I am in a Facebook discussion group that involves “faith and politics.”
A friend posted an article along with an invite to discuss.
This particular article is a great example of something where there is not a “yes or no” response to the entire thing, so I decided to post a line by line of most of the content here on my old blog. 🙂
You can find the original article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/16/opinion/moore-trump-religious-right.html It was written by Charles M. Blow.
Here we go with some of the content:
But it was in that election that Jerry Falwell and his Moral Majority reintroduced religious activism into American politics. Speaking at a Dallas convention of Christian fundamentalists, Falwell proclaimed: “During the 1980s, preachers, we have a threefold primary responsibility. No. 1: Get people saved. No. 2: Get them baptized. No. 3: Get them registered to vote.”
The religious activism was in many ways a direct response to the strides made in the 1960s and 1970s on racial equality, women’s rights and gay rights.
In a way, their driving motivation was to make religious law into American law, really not so unlike the Shariah law they so fear and despise.
My main thought in response to this would be that true Christian Biblical Law would NOT result in anything like “Sharia.” This statement presupposes that “religious ideas applied to government = bad.”
What ideas Jerry Falwell had, I don’t know.
In general, the Bible does not really give any authority to Christian leaders to impose faith on all via the government. It DOES give us all an authority to setup a system to punish crime and defend ourselves. That is about it.
So… No laws making people attend church. No laws making people believe any particular thing.
But a great big YES to laws that punish murder, stealing, lying-to-ruin someone, rape, kidnapping, etc. YES to laws that help arbitrate about property disputes in a just manner.
I have observed that sometimes “Christian Conservatives” can seem to believe that the goal is to get control of “the top” so that we can make America Christian again.
If that is the common belief than it is legit to criticize it and we should listen, even if it seems to be coming from someone who is NOT coming from a Christian worldview.
I do find it interesting that Blow seems to think the rise of the religious right was a reaction to an expansion of liberty for minorities, women, and homosexuals.
Maybe there is some truth to that. It would be interesting to research.
For the three decades that followed, I could count on one thing: the conservative right was the religious right. That was its branding, if not always its behavior. It was as if the foot soldiers for the conservative right had read only half of the Bible they thumped. They were harsh and vindictive like the God of the Old Testament, not generous and inclusive like the Jesus of the New Testament.
This statement show a distinct misunderstanding of who God is. The God of the Old Testament was not harsh and vindictive and Jesus is not “inclusive” in the way that the author likely means (accepting sexual sin).
In fact, that God of the Old Testament and the Jesus of the New are the same person! (John 1:1-3)
Although I have no problem believing that many Christians have not considered “the whole Bible” in creating their political beliefs. I doubt the author has either, judging by this one glaring error (angry God vs. nice Jesus).
But now, all the pretense of any “moral” majority and “moral” authority has vanished into the very impulses that fed it: Tribal racial/ethnic anxiety, panic and hostility, patriarchy and sexism, and a perceived threat presented by the full acceptance and inclusion of L.G.B.T. identities.
He is assuming a lot about the motives of a lot of people here. There may be people that think like this, but there may be others that do not.
AND… confronting the immorality of homosexuality doesn’t have to be about a “perceived threat” of acceptance. It could also be love in action.
Piety is now postscript. The principal motivation now is anger, fear of cultural displacement, and anxiety about the erosion of privilege and the guarantees it once provided, from physical safety to financial security.
You can peg any number of moments in recent history when the objective seemed to change for the members of the religious right, where they swallowed all pride and principle to secure power and vent anger, but for me there is none more glaring than the embrace of Donald Trump.
There may be some truth to this, but that doesn’t prove the opposite (the worldview of the author).
Although I have no problem looking at “us” and allowing God to speak through someone who does not appear to have a Christian Worldview.
Should we as Christians be speaking out based on fear of loss, or based on love and a vision for a glorious Christian future?
Trump is clearly not a religious man, unless you believe being compulsively devilish is a form of religiosity. He is mean and surly. He is a bully. He is a pathological liar. He cheats. He is an adulterer. He is twice-divorced with children by three different women. He bragged, on tape, about assaulting women. He says he doesn’t think he has ever asked God for forgiveness.
