Religion and Elections

Ed Raymond

Whatever Happened To The Christian Religion?

On Sunday October 2 our prayer of the day at Cormorant Lutheran Church was: “Benevolent, merciful God: When we are empty, fill us. When we are weak in faith, strengthen us. When we are cold in love, warm us, that with fervor we may love our neighbors and serve them for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.”  Presidential election polls show that eight of ten white evangelical voters are going to vote for that great Christian icon Donald Trump. A Public Religion Research Institute survey indicates that 52% of white Christian men have an unfavorable view of Hillary Clinton. That’s 32 points higher than when they viewed Barack Obama in 2012 as being unfavorable. Let’s remember that the Southern Baptist Convention, made up of white evangelicals, has voted to retain the dominance of men over women in all relationships. In a Peter Beinart column in The Atlantic, he lists some merchandise that sold well at the Republican National Convention. Let’s remember that the Republican Party touts itself as the only party of Christian “family values.”
During the convention whenever Clinton’s name was mentioned the crowd shouted “Lock her up!” or other disparaging remarks. But the pins, T-shirts, and other paraphernalia sold at the convention hardly expressed a Christian attitude toward Clinton. Pins with embossed words “DON’T BE A PUSSY. VOTE FOR TRUMP”, “TRUMP 2016; FINALLY SOMEONE WITH BALLS,”  and a pin with a boy urinating on the word “HILLARY.” T-shirts had even more graphic messages: “TRUMP THAT BITCH,” “HILLARY SUCKS BUT NOT LIKE MONICA,” and a black T-shirt with Trump as a biker and Clinton falling off the back seat with the words “IF YOU CAN READ THIS, THE BITCH FELL OFF.” Another T-shirt had Trump triumphantly standing over Clinton in a boxing ring lying on the canvas in a very clingy tank top. A white pin was another favorite of delegates. It advertised ‘KFC SPECIAL. 2 FAT THIGHS. 2 SMALL BREASTS…..LEFT WING.”

Why Are Christian Fundamentalists And Evangelicals Voting For The Donald?

I readily admit as a meandering Catholic, Lutheran, and sometimes atheist I have called Trump a psychopathic asshole and a congenital liar. If you doubt that description, read about psychopaths and narcissists in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.  I’m not a psychiatrist but I tended bar for a couple of years and I can read complicated stuff. Trump fits every description of those diagnoses in the manuals. There is also a serious book titled The Asshole Theory by Professor of Philosophy Aaron James who teaches at the University of California. Again, we are reminded that Trump is a classic asshole. And every speech, press encounter, conference, and every tweet, whether at noon or 3 a.m., is proof he is a congenital liar.
So why are white Christian fundamentalists and evangelicals, from Tennessee snake handlers to Dakota speakers of tongues, supporting this thrice-married philanderer who says he has never asked for forgiveness? I don’t know of a single major media outlet other than Fox News that supports Trump. Major newspapers that have always supported Republican candidates for president for up to over a hundred years now support Hillary Clinton. USA TODAY, which in its 34-year-old history has never supported a presidential candidate, published a full-page editorial with a large, bold headline: “DON’T VOTE FOR TRUMP.”  The national paper lists eight major reasons with supporting evidence why they are breaking from their tradition of not endorsing either candidate. The third paragraph in the editorial summarizes their position: “From the day he declared his candidacy through this week’s first presidential debate, Trump has demonstrated repeatedly that he lacks the temperament, knowledge, steadiness, and honesty that America needs from its presidents.”  The sex-lies-videotapes of his TV career as an assaulter-groper of every female in sight reveals his true character.
Here is the list of the eight reasons with just a few pieces of evidence selected from the USA TODAY’s very comprehensive list:

1.  He is erratic.  NBC has prepared a list of 124 shifts by Trump on just 20 issues since he began campaigning.

2.  He is ill-equipped to be commander-in-chief.  Uninformed and incoherent according to Republican national security leaders who say he is “wildly inconsistent and unmoored in principle.”
3.  He traffics in prejudice.  His comments about Mexicans and Muslims and his proposals for mass deportations and religious tests are unworkable and contrary to American ideals.

4.  His business career is checkered.  The fraud of Trump “University,” 60 law suits from small businesses because they were stiffed by Trump, six bankruptcies, his use of his “charitable” foundation, and the list goes on.

5.  He isn’t leveling with the American people.  His taxes and tax returns and his foreign entanglements are labeled “Top Secret.”.

6.  He speaks recklessly.  How could the Second Amendment people prevent Clinton from appointing liberal judges? Why shouldn’t Russian hackers reveal all of Clinton’s e-mails? Criticizing Gold Star parents?!!!

7.  He has coarsened the national dialogue.  Discussing the size of his hands and genitals and mocking a physically handicapped reporter. Would he create enemies’ lists like the paranoid Richard Nixon?

8.   He’s a serial liar. He repeats the “Big Lie” so often people begin to believe it.

Michelle Vitali in a Facebook entry made a major point about the difference between men and women in this society: “Imagine a woman who showed up to a presidential debate unprepared, sniffing like a coke addict and interrupting her opponent 70 times. Let’s further imagine that she’s had 5 kids by 3 men, was a repeated adulterer, had multiple bankruptcies, paid zero federal taxes and rooted for the housing crisis in which many thousands of families lost their homes. Wait…there’s more: she has never held any elected public office in her life.”

