Earlier this week, Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri delivered a message to the conservatives watching him, regarding the Supreme Court’s ruling on sexual orientation and gender identity: Don’t let anyone tell you to shut up.
Apparently, conservative Christians have been forced to be silent for far too long.
Who is forcing them to be silent? Beats me.
Are they silent? Never.
What is he talking about? No one knows.
Peter Montgomery of Right Wing Watch summarizes the clip:
“So, I would just say, it’s not time for religious conservatives to shut up,” he said. “No, we’ve done that for too long. No, it’s time for religious conservatives to stand up and to speak out.”
No, Hawley was not joking. He claimed that religious conservatives have been expected to keep their mouth shut about their priorities and go along with the Republican establishment, “and, in return, the establishment will put some judges on the bench who supposedly will protect your constitutional rights to freedom of worship, to freedom of exercise.”
The idea that right-wing Christians have ever been quiet is news to those of us who have been covering the things they say for many, many years. As Montgomery notes, they’ve been vocal, and they’ve gotten their way many times over:
Religious–right activists have dominated the Republican Party’s platform committee and made their agenda the official agenda of the GOP.
Pro-choice Republicans were virtually driven from the party as religious-right anti-choice activists wrote their demands into the party platform and pushed ever more radical restrictions on legal access to abortion.
A major part of Donald Trump’s campaign strategy — including his selection of Mike Pence as his running mate — was to promise the religious right whatever they wanted should they help him win office. And once Trump got into power with the overwhelming support of Christian conservatives, he made good on his promise, turning the executive branch, especially the Department of Health and Human Services, over to religious–right activists who have used their power to write the conservative Christian wish list into federal policy.
We know that the Christian Persecution narrative is a sacred tenet of evangelicalism. The question is, after winning the presidency, and taking over all three branches of government (until 2018, when Democrats won back the House), how in the world does this group still feel like they don’t have enough? While America doesn’t have an “official” religion (much to their chagrin), it’s undeniable that Christians have more political power than any other group. In some areas of the country — particularly the South — you wouldn’t be faulted for assuming every person you meet is some form of Christian, unless they specify otherwise.
If Christians like Hawley have been silent before now, then who are the people complaining about marriage equality, church closings in the name of COVID, women’s rights issues, “In God We Trust” signs, etc? Evangelical Christians aren’t just not silent; they throw loud temper tantrums if they don’t get their way.
That’s what this SCOTUS ruling was, too. A temporarily glitch to right-wing Christians. Remember: Even with the ruling, it’s possible Christian business owners will be able to discriminate against employees and customers simply by citing their faith. Justice Neil Gorsuch even alluded to that, punting that question down the road. And yet that’s still not good enough to Hawley who wants to discriminate right now.
No one can seriously say conservative Christians haven’t had their voices heard by the government. Not with a straight face, anyway. The problem is too many people are listening, not that no one can hear them.