It was something of a joke before the election, but it was true: Hillary Clinton was far more religious than the Republican nominee, and the Christian Right didn’t give a damn. Donald Trump could do no wrong in their eyes, even though his actions repeatedly went against the narrative of what Jesus would do.
The fact that 80% of evangelicals went for Trump showed that a candidate’s religious beliefs were irrelevant. All that mattered to them were certain issues: You had to be against abortion, for guns, willing to roll back civil rights, etc. Everything else could be ignored.
That means there was nothing Clinton could do to counter that baseline opposition to her in the evangelical world. Going to religious gatherings, bringing together Christian leaders, quoting the Bible in every speech — none of that was going to change her reputation in the Christian community.
Yet for all the ways Trump pandered to Christians, it’s not like his act was ever believable. The man never lived like a “Christian” and he sure as hell didn’t know how to speak their language. And yet the Right gave him their support, because voting for the devoutly Methodist woman with a former-missionary running mate, both of whom felt women could make their own health care decisions, was somehow less righteous than supporting the pussy-grabbing, thrice-married liar.
Kevin Drum at Mother Jones discusses the takeaway for Democrats:
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.
The most important bit there is that Democrats shouldn’t bother pretending that they need to be overtly religious in order to gain votes. It just doesn’t matter. People aren’t voting for you because of your faith. They might vote against you if they don’t like your faith, or you don’t have any, but a Christian Democrat doesn’t need to make a big deal out of it.
Let’s hope younger evangelicals lead the charge in voting for candidates who display empathy, kindness, and wisdom. The ones who support gun safety measures because it leads to a safer society. The ones who reduce the need for abortions because they provide women with access to birth control and child-care. The ones who take action on the environment because they see it as taking care of God’s creation.
Of all the horrible things to come from this election, maybe one silver lining is that we no longer have to pretend vocal Christians actually care about religion when it comes to picking their President. If they can vote for Trump, it’s clear they don’t have any actual honorable convictions, and there’s no reason for Democrats to waste their time pretending to be super-religious when they’re really not.
(Screenshot via YouTube)