The Religious Right's Self-Incineration

The Religious Right's Self-Incineration

How the Religious Right has wrecked itself advocating for Donald Trump

In the wake of Bill Clinton’s 1992 election to the presidency, the Religious Right largely lost its sway over the executive branch. Although it managed some smallish policy victories, the Religious Right’s main legacy from Clinton’s administration was its prosecution of Clinton over his extramarital sexual conduct. Its chief argument: the public should care about Clinton’s affairs because someone as powerful as the U.S. President really must have good character.

In 2000 religious conservatives successfully sold George W. Bush as a born-again, ‘compassionate’ conservative. The Republican Party lost the 2008 and 2012 elections, but not without successfully hawking John McCain as a courageous war hero and Mitt Romney as an upstanding family man. Only in 2016 did the Republican electorate nominate a man whose moral faults can’t be effectively concealed with the usual God-and-country gloss.

During the 2016 primaries a majority of Republican voters opted for other candidates than Donald Trump. Many religious conservatives chose other, more observably religious primary candidates, from the politically-inept folk hero Ben Carson to the pious-faced cynic Ted Cruz to the actually-pious Marco Rubio. Yet Donald Trump was never successfully knocked from the front of the pack, and in time every Republican figure had to declare an opinion on him as their party’s presidential nominee.

Some on the right have entirely resisted endorsing Donald Trump, and some who have endorsed him waited (sometimes controversially) until they felt certain that no better prospect would emerge. Many support him as a lesser of two evils rather than as any kind of great man. Considering all of this, it’s curious how high proportion of Trump’s relatively early support came from professing evangelicals, and how many religious-conservative gatekeepers – from original Religious Right figureheads to literal inheritors of their legacy to the aforementioned folk hero – have been among his most unyielding supporters.

When Donald Trump’s 2005 boasts about molesting women were released recently, many of his later-coming supporters were quick to express moral disapproval of his words, even (in some cases) to the point of rescinding their endorsements. (To be clear, the things he told of are sexual assault: “I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. I don’t even wait” is not how literally any man speaks of trying to discern any woman’s consent.) And some who’ve stuck thick to Trump aren’t much for moral scruples anyways. Nobody imagines the Breitbart gang examining its collective conscience about… well, pretty much anything.

Even in light of Trump’s adulterous “grab them by the pussy” remarks, it still isn’t too surprising for some religious right-wingers – y’know, the crowd that in the late 1990s made a huge deal about a White House blowjob – to defend him as a lesser of two evils. No matter how endlessly he bullshits and lies, and no matter how many times he breaks his word (whether to veterans or contractors or policy aides or his wives) to suit his convenience, surely he’ll keep his pledge to religious conservatives – a cultural tribe with which he’s never had any connection – to appoint their preferred sort of Supreme Court justices. (Rather than, say, his pro-abortion-rights sister, whom he half-jokingly cast in that role back before he felt any compulsion to pander to the religious right.) We’re to believe that he’d be better for social conservatives than Hillary, and that’s what really matters.

But Religious Right figureheads have gone far beyond “lesser-of-two-evils” in their defense of Donald Trump. Many have tried to liken him to the biblical adulterer King David, though it’s laughable to expect Donald Trump granting much weight to his own sins, let alone actually trying at repentance.

This summer, James Dobson tried to pass off a secondhand claim that Trump had gotten ‘born-again’ (“[accepted] a relationship with Christ”) – as though the famously loose-lipped Trump had undergone a deep religious conversion and left publicizing it to James Dobson.

Ben Carson – who just earlier this month intoned apocalyptically about the ruinous societal effects of gay marriage – plainly said in a recent interview that “it doesn’t matter” whether Donald Trump has in fact sexually assaulted a long (and growing) string of women over several decades.

After a coalition of Liberty University students wrote to protest Liberty president Jerry Falwell Jr.’s soiling of their school’s reputation through his pro-Trump crusading, Falwell responded by calling their statement not just “false” but “incoherent.” (Nevermind what this says about the intellectual quality both of the students that Liberty admits and of the education it gives them.)

Plenty of religious right-wingers have parroted that Trump’s 2005 remarks were really just “locker room banter” that he’d never act on, as though God hadn’t given them minds both to understand Trump’s actual language and to notice how closely his boasts match women’s allegations against Trump that far predate the recent leak.

Obviously not every religious conservative has pursued this kind of track. I have respect enough for those who’ve kept the #neverTrump line; I expect to keep reading Ross Douthat, for example, until death do us part. (Blessedly, younger evangelicals and conservative Catholics seem much less inclined than their elders toward the “King David/locker room banter” kind of take.) And though I find it ridiculous that any observant and thinking person would’ve been genuinely surprised by Trump’s 2005 remarks, I’ll grant some tiny kudos to those who’ve since walked back their support for him.

But woe to those hypocrite religious right-wingers who not only fail to live up to their standards but who for so long proclaimed things – about morality and values and character – in which they clearly put no stock. Some people will continue to listen to them, but they make their word as worthless as Donald Trump’s.

In 1 Corinthians, St. Paul teaches that the fire of God’s judgment will test the moral quality of each person’s life. Those who devoted their lives to terrible work may “be saved, but only as through fire.” I expect to need some time (so to speak) in purgatory when I die. I hope I won’t need as much time as I suspect Donald Trump or any of his craven Religious Rightists will.

Cover Image Credit: CNN

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.


To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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What A Blessing It Is To Have Been Loved By A Grandpa Like You

No one could ever replace your contagious giggle and radiating love.


To my newest angel in heaven...

Grandpa Norb, I just wanted to write to you to let you know how great it is to be loved by a grandpa like you. With 4 children, 4 children in-law, 10 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren, we all know in our different ways your love for us. While you are no longer here, I am certain that you will always be watching over us and in our hearts.

Knowing you for 20 years, I can't imagine feeling more loved. Every holiday gathering started with you wishing a Merry Christmas, no matter the actual holiday. You always welcomed with a hug, and said goodbye with open arms, a kiss on the cheek and a whispered reminder that I am always in your prayers. Even with you no longer with us, I know you'll be watching over and praying for me as I carry on my steps in life.

Like a sunflower, you were always bright and smiling when I saw you. You showed your excitement when I walked in the room and made me feel lucky to be around you and overjoyed to know you just through your smile. You were the patriarch of our wonderful family standing tall and showering us with radiating love and goofiness.

Among us all, you loved Grandma with your whole heart and were married for 68 beautiful years. Watching her say goodbye has been one of the hardest things to see, but completely overpowering, the love you had for each other. As long as I knew you, I don't think I ever saw the two of you apart. The unconditional love that you had and always will feel for each other is one that I envy to have in my own relationships.

As almost two weeks have passed since God brought you to him, this is my goodbye to you. I will never forget the last good day I spent with you and Grandma together. I will think of you when I see yellow sunflowers standing tall and bright, and during thunderstorms as if it is you Grandpa Ray bowling together up in heaven.

I feel incredibly lucky to know you and have been loved by you for 20 of your 94 years, and I will always miss you.



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