White Christian Right "Over the Moon" About Trump Presidency: News Worth Noting Today
28 April 2017 | 3:36 pm

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Some "in the news" items I've noticed in the last day or so, which have to do with matters we often discuss here, and to which I want to draw your attention:


Deborah Jian Lee, "Betrayed at the Polls, Evangelicals of Color at a Crossroads": 

But this new administration has changed everything for George [Mekhail, previously pastor of Seattle's Eastlake Community church, a white evangelical megachurch] and evangelicals of color across the nation. The fact that 81 percent of white evangelicals supported a candidate who channeled white nationalism is not lost on minority believers. Nor is the unending news of travel bans, appointments of white nationalists, mass deportations and racial hate crimes. It has forced a reckoning
Today, believers of color are redefining their relationships with white evangelicalism in ways that could dramatically shift the landscape. Already, people of color make up a larger portion of the entire American Christian population than before, and church growth experts predict they will make up the majority of the Christian population after 2042. And their values are largely at odds with the white evangelical support for Trump; pre-election surveys showed that nonwhite evangelical Protestant voters, which included black, Hispanic and Asian-Pacific Islander Protestants, supported Clinton over Trump by a very wide margin (67% vs. 24%), according to the Public Religion Research Institute.

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Bruce Stokes, "What It Takes to Be One of Us" (this Pew Research Center report dates from February, but was tweeted out again by Pew a day or so ago): 

About a third (32%) of Americans say it is very important for a person to be a Christian in order to be considered truly American. . . .A majority (57%) of white evangelical Protestants say it is very important to be Christian to be a true American. Just 29% of white mainline Protestants and 27% of Catholics agree. Only 9% of people who are unaffiliated with an organized religion say it is very important for a person to be Christian in order to be truly American.

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Tim Alberta, "Social Conservatives Are 'Over the Moon' About Trump": 

"In my experience over the last 30 or so years of political life, there’s hardly any group in American politics that is as easily won over or seduced by power as Christians," [Pete] Wehner [a high-ranking evangelical who served in the George W. Bush White House] tells me. "The fact that the Trump people are paying attention to them makes them feel very, very good, and especially because they didn’t expect to be paid attention to very much. So they're just over the moon."

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Margaret Atwood, Handmaid's Tale (NY: Houghton Mifflin, 1986): 

Better never means better for everyone, he says. It always means worse, for some (p. 211).

Atwood's statement brilliantly encapsulates the bottom-line Republican philosophy shared by the right-wing white "Christian" enablers of the Republican party:

Better never means better for everyone, in the Republican world enabled by its right-wing "Christian" enablers. It always means better only for the wealthy, for white people, for males, for heterosexuals.

For everyone else, it means worse, much worse.

In the Republican "reform" of the tax system and the Affordable Care Act, which is being enabled by "pro-life" white "Christians," better means better only for rich people.

For everyone else, it means worse, much worse.


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Andrew Foreshew-Cain is tweeting the preceding comment in response to this Christian Today report:


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Kyle Mantyla, "Rep. Randy Weber Tearfully Begs God to Forgive American for the Sins of Legal Abortion and Marriage Equality": 

Texas GOP Representative Randy Weber prayed, with tears in his eyes, at the annual "Washington — A Man of Prayer" gathering in DC this week,

Father, we have endeavored to take the Bible out of classrooms, the Ten Commandments off the walls.

I think Randy Weber's prayer needs to be fixed:

Father, we have endeavored to rip healthcare from millions of poor people. 
Father, we have endeavored to deny legal rights to LGBT human beings and their families, to make them and their families as miserable as possible. 
Father, while pretending to to be "pro-life," we have cheered killing sprees in states dominated by white evangelical Christians; we have reveled in state killings and celebrated the shedding of blood. 
Father, we have trampled the poor into the ground as we have promoted tax cuts favoring only the super-rich. 
Father, we have treated women like dirt, electing to office a man who brags about sexually molesting women. 
Father, we have told women that their purpose in life is to obey and serve men. 
Father, we have made idols of ourselves, straight white powerful men, and have pretended that you, God, are made in our image — which is idolatry.

There, fixed it for Randy.


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Jax Hidalgo is tweeting the preceding comment in response to this tweet by the Values and Voices group:


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New Pew Study: Trump's Support Strongest Among Churchgoing White Evangelicals (and in White Catholic Community, Among Regular Churchgoers)
26 April 2017 | 4:52 pm

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Greg Smith for Pew Research Center on the results of the just-released survey about which he's commenting in the tweet above:


White evangelicals overwhelmingly voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election and were a key part of his constituency. As his presidency nears the 100-day mark, surveys conducted since Trump’s inauguration tell a similar story. 
Three-quarters of white evangelical Protestants approve of the way Trump is handling his job as president, according to a new analysis of Pew Research Center surveys conducted in February and April. This is nearly twice as high as the president's approval rating with the general public (39%).  
Trump's support from evangelicals is strongest among those who attend church regularly. Eight-in-ten white evangelical Protestants who attend church at least once a month approve of the way Trump is handling his job as president, including 67% who strongly approve of his job performance. White evangelical Protestants who attend church more sporadically approve of Trump's job performance at a nearly comparable rate (71%), but they are significantly less likely than churchgoing evangelicals to strongly approve (54%). . . .
But Trump's current strong support from white evangelicals is consistent with their strong backing of him in the general election. In the months before Election Day, about three-quarters (77%) of white evangelical Protestant registered voters who attended church at least once or twice a month (including 78% of those who attended church weekly) said they would vote for Trump over Hillary Clinton. Among evangelicals who attend church less often, about two-thirds (67%) said they intended to cast their ballots for Trump.

