Faith Doesn’t Matter Anymore in American Politics


Atrios writes:

At least with the election of Trump we don’t have numerous think pieces (and sweet sweet consulting cash) about how Democrats just need to pretend to love Jesus more.

I always thought that stuff was wrong politically, but also really offensive to actual religious people (I am not one). Just hit the love Jesus button often enough and the rubes will believe you.

True enough. For the moment, working-class whites have replaced religious folks as the iconic group that everyone thinks Democrats need to reach out to.

But it actually goes further than this. One of the things Donald Trump taught us last year is the ultimate hollowness of the Christian right. Trump is the most obviously unreligious person to run for president in—well, probably forever. He doesn’t go to church. He hasn’t read the Bible. His lifestyle would make Hugh Hefner blush. He doesn’t pray. He doesn’t ask forgiveness from God for his sins. He’s not born again. There is literally nothing in his 70 years on this earth that suggests he’s anything but a stone atheist.

But that didn’t matter. All he had to do was make a few awkward and obviously fake protestations of faith, and that was that. His insincerity was palpable to anyone paying the slightest attention, but everyone decided not to pay attention. As long as he mouthed the right words, everything was fine.

The Christian right has never been about actual faith. Like any other interest group, they just want what they want: abortion restrictions, money for private schools, opposition to gays, and so forth. As long as you’re on board, they don’t care what’s in your heart. They never have, and that’s why the suggestion that Democrats need to be more publicly devout has always been so misguided. Faith doesn’t matter. Empathy for people of faith doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is supporting the Christian right’s retrograde social views, and Democrats were never going to do that.

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