Dartmouth’s Randall Balmer: Under Trump, America's religious right is rewriting its code of ethics

Historians in the News
tags: religion, evangelicals, Trump, Randall Balmer

Randall Balmer is the John Phillips Professor in Religion at Dartmouth College and the author of Evangelicalism in America.

The religious right’s wholesale embrace of the Republican party and of Donald J Trump, both as candidate and as president, has necessitated a rewriting of evangelical ethics. Here’s a summary, with annotations.

Lying is all right as long as it serves a higher purpose

Yes, we know all about that business about not bearing false witness in the Ten Commandments, but that was a very long time ago. Can’t we get beyond that? Truth and truthiness are overrated. After all, did it really matter that the “birther” nonsense was hokum? Not at all. It enraged those godless liberals and launched our brother in Christ Donald Trump toward the presidency. 

And all those websites fact-checking our president, claiming that he told more than 2,000 lies his first year in office? Big deal. He’s also pro-life, and he’s trying to root out transgender folks in the military, so cut the guy some slack. Besides, that same website that tracks lying concluded that Barack Obama told 28 lies during his two terms in office. So there. (Democrats are such hypocrites!)

It’s no problem to be married more than, well, twice

Let’s be clear here. We’re not talking about polygamy (sorry, Mitt), only serial marriages. This revision has been a long time in the making. Yes, Jesus said: “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and whoever marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.” Through the 1970s, we evangelicals ostracized anyone who was divorced, let alone divorced and remarried. But then we decided to ditch a family man (and fellow evangelical) in favor of a divorced and remarried Hollywood actor in 1980. Once that barrier was breached, we concluded that, hey, if two marriages are okay, why not three?

Immigrants are scum

We grant that Jesus said something about welcoming the stranger and feeding the hungry. And Leviticus says: “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself.” But our careful study of scriptural texts has led us to conclude that the almighty had Norwegians in mind, not Mexicans or Salvadorans. ...

Read entire article at The Guardian

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