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“Endorsing This Philistine”: The Christian Right Has Surrendered To Trump

As Jerry Falwell Jr. spoke on the Republican convention’s final night, longtime observers of the Christian Right movement, of which his father was a founder, had to shake their heads in wonder. Gone was the usual claim that the Republican candidate was a Man of God motivated by profound faith and humbled by a sense of religious duty. Gone was any long recitation of Christian Right issue positions or accomplishments. Gone, perhaps most significantly, was any reminder of the covenant between conservative Christians and the Republican Party in which the former took the spiritual risk of political engagement in exchange for the latter’s promise to turn back the cultural clock.

Instead, Falwell emphasized Trump’s pledge to change the half-century-old IRS rule in which nonprofit groups (including churches and other religious institutions) were told they had to choose between tax-exempt status and the ability to endorse political candidates and engage in direct electioneering activities — a pledge the tycoon made in a recent meeting with conservative Evangelical leaders designed to win them over. Like many of these leaders, Falwell, who endorsed this Philistine at the very beginning of the 2016 cycle, has in a crude, transactional manner sold out, like a ward heeler with a constituency that needs favors from the Boss.

Yes, Trump has also gone to some lengths to promise judicial appointments sure to support reversals of the constitutional right to abortion and same-sex marriage. And, even more important, he’s made the Christian Right’s enemies his own — the “elitists” and “cultural relativists” of the secular left and mainstream media, the Muslims that deny Jesus as the exclusive Way, and the disparagers of Israel’s biblical role in the Last Days. Going along with this politician’s ambitions is a small matter of overlooking his crudity and egoism; his instrumental treatment of other people (especially women); his deep involvement in the Babylon of mass popular culture; and his “populist” manipulation of very un-Christian racial and ethnic resentments.

It’s hard to know what goes through the minds of people who consider themselves followers of a messiah who preached love for one’s enemies as they cheer Trump’s declarations that he wants to torture and kill terrorism suspects and their families, and deport millions of Christians and their children into destitution and violence, and reverse years of conservative Christian investment in criminal-justice reform, and intimidate other countries into letting America always be first. Like Falwell, they do mostly refrain from claiming that Trump — who has not been able to bring himself to admit the need for divine forgiveness — is himself a man of faith, though the Christian Right warhorse tried to suggest he was a “Baby Christian” who had only recently found God. But for the most part, they implicitly treat him as the Scourge of God (as Attila the Hun was once described), a pagan sent to smite the wicked.

Some conservative Christian leaders may simply emulate other conservative ideologues who, as a purely practical manner, have decided to go along with the Trump candidacy in hopes of inheriting the GOP after he loses, or cashing in chits if he wins. Or perhaps they are just following their flocks, unlike some (notably Southern Baptist spokesperson Russell Moore and longtime Christian Right and homeschooling advocate Michael Farris) who have made a prophetic stand against Trump. As longtime observer of Christian conservatives Sarah Posner noted:

July 13 Pew Research Center survey found that 78 percent of white evangelicals intend to vote for Trump — meaning Trump will likely match the level of support among white evangelicals enjoyed by George W. Bush in 2004, when white evangelicals made up 23 percent of the electorate, and were an essential 36 percent of all Bush voters.

This is obviously not the first time in Western history that religious people have followed irreligious politicians who promise to fight against the forces of cultural change that threaten all entrenched sources of privilege. But it must be painful to some to observe that, despite the trappings of religious invocations and the country musicians touting their Bible-believin’ (along with their trucks and their guns) as tokens of defiance toward liberals, this has been a profane convention celebrating profane values. Farris recently said the acceptance of Trump represented the “end of the Christian Right.” That may overstate the case, but the days when the GOP could comport itself as the Christian conservative party are gone for the immediate future. Conservative Catholic columnist Ross Douthat read the draft of Trump’s speech tonight and tweeted: “The speech is basically Buchananism without the religion.” That means culture war with no restraint, and perhaps no survivors. And that’s scary.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, July 21, 2016

July 24, 2016 Posted by | Christian Right, Donald Trump, Evangelicals, Jerry Falwell Jr | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Christian Candidate”: The Republican Formula To Snag Christian Votes Is Unraveling

Mike Huckabee is not happy.