And then there's this: 

And among white Catholics – as with white evangelicals – those who attend religious services at least once or twice a month are more approving of Trump's job performance than are white Catholics who attend Mass less often (61% vs. 44%). 

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It's because Donald Trump is pro-life. That's why white evangelicals (and churchgoing white Catholics) adore him with an adulation hard to separate from the adulation of people bowing down before idols.

Trump is pro-life. That's why white evangelicals (and churchgoing white Catholics) idolize him. Just ask Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson, Arkansas senator Tom Cotton, Arkansas attorney general Leslie Rutledge, and the honorable justices of the Arkansas Supreme Court bench.

Trump serves the values of life and promotes respect for the lives of everyone. He's promoting a consistent ethic of life centered on respect for the lives of everyone. Take a trip to Arkansas and you'll see that "pro-life" ethic on full display right now, as white evangelical leaders around the state line up to cheer while one person after another is killed by the state in a "killing spree" that shocks the civilized world.

Tipping Over into Something "So Dark, So Real, So Evil That There Was Really No Precedent for It in Terms of Its All-Encompassing Possibilities for Death"
26 April 2017 | 2:14 pm

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From the news and news commentary in the past day or so: read these snippets as a unified narrative, and the question arises, If I had to write a plot description for this narrative, what would that plot description say? What might it say about the role religion is playing in tipping the United States over into unimagined possibilities of death, destruction, and violence at this point in history? How does a "pro-life" Christianity end up dealing death, and doing so proudly and defiantly? 


This is a story that needs to be told, discussed, analyzed. Because it's a story on which the fate of the world may well hang. And you will not find it being told, discussed, and analyzed in the leading journals in the U.S. featuring leading Catholic thinkers today, in journals like Commonweal and First Things. To find real, significant, and meaningful discussion of these issues — and of the complicity of white Christians including the intellectual leaders of American Catholicism — in the formation of an unprecedented culture of death and destruction under Donald Trump, you'll have to leave those stiflingly tribal (and eminently uncatholic) enclaves behind. The news:

John Pavlovitz, "Hateful People Are Exhausting": 

When hateful people have power (as they now do), they embolden other hateful people, giving them license to unleash the God-awful things that they’d otherwise keep concealed and subjecting the rest of us to a regular cavalcade of horrors. This is what our country is experiencing in these days: a Renaissance of open bigotry—and it will level you if you have a working heart.

Christopher Douglas, "Why Hulu's 'Handmaid's Tale' May Be the Wrong Adaptation for Trump Era":

The Handmaid's Tale was Atwood’s thought experiment about what it looked like for the state to take women’s fertility choices away from them. She listened to what the Christian Right was saying about sexuality, gender roles, patriarchy, homosexuality, and the God-given differences between men and women, and imagined an extreme version of a society built around those ideas. 
The Christian Right was always about a willingness to legislate for those outside its own group—that was its point. It legislated for creationism to be taught not just to children of conservative Christian households, but to everyone else's children too; it opposed the acceptance of homosexuality not just within its own congregations, but in the larger society; and its rejection of abortion took the form not just of Christian individuals deciding not to have abortions, but as the chief political goal of overturning Roe v. Wade, preventing access to all women. . . . 
But it wasn't only the gendered lines of combat that Atwood recognized in the nascent Christian Right—and this is where Hulu’s adaptation appears to take a self-conscious risk that may ultimately make it the wrong adaptation for the Age of Trump. Margaret Atwood's novel also carefully noted the racialized history of the Christian Right, which predated its opposition to abortion. In the novel, African Americans are called the "Children of Ham" and are being "resettled" out of Gilead into the less prosperous "National Homeland" formerly known as North Dakota.

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Mark Berman, "Arkansas Carries Out Country's First Back-to-Back Executions in Almost Two Decades":

Williams is the ninth inmate executed in the United States so far this year. With three executions in four days, Arkansas has carried out a third of the lethal injections nationwide in 2017. 
Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), who scheduled the lethal injections and did not issue a statement following the execution last week, issued statements late Monday saying that "the rule of law was upheld" and "justice has prevailed."

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NPR, "Harvard Project Outlines Pattern of Attorney Failures in Arkansas Death Row Cases": 

All eight death row cases in Arkansas had examples of attorney failures, including drunk lawyers, a conflict of interest affair involving a judge, lawyers missing deadlines, and failure to disclose mental disorders.

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Tom McPartland, "For Some of Us, Rejecting Bigotry Is Natural and Moral": 

I gave up everything I held as spiritually/eternally vital putting distance between myself and the hate which was/is so tangible. My eyes witnessed the horror of my faith "writing people off" as if they were no more than sick stock on a church owned cattle ranch. How easy it was. How Easy! And how disingenuous to claim this as an act of "Love." To me this mass expulsion was not love, it looked more like pure revenge after having lost a very public war. 
The lies used to pass Prop 8; hearing mean, ignorant talks in General Conference; the immediate magnification of masked hate at the church house; watching my LGBT friend (best friend) remotely mocked by leaders "moved by the Spirit." This all became too much for me to rationalize away or to await for yet another future game changing revelation from God that would surely dissolve these leaders of any responsibility or historical accountability.

Chauncey DeVega, "Philosopher Henry Giroux on the Culture of Cruelty and Donald Trump: America Is "a Democracy on Life Support": Henry Giroux states,

I don't think we are tipping over into neofascism. I think we've [already] tipped over. I woke up the next day and I felt paralyzed. I felt that we had entered into something so dark, so real, so evil that there was really no precedent for it in terms of its all-encompassing possibilities for death, destruction and violence. I had a hard time functioning for about a week. I think in some ways there's a residue of that I can't shake, that now informs my work.


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