Sunday, October 18, 2020

US election 2020: Why Christians will vote for Donald Trump

The vast majority of churchgoing Christians, Protestant and Catholic, and the overwhelming ­majority of Orthodox Jews, will vote for Donald Trump on ­November 3, just as they did four years ago.

This is surely a paradox. Trump is thrice married and was a self-proclaimed libertine in the past. He sometimes tells lies and is frequently boorish in his personal behaviour, mocking and insulting opponents. And he praises some dictators.

He has been shabby about keeping his presidency and the ­financial interests of his business empire separate, as well as keeping presidential diplomacy and his domestic political interests separate.

The ethical case against Trump is substantial, yet the most religiously conscientious and morally scrupulous people will vote for him overwhelmingly. What explains this paradox? And are they right to do so?

According to exit polls, in 2016 Trump won a majority of those who identify as Protestants and a majority of those who identify as Catholics.

Within each category, there were big differences. Trump’s religious support, according to Pew Research Centre, has declined a very little. Its polls now show Trump winning 78 per cent of white Evangelical Protestants, 53 per cent of white non-Evangelical Protestants, but only 9 per cent of black Protestants.

Trump will again win white Catholics, with 52 per cent supporting him, but because he only secures 26 per cent of Hispanic Catholics he is likely to narrowly lose the Catholic vote overall — to his opponent Joe Biden, who is himself a Catholic.

Most surveys suggest Trump will win the votes of nearly 90 per cent of Orthodox Jews, though he will lose among Jews overall.

However, Trump will win the majority of churchgoing Catholics. Among Christians who attend church weekly, Trump will win 60 per cent or more. That is a striking figure.

It suggests an underlying collision of philosophies, of civic and life philosophies, which is tearing America apart.

The qualified support for Trump by Christians is not irrational, illogical or unjustified.

Part of what voting Christians hope to get from Trump is on display in the Senate confirmation hearings for Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Barrett is surely admirable. She is a conservative Catholic and has been a longtime member of a charismatic Catholic group.

Charismatic Catholics pay special attention to the gifts of the Holy Spirit. To simplify things pretty spectacularly, they are the Catholic cousins of Pentecostals (although there are some theological differences between charismatic and Pentecostal). Just as Scott Morrison is the first Pentecostal leader of an OECD nation, so Barrett will be the first charismatic justice on the bench of the US Supreme Court.

Barrett, now 48, has been married since young to the one husband, and has five biological children with him. The youngest has Downs syndrome. When informed of this, the Barrett parents decided to proceed with the birth. They have also adopted two children from Haiti. There is no suggestion the Barretts are other than a happy family. This is her private business and doesn’t make her better or worse as a judge.

It does, however, suggest that she lives the values she espouses. Barrett is also an immensely distinguished legal academic, becoming at a young age a professor of law at Notre Dame University. Notre Dame is not Ivy League, but is a very prestigious university.

She is a legal conservative. That doesn’t mean she will rule for the right-wing option in any contested case. It means her approach is to interpret the constitution, and the law, as it is written. This does have a profound conservative consequence. Judges with this philosophy are much less likely to discover secret, hidden, implied new rights in the Constitution which accord with contemporary left-liberal ideology and compel people and institutions to abide by that ideology.

American Christians are concerned by assaults on religious freedom. Thus a court could ­decide that traditional Christian views of marriage or morality or the meaning of human life threaten or contradict some element of contemporary identity politics and then penalise institutions — schools, universities or hospitals — that teach traditional Christian views.

Barrett, in her confirmation hearings, declined to express a view on contentious legal cases because it would be wrong for a judge to do so outside a courtroom. However, she said she personally abhors discrimination and would never discriminate against a person on the grounds of their sex or sexual orientation. But the left-liberal political and legal movements have argued that merely to teach traditional Christian doctrine, at school or university, that marriage is between a man and a woman, is to discriminate against gay students. It is a concern for rulings of this kind that motivates Christians to be obsessed with judges.

In the US, countless ­issues that should be up to legislatures are determined by judges. Trump has appointed hundreds of ­legally conservative judges. That was a huge issue in the serious, conscientious debate so many Christian journals and groups conducted about whether to support Trump four years ago.

Way back in the 2000 campaign, it was revealed at the last moment that George W Bush as a young man had been convicted of drink driving. More than a million Evangelicals were so unhappy about this that they stayed away from the polls. Yet now they support Trump, who makes Bush look like Abraham Lincoln.

Some American Christians do indeed enjoy Trump’s crudity and combativeness and seeing voting for him as a gesture of cultural defiance against the dominant left-liberal ideology. But from reading bits and pieces of many American Christian journals, I think tens of millions of Christians vote for Trump despite his bad character, not remotely because of it.

The choice in an election is ­binary. Hillary Clinton was herself guilty of misconduct in office, and she and her husband grew personally very rich off the back of notionally philanthropic activities. The same is true of Joe Biden and his family.

Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, made huge money in Ukraine and China in large part because his dad was vice-president.

