Donald Trump’s liaison with the Conservative Christian Right

DEAR MR. PRESIDENT: WE GET IT. YOU REALLY LOVE WHITE CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIANS

The Trump administration’s latest gift to its far-right, white conservative Christian base is the DOJ’s “religious freedom” memo, which is actually a pair of documents purporting to instruct all government agencies how to be appropriately deferential to those who express religious inclinations.

The memo—which does not carry the weight of law—keeps pace with this administration’s fawning embrace of the worldview expressed by the white conservative evangelicals who helped carry Trump to the White House. And while the order can be accurately read as the precursor to a sweeping “license to discriminate,” the fact that it’s a memo, and not even an executive order, suggests that it fits neatly within another trend that Trump and his cronies continue to display: the braggadocious showmanship that panics his opponents, but doesn’t really change anything. (See also: the contraceptive mandate rollback and May’s “religious freedom” executive order, which the DOJ memo references as its impetus.)

The current cultural conversation around “religious freedom”—especially the discussion emanating from the White House—is likely to be settled (for a time, at least) by this time next year. What will have changed by then? The Supreme Court will have issued its ruling in at least one (and possibly more) major cases directly addressing the Constitutional right for, say, business owners to turn away customers based on the owner’s “sincerely held religious beliefs.” That’s a question directly addressed in the DOJ’s memo handed down Friday, but it’s also a question that will be argued before the highest court in the land this term. And while predicting a particular decision from that court is a fool’s errand, the blunt and sweeping constitutional questions presented to the court by cases like Masterpiece Cakeshop will be answered. At that point (and arguably, even presently), whatever diatribes administration officials have scrawled on paper will need to be reassessed—or, more likely, abandoned entirely.

Surely, there are individuals within the current administration who know this. Even if Trump shows no respect for the rule of law or co-equal branches of government, there must be some career civil servants who can see the writing on the wall, or who have some historical regard for the political independence of the judiciary. But in true Trump style, the administration is seizing on the current confusion to suggest a new normal—issuing a memo that attempts to use bedrock constitutional principles to advance the Christian dominionist tendencies of an administration that is disinterested in protecting actual bedrock constitutional principles. 

Issuing a memo like the DOJ did Friday, hot on the heels of an equally ineffectual (because it already existed) “religious exemption” for contraception coverage offered by faith-based employers, essentially amounts to standing in the middle of an empty pool, screaming about how it’s empty—disregarding the fact that it’s October, that all the pools have been drained for the season, and that there’s already a plan in place for when and how to refill them.

It makes those doing the screaming feel important, and—crucially—it makes those who were looking forward to diving back into the water think twice about doing so, suggesting they need to question their entire understanding of something as fundamental as, you know, water. But ultimately, it doesn’t change the fact that you can’t fill the pool because it will freeze, and it has no bearing on when the pool does in fact get filled again. (In this analogy, the Supreme Court is the final arbiter that sets the timeline for when and which pools get refilled.)

This latest memo offers solutions on the same scale: which is to say, none. It just bemoans the claim that “religious freedom” is under attack in the U.S.—while simultaneously proving that the people who are launching that attack (from the highest halls of power, no less) are the same ones decrying their own “oppression” by theprinciples upon which this nation was literally founded.

 is an award-winning journalist and former managing editor of The Advocate, whose work has also appeared in Vox and Bustle. She writes about the politics of equality and strives to elevate the voices of marginalized LGBT people. Reach her on Twitter @sunnivie, or via email: sunnivie@religiondispatches.org

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This post, on the website of ‘RELIGION DISPATCH’, gives more evidence of Donald Trump’ (the US President’s) alliance with the Religious Right in American Politics. The highlighted (by me) paragraphs give evidence of the fact that statements from the White House, though having no other authority than that they are issued by the current Administration, have the power to convince the American public of – what the President himself might call – ‘Fake News’. Until White House Statements are verified in the Law Courts, their only value is to try to convince people that Trump’s  actual word equates to Constitutional Law. With the Religious Right’s hold in North America, this has the power to affect the outcome in the Courts.

Mr Trump’s obvious connections with the Evangelical Religious Right in North America has been obvious from before the Presidential Election actually took place. He had ‘hands laid upon him’ by Pentecostal Pastors from the mega-Churches, giving him the seeming mandate he sought to run the country.

Despite his own irreligious behaviour that has been documented in the past, Mr. Trump has utilised the power of the Religious Right in North America to seek to push through the kind of measures that he knows will please that constituency, in order to gain what he sees to be the upper hand in a U.S. political hegemony. All of this despite the well-known U.S. tendency towards democratic government and civil rights.

See also: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/13/trump-religious-conservative-values-voters-summit?CMP=share_btn_link

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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