One of the reasons conservative Christians voted for Donald Trump is because of the hope (since vindicated) that he would reverse Obama administration policies that required either that faith-based groups to either leave Public Square or remain but at the cost of compromising their commitment to their own moral traditions.
On Thursday, the White House announced a new rule that will help faith-based organizations remain a vital part of the child-welfare system. The Obama-era provisions redefined federal nondiscrimination policies in a way that excluded faith-based groups. The new rule brings regulations at the Department of Health and Human Services back in line with all other federal nondiscrimination law and Supreme Court precedent.
It’s worth noting, that this unwelcome choice was limited wholly to matters of human sexuality. In effect, the Obama administration said to faith-based groups, agree with us about contraception, abortion, and homosexuality or abandon your ministry.
Besides being unconstitutional, these policies were intrinsically unjust seeking as they did to undermine faith-based communities. A Catholic school, for example, that employed an openly homosexual teacher does so at the expense of their Church’s teaching on the nature of marriage. Likewise with an Evangelical Christian, Jewish or Muslim social service agency that is required to place children with same-sex couples.
When faced with an aggressively secular that seeks to use the government to undermine a community’s religious faith and practice, is ti any wonder that that conservative Christians turned out in large numbers for Trump?
If Democrats, and especially progressive Demoncrats, are serious about taking the White Hise and flipping the Senate, they will need to adopt policies that protect not only the rights of sexual minorities but also conservative Christian, Jews, and Muslims.
For Orthodox Christians, the absence of such policies–and especially the commitment to continue and expand the anti-religious liberty policies of the Obama administration–makes voting for Democratic candidates morally problematic for two reasons.
First, these policies seek to compel believers to agree with policies that they find morally unacceptable. Second, in doing so these policies actively undermine the witness of a community not only in the Public Square but also within its own precincts.
There has been much written about the hypocrisy of evangelical Christ support for President Trump. And most of it, I think, is correct.
However, what remains unexamined by these same critics is the way in which Democrats have created this situation. Without a credible alternative that protects their religious liberty, it is not surprising that conservative religious believers continue to support the Trump administration.
Politics is always a trade-off. There is rarely if ever, a policy or politician wholly in agreement with the Gospel. When the alternative placed before conservative religious voters is a seriously, almost comically, morally flawed candidate who protects their liberty and an equally, if differently morally flawed candidate who pursues policies that risk that liberty, one ought not to be surprised that they vote for the former.
Criticisms of this choice demonstrate either an appalling lack of empathy for one’s fellow citizens or an attempt to shame conservative believers to no longer pursue their own, morally legitimate, self-interest. Neither is in the service of a free and just society.