Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Not The Typical Acts Of Kindness

"During last year’s presidential campaign," wrote self-identifying evangelical Richard Mouw last July

Ken Burns posed a question to evangelical Christians about the Republican candidate: “What part of Donald Trump reminds you of Jesus Christ?”

The evangelical leaders who supported Trump in the campaign—folks like James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Jr. and Franklin Graham—did not think it necessary to make that kind of comparison.  They seemed quite willing to grant that there were a lot of things about Trump that Jesus would disapprove of. But some of them simply excused Trump on the grounds that that he was a “baby Christian,” not very far along in his journey of faith. And, furthermore, as one of them put it: “we are not electing a pastor-in-chief.”

We learned long ago that standard switches when assessing Democratic politicians, who are ruled ineligible by right-wing evangelicals when the former publicly support reproductive freedom.  Mouw continued

Actually, the evangelical Trump supporters pointed to some biblical measures during the campaign. A reporter called me right after the Republican convention for some background theological discussion about what she was hearing from evangelicals about their support for Trump. When she asked them whether the Bible had any role in their support for his candidacy, they responded by comparing him to two biblical kings: David and Cyrus.

The David comparison is certainly apt. The great king of Israel did some very bad things in his personal life—most notably, having a man killed so that he could commit adultery with the man’s wife. But he is also celebrated in the Bible for some good accomplishments as a national leader.

We all know about Trump cozying up to dictators everywhere, enacting a travel ban arguably targeting individuals based on their religion, threatening North Koreans with nuclear devastation, leaving Americans in Puerto Rico to die, and other high-profile compassionate acts. But Matthew Yglesias points out other, less-publicized, actions in which the President has curried favor with congressional Republicans who have returned the favor by supporting his legislative agenda and bemoaning the Mueller probe. Bearing little resemblance to David or Cyrus

As president, Trump has put a pharmaceutical executive in charge of the Department of Health and Human Services, HHS is changing regulations to better fit the needs of pharmaceutical companies, and Trump is personally pocketing club membership fees from people with business before the federal government, including the CEO of Allergan. The candidate who ran as the champion of the forgotten man has led an administration dedicated to such causes as making it easier for financial advisers to rip off their clients and ensuring that workers suffer continued exposure to toxic chemicals in paint-removing solvents.

Additionally, in a move cited by Yglesias and symbolizing Donald Trump's dedication to the average person man on December 5

on December 5 the Trump administration took its first major step toward allowing employers to legally pocket the tips earned by the workers they employ. The Department of Labor (DOL) released a proposed rule that would allow restaurants to take the tips that servers earn and share them with untipped employees such as cooks and dishwashers. But, crucially, the rule doesn’t actually require that employers distribute “pooled” tips to workers. Under the administration’s proposed rule, as long as tipped workers earn minimum wage, employers could legally pocket those tips.

Seven months ago, Mouw had noted

I’m not fixated on how President Trump compares to Jesus.  But I’m glad that many of my fellow evangelicals agree that we should expect Trump to be David-like and Cyrus-like in his leadership.

The time is ripe now for evangelicals to conduct a job performance review in this regard. I have my Bible handy whenever Mr. Trump’s evangelical supporters are ready to get started!

That was wishful thinking. Trump's supporters in the evangelical community never cared whether Trump would emulate kings David or Cyprus, exhibit "a humble and contrite spirit," or have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ . They were motivated by Trump's opposition to reproductive freedom and the confidence that he would appoint judges like Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme  Court.

That is the meat-and-potatoes they were looking for.  Protecting drug company and bank executives while harming medical patients, families seeking financial advice, and low-wage workers is just the gravy on top.

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