Once a rising star in the Republican Party who successfully leveraged his background as a pastor for political advantage, Huckabee’s 2016 presidential run has proved a disappointing sequel to his respectable third place showing in 2008. With underwhelming fundraising numbers and a bump to the kiddy table after the third GOP debate, most voters are no longer paying attention to the former governor’s campaign.

But perhaps the cruelest blow is that many conservative evangelical leaders and organizations have jumped ship, ignoring Huckabee in favor of contenders like Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

Asked about this betrayal in a radio interview, Huckabee struck back. “A lot of them, quite frankly, I think they’re scared to death that if a guy like me got elected, I would actually do what I said I would do,” he alleged — and that would be bad for business.

“A lot of these organizations wouldn’t have the ability to do urgent fundraising because if we slay the dragon, what dragon do they continue to fight?” Huckabee continued, “And so, for many of them, [my victory] could be a real detriment to their organization’s abilities to gin up their supporters and raise the contributions.”

Huckabee pressed on to the final blow: Conservative evangelicals who don’t support him must be motivated by “secular” concerns like personal gain, because if they were truly acting in faith and prayer, they’d support him over their current candidates of choice.

In other words, if they weren’t so sinful, they’d listen to God and vote Huck.

Huckabee’s expression of his frustration is uncivil and theologically suspect, but from a political perspective the frustration is reasonable. After all, the formula to be the GOP’s “Christian candidate” used to be pretty straightforward: Give special attention to culture war issues like gay marriage, school prayer, and abortion; invoke God and scripture regularly; and tell your faith story in a compelling manner. This worked for Huckabee in 2008, just as it worked in 2012 for another 2016 also-ran, Rick Santorum.

But these days there are a lot of candidates trying to capture the GOP evangelical vote. And their success doesn’t seem to have much to do with their actual faith. Witness Cruz, for example, who quotes liberally from the Bible on the stump. His campaign asks supporters to join his national prayer team so there’s a “direct line of communication between our campaign and the thousands of Americans who are lifting us up before the Lord.” (The sign-up form also includes a box you can tick if you “publicly endorse Senator Ted Cruz for President!”)

While the Cruz camp insists there’s no “political or tactical angle” to joining the prayer team, their candidate’s public prayer requests all but equate his own electoral victory with divine salvation for America. Cruz even has the audacity to call his candidacy a “revival” and “awakening” — as in, the Great Awakenings — and many Christian audiences are eating it up.

Marco Rubio is trying to follow the formula too. In a recent campaign ad, for example, Rubio recites a string of Christian catchphrases and biblical allusions so generic that they offer zero insight into his personal faith.

And then there’s Donald Trump, who is interested in the evangelical vote formula exactly insofar as it helps him be the best, hugest, most successful candidate ever — and no farther. Trump knows he needs to say some Christian stuff, but he’s doing the absolute minimum to pass this test.

I know this because that’s what he word-vomited at a rally in Iowa the last week in December. “I even brought my Bible — the evangelicals, OK?” Trump said. “We love the evangelicals and we’re polling so well.”

In case the point of waving around the Bible wasn’t perfectly clear, he added one more time: “I really want to win Iowa — and again, the evangelicals, the Tea Party — we’re doing unbelievably, and I think I’m going to win Iowa.”

Trump’s transparent pandering has been controversial among conservative evangelicals but oddly successful. To be sure, many Christians, including yours truly, have questioned or criticized Trump’s candidacy on moral grounds. Writing at The New York Times, for instance, Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore argued that for evangelical Christians to support Trump means “we’ve decided to join the other side of the culture war, that image and celebrity and money and power and social Darwinist ‘winning’ trump the conservation of moral principles and a just society. To back Mr. Trump,” Moore summarized, “[evangelical] voters must repudiate everything they believe.”

But polls consistently find Trump at or near the top of evangelical Republicans’ list, so his pandering seems to work.

Huckabee’s outburst and Trump’s farce are two sides of the same phenomenon: the inevitable unraveling of an election dynamic that has become too absurd a caricature to continue. While Cruz seems on track to execute a classic fulfillment of the “Christian candidate” formula, his performance may well be one of the last of its kind. Huckabee might be right: The best GOP candidate for conservative Christians’ political goals may not be the best actual Christian.

That may seem like a frightening prospect for a post-Obama Republican Party searching for its identity as it loses demographic ground. But however the next few elections shake out, disintegration of the GOP’s wrong-headed obsession with the “Christian candidate” is much overdue.

