“Evangelicals appear to be willing to overlook anything about Trump—the avarice; the divisive, cruel rhetoric; the affairs and divorces—in service of getting a candidate in the White House who has promised to appoint someone to the Supreme Court, “as close to Scalia as I could find.” This, presumably, would unleash some new conservative Golden Age and make genuflection before the Trump idol worthwhile.”
So writes Patricia Miller in Religion Dispatches (“It’s Not Me, It’s You: Catholic Values Dumping Trump”). Miller makes one of the most interesting analysis of the intersection of religion and politics I’ve read in a while and concludes:
Catholics… even the more conservative-leaning culture warriors, appear unwilling to give Trump a pass, even in the name of all that is holy to them: opposition to abortion and the restoration of Christian homogeny. Why? Steve Krueger, head of Catholic Democrats, told RD that, in essence, it’s not Catholics, it’s Trump:
“I don’t think that it represents a shift in the political identity of White Catholics as much as it represents an intolerable assault by Trump on their Catholic sensibilities that are rooted in both faith and reason, culminating in his remarks over the summer. I believe that he has become a bridge too far for many White Catholics who have moved to the GOP. This has made it too difficult for them to reconcile their more conservative political beliefs with Trump the candidate … millions of White Catholics who had shifted to the GOP since 2009, for any number of reasons, are coming home for this election like prodigal sons and daughters of the Democratic Party.”
Or, as Tim Kaine put it in a conference call on Friday with Catholic leaders, “Realities do have to be looked at from a faith perspective and we can’t let bad behavior go unpunished.” The call was part of the Clinton campaign’s stepped-up Catholic outreach, and it’s clear the candidate is looking to capitalize on its strength with Catholics. “I really feel like the Catholic vote is going to be critical to our success,” said Kaine.
If Catholics are acting on their values by punishing Trump for his bad behavior and evangelicals aren’t, this suggests that for many evangelicals, their faith has largely been in the service of politics, while for Catholics, faith, and the values that spring from it, appears to Trump politics.
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Frank Schaeffer is a writer. His latest book —WHY I AM AN ATHEIST WHO BELIEVES IN GOD: How to give love, create beauty and find peace
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Please read about my journey through then out of the religious right and Republican Party.