That is not a joyful reflection, but it diminishes the moral choice between Trump and Biden. More important, there is not a single contentious issue on which Biden sticks with the teachings of his own Catholic Church against the dominant zeitgeist.

Thus Biden says that he believes that human life begins at conception and abortion is wrong, but he would not seek to impose this view on society. That’s fair enough. But he then goes on to support, with Kamala Harris, legal abortion at every stage of pregnancy.

These are complex and difficult issues and it is wrong to assume bad faith by anyone. But while many people would reject the idea that one second after a conception there exists a human being with human rights, most are very reluctant to accept abortion up to the point of birth — the idea that an unborn baby is not a human being one minute before he or she is born.

Extreme late-term abortions are very rare. But that doesn’t mean that they are not an ethical issue. Peter Singer is an extremely useful atheist philosopher because he thinks through honestly the logical end point of atheist moral assumptions.

In Rethinking Life and Death, he argues: “Human babies are not born self-aware or capable of grasping their lives over time. They are not persons.” He has argued that if they are born handicapped and their parents don’t want to keep them, they should be allowed to die.

When this position aroused controversy, he replied with compelling logic that if it was OK to kill a baby 10 minutes before it is born, why is it so wrong to kill a baby 10 minutes after birth?

Trump has issued a presidential executive order entitled Born Alive. It requires that if a baby survives a botched abortion attempt, doctors and nurses must render lifesaving assistance, which is not the practice now.

Christians, Evangelicals and Catholics alike regard such babies as human beings, and terminating them as taking innocent human lives. They may be wrong to hold those views, although they were the consensus Western view over most of the past 2000 years. But if they do hold such views, it is certainly not unreasonable to vote for a President who will try to give some limited effect to them.

As Barrett commented during her academic career, it is vanishingly unlikely that abortion will ever again be generally illegal in the US. But there are live questions over restrictions at the margin. It is not hypocritical, nor irrational, for Christians to choose to cast their vote on the basis of such considerations.

American Christians are nothing like the Obama stereotype of them as hillbillies bitterly clinging to guns. The most generous givers to charity among all US demographics are Evangelicals. Domestic violence is much rarer among churchgoing Christian families than in general society. Religious practice in the home is a strong indicator of both spouses feeling that family decision-­making is mutual and consensual.

The sociological evidence is overwhelming that religious belief, combined with regular church attendance, predicts human happiness.

There is a split in Christianity, of course. Christians whose chief theological rhetoric is social justice generally oppose Trump. But liberal Christianity has consistently shown itself to be a self-­destroying movement. Theo­logically orthodox Christians believe their faith impels them to acts of charity — often sustained and heroic acts of charity. But if your sole purpose in life is social action, then you don’t need God.

Historically, liberal Christ­ianity first marginalises God, then finds it doesn’t need him at all. In a very short time, this moves from theologically anaemic to no theology at all.

There are other issues that lead Christians to support Trump. His administration has made a big issue internationally of freedom of religion. This includes defending persecuted Christians. The Pew Centre reports that Christianity is the most persecuted ­religion in the world today.

Conscientious Christians could vote for Trump or Biden or not vote at all. Neither candidate is so bad as to make them unconscionable, as it would be for a Christian to vote, say, for a communist or a Nazi.

But when you examine the ­issues that motivate American Christians, it is not irrational that so many vote Trump. A paradox, yes. A contradiction, no.


SCOTUS Ends Left's Attempt to Delay Census

Leftists have milked the coronavirus excuse for all their worth, including taking advantage of a novel event to further tilt the electoral map in Democrats’ favor. Thankfully, the U.S. Supreme Court has at least slowed the effort to drag out the 2020 Census until a Joe Biden administration takes power.

On Tuesday, the justices ruled that the Census Bureau had the authority to end its data collection on October 31. The Court’s ruling overturned the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in favor of leftist groups that have dubiously contended the Census Bureau’s ending date would jeopardize producing an accurate population count. As noted above, the real goal for Democrats and the Left was to push back the census completion date in order to secure greater redistricting power.

However, as noted by Ninth Circuit dissenting Judge Patrick Bumatay — with whom the justices agreed — the constitutional mandate for administration of the census does not mention “accuracy” in the count. The Census Bureau must “balance the need for accuracy against the statute’s hard deadline,” Bumatay observed. “Determining what level of accuracy is sufficient is simply not something that the judicial branch is equipped to do.”

Furthermore, as The Wall Street Journal reported, “The Supreme Court’s unsigned order Tuesday stays the lower-court injunction and allows the bureau to immediately wrap up its data collection. The stay might not have a large practical effect since the bureau has already enumerated 99.9% of the population in 47 states with the exceptions of Louisiana (98.3%), Mississippi (99.4%) and South Dakota (99.8%).”

In short, SCOTUS stepped in to prevent another instance of the judicial branch acting as the legislative. And it stepped in to stop just one more avenue leftists are using to stack the deck in their favor. Whether it be the Census, the Electoral College, adding DC and Puerto Rico as states (to pack the Senate), or packing the Supreme Court, today’s Democrat Party is all about “fundamentally transforming” American institutions with the end result of giving Democrats unassailable power.




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