2012 Religious Freedom Lecture, Department of Classics, Philosophy, and Religion, University of Mary Washington. John Fea, History Department, Messiah College speaks on the topic “Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?” January 26, 2012.
Are you sure you want to get rid of Donald Trump?
There are problems with impeaching Donald Trump. A big one is the holy terror waiting in the wings.
That would be Mike Pence, who mirrors the boss more than you realize. He’s also self-infatuated. Also a bigot. Also a liar. Also cruel.
To that brimming potpourri he adds two ingredients that Trump doesn’t genuinely possess: the conviction that he’s on a mission from God and a determination to mold the entire nation in the shape of his own faith, a regressive, repressive version of Christianity. Trade Trump for Pence and you go from kleptocracy to theocracy.
.. The book persuasively illustrates what an ineffectual congressman he was, apart from cozying up to the Koch brothers, Betsy DeVos and other rich Republican donors
.. the strong possibility that he wouldn’t have won re-election; his luck in being spared that humiliation by the summons from Trump, who needed an outwardly bland, intensely religious character witness to muffle his madness and launder his sins; and the alacrity with which he says whatever Trump needs him to regardless of the truth.
.. In Pence’s view, any bite marks in his tongue are divinely ordained. Trump wouldn’t be president if God didn’t want that; Pence wouldn’t be vice president if he weren’t supposed to sanctify Trump. And his obsequiousness is his own best route to the Oval Office, which may very well be God’s grand plan.
.. “I don’t think he’s as resilient, politically, as Bill Clinton was,” D’Antonio said. “He doesn’t relish a partisan fight in the same way. He loves to go to rallies where people adore him.”
There’s no deeply felt policy vision or sense of duty to sustain him through the investigations and accusations. “If the pain is great enough,” D’Antonio said, “I think he’d be disposed not to run again.”.. It suggests callousness at best toward African-Americans. As governor, Pence refused to pardon a black man who had spent almost a decade in prison for a crime that he clearly hadn’t committed. He also ignored a crisis — similar to the one in Flint, Mich. — in which people in a poor, largely black Indiana city were exposed to dangerously high levels of lead. D’Antonio told me: “I think he’s just as driven by prejudice as Trump is.”.. he rallied behind the unhinged former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio. In a speech he called Arpaio a “tireless champion” of the “rule of law.” This was after Arpaio’s contempt-of-court conviction for ignoring a federal judge’s order to stop using illegal tactics to torment immigrants. The conservative columnist George Will seized on Pence’s speech to write that Pence had dethroned Trump as “America’s most repulsive public figure.”.. You can thank Pence for DeVos. They are longtime allies, going back decades, who bonded over such shared passions as making it O.K. for students to use government money, in the form of vouchers, at religious schools.Pence cast the tiebreaking vote in the Senate to confirm her as education secretary... Pence once spoke positively on the House floor about historical figures who “actually placed it beyond doubt that the offense of abortion was a capital offense, punishable even by death.” He seemed to back federal funds for anti-gay conversion therapy. He promoted a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
“He is absolutely certain that his moral view should govern public policy,” D’Antonio told me.
.. Pence sees himself and fellow Christian warriors as a blessed but oppressed group, and his “hope for the future resided in his faith that, as chosen people, conservative evangelicals would eventually be served by a leader whom God would enable to defeat their enemies and create a Christian nation.”
.. Is America worse off with Trump or Pence?
“I have to say that I prefer Donald Trump, because I think that Trump is more obvious in his intent,” he said, while Pence tends to “disguise his agenda.”
Christian nationalism is the biggest predictor of Trump support.
There is more emphasis on saying “Merry Christman” than loving one’s neighbor or living out other Christian values.
More voters want America to be a nominally Christian nation than to display any actual Christian values.
Neither the Trump campaign and RNC thought Trump would win.
The RNC thought Trump had a 20% chance of winning.
polarization, entertainment, epistemology, Neil Postman
systems, structures, incentives – probably the best bet for change
- gerrymandering, political parties, role of money, power of parties to select nominees: elites vs voters
- in order to be more democratic it needs to be less democratic
How Democracies die: in Latin Americans use democracy to destroy Democracy.
mediated vs direct democracy.
The founders rigged it to keep too much power out of the hands of the rank and file uneducated masses. Thinking that we need the elite to insulate ourselves from ourselves.
Since 1968, there have been reforms away from a balanced system, has swung towards the will of the people deciding almost everything.
The “unwashed masses” — not that the voters are stupid, but they are not experts.
The average voter should not have to know the difference between mandatory and discretionary spending.
a recent gathering at the museum featuring speakers who intend to “transform nations” by “igniting a holy reformation in every sphere of society,”
.. “We wholeheartedly believe the Museum of the Bible represents an ‘Ark of the Covenant’ for our nation, bearing witness to his goodness,”
.. A typical museum might invite visitors to explore the multiple meanings of the Bible and the complex history of its reception in different cultures over time. But this museum is not the place for that kind of inquiry; you’re here to celebrate.
.. The museum is a safe space for Christian nationalists, and that is the key to understanding its political mission.
.. Its subtler task is to embed a certain set of assumptions in the landscape of the capital.
.. Mr. Drollinger believes that social welfare programs “have no basis in Scripture,” that Christians in government have an obligation to hire only Christians and that women should not be allowed to teach grown men.
.. He lays out his thinking in a 2013 book, “Rebuilding America: The Biblical Blueprint.”
.. The “institution of the state” is “an avenger of wrath,” he explains, and its “God-given responsibility” is “to moralize a fallen world through the use of force.”
.. participants in his groups, however, aren’t just anybody. They include Mike Pompeo, the director of the C.I.A.; Attorney General Jeff Sessions; Vice President Mike Pence; Betsy DeVos
.. the message that national unity can be achieved only through a religious “awakening” and allegiance to conservative Christianity.
.. to inspire confidence in the absolute authority and reliability of the Bible.”
.. When Steve Green, the museum’s founder and the president of the Hobby Lobby crafts chain, formed the museum’s parent organization in 2010, he informed the I.R.S.
.. the location of this museum was an act of symbolic and practical genius. If you’re going to build a Christian nation, this is where you start.