Why Are Fundamentalist And Evangelical Christians So Upset?

Just in the last two election cycles we have gone from being a majority white country at 54% to a minority white  country at 45%. Although America is considered to be one of the most religious countries in the world, atheism and other forms of disbelief and non-belief are growing rapidly each year, particularly among white Catholics, Protestants, and adults between 18 and 29 years old. The use of various birth control methods among Catholic women approaches 100%. They totally ignore the diabolical pleas of the Vatican and their local bishops concerning contraceptives and abortion. Catholic women have abortions at the same rate as the diverse society they live in. And Catholic women think they should have access to the pulpit.
Abortion is a big deal with Christian evangelicals, claiming that, because God created life, humans should not treat his “magnificent work” carelessly. Actually God’s work is not so “magnificent.” According to the Bible He sees all fetuses in the womb. His inspection of the physical and mental conditions of the fetus must be brief and incomplete. Almost 25% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. About 15% of live births result in physical and/or mental disabilities. We still have Christians who have no answer in the impending death of a mother in childbirth situations—except let her die. I have never gotten an answer from Catholic bishops, Protestant ministers, and other pro-lifers when I ask them what they would do when a woman finds out during her seventh month of pregnancy that the fetus in her belly has no brain.
Since Roe v. Wade, red state legislators have been trying to pass restrictive abortion bills through what I call “stoopid wimmin” bills with the intent of making it physically and financially impossible for women to get an abortion when they want one. Other countries in the world have elected women as presidents and prime ministers, trusting them to make momentous decisions about the life and death of many—but we can’t allow them to make decisions about their own body and pregnancies and how it may affect them or their families? The state of North Dakota is one of the worst, wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars on “stoopid wimmin” laws that even Republican-appointed judges couldn’t stomach. Republican vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence as Indiana governor promoted many “stoopid wimmin” bills. He tried to pass a bill banning abortion for fetal disabilities. There is a reality about life that many fundamentalists, Bible thumpers, and the Vatican don’t seem to understand. If every fetus is “magnificent,” why did God make such a mess with about forty percent of them? Why do almost a quarter of pregnancies end up being spontaneously aborted through miscarriages? Pence tried to pass a law requiring all aborted and miscarried embryos and fetuses, no matter how early, be cremated or buried. A family was to take a nine-week old embryo out of the toilet where it possibly landed and spend thousands on a funeral costing thousands of dollars? Get real. Pence also slashed Planned Parenthood budgets in Indiana, closing five clinics that provided contraceptives, healthcare for women, and testing for sexually transmitted diseases and HIV. For some reason or other Hoosiers did not stop having sex, so the teenage birth rate and HIV rate sky-rocketed in the state. Now, that’s really “stoopid.”

Race, Guns, Religion, Abortion, and Homosexuality Dictate Votes For Trump

White religious conservatives have been sold a bill of goods by the Republican Party for decades. Elite and most northern Republicans harvested the votes of evangelical Christians and conservative Catholics by touting support for white dominance, “law and order” (which meant harsh treatment of blacks and Hispanics on the streets and long prison sentences),  for opposing same-sex marriage and legal protections for homosexuals, for preaching trickle-down economics (which fails because the rich always prevent the trickling-down to the poor and middle class), for supporting pro-life positions in many state legislatures, and for supporting a huge national security budget which supports  many Southern military bases. Republicans preach that good guys need lots of guns because bad guys have lots of guns. That’s a popular position in rural and suburban areas but very deadly in population concentrations. With more firearms than people the trigger becomes the “Great Decider” in a split, divisive, and ”unequal” society with 350 million firearms that kills and wounds about 135,000 a year, at a rate that leads the world.
Protestant fundamentalists support Trump because they want “America to be great again.”  Like in the 1970’s before Roe v. Wade and bloody abortions by clothes hangers, lye, stomach beatings, and back-alley “surgeons.” Is a child by rape really a child of God as proclaimed by a Republican senate candidate?  So their God approves of rape? Christian evangelicals support Trump’s pledge so they can go back to the 1990’s before the general acceptance of gays in the military and same-sex marriages. Southern evangelicals support Trump because they want to go back to 1859 before the Emancipation Proclamation so blacks can be enslaved again. Conservative Catholics support Trump because they want to go back to 30 A.D. when no women were named apostles by Christ, when women and men could not use contraceptives to prevent pregnancies, when all gays were “intrinsically evil” and unacceptable in a society, and when the burning stake was often used in town squares to dramatically “cure” heresy. Pick your century. No wonder Catholic churches in Europe are mostly empty on Sundays. Corky and I are probably still listed as members of the Catholic Church because we were married on the altar of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fargo in 1954. I understand you have to send a letter of resignation to the local bishop to have your name removed from the rolls. We quit in 1959 because we could no longer support Catholic doctrine. As an example, we could never support the savage cruel Catholic-supported program of protesting at abortion clinics called 40 Days of Life. Abortions are legal in the United States. Peaceful protests are OK and expected, but providing 52 weeks of hell at legal abortion clinic doors in the face of desperate girls and women is reprehensible.