Lately, we have seen right-wing politicians invoking Judeo-Christian worldviews. Since Ronald Reagan’s partnership with the Protestant base, invocations have become commonplace. More historically rare is the degree to which the Christian faith, particularly evangelical Christianity, has been closely linked with the GOP.
Politicians claiming that their politics fulfill religious mores is a common tactic of parties old and new. But, it is unusual in American politics for one political party to so unequivocally claim that it represents Christian morals, as does the Republican party in 2017.
Rather than debate if the right’s policies are moral, we’d rather focus on a bigger problem: the fact that the debate is barely happening. The mainstream dialogue, which concedes a kind of alignment between the Republican Party and the evangelical Christian faith, is the threat itself. The most dangerous implication — that a political party filled with a variety of ideologies, agendas and identities can somehow have a monopoly on interpreting a religion — is a tinderbox for abuse.
History shows us that giving a political party the authority to interpret and explain a religion creates a situation where anything can be justified through a religious lens. We spend a lot of time in our democratic republic worrying about the rightful division of church and state. Do we spend enough time considering whether our civil society and social norms afford individuals the same freedom to dissent, without being called blasphemers?
If the President is the standard-bearer of the party, is it he who creates its doctrine? What is the distance between the moral standards of the Republican Party and those of Christianity?
We believe that, when the Republican party visually aligns with a nation’s most practiced religion, we must investigate how much moral and religious authority is given to its leaders.
The Republican party’s current leader is President Donald Trump, someone who has claimed that he’s never asked for forgiveness from God, proudly refuses refuge to Muslim widows and orphans and criticizes the Pope. We must ask if there are clear lines in the sand for Christian religious leaders (other than the Pope) — if so, we have seen little evidence of such lines, from the Muslim ban to sexual assault, being observed.
We sincerely hope these leaders do not follow in the paths of dangerous movements before them and do not abuse the power of their religious association. It would be a dark day when the calculated political actions of a party cannot be criticized without their critics being called anti-religious.