Sarah Jones in the New Republic makes a startling prediction about the fate of the evangelical movement, The Religious Right’s Devotion to Donald Trump Will End the Movement As We Know It.
The list of Republican senators, governors, and congressmen and women who have announced they’ll no longer vote for Donald Trump has grown to 46 as of Sunday morning. Yet the religious right hangs on. Conservative evangelicals, who form the core of the movement’s contemporary iteration, told various outlets this weekend that they still back the GOP nominee, despite Friday’s publication of a video in which Trump justifies sexual assault.
Tony Perkins, who heads the Family Research Council, told The Washington Post that he still backs Trump because he can’t “allow the country and culture to deteriorate” any further. ...
[Snip - see the original article for more comments from religious leaders.]
The religious right isn’t dead yet. But after this election becomes history, the movement will be forced to reckon with the consequences of its quest for power. Young adults, who overwhelmingly oppose Trump, are already leaving conservative churches, and the religious right’s Trump moment will surely only fuel this trend. If it had maintained a consistent public morality, maybe it could have retained some countercultural appeal. Now that its most visible leaders have sacrificed that authority, it has nothing left.
The statements of Perkins et al may well be considered their movement’s suicide note. Who will now believe they care for the sanctity of so-called “traditional marriage?” They anointed an infamous philanderer their standard-bearer. And who will believe they oppose abortion because they care for women? They backed a man who thinks sexual assault makes a good joke. Generations will remember their support for one of the most publicly misogynist and racist presidential candidates in American history.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Christ tells his disciples that no one can serve two masters; you’ll be loyal to one and not to the other. By endorsing Trump, the religious right chose a master—and sacrificed everything it says it stands for.
Organized religion in America is in trouble, not because of any direct assault from some other organization or individual or cultural change. It is in trouble because of its right wing conflation of church and state. Using the church to acquire political power is certainly not a new thing. But when you do it, you lose your claim to spiritual authority.