Long before Jerry Falwell, Sr. established of the Moral Majority, Christianity played an historical role in how the United States thought of morality. It was a version to which most at least tangentially adhered. But as the Christian right, primarily made up of evangelical, fundamentalist Christians, have wrangled top positions in government, they have abdicated any semblance of moral superiority over American society.
In other words, the Evangelical Christian moral influence is dead.
In 2016, the religious right threw back the covers of their thinly veiled quest for power. They put all their money on the Trump horse, betting on a long shot, riding on fears and hate, long entrenched in their version of Christianity. They fractured part of their base who saw the discrepancy between what their leaders said they believed and who they supported, but these leaders didn’t care. Compromising their stated messages of moral uprightness was a small price to pay. Besides, a tweak to Biblical interpretation could easily assuage the faithful later.
Secularists, and even many mainstream Christians have argued that the Christian right’s claim to morality wasn’t relevant in the first place. Some have even argued that the Christian Right’s moral compass was broken at the outset.
It is true that the Christian Right came together for less than stellar reasons in the 1970s. They weren’t looking to stop abortions. They were looking to keep the government from interfering in their right to keep their private schools segregated.
The war cry against the deterioration of morality, however, raised a lot of money for evangelicals. It’s kept the faithful glued to their TV’s, and motivated them to the polls. It spurred network news organizations sympathetic to their cause, and the greed of rightwing politics. The evils of interracial marriage, desegregation, abortion, gay rights, and more recently, where a transgender person pees, have united the most extremist among them.
These leaders salivated at the prospect of electing a man they could manipulate through adulation and praise. They crowned their prince a “baby Christian,” to ease the dissonance their brethren felt for supporting a swearing, philandering, dollar-driven, political neophyte.
In 2018, Donald Trump received the “Pro-life Person of the Year Award” by the Christian right group, Operation Rescue. Yet, as Christopher Pieper and Matt Henderson noted in their Dallas News piece in 2016, 10 reasons you can’t be a Christian and vote for Donald Trump, Trump barely exhibits human qualities at all. Pieper and Henderson call out that Trump lacks compassion, appeals to fear and anger, has no concern for goodness or service toward others, is hostile to women, sexualizes his own daughter, doesn’t care about the poor, and is more interested in money than people.
Still, Christian right leader, Franklin Graham said of Trump, “Never in my lifetime have we had a president willing to take a strong, outspoken stand for the Christian faith like President Donald J. Trump has.” And “Family Values” minister, James Dobson said Trump “appears to be tender to things of the Spirit.”
What these religious leaders support, in the name of God, are policies that refuse solace to war-torn immigrants, deny healthcare to children, deporting children raised in the United States whose parents arrived illegally, giving tax breaks to the rich, for which many of these religious leaders qualify, Trump’s incessant pathological lying, Trump’s corrupt and unethical business practices, Trump’s alleged sexual assaults (21 women, including is ex-wife), not to mention Trump’s collusion with a foreign government to undermine the very democracy these leaders claim was established by God.
Are we supposed to believe this is how God works? Does God overlook some sins in order to right another one? Would Bill Clinton have been excused for having sex with an intern if he appointed religious right leaders as cabinet members and passed out appointments to his unqualified donors?
Many of these leaders, and a majority of their followers, claim they support GOP politics because of its “pro-life” stance. Yet, many of the GOP policies continue to leave a path of anti-life destruction. They fight to keep poor children from receiving school lunches, make it more difficult for low-income families to buy houses, vote pro-death penalty, push abstinence only programs despite the outcome of higher teen pregnancy rates, and suppress religious freedoms for others.
In many ways, the religious right has come full circle from the days they stood together to fight against desegregation. They have a leader who calls neo-Nazi’s “very fine people,” and who is supported by the Ku Klux Klan. It is no wonder Christian right leaders continue to support their president and ignore the broad white nationalist support he receives.
The Christian right’s agenda has been laid bare for all who choose to see it. They have abdicated any authority over the moral wellbeing of America in favor of obtaining political power and control. The question that remains is how long will America allow this religious oligarchy to continue derailing its moral progress toward human justice for everyone?