they will follow him at any cost, rather than look in the mirror to find their views are as bigoted as a new generation of fair-minded Americans are proving them to be. 

And as Michelangelo Signorile notes, Trump is delivering the goods — red-meat promises to overturn Obergefell if he's elected: 

In his Nevada victory speech, he said, "I love the evangelicals!" Only looking at Christian evangelical media forums, however, would you understand why they have reason to love him back:
Last week in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody, Trump called the Supreme Court's Obergefell marriage equality ruling "shocking" and told evangelicals to "trust me" on the issue, telegraphing that he would get the marriage equality ruling overturned. 
On Fox News Sunday, Trump in fact said he'd consider appointing judges who would overturn the Obergefell ruling, taking up a position that Marco Rubio had announced weeks earlier. 

Because they see how effective Trump is at drumming up support by playing on these issues, the other GOP candidates began to hit hard on the "religious liberty" meme at their debate last week, Patricia Miller reports

If last night's debate revealed anything beyond the fact that, in the words of Lindsey Graham, the GOP is "batsh*t crazy" (and that Ben Carson thinks fruit salad is some type of divining instrument) it's that the Republican Party's "religious liberty" culture war cudgel has now officially joined the pantheon of right-wing litmus tests for the Supreme Court. 
It's an issue that's received surprisingly little attention during the Republican primary thus far (mostly because Donald Trump has sucked all the air out of the process with his larger-than-life comments about immigration, ISIS and "winning"),  but has been resurrected with the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

As Jean Ann Esselink notes, the Republican National Committee has just hopped onto the anti-LGBT bandwagon by issuing an anti-trans bathroom resolution. As Samantha Michaels indicates, these anti-trans bathroom initiatives specifically target teens —  teens who are already vulnerable and usually hurting. Because trans folks and trans teens in particular are a tiny, vulnerable minority, they cannot easily defend themselves — and so, the logic of the GOP appears to be, why not target a few vulnerable queer kids in order to gain more votes, when they can do nothing about the targeting?

As Steve Benen reports, the attempt to drum up Republican votes in 2016 by attacking queer citizens is everywhere now, in the form of spurious "religious liberty protection" bills in state legislatures:

Last year, following the Supreme Court’s ruling bringing marriage equality to the entire country, several states took up measures to allow businesses and public agencies to deny services to same-sex couples on the basis of religious belief. Indiana had one of the highest profile fights, which generated international attention.
This year, as BuzzFeed reported yesterday, the number of states taking up the issue has actually gone up, not down. 
At least 105 bills were filed so far this year, more than double the number in 2015, according to data from the American Civil Liberties Union.
None of this year’s bills have become law – most legislative sessions are still in full swing – but bills in eight states have picked up momentum, from Oklahoma to Georgia. Several have passed out of committee, while others have passed out of the full house or senate. . . .
Eunice Rho, advocacy and policy counsel for the ACLU, was quoted as saying, "The pattern is crystal clear. These bills are all aimed at chipping away at the rights of LGBT people under the false guises of freedom and safety."

Noting that "one of the most alarming bills comes out of Georgia," the New York Times has just editoralized about the proliferation of these pseudo-protect-religious-liberty bills and the harm they're doing:

After Indiana's disastrous attempt last year to enact a religious-freedom law protecting business owners and others who refuse to serve same-sex couples for religious or moral reasons, one might reasonably have assumed that other states contemplating similar legislation would be chastened into dropping it. 
Not so. Republican lawmakers in at least eight states are considering enacting versions of the so-called First Amendment Defense Act — a misleading label suggesting that the First Amendment needs any extra defense, let alone from people who are looking for license to discriminate under the guise of religious freedom. 
These brazen measures, going beyond the Indiana law, would create blanket protection for discrimination. That these states would consider such legislation is all the more remarkable given the damage Indiana's image and economy suffered in the national backlash to its law.

And here's Trump himself summing up what it's ultimately all about, in his Nevada victory speech last week, as reported by Adele Stan

"[I]t's hard for me to turn down money, because that’s not what I’ve done my whole life," Trump said [in his Nevada victory speech last week]. "I grab and grab and grab. You know, I get greedy; I want money, money."
The crowd roared its approval. 
What passes for conservatism in United States politics has never been much more than an acrid nougat of resentments and greed, dipped in a creamy candy coating of rationalized “principles” and moralisms. In the eyes of self-described conservatives, it was that philosophical frosting that conferred a certain legitimacy on positions that served to enrich the wealthy, confer even greater power on those who already possess it, and squeeze out any newcomers who might claim a bonbon for their own. The Trump power bar dispenses with all that chivalrous truffle, cutting straight to the chewy core of the right: a salty mix of rage, racism, misogyny and, most of all, greed.

Developments that lead Norman Wirzba to suggest that we Americans might as well lay to rest that hoary old meme about the city built on a hilltop and the nation with the soul of a church:

Though voters may speak piously and rather vaguely about Christian values and ideals, polls and election results communicate clearly that this is a nation consumed by fear, anger and suspicion, none of which are Christian virtues. 
If voters were serious about presenting to the world a picture of a Christian America, they would need to be painting with the colors of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, fidelity, gentleness and self-control, because these are the colors that, as the Apostle Paul said (in Galatians 5), witness to Jesus Christ and the power of God at work in their lives.

As the In These Times article by Theo Anderson to which the link in the tweet at the head of the posting points, the graphic is by Scott Seibel. 

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