 

By: Bonnie Kristian, The Week, January 18, 2016

January 22, 2016 Posted by | Christian Conservatives, Evangelicals, Mike Huckabee | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Two Corinthians Footsoldiers”: Trump Pledges To Make God Great Again

Evangelicals weren’t supposed to like Donald Trump. He’s boasted about never asking God for forgiveness, exhibited total biblical illiteracy, and had as many wives as an Old Testament patriarch.

But none of that matters. When the billionaire mogul spoke at Liberty University this morning, he got a rapturous welcome that showed just how much evangelicals love him—and why. The obsequiously warm reception he received may upend conventional wisdom about what conservative Christians want from their presidential candidates. And that’s great news for Trump.

Fox News morning programming warmed up the 11,000-strong crowd, and then the university’s hipster Christian worship band led students in song.

“We worship you today because you’re the great celebrity in this place,” prayed David Nasser, the school’s senior vice president for spiritual development, addressing God.

The boisterous crowd—some of whom woke up at 3:30 a.m. to get good seats—proceeded to worship Trump.

Trump’s performance certainly drew some sneers, especially when an attempt to pander fell flat after Trump mispronounced a biblical reference as “Two Corinthians” instead of “Second Corinthians.” But despite that, his overwhelmingly warm reception confirms that he’s just as competitive as any other Republican among evangelical Christian voters.

This was not always obvious. Many conservative Christian power-brokers—including Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America and Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention—have harshly criticized Trump. And his calls for barring Muslims from immigrating to the U.S. worried many conservative Christians who prioritize issues of religious freedom. But that doesn’t matter.

Jerry Falwell Jr., the university president and son of Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell, introduced Trump to the crowd and left no doubt about his feelings for the golden-haired mogul.

“In my opinion, Donald Trump lives a life of loving and helping others, as Jesus taught in the Great Commandment,” he said.

Then he compared Trump to Reagan.

“My father was criticized in the early 1980s for supporting Ronald Reagan over Jimmy Carter for president, I should say, because Ronald Reagan was a Hollywood actor who had been divorced and remarried, and Jimmy Carter was a Southern Baptist Sunday School teacher,” Falwell said. “My father proudly replied that Jesus pointed out that we are all sinners, every one of us.

“Jimmy Carter was a great Sunday School teacher,” Falwell added, “but look what happened to our nation with him in the presidency.”

The implication was clear as a bell: Evangelical Christians shouldn’t stress about Trump’s personal life.

But Falwell didn’t just compare Trump to Reagan; he also said Trump reminded him of his father, generous and pragmatic. And he compared Trump’s presidential campaign to the university itself.

“I’m proud that Liberty is now strong enough financially to refuse gifts if they come with objectionable conditions,” he said. “And it is clear to me that Donald Trump is the only candidate in this national election to make that same claim. He cannot be bought. He is not a puppet on a string like many other candidates—”

The crowd erupted in cheers.

“He is not a puppet on a string like many other candidates who have wealthy donors as their puppet masters,” he continued, essentially indicting the entire rest of the Republican field.

The Trump/Liberty love is a mutual one. After sauntering on stage to sustained applause, Trump announced that the turnout at the event was a new record for a Liberty University convocation—perhaps unaware that student attendance at these weekly meetings is mandatory—and said he would dedicate the impressive feat to Martin Luther King Jr.

Seriously.

A spokeswoman for the university said 11,000 people attended the event and did not confirm if Trump actually broke a record or what the previous record was.

Trump said that being compared to Jerry Falwell the elder was “really an honor for me.” Then he reiterated his promise that department stores will say Merry Christmas if he becomes president (Christians love that, you know).

“I have friends that aren’t Christian,” he noted. “They like to say Merry Christmas, they love it, everybody loves it.”

He also noted that he is a big fan of the Bible, saying it is the only book to top The Art of the Deal.

“Everybody read The Art of the Deal,” he said. “Who has read The Art of the Deal in this room? Everybody. I always say, a deep deep second to the Bible.

“The Bible blows it away,” he added. “There’s nothing like the Bible.”

He spent the bulk of the speech talking about Iran, the so-called Islamic State widely known as ISIS, and the sad mendacity of the national media (“Twenty-five percent are good. Two percent are great.”). Said sad national media, he argued, has failed to report on just how much support Trump has won.

