Evangelicals defend Trump’s alleged marital infidelity. But his infidelity to America is worse.

The infidelity that we must concern ourselves with is called “whoring after other gods” in the Bible (see Hosea 9:1 or Amos 7:17).

.. Whenever a nation chooses to hurt the poor, oppress the stranger, mistreat the weak and corrupt the courts in the Bible, prophets accuse political leaders of public infidelity. Unlike in a marriage, such adultery is not a private matter; it must be challenged and called out in the public square.

.. Jerry Falwell, Jr., responding to critics, claimed Jesus’ teachings are about private morality, not public policy: “Jesus said love our neighbors as ourselves but never told Caesar how to run Rome,” he wrote on Twitter.

..  It’s hard to imagine someone who proclaimed the “kingdom of God” in the first century not having a vision for the transformation of society.

.. It’s hard to imagine, that is, unless your whole faith has been built upon the justification of systemic evil. Falwell’s distinctly American reading of the Bible is not new. It was passed down to him by generations of so-called Christians who learned to read the Bible in the 19th century as a text that did not condemn, but rather affirmed race-based chattel slavery.

.. For those moral activists, the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision and the Missouri Compromise were deeply moral issues — inseparable from one’s personal relationship with God.
.. After the Civil War, when federal troops enforced the Reconstruction amendments for a brief period in the South, slaveholder religion did not go away. Instead, it developed a way of using scripture to criticize “Northern corruption” and black political power. In a word, slaveholder religion framed the attempt to expand democracy in the 1870s as immorality.
.. We cannot understand the “Moral Majority” that Falwell’s father helped organize to counter the policies of the civil rights movement apart from this history.
.. This strand of slaveholder religion has always been primarily concerned with the consolidation of power and the justification of systemic injustice. The Trumpvangelicals are not forsaking their god to defend Trump. They are showing us that their god is cash, not Christ.

The Double Standard in the Progressive War against the Dead 

Will Progressives erase the history of their racist heroes, or only their racist enemies?

.. Much of the country has demanded the elimination of references to, and images of, people of the past — from Christopher Columbus to Robert E. Lee — who do not meet our evolving standards of probity. In some cases, such damnation may be understandable if done calmly and peacefully — and democratically, by a majority vote of elected representatives.

.. Few probably wish to see a statue in a public park honoring Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest, one of the founding members of the Ku Klux Klan, or Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney, who wrote the majority opinion in the racist Dred Scott decision that set the stage for the Civil War four years later.

But cleansing the past is a dangerous business. The wide liberal search for more enemies of the past may soon take progressives down hypocritical pathways they would prefer not to walk.

In the present climate of auditing the past, it is inevitable that Margaret Sanger’s Planned Parenthood will have to be disassociated from its founder. Sanger was an unapologetic racist and eugenicist who pushed abortion to reduce the nonwhite population.

.. Should we ask that Ruth Bader Ginsburg resign from the Supreme Court? Even with the benefit of 21st-century moral sensitivity, Ginsburg still managed to echo Sanger in a racist reference to abortion (“growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of”).

Why did we ever mint a Susan B. Anthony dollar? The progressive suffragist once said, “I will cut off this right arm of mine before I will ever work or demand the ballot for the Negro and not the woman.”

Liberal icon and Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren pushed for the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II while he was California’s attorney general.

President Woodrow Wilson ensured that the Armed Forces were not integrated. He also segregated civil-service agencies. Why, then, does Princeton University still cling to its Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs? To honor a progressive who did a great deal of harm to African-American causes?

In the current logic, Klan membership certainly should be a disqualifier of public commemoration. Why are there public buildings and roads still dedicated to the late Democratic senator Robert Byrd, former “exalted cyclops” of his local Klan affiliate, who reportedly never shook his disgusting lifelong habit of using the N-word? Why is Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, once a Klansman, in the 20th century, still honored as a progressive hero?

.. Are the supposedly oppressed exempt from charges of oppression? Farm-labor icon Cesar Chavez once sent union thugs to the border to physically bar U.S. entry to undocumented Mexican immigrants, whom he derided as “wetbacks” in a fashion that would today surely earn Chavez ostracism by progressives as a xenophobe.

.. What is the ultimate purpose of progressives condemning the past? Does toppling the statue of a Confederate general — without a referendum or a majority vote of an elected council — improve racial relations? Does renaming a bridge or building reduce unemployment in the inner city?

.. Does selectively warring against the illiberal past make us feel better about doing something symbolic when we cannot do something substantive? Or is it a sign of raw power and ego when activists force authorities to cave to their threats and remove images and names in the dead of night? Does damning the dead send a flashy signal of our superior virtue?

Divided America Stands—Then, and Now

Historian Allen Guelzo says the nation is more bitterly split than ever—with the exception of the Civil War era.

..  it wasn’t because Taney was the most vile pro-slavery ideologue in the country,” Mr. Guelzo says. “He wasn’t—I mean, the man had actually emancipated his own slaves. And while he certainly wasn’t friendly to abolitionists, that’s not why he wrote Dred Scott the way he did. He did it because the situation in 1857 seemed to have demonstrated that neither the legislative branch nor the executive branch was capable of arriving at a solution for the slavery question. So who steps up into the batter’s box? The judiciary—we will settle this.”
.. “Because these slave states were all contiguous, they could look at a map and see themselves as a political unit.” Eleven did in 1860-61.
.. If you look at Democrats and Republicans since the middle of the 19th century,” he says, “the political culture of the parties has not changed all that much.” Their policies may be drastically different, but “that’s the tip of the iceberg. What you want to look at, as far as historical continuity, is the seven-eighths of the iceberg below the water.”
.. The other components pairs do seem continuous for both parties, as Mr. Guelzo says. Morals: Democrats, “individual”; Republicans, “collective.” Economic system: Democrats, “static”; Republicans, “dynamic.” Philosophy: Democrats, “Romantic”; Republicans, “Enlightenment.”
.. Democrats preferred the economic uniformity of a society of small farmers and artisans but were more tolerant of cultural and moral diversity.”
.. political style, a cousin of philosophy: “Democrats love passion, Republicans love reason.”
.. “Lincoln is as reasonable as a Vulcan with Asperger’s,” Mr. Guelzo says. “If you listened to him for five minutes, you weren’t impressed. If you listened to him for 25 minutes, he had you, because you couldn’t argue. He had done all the work.”
.. Republicans think of themselves as Americans first, whereas today Democratic localism takes the form of subnational identity politics.
.. decline in national solidarity, Mr. Guelzo cites Nancy Pelosi’s and Harry Reid’s public assertions .. that the Iraq war was a failure.
.. In the 1850s, “you had brawls on the floor of the House of Representatives. One of the most precious ones was when William Barksdale from Mississippi got into a flying fistfight with a Northern representative, and one of them reached out to grab him by the hair and pulled off his wig.” That was in 1858.
.. “The people who always wanted to silence others, always wanted to have the lynchings, were the pro-slavery people,” he says. “It surprises my students, as it should, that Southern postmasters were given free rein to censor the mails coming into Southern post offices. They could take material that might be suspected of being abolitionist in nature; they were allowed to destroy it—because you didn’t want a slave who might turn out to be literate to read any of that, now did you?”
.. “By getting it out of the states, it’s removed an opportunity for it to become that kind of sectional issue. I’m not saying that as a fan of Roe v. Wade, but at least we haven’t gone to war over it.