The Religious Right in America is ideologically wasted. After years of self-congratulatory righteousness, evangelical voters are largely embracing Donald Trump, a man whose business career and personal life could be published as antitheses to the New Testament.
The Religious Right’s marriage to the Republican Party has long been ironic because of the GOP’s pattern of feigning passion for the pyrrhic culture war battles Christians hope for, while taking advantage of the Religious Right’s numerical voting power in elections. Setting the example for the GOP’s consistent sidelining of the Religious Right’s alleged moral perfectionism, Ronald Reagan spent his time governing the US in a manner that would certainly offend Jesus if he were around today: sticking it to the poor, worshipping greed, and not helping the sick.
That about fills up the Republican playbook, and they are the three north stars for the GOP’s current Congressional majorities: protecting the interests of Big Business, which keeps Americans poor and unsafe; lowering taxes on already rich people instead of providing drinkable water or affordable education; and I don’t think I need to elaborate on the Republican obsession with making Obamacare fail so Obama looks bad.
The Biblical posturing Republicans have gotten so good at is often dramatic in its self-righteousness. George W. Bush once claimed that God told him to invade Iraq. The Old Testament God, maybe.
During the primaries of this election, Scott Walker, John Kasich, Ben Carson, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee all claimed that God was telling them to run for president. Is that indicative of the sham, con man opportunism available in partisan religiosity? It’s relevant here to note that none of them won. Either God is a prankster or the Enlightenment is not adequately understood in America.
Then there is Donald Trump, a conspicuous fan of all Seven Deadly Sins, who is winning over the evangelical community nonetheless. Trump is offering America’s democracy a Faustian bargain, except that the American electorate must give Trump it’s soul before he makes good on any of his irresponsibly wild promises of American greatness. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it isn’t true, and the application of Occam’s Razor into any interpretation of Donald Trump’s squirrel-brained narcissism suggests that Trump is an epic blowhard who doesn’t know what he doesn’t know about politics, public service, and the world at large.
Most troubling, though, Trump’s promises are as unChristian as they are politically preposterous. He wants to deport 11 million people, probably violently because they are not about to go willingly. He wants to torture people, and fight wars more murderously than American laws allow, let alone God’s laws. Has Donald Trump ever turned the other cheek in his life? He wrote in his book, Think Big: Make It Happen in Business and Life, such Christian-sounding quotes as “If you do not get even, you are just a schmuck,” “When people wrong you, go after those people, because it is a good feeling and because other people will see you doing it,” and “Always fight back and get even.”
But evangelicals are sticking with the Republican Party and Donald Trump anyway. A Pew poll found that Trump had more support from white evangelicals than Mitt Romney did in 2012, and that almost four out of five of them are planning to vote for Trump. Their acceptance of Trump proves that evangelicals have been bluffing the Christian values they have been trying to stuff down America’s throat the last three decades for political gain, and never again can the Religious Right congratulate itself on its moral superiority nor ever claim that Christian values guide its political motivations. Mephistopheles, a devil, honestly kept his promises to Faust; in contrast, Donald Trump is an exhaustively-documented serial liar.
The Republican Party — in nominating Trump — and the Religious Right — in embracing Trump — now own Donald Trump’s candidacy. If the Religious Right ever tries to pull the self-righteous card again in smearing the personal integrity of Democrats for their disinterest in pompous displays of personal faith, the memory of Donald Trump’s candidacy in immoral hubris is a trump card.
The decades of religious pretentiousness have not gone unnoticed, and America’s religiosity is trending toward no belief, especially in the Millennial Generation. A Pew poll on religious belief found that 35% of Millennials are religiously unaffiliated, and the evangelical community’s blatant hypocrisy in supporting Donald Trump is certainly not slowing this demographic shift.
Perhaps it is fitting that there is a new growing political movement waiting in the wings to replace the Religious Right as the dominant faction in the Republican Party’s electoral coalition: the Alt-Right. In fact, the Alt-Right arguably has already divided-and-conquered the GOP, and Donald Trump’s nomination over the GOP’s heavenly-mandated candidates is a strong indication.
The Alternative Right is largely irreligious—but not in the good, progressive way—and the Alt-Right’s ideological cornerstone is the outdated, fake science of racial hierarchy pioneered in Nazi Germany. The Alt-Right could use some religious values, and watching the formerly ethics-focused evangelical base convince itself that Alt-Right Dream Dictator Donald Trump—at 70-years-old, and while conveniently running for president—is a genuine, born-again Christian is a case study in understanding the phenomenon of Good Germans.
If Donald Trump somehow wins the election, though, all the secularists who are sick of Christian pretension can at least find solace in that Crusadin’ Ted Cruz and his puritanism didn’t win the primary/election and is not about to subject America to four years of purgatorial political zealotry. It’s a small satisfaction, but if Trump becomes president at least it is something.
Whether Trump wins or loses, the Religious Right’s monopoly on political self-righteousness is over.