For decades, Ralph Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition, has been synonymous with the Religious Right. He now heads up the Faith and Freedom Coalition and frequently spars with Bill Maher. But his views haven’t changed over the years. He’s all about using politics to advance a conservative Christian agenda.
How enmeshed are his religious and political goals? According to POLITICO, the title of his forthcoming book was going to be Render to God and Trump before it changed. That’s a reference to the biblical mandate to “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” — respect the government — but Reed was telling Christians to be obedient to Donald Trump.
The new title — hardly any better — is For God and Country: The Christian case for Trump. Reed makes the argument that Christians have a “moral obligation” to support the man. It’s questionable theology and it also raises doubts about how he defines “moral.”
In his book, Reed will “persuasively” argue evangelicals have a duty to defend the incumbent Republican leader against “the stridently anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, and pro-abortion agenda of the progressive left,” according to the description.
Even if that were true, Reed would be arguing that Trump’s ignorance, corruption, greed, and cruelty are all acceptable in the name of advancing a handful of policy goals. It’s hardly an advertisement for Christian “values.”
For example, the Right’s pro-Israel rhetoric is hardly concerned about the welfare of actual Jewish people. Rather, it centers on bringing the Jews to the Holy Land in order to hasten what they think is the second coming of Christ. In reality, Jewish opinions on Israel are pretty nuanced. But for Reed and his ilk, any criticism of the nation at all is akin to anti-Semitism. Perhaps he should listen to Jewish critics of Israel before deciding to speak for them. Don’t hold you breath on that one.
As for the abortion issue, it should go without saying that the Right refuses to be proactive about making sure birth control is free and accessible, or making sure health care is affordable, or creating a society where bringing a child into the world isn’t a deal breaker for those without money or means. The Bible says a lot about the poor. It says relatively little about abortion. The right loves to criticize the left for being so pro-abortion, a stance they believe is antithetical to Christian values. And yet, they say almost nothing about the left’s position on caring for the poor — an issue that the Bible mentions far more often than abortion, and often with a positive emphasis.
[Reed] will also rebut claims by religious and nonreligious critics that white evangelical Protestants “revealed themselves to be political prostitutes and hypocrites” by overwhelmingly backing Trump, a twice-divorced, admitted philanderer, in 2016.
“Critics charge that evangelical Trump supporters … have so thoroughly compromised their witness that they are now disqualified from speaking out on moral issues in the future,” the description reads.
They were disqualified for hypocrisy long before Trump arrived on the political scene, but that’s never stopped them from claiming the moral high ground anyway. What’s new is that more people now realize they’ve been lying about it the whole time. They’re perfectly willing to ignore their own stated morality if it means getting something else they want even more.
I haven’t read the book, obviously, but if Reed’s response is anything like what other Republicans have claimed — “We elected a president, not a pastor” — then he ought to take ownership of the fact that Christian morality is no longer relevant in politics. The Republicans who pretended to be bothered by the supposed scandals of Hillary Clinton or the policies of Barack Obama have been silent or worthless as Trump continues to do all the things they once accused Democrats of doing.
Personal character only matters to Reed’s crowd when a Democrat is in office. And even then, they’ll make up wild conspiracies to discredit them.
We can only assume his “Christian Case for Trump” is one page long and comes with a single illustration of a pastor sticking his fingers in his ears while shouting “JUDGES!”
(Screenshot via YouTube)