By Marpheen Chann
Leaked drafts of a proposed Trump executive order uncovered by The Investigative Fund and The Nation reveals what the Trump administration has planned for their crusade against Women's and LGBT rights - a long-awaited counter-attack planned by the evangelical, Christian far-right fringe of the Republican Party for decades.
This and a slew of other executive orders and cabinet picks are also conducive to a Christian fundamentalist takeover of the US government. And this is no conspiracy. As someone raised by evangelical parents and educated in a private, Christian school, I know first-hand that this is what they want.
But first, to understand what I am about to write, you must understand how and why evangelicals have engaged in a decades long campaign to wrest control of the US government.
First, the how. I would like to point out, first, in Christian lingo, "false prophets." They are the folks who twist passages from Scripture to paint colorful and imaginative analogies between current events and such things as the fall of the Roman Empire and the decline of society, or that we are living in the End Times. Some of these false prophets genuinely believe what they say but many are clearly sowing fear and exploiting that fear in order to amass influence and power. Once they attract a base of followers and believers, it is quite easy to then tap into their pocketbooks through such ideas as tithing and giving in order to advance the "Kingdom of God here on Earth."
With various evangelical leaders amassing a following and getting churches and denominations on board, they then worked toward a pernicious "re-education" campaign in order to disseminate misinformation. They have also engaged in a campaign to rewrite and dominate the field of American history, with such evangelical leaders as David Barton starting a foundation to buy-up huge swaths of original US Founding documents. How is misinformation disseminated? This is done both from the pulpit, Sunday School, family nights, and private and home school education. The major topics taken on are: Evolution, Abortion, and the Gay Agenda. All of this is couched in sowing ideas about a vast and orchestrated Liberal conspiracy to destroy America.
But re-educating is not enough. Evangelical leaders work up their followers into a frenzy and get them involved in protests and political activism. Evangelicals are one of the most consistent voting blocs in American history - turning out at all levels and in mid-term elections as well as General Elections.
As a voting bloc, evangelicals then have power and influence over politicians and candidates and especially over the Republican platform. This is the how.
As to the why, Evangelical leaders have been able to sow fear into their followers by presenting the US government trammeling on religious rights. This has been done through both large issues such as Abortion and Same-Sex Marriage, but also through smaller issues such as the fight over displays of Nativity scenes and various cultural fights involving Starbuck's red and green cups. Evangelicals genuinely fear that their religious rights are being taken away, as if this will somehow lead to a prohibition on their being allowed to go to church, pray or whatnot.
A lot of these ideas were drummed into me in the private Christian school I attended. When it came to Evolution, the talking points included discussion about how Evolution was instituted into public education in order to turn children into thoughtless, atheist monkey drones to better facilitate a total transition to Socialism. Re-education was focused on arguing that carbon dating is highly unreliable after a certain span of so many years and that the explanation for huge beds of fossils and Dinosaur bones was the result of Noah's Flood - which they used to prove that the Bible was indisputable and accurate.
When it came to abortion, the discussion was largely a rebuttal against Feminism and Women's Rights and how Liberals wanted to allow kids to have reckless sex without fear of consequences. This was couched in the rise of rhetoric around life beginning at conception, couched in soft references to basic science about when the heart starts beating, etc. This is how it was always done, in fact. A little truth mixed in with a little misinformation - just enough to be believable and to captivate the audience.
When it came to same-sex marriage, the discussion began with gay sex being an abomination in the eyes of God. But, as if knowing that wouldn't be enough, they draw false analogies. The most absurd one that I remember is that the Roman Empire's tolerance and embracing of homosexual relations was what led to the downfall of the Empire. It is absurd because they ignore world events, political crises and failures on the part of the Senate and Emperor to meet the needs of the people, and the prevalence and consistent raids of the Germanic Tribes. They also ignore the fact that the Roman Empire under Constantine instituted Christianity as the official religion - ignoring the political reasons of doing so.
But closely tied to how evangelical leaders rile up their base, is the emotional experience converts have when they "find Jesus" and convert. The way evangelicals proselytize is to find some regular life event or catastrophe - a vulnerability - which they can exploit in order to drive home the point that a person needs God and to accept Christ into their hearts. If all else fails, if no vulnerability can be found, they will argue, "but there's still a God-sized hole in your heart which only God can fill" or "don't you feel there's more to life?" Now once a person converts, they are brought into a community and they feel accepted - perhaps for the first time in their lives. With that new-found community and feeling of belonging, that person is then learning and assimilating from the new church community the set of beliefs and ideas that church community holds.
Conversion can be an emotional time for someone, especially if that person seeking community in a time of great vulnerability or loss. But with this vulnerability also comes a susceptibility of going too far in order to prove something.
Now, this is by no means an exhaustive explanation of evangelical thinking - merely a glimpse into the evangelical world and way of thinking. You might ask yourself, "but Trump isn't very Christian." This is true, but while not exhibiting the behavior of a "good Christian man," he is a means to an end for evangelicals. Especially with Mike Pence at his side and a GOP-controlled Congress and, soon, the Supreme Court.
So all of this points toward Trump being a symbol of the triumph of the Christian Far-Right.
Candidate for Portland City Council District 5.
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