On Friday night, Donald Trump gave a shout-out to his buddy, Pastor Robert Jeffress, in the form of a book endorsement on Twitter. It wasn’t all that surprising since the two have formed a tight alliance over the past year. Jeffress said back in August that God gave Trump “authority to take out Kim Jong-Un.” He said last month that kneeling NFL players made Jesus mad because God wants us to respect the government.
I guess Jeffress paid the President back this weekend by taking aim at everyone outside Trump’s base.
In a sermon to his First Baptist Dallas megachurch, Jeffress spoke about three Supreme Court decisions that “have so weakened the moral and spiritual infrastructure of this nation.”
In particular, listen to what he says around the 7:54 mark when talking about Engle v. Vitale, one of multiple cases that removed mandatory Christian prayers from public schools.
You know, every time I am debating one of these pinhead lawyers from the ACLU or the Freedom From Religion Foundation on Fox News, I always ask them about this. I said, “Can you explain to me why, in the 1860s, it was constitutional to teach the Bible, or to pray, or to put Nativity scenes in the public school, but in 1980 — 120 years later — you can’t even post the copies of the Ten Commandments? Can you explain to me what changed? Did the Constitution change and nobody told us about it? And do the judges today have greater insight into what our Founders meant than those who lived closest to the Founders?”
No, they never have an answer for that. But I’ve got an answer for what changed. What changed is this: We have allowed the atheists, the infidels, the Humanists, to seize control of this country and to pervert our Constitution into something the Founders never intended. That is what’s happened and we’ve gotta say “enough” to that!
It’s rich for Jeffress to whine about how atheists have seized control of the country when evangelical Christians put Trump in office and our government is overrun with religious conservatives — in education, energy, the EPA, as Attorney General — who don’t give a damn about evidence or reason.
If Jeffress thinks atheists have this much power, I think I speak for all of us when I say we’ll gladly trade for his.
But it’s not like his argument makes any sense either. Interpretations of the law change over time. It wasn’t constitutional for women to vote 120 years ago, but we (eventually) fixed that. It wasn’t constitutional for black people to have any rights when the Constitution was written, but we (eventually) fixed that. (Kind of.) And when it comes to religion, the Supreme Court decisions in the 1960s acknowledged that treating Christianity as the default religion for everyone in our public schools violated the Establishment Clause. The Court corrected a mistake. That’s what they do.
Why did it take so long? It helped that non-Christians finally had the courage to speak up, something that was (and still is) incredibly dangerous.
Jeffress went on to talk about legal abortion and marriage equality as other decisions that hurt our nation, but it’s not surprising that a Baptist leader would be disgusted by the idea of women and LGBTQ people having the same rights as him.
This is what passes for conservative Christianity today. Hatred and lies, wrapped up in Bible verses, for a gullible crowd that never bothers asking tough questions of the man on stage fomenting a culture war.