New York Times Ross Douthat offers a defense of the Religious Right. In fact, he argues that America needs a religious right in order to save conservatism from its own darker impulses.
From Ross Douthat, In Defense of the Religious Right – The New York Times:
I RISE to offer a defense — not a full-throated defense, more of a limited one — of the beleaguered, battered, all-but-broken religious right.
For the last two weeks we’ve watched various paladins of traditional values twist and squirm as they try to square their Christian conservatism with Donald Trump’s sexual attitudes and conduct. They sought a remoralized politics, a less licentious culture, and now they’re making lesser-of-two-evil arguments to protect a pagan demagogue from the consequences of his own unbridled lust.
This is a grim endgame for a movement that just a little over a decade ago had liberals fearing its electoral strength and allegedly-theocratic ambitions. And for those liberals today, the religious right’s crisis tastes like victory and vindication both: Those theocrats are finally cracking up, and Trump has proved that all their talk about virtue and character was just partisanship, with no real moral substance underneath.[Keep reading. . .]
America needs a religious right. Maybe not the religious right it has; certainly not the religious right of Carson and Falwell Jr. But the Trump era has revealed what you get when you leach the Christianity out of conservatism: A right-of-center politics that cares less about marriage and abortion, just as some liberals would wish, but one that’s ultimately farmore divisive than the evangelical politics of George W. Bush.
When religious conservatives were ascendant, the G.O.P. actually tried minority outreach, it sent billions to fight AIDS in Africa, it pursued criminal justice reform in the states. That ascendance crumbled because of the religious right’s own faults (which certain of Trump’s Christian supporters amply display), and because of trends toward secularization and individualism that no politics can master; it cannot and should not be restored.
But some kind of religious conservatism must be rebuilt, because without the pull of transcendence, the future of the right promises to be tribal, cruel, and very dark indeed.