Religion and politics in the US: How the Christian Right moves away from Jesus

Along with an anthropology degree, I also completed a degree in philosophy with a focus on philosophy of religion. My primary interests in that are theodicies (excuses for why an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good god could let bad stuff happen), and how religion interacts with social institutions.

This usually manifests itself as an exploration of the conflict between science–mostly evolutionary theory–and Christianity. In graduate school, I wrote a paper for my evolutionary anthropology class on the effects of Christianity on the teaching of science in the US. It is something that I expend a lot of energy thinking about.

We are currently in an immigration crisis in the US. While the Right paints the crisis as the result of undesirable criminal types streaming into the US, bringing drugs and murder, it is really a crisis of their own doing.

The immediate crisis is the fact that the US has human beings locked up in concentration camps. These are punitive facilities built to detain asylum-seekers. The facilities are filthy, rife with disease, and overcrowded. Children are separated from their parents and experience abuse, sexual assault, and have little to no access to water, food, or proper hygiene. These facilities have been called “torture facilities.”

Further more, Trump has announced a large-scale ICE raids over the weekend reminiscent of the Nazi Gestapo rounding up the “undesirables.” Just like the Gestapo, ICE is tasked with rounding up and deporting people deemed by the current regime as undesirable. Trump is behaving like a fascist dictator.

While the immediate crisis is the fact that we are locking people up in these “torture facilities” the broader crisis deals with socioeconomic instability in Latin America carried out by US meddling for the purpose of exploitation and control.

Historically, US foreign policy has repeatedly led to invention in Latin America for US corporate interests. AP has a nice timeline of US intervention here. The resulting instability contributed to a rapid increase in socioeconomic inequality which drives up the number of people emigrating to better their lives.

Another issue, made worse by the US, is the climate crisis. As local communities struggle with the consequences of unstable ecological conditions, people are forced to relocate to areas which the potential to recover. The effects of climate change on South Asia, Africa, and broadly (and here and here) have been studied. Climate change is requiring greater levels of mobility for some people as their homes become less suitable to support large populations.

Trumps continual denial of climate change as a huge crisis undermines the negative consequences of associated ecological upheaval. Even the Department of Defense and members of his own party are beginning to come around on the issue while Trump continually doubles down and demonstrates his ignorance of basic science.

While I could write endlessly about the evil being perpetrated by the Right-Wing regime in the US, I am more interested in the people that continue to support the transformation of the US into a fascist state.

The Republican party is overwhelmingly supported by Christians: Evangelicals: 56%, Mormons: 70%, Mainline Protestants: 44%. Furthermore, the Republican party presents itself as the Christian party.

The Republican platform went from 0 references to God in 1972 to 10 references of God, 19 to faith, and also references “a war on religion” in 2012. Republican candidates cannot win unless they pander to the Christian White. It’s is this group of people that made up a large portion of Trump’s electorate despite the fact that Trump represents the exact opposite of what is considered Christian principles.

Trump has committed adultery, doesn’t demonstrate a love for his neighbor, displays unending hubris, is wrathful, and greedy. It seems that people forget (or ignore) the fact the Jesus said “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24).

Even with this, many Christians claim that Trump is “chosen by God” and their enemy is with the “liberal Left”. This particular group of Trump supporters readily abandon commands from the center of their worship (Jesus) to maintain political and social power. As Trump praises notorious Christian oppressors like Kim Jong-un, locks children in cages, and acts against the very principles these people purport to live by, their loyalty never waivers.

These Trump supporters are more concerned with waging war against what they call “liberal fascism” that they are willing to sacrifice their own moral standing to win.

Note: I am particularly amused by the use of “liberal fascist”. Fascism is an extreme right-wing, authoritatian, and ultranationalist form of government. Fascist states suppress opposition, target certain groups as socioeconomic scapegoats, and uses violence to maintain centralized power over the people. These are the characteristics associated with fascist Germany, Italy, and are seen in contemporary US policy and action.

Despite the fact that the majority of the country is decidedly anti-fascist, the fear-mongering and lying by the Right political machine confuses the facts and sews insecurity and anomie in the US. The resulting division then becomes a political tool for the hegemonic power structure to maintain its control.

I believe that the threat perceived by Christians on the Right is the result of a decentralization of power away from elite, White hands to be more representative of those that actually make up America (though not enough yet). As the world becomes figuratively smaller and the US slowly continues to embrace it multicultural nature, the hegemonic control over resources, ideology, and institutions wains.

This means a greater acceptance of people from different backgrounds and policy that benefits more Americans instead of mostly the elite class which means seeing historically oppressed people in positions of power and influence.

Seeing a revolutionary change in the structure of the country may be unsettling for people. Being confronted with their contribution to the subjugation and discrimination against large groups of people is uncomfortable. And for sexists and racists, seeing people that they view as subhuman, inferior, or unwelcome getting ahead and succeeding (sometimes while the White man isn’t) shakes them to their core.

Because of this, people are willing to abandon part of the essence of their core identity while claiming the title.

Maybe these Christians should revisit their holy book:

  • Leviticus 19:33-34 “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God”
  • Exodus 23:9 “You shall not oppress a sojourner. You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”
  • Deuteronomy 27:19 “‘Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’”
  • 1 John 4:7 “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.”
  • John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
  • Matthew 5:43-44 ““You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.”
  • 1 John 4:20 “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”
  • Ephesians 4:2 “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love”
  • 1 Corinthians 16:14 “Let all that you do be done in love.”
  • 1 John 4:8 “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
  • Mark 12:31 “The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”



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