Let’s talk about what a failure the Religious Right has been.
Alongside the Reagan Revolution, the Religious Right orchestrated a fundamentalist-Christian revolution at odds with the constitutional mandate for separation of church and state, and it has ultimately led to the contemporary acceleration toward Americans having no religion at all.
The Religious Right won many battles throughout the Reagan and W. Bush Administrations, and served as a dominant Republican Party voter base that waxed most successfully with the unfortunate reelection of George W. Bush in 2004. The fundamentalist Christian influence on our politics was blisteringly evident in that election’s most fiercely fought wedge issues: gay marriage, abortion, and blind-faith patriotism.
Bush was branded effectively as a defender of marriage, the Christian candidate, and a war-time president deserving of question-less trust. The Religious Right won the reelection effort, but has since lost on every front: gay marriage is national and popularly defended; abortion is still legal because Republicans in Congressional leadership positions do not have the political capital to legislatively overturn Roe V. Wade or the desire to fight such an uphill battle no matter their superficial, election-time promises; and President Obama has completed a U-turn from the Bush doctrine (except for the Guantanamo Bay legal quagmire) of unilateral, preemptive international aggression and America’s messiah-like, self-congratulatory exceptionalism.
The fundamentalist irony of the small-government Republican Party is that the enforcement of a Christian legalism is an impossible goal of a shockingly invasive big government. There is no practical way for the government to enforce laws against sodomy, for instance, or to police sexuality in general. But they gave up the battle entirely this election, and the Religious Right has collapsed ethically in embracing the antithesis of Jesus’s teachings: Donald Trump.
In accepting Trump, the Religious Right has proven to the public something that progressives have known for years: the Religious Right is a shameless scam that has hijacked the beliefs and honest intentions of morally-commendable followers of Jesus Christ throughout the country in order to relentlessly peddle their morally-regrettable, ideologically capitalistic agenda.
Religious Right leaders—from Jerry Falwell, to Pat Robertson, to James Dobson, and to all the snake oil salesmen and women who run American mega churches—have categorically corrupted the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to serve their own financial and anti-homosexual agendas. The hypocrisy of social-Darwinist Republican politics coupled with the self-righteousness of Christian pandering was too sloppily joined to keep together.
Now Trump’s Republican nomination proves that the Religious Right is no longer relevant: it has whored itself out to Trump’s demagoguery.
The religious right may have won a few battles during the second Bush Administration, but the culture wars are quickly becoming history as Millennials reach political ascendancy and begin to vote in mass, pushing decidedly modern and progressive social views on the shrinking number of elderly Americans who grew up throwing fits that black children could attend the same schools as whites. The Republican Party has in recent elections become a party of—and for—old, white people, but generationally diverse Millennials are waiting in the wings to disassemble previous generations’ antiquated social constructions of racism, sexism, and religious fundamentalism.
The gay marriage victory was a watershed moment in the rising Millennial tide of social equality. Same-sex marriage will not be the last civil right forced upon aging bigots by the federal government in the waking-bear Millennial movement to drag conservative Baby Boomers kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
The Religious Right is over, and in its place is a Millennial Left.