“You’re not getting a real picture of the silent majority, which Jerry Sr. had something to do,” he said. “And that’s a phrase you should be really cognizant of. Because it is a silent majority, but I think I’m gonna up it a little bit because it’s no longer so silent. It’s really a noisy majority.”

Trump wasn’t especially articulate there, but the appeal was clear: His success isn’t a fluke. Rather, the implication was that Trump’s supporters come from a long tradition of grassroots conservatives who seek to use the political process to change cultural norms (see Christmas, War On).

And Trump’s pitch was perfect.

“He spoke to the Liberty audience and culture almost as if he was a part of it,” said Johnnie Moore, former senior vice president at the school, “as if he had been a part of it—a graduate or an alumnus or someone who had had kids go there.”

Moore said that’s because—despite his “Two Corinthians” flub—he came off as authentic.

“Not a single person in that crowd this morning thought, I wonder if he’s lying to me,” Moore said.

He noted that evangelical Christians have two basic approaches to politics: Some want candidates to have as much in common with them as possible—they embrace long-shot contenders like Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum because they share their identical convictions about Christianity’s role in public life. The Falwells aren’t in that school of thought. Rather, they like winners, even if that means backing candidates who used to be pro-choice and have a few divorces under their belt. That’s why Jerry Falwell Sr. made good with John McCain after the Arizonan called him an “agent of intolerance,” and it’s why their family was so undyingly loyal to the Bushes—even as George H. W. Bush struggled to win evangelical support.

The Falwell family hasn’t lost its single-minded interest in winning, and that’s why Jerry Jr. had such kind words for Trump.

“It was clear that he would be extremely comfortable if Trump was the candidate,” Moore said.

This should surprise no one. In 2012, a few months before Obama’s re-election, Trump spoke at the university for the first time. Jerry Jr. praised his most controversial stances in an affectionate introduction.

“In 2011, after failed attempts by Senator John McCain and Hillary Clinton, Mr. Trump singlehandedly forced President Obama to release his birth certificate,” Falwell said, dead serious. And the students roared.

Trump’s speech that year was a little bawdier; he encouraged students to get prenups (“I won’t say it here because you people don’t get divorced, right? Nobody gets divorced! OK, so I will not say have a prenuptial agreement to anybody in this room!”) and he stirred controversy by telling them to “get even” with people who wrong them. Luke 6:29 definitely isn’t Trump’s favorite Bible verse.

Despite that, Jerry Falwell Jr. practically begged him to run.

“It’s not too late to get back in the presidential race, is it?” Falwell said after that 2012 speech.

And now Trump is in, and Falwell seems to love it. This puts him a bit at odds with other evangelical leaders; a coterie of conservative Christian influencers secretly agreed last month to coalesce behind Ted Cruz, as National Review reported. But Falwell is hedging. Cruz, who announced his presidential campaign last year in the same room where Trump spoke, might be more faithful than Trump, and he might not have been married a bunch of times, and he might have that neat Harvard Law degree. But that doesn’t necessarily make him a winner.

Students at the school shared Falwell’s energy for the candidate. Five bros wore shirts that spelled out the word TRUMP—one letter per T-shirt—and spent the time before the event posing for photos and fielding media questions. Others woke up early to get front-row seats for the mogul’s speech.

Christian Malave, a student at the university, said he likes Trump’s attitude.

“He just thinks about everyone before himself,” he said. “And yet he has the most money in the world.”

Sophomore Emma Jerore and Freshman Mary-Madison Goforth said they were in line for the speech by 6 a.m. so they could get good seats.

“He’s a very wise businessman,” Goforth said.

Jerore said she is trying to pick between Rubio and Trump. Goforth said she faced the same dilemma.

“Today definitely motivated me a little more towards Trump’s side,” she said.

“We both got to shake his hand, so that was, I mean, enough in itself,” she added.

A number of students said they were trying to decide between Trump and Cruz. Brian Teague, a sophomore studying aviation who sported a Trump T-shirt, said Carson lost support when news broke in early December that he doesn’t believe in hell.

“A lot of people were leaning towards him because he was so humble, you know, his morals,” Teague said. “But when he left the idea of hell, I think that’s when he lost a lot of people.”

That said, Liberty isn’t all Trumpkins. Caleb Fitzpatrick, a freshman from Tampa, Florida, said he thinks the billionaire is the worst Republican candidate.

“I think he has no idea what’s going on in the world,” he said. “I think he’s arrogant, I think he’s a narcissist, I think he’s perverted.”

