Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Using And Abusing The Christian Right

Three months ago, professor of science and religion Benjamin Huskinson wrote "if white evangelicals have indeed hitched themselves to Trump’s wagon, I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes when Trump discovers that he doesn’t really need them."

Those evangelicals are safe, or at least as much as any voting bloc in America. Politico reports that the night before the National Prayer Breakfast earlier this month

President Donald Trump was hosting religious leaders and lawmakers for dinner at the White House when he spotted Democratic Senator Chris Coons — and pounced.

Trump confronted the Delaware lawmaker — who attended the event as the Prayer Breakfast’s official Democratic co-chair — over the issue of abortion, creating a tense scene in the White House’s Blue Room, according to three sources familiar with the exchange.

Trump leaned in close to Coons, who calls himself “a practicing Christian and a devout Presbyterian,” and laced into the Democratic senator over controversial moves to change statewide policies on abortion that have roiled New York and Virginia politics in recent weeks. “He was in his face about it,” said one person familiar with the exchange. The person described Trump as extremely “worked up.”

“He saw a Democrat in the room, a Democrat who’s known to be a person of faith, and he was like, ‘Why aren't you speaking out about this?’” the source added.

Another source who was in the room confirmed the account, describing the moment as both “awkward” and attention-grabbing. Rarely has Trump been so vocal about abortion when the masses aren’t watching, this person said. (A Coons spokesman declined to comment.)

The masses weren't watching- but somehow this incident made its way into the hands of the Politico reporter, who added

The private episode underscored Trump’s recent public focus on abortion, which has delighted his evangelical Christian supporters. During his State of the Union address last Tuesday, Trump used vivid imagery to claim that New York’s new abortion law would “allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth.” And he accused Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who’s backed similar legislation in his state, of wanting to allow medical providers to “execute” babies after birth.

President Trump has become so opposed to abortion rights that he lied about both the terms of the New York law and Virginia governor Northam's remarks, indicative of the veracity of either Trump or of the forced-birth movement. Politico continues

Abortion is a somewhat unlikely new cause for a president who years ago called himself “very pro-choice” and did not make the issue a central theme of his 2016 campaign. But people close to Trump say that he has developed an increasingly sincere passion for the cause.

It is unlikely, but not unprecedented. The successful huckster always is looking for a mark, and evangelical leaders have scanned the table and seeing no mark, fail to realize it is them.

The counter-argument is that the President is giving white evangelicals what they want, including especially two Supreme Court justices on the right fringe.  And three weeks ago, Trump tweeted "numerous states introducing Bible Literacy classes, giving students the option of  studying the Bible. Starting to make a turn back? Great!"

Trump is probably expecting more students to learn about "Two Corinthians."  Meanwhile, he continues to insult them, conspicuously refusing even to take the Sabbath off (sometimes Easter) from social media rantings:

Ultimately, though, it makes little sense for Trump to make Sunday a day of rest, not when it gives him yet another opportunity, aside from misrepresenting communion, the book of Corinthians, and repentance, to ridicule Christianity. And why not? Evangelical leaders yearn for more humiliation of Christianity by their new god.

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