mid the stream of outrage about President Donald Trump that dominates my Facebook feed, one friend desperately sought a silver lining: “Well, at least we don’t have the theocrat Pence as President.” It reminded me that I, like some of my LGBTQ friends, thought during the Republican primary that we would prefer Trump to someone like Ted Cruz, whose unshakeable religious-right ideology and matching policy agenda was clear.
The entire Trump presidency has been pretty much a nonstop horror show for progressive Americans, but the month of June made it clear that if you are worried about President Trump and the Republican Congress rolling back advances made during the Obama administration, you aren’t worried nearly enough. Right-wing strategists seeking to undo what they see as federal overreach are looking back as far as the New Deal, and some even further, to the Progressive era at the turn of the 20th Century. With Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court and hundreds of Gorsuch-like judicial nominations in the pipeline, they’re making big plans.
Harassment, intimidation, and physical violence against religious and ethnic minorities is on the rise. And some experts worry the Trump administration is making things worse.
While millions of Americans spent Thursday glued to television coverage of former FBI director James Comey’s testimony, Donald Trump took time to bask in the adulation of Religious Right activists who gathered in D.C. for Road to Majority, the annual conference hosted by Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition.
The World Congress of Families, an international network of anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion activists, will gather in Budapest later this week for this year’s global summit. American Religious Right activists, who increasingly see the culture war as a global struggle, will strategize with colleagues from around the world to advance their shared goals: restricting legal recognition for LGBTQ people and families, denying women legal access to abortion, and opposing sex education. Joining them, according to the schedule, will be U.S. Representative Jeff Fortenberry. U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson was reportedly listed before his name was removed from the public schedule.
More than the 150 members of the secretive right-wing network known as the Council for National Policy have signed a letter calling on President Trump to sign an executive order “protecting the practical exercise of religious freedom,” something Religious Right leaders have been clamoring for since Trump took office. On March 1, Fox News pundit and serial promoter of bogus religious persecution stories Todd Starnes outed himself as a member of the CNP in writing about the letter.
U.S.-based Religious Right groups have a long track record of collaborating with their counterparts in other countries to restrict women’s health choices and make life harder and more dangerous for LGBT people around the world. This year was an especially active one in this global human rights struggle. U.S. Religious Right leaders have clearly taken sides, teaming up with many of the most repressive regimes in the world to resist equality for LGBTQ people.
Donald Trump’s inaugural committee has announced that six faith leaders will take part in his swearing-in ceremony by offering prayers or delivering readings. Among them are Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and Bishop Wayne Jackson, who draped a prayer shawl from Israel over Trump’s shoulders when Trump made a campaign stop at his Great Faith Ministries International church in Detroit for a scripted interview.
Donald Trump has had no bigger fan and friend on the Religious Right than Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. On Monday, Falwell invited political operative Ralph Reed, another Trump booster, to speak to Liberty’s students in the wake of a very bad week for Trump. In his speech to the Christian school, Reed made the case that Christians have a duty to vote for Trump.
Numerous speakers at last weekend’s Values Voter Summit suggested that the American republic might not survive a Hillary Clinton presidency. During the Obama administration it has become almost routine to hear far-right leaders talk about the possibility of armed revolution against the federal government. But it was still jarring to hear a sitting governor suggest that America might only survive the election of Hillary Clinton through bloodshed.