Donald Trump and Millions of Angry Voters are Working for a Dead Man
By Mel White
Whether they know it or not, Trump and millions of angry voters are working for a Southern Baptist preacher who died May 15, 2007. When that preacher, Jerry Falwell, decided in the late 1970s to “bring America back to God” he gave birth to another round of fundamentalist Christianity that led directly to the current chaos in American politics. Falwell’s Moral Majority convinced fundamentalist Christians to become politically active. Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition organized those same fundamentalists to seize control of the Republican Party one precinct at a time. The Tea-Party and those who share their ideas are in fact just fundamentalist Christianity in its latest disguise.
In an almost predictable cycle, this abhorrent practice of the Christian faith rises up to haunt us and now once again fundamentalism is on the march. Ironically, most of the extremist politicians and their followers don’t have any idea of where it all began or worse where it all could end. Most don’t realize that they are doing the work of fundamentalist Christians whose quietly understated goal (which they will deny) is to replace our democracy (a government of, by and for the people) with a theocracy (a government “under God,” where biblical law prevails and fundamentalist Christians rule).
Fundamentalism was described by Sir Jonathan Sacks, the chief Rabbi of the English Commonwealth as “An attempt to impose a single truth on a plural world.” That single truth is Christian supremacy. Christian Supremacists believe that 1) Christianity is superior to all other religions and that 2) all American cultural and political institutions should be governed by “real Christians.”
“Real Christians” are in fact fundamentalist Christians who believe that Biblical law, especially Old Testament law, should be read literally by the people and enforced rigorously by the state. Isis is the shape fundamentalist Islam has taken in Muslim nations. We’ve yet to see what fundamentalist Christianity will look like in our country if it wins this war. One thing we know for certain: Fundamentalist Christianity will not tolerate a democracy where the law requires equal rights and protections for all.
From the beginning of our infant democracy Christian supremacy has been a destructive force in the evolution of American values. Supremacists misuse the bible to support various ‘isms’ including American supremacy (nationalism), male supremacy (sexism), white supremacy (racism), straight supremacy (heterosexism) and military supremacy (militarism). Look again at the endless list of battles that extremists are waging for example to end legal abortion or deny LGBTQI rights or close our borders. Each battle is grounded on the false assumptions of Christian Supremacists and their literal reading of the Old Testament texts.
For example: Why ask for equal pay for women when “God wants women at home caring for their families?” Why regulate banking or tax billionaires when “wealth is a sign of God’s blessing?” Why protect voting rights when incumbent politicians are in power “because God wants them there?” Why take global warming seriously when “the future of our planet is in God’s hands not ours?” Why advocate gun control when God has ordained that “we protect our families and our nation from the non-whites, the poor, the immigrants, the Muslims, the atheists and all the others who want what is rightfully ours?” Why fight for equal educational opportunity when “on that day when Christ returns our (white) children will literally rule the world?” Why protect abortion rights when “every fetus at conception is a precious child of God?” Why demand equal rights for LGBTQI Americans “when they are sick and sinful?” Why investigate and prosecute racist police behavior when “black men are inferior and need to be controlled?”
Each time one of these supremacist assumptions becomes law, Jerry Falwell Sr. gets closer to reaching his goal: “Bringing America back to God.” Unlike Muslim fundamentalist who use bullets, bombs and beheadings to enforce Sharia law from the top down, Christian fundamentalists will not overthrow democracy in a military or even political takeover that sweeps out one system (democracy) and replaces it with another (theocracy). The kinder, gentler Christian terrorist seeks to replace democracy with theocracy by undermining our rights and protections from the bottom up one law at a time.
Late in the 1970s, Jerry Falwell Sr. not only began this quiet conquest of our political system, he also demonstrated to his fellow fundamentalists how it could be done. Following the wisdom of his media mavens, especially Paul Weyrich and Richard Viguerie, Falwell Sr. chose hot button issues that would arouse his fundamentalist Christian base and at the same time recruit “co-belligerents” who disagreed with Falwell’s religious goals but were equally concerned by his hot button issues because they” threatened family values.” Now, almost forty years later, well-meaning Americans who carry posters and shout slogans to end legal abortion or deny LGBTQI rights or close our borders don’t realize they are Falwell’s “co-belligerents” playing their part in the slow but steady erosion of a democracy protected by the U.S. Constitution.
In light of the senior Falwell’s strategy to recruit an army of “co-belligerents” (because there weren’t enough Christian fundamentalists to “bring America back to God”) it is fairly clear why Jerry Jr. (now President of Falwell’s Liberty University) endorsed Donald Trump for President. Falwell and Trump may share few if any spiritual values nevertheless Trump is a perfect “co-belligerent” whose political ego seems to blind him to the fact he is working with a dead man’s son to undermine the core values of our democracy.
For almost 25 years my husband Gary and I have worked with our Soulforce colleagues to end the religion-based oppression of LGBTQI Americans. We can no longer focus exclusively on winning the rights and protections that “our people” are denied. Now we know that all oppressions intersect at the corner of biblical literalism and Christian supremacy. Now we know that all oppressed Americans are victims of the same oppressors. Now we know that all Americans must unite to resist this fundamentalist Christian threat to our democracy even under the banner “Make America Great Again” an expression based on Christian supremacy that easily segues into Falwell’s “Bring America Back to God.” While testifying to the Maryland State Senate in 2006, attorney Jamie Baskin said what should be written across the face of our democracy. “Senator,” Baskin said, “when you took your oath of office, you placed your hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. You didn’t place our hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible.” And all freedom-loving Americans said, “Amen!”
Winner of the ACLU’S National Civil Liberties Award, the Rev. Dr. Mel White is the Co-Founder of Soulforce and the author of Stranger at the Gate: To be Gay and Christian in America and Holy Terror: Lies the Christian Right Tells Us to Deny Gay Equality. Dr. White, former pastor, professor, filmmaker and ghostwriter is a member of the Organizing Committee of the National Council of Elders, “Leaders of 20th century civil rights and justice movements organizing to support similar nonviolent movements of the 21st Century.”
Upcoming Sunday Blogs…
- This Sunday, May 29 “ISIS and the Christian Fundamentalists”
- Next Sunday, June 5 “Gay and Christian? Absolutely!”
- Then on Sunday, June 12 “Those Phony Clobber Passages”