Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 65 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 3/4/20

Religion-Tinged Politics

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   1 comment
Message James A. Haught
Become a Fan
  (1 fan)

This piece was reprinted by OpEd News with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church
Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church
(Image by iAM Peterson)
  Details   DMCA

White evangelicals put Donald Trump into the White House. They swarmed to the 2016 election in high numbers and gave an amazing 81 percent of their votes to the vulgar, obnoxious, race-baiting, gambling billionaire who favors the rich, tries to take health care away from 20 million, and brags about grabbing women by their genitals.

Although he once favored women's rights, Trump campaigned on a promise to appoint only pro-life Supreme Court justices - those who would jail women and doctors for ending pregnancies.

For his running mate, Trump chose an evangelical hero, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, known for fighting the theory of evolution, attacking gay equality and denouncing adultery. Pence notoriously signed an Indiana "religious freedom" law letting fundamentalists discriminate against gays.

Together, Trump and Pence were a dream ticket for conservative Christians - which shows the falsity and hypocrisy of religion. Jesus said to heal the sick, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, comfort the suffering, embrace the poor - all the humane facets of the liberal "safety net." But today's U.S. fundamentalists vote for the GOP, which tries to slash the safety net to give tax breaks to the rich. They contradict the teachings of Jesus - but few seem to notice.

Of course, other factors besides religion also swayed the 2016 presidential race, such as economic despair among less-educated blue-collar whites. But it's abundantly clear: without strong born-again backing, Trump and Pence would have lost "bigly."

However, there's hope that the 2016 travesty may be a final spasm for America's "religious right" politics. The United States is creeping steadily toward a religion-free culture. Puritanical church power over the nation keeps weakening, decade after decade. I hope the retreat continues.

I grew up in Appalachia's Bible Belt, where fundamentalist taboos ruled politics and daily life. Censorship, blue Sabbath laws, mandatory school prayer, "dry" laws and other strictures prevailed. But Bible Belt thou-shalt-nots of my youth slowly slipped away - thanks to the sexual revolution, Supreme Court rulings and cultural evolution. Church taboos slowly evaporated.

A secular surge swept Europe after World War II. Church attendance plummeted. Nations that had spent centuries killing people over religion - in Crusades, Inquisitions, witch-hunts, pogroms, Reformation wars, persecutions, holy wars and massacres - decided that religion was inconsequential.

Europe's transformation spread to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and other advanced democracies.

At first it seemed that America was an exception, a place where religion remained strong. But, in recent decades, America rapidly caught up with the Western world. Religion lost its grip on the country.

Church decline started in the 1960s when tall-steeple mainline denominations began losing members, then the erosion spread to evangelicals and Catholics.

The Southern Baptist Church has lost 1 million members in the past decade. And so many white followers left Catholicism that one-tenth of U.S. adults now are ex-Catholics.

The number of Americans who say their faith is "none" soared remarkably since 1990. Now "nones" are America's largest group, around one-third of the adult population - outnumbering Catholics (21 percent) and white evangelicals (16 percent).

Barack Obama was the first president to welcome skeptic groups to the White House and recognize "those who have no religion" as equal citizens.

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Rate It | View Ratings

James A. Haught Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

James A. Haught is editor emeritus of West Virginia's largest newspaper, The Charleston Gazette-Mail.  Mr. Haught has won two dozen national news writing awards. He has written 12 books and hundreds of magazine essays and blog posts. Around 450 of his essays are online. He is a senior editor of Free Inquiry magazine, a weekly blogger at Daylight (more...)

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Feeding 7.7 Billion

Megachurch Mess

Religion-Tinged Politics

deadly labor struggles

The Dreams that Stuff is Made Of

Coal Mine Wars

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend