Nel's New Day

October 2, 2016

Trump Needs Evangelical Votes

Filed under: Religion — trp2011 @ 9:10 PM
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Donald Trump has long known that Christian fundamentalists could provide him the path to the presidency. That decision led him to curry the favor of religious right leaders who claimed for a short time that he had become a “born again Christian.” Since then, he is working to destroy the freedom of religion part of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.

As Trump does with all his campaigning, he is now going over the edge in trying to woo conservative Christians. At a rally last week, he asked people in the crowd to raise their hands if they aren’t Christians. After a few brave people put their hands in the air, he said, “That’s alright. I think we’ll keep them, right? Shall we keep them in the room? I think so.” Trump’s method of identifying and shaming non-Christians wasn’t a one-time practice. He did it at another rally that day.

Trump may be winning with the evangelicals, but he lacks popularity with Roman Catholics. Hillary Clinton is ahead by 23 points with this demographic group at 55 percent to 32 percent. The last three GOP presidential candidates received over 40 percent of the Catholic vote.

Political scientist Michael J. New wrote in the conservative National Review that Trump lost support because of his attacks on Latino immigrants, considered the future of the Catholic church, and his attacks on Pope Francis. Christopher Hale, the executive director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, called the Trump-Pence ticket the “most anti-Catholic GOP presidential ticket in modern history.” In addition to Trump’s anti-immigration position, his running mate, Mike Pence, has a strong record of blocking the Catholic Church’s efforts to resettle Syrian refugees in Indiana.

Trump’s ratings with the Mormons are also so low that he could lose Utah, a state that hasn’t voted Democratic since Goldwater’s debacle in 1964. Trump is still seven points ahead of Hillary Clinton, but an independent run by Evan McMullin is gaining momentum. In addition to Trump’s immigration problem, Mormon Mitt Romney is a staunch Never Trumper, and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), whose Mormon pioneer ancestors settled in northern Arizona, refuses to vote for the GOP presidential candidate. Utah’s GOP Sen. Mike Lee has refused to support Trump because of his “religiously intolerant” statements in banning Muslims from the U.S. Utah GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz (a convert to Mormonism at Brigham Young University) told a group of 50 Utah Muslims that Trump’s call to ban Muslims is un-American, immoral, and does not represent “who we are as a people.”

Last May, former Sen. Bob Bennett, dying from a stroke, asked:

“Are there any Muslims in the hospital? I’d love to go up to every single one of them to thank them for being in this country and to apologize to them on behalf of the Republican Party for Donald Trump.”

Utah’s GOP governor, Gary Herbert, declared that Trump lacks “Utah values” because of his “bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third grade theatrics,” as Mitt Romney describes Trump. Herbert pointed out that Trump’s campaign is based almost exclusively on creating “scapegoats of Muslims and Mexican immigrants”—something that Mormons have faced all their lives through violence and state-sponsored persecution. Mormonism, like Catholicism, is also dependant on Latinos for its growth. With close to 1,400,000 church members, Mexico is second only to the U.S. as the nation with the largest Mormon population.

Mormons on the political left ask GOP Mormons to pray for anyone except Trump to become president. On the popular Mormon blog By Common Consent, Russell Fox, a political science professor at Friends University, wrote about how Trump, as president, “would apparently be comfortable with trashing the 1st, 4th, 5th, and 14th amendments.” He stated that it was up to the Mormons to save the country.

Recent polls show that 80 percent of white evangelicals intend to vote for Trump. It’s not because he’s a born-again; it shows how much their desire for political power has overcome their Christian principles. Trump has promised that he will allow non-profit, tax-exempt religious groups to endorse political candidates, destroying the separation of church and state. He has enflamed the religious right by falsely claiming that their religious institutions would lose their tax-exempt status “if they openly advocate their political views.” By spreading this lie, Trump hopes to get the votes of conservative Christians. He is the first presidential zealot who has advocated for overturning the law that was signed by GOP President Eisenhower.

After declaring his campaign, Trump used Christianity as an excuse for his decisions. In refusing to release his tax returns, he claimed that the IRS was persecuting him for his “strong Christian” beliefs. Christian leaders endorsing him had trouble justifying their position about a man who has bragged about his extramarital affairs. When Focus on the Family founder James C. Dobson personally endorsed Trump, he said that his conversion had made him “born again.” Trump has never made this claim, and Dobson shifted his statement to saying, “Only the Lord knows the condition of a person’s heart. I can only tell you what I’ve heard.”)

Evangelicals are a fertile field for an authoritarian candidate who praises the anti-LGBT leader of Russia who wants a “Christian civilization.” For example, Bryan Fischer called Vladimir Putin a “lion of Christianity” and called on legislators to eliminate free speech. Others have called Putin “the moral leader of the world” and champion of “traditional marriage and Christian values.” Franklin Graham, son of the great Billy Graham, puts Putin above President Obama and praised Russia’s actions in Syria, called a “holy battle” by the Russian Orthodox Church.

Trump’s other voting base comes from the white supremacy movement that believes in eliminating all except “the right kind of people.” Some of the “wrong kind of people” are non-Christians, including Jews.  The candidate shows himself in accord with these groups such as the Alt-Right led by Jared Taylor. As shown in the Frontline documentary, “The Choice,” Trump’s father taught his son that success is genetic. Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio said:

“The family subscribes to a racehorse theory of human development. They believe that there are superior people and that if you put together the genes of a superior woman and a superior man, you get a superior offspring.”