Trump was a walking, talking rebuke of everything the Christian right had ever told me that it stood for, and yet Republican voters either held their noses or thrust their fists in the air and voted for him anyway.
I tend to agree with him on this. I am not sure those things are the entirety of who Trump is, and he does seem open to input from “the religious right,” but I didn’t vote for him and never really understood the enthusiastic embrace by many Christians.
I understand the “turn up your nose and vote for the lesser of two evils thing,” although in this case the “lesser evil” was beyond what I could vote for.
The anger that gave birth to Trump was a death notice for Republican religious principles. Now, if you ask me what the Republican Party stands for, I’m not sure I can tell you. All I see is regression, wealth worship, nationalism and white supremacy. Maybe that’s it. I no longer see Christ in that equation.
Judgment starts in the house of God, and that would include anyone claiming to be putting their Christianity into politics. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one Christian-influenced movement be judged and die in order to be replaced by a better one.
Although I don’t buy that loving liberty is “wealth worship” or that all (or even most) Christian conservatives, or even Trump, are involved with “white supremacy.”
In the wake of all that, we now have the former Alabama Supreme Court judge Roy Moore running for the U.S. Senate as a Republican. Moore has been accused by multiple women in Alabama of having inappropriate sexual contact with them when they were still minors and he was in his 30s, working as a district attorney.
The accusations are serious and not easily dismissed. And yet Moore has denied them, vociferously and unequivocally. Someone here is telling a vicious lie. It’s a he said/she, she, she, she, she said. Not to mention the people interviewed by The New Yorker who say that Moore was banned from a local mall for harassing girls.
What has been most distressing and revelatory is the contortions Moore’s supporters have put themselves in to try to defend him against the allegations.
It would be one thing it they were simply saying that they didn’t believe the allegations, but they’re not. They’re also giving “Even if it did happen …” rationales that suggest that pedophilia is acceptable if you are willing and able to advance a certain cultural agenda. It should be noted that the possibility of pedophilia is a common mythology that religious conservatives use as a cudgel against gay people, to justify wanting to deny them equal rights.
Not only has Moore’s alleged sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl been illogically likened to the relationship between Joseph and Mary of the Bible, a puke-worthy comparison, but the corrosion of principle and the moral deprivation of the modern right might best be summed up by a tweet written by David Horowitz, author of “The Politics of Bad Faith.” Horowitz wrote:
“In my view Moore is guilty as accused. But 1) it happened 30 years ago, & 2) he can’t be removed from the ballot, & 3) electing a Dem strengthens a party that defends these criminals: Obama, the Clintons, Holder, Lynch, Abedin, Cheryl Mills, etc., & their crimes are far, far worse.”
If Moore is “guilty as accused,” these people prefer a devil to a Democrat. That’s not about religious rigor, that’s ideological extremism on a Middle Eastern scale. That is a country-ruining worldview. There remains a possibility that Moore, like Trump, could win in spite of the controversy.
Most of the people I have talked to on the “Christian Conservative” side are either believing Moore is guilty and taking a stand against him or they don’t believe the charges.
There may be a few people out there trying to explain that the accused actions are not wrong, but I don’t hear many people going down that road.
And Blow doesn’t even seem to consider the very suspicious nature of the allegations – the long silence and convenient timing. Those two factors are huge for me (and should be for anyone).
I will give Moore the benefit of the doubt because of those two important factors. Any number of accusers is not enough when the realistic possibility of this being primarily a “political weapon” is so clearly present.
My reasoning certainly does not consist in “contortions.”
The “religious right” as an idea is dead. There are religious people, and many are on the right, but the idea of religiosity as an organizing principle for conservatives has passed. Trump helped kill it. This incarnation of conservatism has burned its cross and erected the golden calf of Trumpism in its place.
Let it die. Let’s replace it with a Comprehensive Biblical Christian Worldview for All of Life. 🙂
Trump is the right’s new religion.
This seems to be true to me to some extent. I still don’t get the whole “Trump is going to save us” thing.
I don’t believe any President can save us.
In summary: The author see’s some genuine flaws in the pro-Trump Christian conservative movement, goes further than that in to some stereo-typing, and isn’t generally coming from an authentic Christian view of the world.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t consider any legit observations or criticisms.