Still, students gave Trump an adoring welcome. If Trump wants to build a new moral majority, he’ll know where to find footsoldiers.

 

By: Betsy Woodruff, The Daily Beast, January 18, 2016

January 22, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Evangelicals, Jerry Falwell Jr, Liberty University | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Stealth Religion-Based Support”: Jeb’s Strategy With The Christian Right; Osmosis

If you are used to thinking of Jeb Bush as this Establishment Republican that hard-core conservatives–including the Christian Right–mistrust, this little nugget from a recent National Journal piece by Tim Alberta and Tiffany Stanley might be a jarring reminder of the long reach of Jeb’s family:

[P]owerful Christian conservatives are operating what amounts to a stealth campaign on Bush’s behalf. Some are old allies from the Florida days; others are holdovers from George W. Bush’s 2000 and 2004 campaigns. Some are both, including Ralph Reed, president of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a longtime friend of Jeb’s who served as Southeast regional chairman of George W.’s 2004 reelection effort (and thus practically lived in Florida). Multiple GOP sources say that Reed has been urging Jeb Bush for several years to make a 2016 run and spoke with him recently to game out the campaign. Like many of the organizations that Bush’s supporters lead, Reed’s coalition demands impartiality from its leaders, so Reed can’t openly back his man—unless, as some suspect will happen, Reed ultimately decides to join the campaign officially.

This makes Jeb’s decision to blow off the big Iowa cattle-call of Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition this weekend a bit more interesting, eh? Seems Jeb would prefer quiet consultations with his close friend Ralph Reed to open pandering. And indeed, that’s the theme that comes through from stem to stern in the Alberta/Stanley article, which begins with Jeb simultaneously refusing a formal vetting session with Iowa Christian Right kingpin Bob Vander Plaats while trying to charm him privately. We also learn that last summer Jeb flew out to Colorado to hobnob with the leadership of Focus on the Family, and spent a whole day with Russell Moore, the highly influential head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. He’s extremely close to the president of Florida’s Ave Maria University, sort of the Harvard of hyper-traditionalist Catholicism (and the site of Rich Santorum’s now-famous “spiritual warfare” speech). And he has the support and advice of Mark DeMoss, who was the Romney campaign’s chief liaison to conservative evangelicals in 2012–not to mention the positive memories of many Christian Right folk about his role in the Terri Schiavo saga of 2005.

At a minimum, if Jeb wins the GOP nomination, he will not have to waste time on any courtship of conservative Christians. But at a time when (a) some Christian Right leaders like Russell Moore are expressing a preference for less noisy and more strategically minded political champions and (b) there will be an awful lot of the noisy types in the field, Bush may be quietly competing already with Scott Walker for stealth religion-based support. And he doesn’t really even have to blow many dog whistles: it’s more a strategy of osmosis, where Christian Soldiers learn to view him as a comrade-in-arms who is all the more effective for trying not to set off too many alarms in the secular-socialist enemy camp.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, April 22, 2015

April 23, 2015 Posted by | Christian Conservatives, Jeb Bush, Religious Right | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Scott Walker; W. Without The Compassion”: With Walker, Conservative Evangelicals Don’t Much Feel The Need For Compassion

While it’s becoming common to hear Scott Walker dismissed as a flash-in-the-pan or Flavor of the Month or Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time gaffmeister sure to be pushed aside to make way for Jeb’s Brinks truck of cash or Rubio’s glamor, there are less-apparent aspects of his appeal worth noting. That intrepid translator of the Christian Right’s codes, Sarah Posner, has a fascinating take at Religion Dispatches about Walker perfectly matching a growing mood among politically active conservative evangelicals who want a less showy but more reliable champion:

Should he run for president, Walker may very well turn out to be the 2016 cycle’s evangelical favorite—not because he ticks off a laundry list of culture war talking points, pledges fealty to a “Christian nation,” or because he’s made a show of praying publicly to curry political favor. Although by no means universal, some conservative evangelicals—those who eschew the fever swamps of talk radio, yet share the same political stances of the religious right—are weary of the old style of campaigning. They’re turned off by the culture war red meat, the dutiful but insincere orations of piety….

In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal last month, Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, wrote that in 2016 evangelicals won’t be looking to candidates to “know the words to hymns,” “repeat cliches about appointing Supreme Court justices who will ‘interpret the law, not make the law,’” or to use “‘God and country’ talk borrowed from a 1980s-era television evangelist.”