Like other Trump ideas, this philosophy matches that of Adolf Hitler who murdered over six million people because they lacked the right genes, because they weren’t “the right kind of people.”

A religious conversion may work for Trump if it fits into his business value of fleecing people with his scams. Last summer he selected televangelist Paula White, his “spiritual leader” as his evangelical outreach leader. White has a resurrection seed that will bring the dead back to life—for only $1,144. Russell Moore, leader of the Southern Baptist Convention’s public policy arm, called White  a “charlatan” and a “heretic” who preaches a “prosperity gospel” that falsely claims that “God’s favor is seen in increasing wealth and freedom from sickness.” [Below: White and other prosperity preachers lay hands on Donald Trump and pray for him at Trump Tower, from a video made September 2015.]

trump-laying-hands

White’s advice complements Trump’s goal: “Find your passion in life and figure out a way to make money.” Before her divorce from her second husband, Congress investigated them for an abuse of the tax-exempt status of their church. Trump and White are a matched set: religion is a scam for both of them.

August 19, 2012

Changing Bible Lets Unicorns Disappear

A basic tenet of conservative Evangelists and Fundamentalists is that they must accept every single word of their bible in its literal meaning. Their perspective of the “word of God” comes from this one source that was believed to be the legal code for the ancient nation of Israel covered in the first five books of the Old Testament, which even describes the punishment for knocking out a slave’s tooth.

People who believe in the literalness of the bible don’t know what is in their bible because they don’t study it; they just listen to the man who gives the sermon in church. Or they just think that part of it is out of date, for example the pieces about killing women adulterers and keeping slaves and wearing clothing of mixed fiber and on and on.

Yet there’s nothing in Catholic and Evangelical bibles against marriage equality—indeed the bible says nothing about legal marriage. The bible also doesn’t object to abortion; it doesn’t mention it. Some people say that abortion is murder, but the bible says nothing about a fetus being a person and hasn’t been considered that until modern times.

And the bible doesn’t support the Republicans’ belief in “personhood,” the current conservative position that an egg has constitutional rights from the first second of its fertilization. The only ruling that discusses fetuses concerns the miscarriage of a fetus when the woman is struck by a man other than her husband during a fight. In that case, if there is no lasting injury, the man makes the payment that the court determines. Otherwise society settles the damages, probably killing the man who caused the miscarriage.

“If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman’s husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” (Exodus 21:22-24)

The penalty in the second case is death, one which no current law in this country requires. The Old Testament does not give personhood to fetuses.

But the bible does have quite a bit to say about unicorns.

Psalm 92:10 “You have exalted my horn like that of a wild ox…. But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil.”

Job 39:9 “Will the wild ox consent to serve you? Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib? Will the unicorn be willing to serve you, or abide by your crib?”

Job 39:10 “Can you hold him to the furrow with a harness? Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? Or will he harrow the valleys after thee? Can you bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow?”

Numbers 24:8 “God brought them out of Egypt…. God brought him forth out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn: he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bone.”

Numbers 23:22 “God brought them out of Egypt…. God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn. God brought them out of Egypt; he has as it were the strength of an unicorn.” [The bible can be a bit repetitive!]

Psalm 29:6 “He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, Sirion like a young…. He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.”

Deuteronomy 33:17 “His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.”

Psalms 22:21 “Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.”

Isaiah 34:7 “And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness.”

The use of the word “unicorn” disappeared after the King James Version of the bible. Since then, bible “scholars” have claimed that the unicorn may have existed and become extinct. Another rationale for the use of the word is that the meaning has changed throughout the past two centuries.

Why, if there is more about unicorns in the bible than fetuses, do Fundamentalists support the belief of personhood? Lynn Beisner explains that the development of the Christian Right caused a mutual support between the Evangelicals and the Catholic Church. Because the Pope is against abortion, Catholics oppose this practice despite the lack of evidence in their bible. Evangelicals needed to maintain their dominance through an unfettered capitalist market in opposition to Catholic beliefs about the importance of economic and social justice. In the bargain between two powerful religious groups, Evangelicals took an anti-abortion stance, and Catholic male leadership took on the importance of a destructive capitalism.

Now extreme religious groups have support from the the great infusion of money from corporations who donate to campaigns of legislators who will destroy regulations and give the wealthy more and more tax advantages. The result of this coordination between the wealthy and the religious is to turn the United States into a theocracy.

Some Catholics and Fundamentalists are beginning to oppose their church’s positions. Some Catholics, including the American nuns, are protesting the Catholic position that ignores the needs of poor people and denies rights to human beings. At the same time, young Evangelicals are beginning to question their religion’s anti-LGBT position.

People who support formal Christian religions need to protest both sides of the Catholic and Evangelical power structure—LGBT people should have legal rights, women should have control over their bodies, and everyone should have a safety net. More Fundamentalists and Catholics need to move ahead in their religious beliefs and not wait for the religious leadership that won’t accept the changes in their bible over time.

No more unicorns? Let’s also give women their freedom, accept love between two people of the same sex, and allow the government to help people on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder.

Jennifer Hofmann

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