Moore “has a good feel of the pulse of evangelicals” and “represents a wide segment” of them, said Tobin Grant, a political scientist at Southern Illinois University and blogger on religion and politics for Religion News Service. Unlike his predecessor, Richard Land, known for inflaming the culture wars, Moore’s “focus is more on religious and social concerns than directly political ones” and has “less interest in changing DC and more interest in keeping DC out of the way of the church,” Grant said.

These evangelicals are listening for a candidate who can signal he is “one of us” without pandering. Both evangelical and Catholic candidates who have earned the culture warrior label for their strident pronouncements—Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, or Mike Huckabee—are seen as embarrassing embodiments of stereotypes these conservative Christians would like to shed….

Walker hits the right evangelical notes without overplaying his hand—and that’s exactly the way they want him to keep it. John Mark Reynolds, professor of philosophy and provost at Houston Baptist University, said that Walker “would do well to do nothing to appeal to us. We get it. He’s one of us. He sounds like one of us. He leans forward like one of us. He answers questions like one of us.”

Now this isn’t to say the new strain among conservative Christians involves any changes in their positions on culture-war issues, or a tolerance for different opinions: it’s a matter of tone and emphasis–and of trust.

You may recall how effective George W. Bush was in dropping little indicators of his evangelical piety (even though, technically, he attended a mainline Protestant church), like a secret handshake, when he showed up on the campaign trail in the 2000 cycle: Bible quotes, allusions to hymns, and evangelical catch-phrases were modestly arrayed in his rhetoric–not abrasively, but just enough that believers saw it, and as with Walker, knew he was “one of us.” Bush, of course, also grounded much of his “compassionate conservative” agenda in church work and religious sentiment. It seems that with Walker conservative evangelicals don’t much feel the need for compassion, which is a good thing, since it’s not one of his more obvious traits. No, they want something else:

Instead of talking about opposition to marriage equality, evangelical activists say, religious freedom has become the new defining mantra. Unlike marriage equality, on which white evangelicals, particularly Millennials, are divided, religious freedom unifies them like no other issue but abortion.

“What will matter to evangelicals,” Moore wrote in his Wall Street Journal op-ed, “is how the candidate, if elected president, will articulate and defend religious-liberty rights.”

The religious liberty issue is, for evangelicals, a “four-alarm fire,” said Denny Burk, Professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College, part of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He said evangelicals expect the candidates “to have the courage of their convictions to persuade people about what’s going on.”

From the Hobby Lobby litigation to cases involving florists, bakers, and photographers refusing to provide services for same-sex ceremonies, the issue has been percolating in the evangelical community for years. In recent weeks, conservative Christians have talked and written prolifically about Barronelle Stutzman, a Washington state florist found liable under the state’s anti-discrimination laws for refusing to provide flowers for a long-time gay customer’s wedding, and Kelvin Cochran, the Atlanta fire chief fired after revelations about anti-gay comments he wrote in a book.

It requires a great deal of paranoia and passive-aggressive claims of “persecution,” of course, to take isolated collisions between anti-discrimination laws and religious principles into a major threat to the immensely privileged position of Christians in the United States. But it seems Christian Right leaders are up to the task, and here, too, Walker, with his quiet but insistent talk about death threats from the enemies he’s made in Wisconsin, fills the bill.

Speaking in 2012 to a teleconference with activists from Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, Walker said his faith has enabled him to rise above the “vitriol, and the constant, ongoing hatred” during the recall election he faced in the wake of his anti-union legislation, which has crippled the state’s once-iconic labor movement. Along with the unmistakable contrast of his church-going family with the profane and progressive activists, Walker cited two Bible verses. He didn’t recite them, but for anyone who knows their Bible—as Walker, the son of a Baptist pastor, does—the meaning was clear. The verses that helped him withstand the hatred were Romans 16:20 (“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you”) and Isaiah 54:17 (“no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.”)

Don’t know about you, but I’d interpret those two verses as consolatory promises of Christian vengeance, not turn-the-other-cheeck pacifism. And so it may be Walker is giving exactly the right impression of representing stolid but not showy vindicator who’s in for a long fight with secular socialists and their union allies.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, March 13, 2015

March 14, 2015 Posted by | Evangelicals, Religious Freedom, Scott Walker | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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