You can also listen to the article in audio version.
Early April, Michigan state. “Father in Heaven, we firmly believe that Donald Trump is the current and true President of the United States,” a local evangelical church spokesman told the crowd.
In Jesus’ name, the people prayed that the candidates for whom President Trump spoke would receive support at the upcoming Republican Congress. According to The New York Times, at other rallies across the United States, people describe their transcendental encounters with a divine entity – they feel that their work has contributed to the establishment of the kingdom of heaven on earth.
Republicans have been associated with the American Christian right for decades. The connection with former President Donald Trump has begun to grow, and now it is no exception that prayers (for those who ended up behind bars due to the attack on the Capitol at the beginning of last January) or religious songs are heard at political meetings. Many believers began to associate their faith with their political life.
Opening prayer at Trump rally: “We’re grateful for the living legacy of Donald Trump. We thank you, oh God, for the clarity of purpose you have given to Pres Trump. We thank you for his consistency and tenacity .. wrap your arms of loving protection around Pres Trump.” pic.twitter.com/VN3Umrwgmz
– Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) April 23, 2022
The report has teamed up with political scientist Maciej Potz, who now works at Stanford University. “For a person from a highly atheistic state in central Europe, Americans’ approach to religion is incomprehensible. Faith is very present in the American public sphere, it is an integral part of it. The US is still secular in the sense that church and state institutions remain separate, it is not necessary as in Poland, “said the expert.
“But religious rhetoric is ubiquitous here. Every American president more or less stumbles upon her in his speeches, court proceedings begin with words about God – and people then proclaim that ‘God protects Donald Trump’. It also has to do with the feeling that Americans are a chosen nation. This is also evident in their approach to foreign policy that ‘States are on a mission they must fulfill’. For many of them, supporting someone means praying for them, “added political scientist Potz.
Evangelicals are most in favor of Republicans
Such an approach permeates American society as a whole. And the closer connection between Republicans and the Christian right, according to Potz, shows no significant change. In principle, this is nothing completely new, said political scientist Maciej Potz in an interview.
About 40 percent of Americans are Protestants. And two-thirds of them belong to one of the evangelical churches. They naturally tend to Republicans, because they share the same conservative values. But ethnicity also plays a role in this. Most ethnic minorities, even believers, lean far more toward the Democratic Party.
political scientist Maciej Potz
“Especially when you focus on members of evangelical churches, they are definitely in favor of the Republican Party and its candidates. This has been the case since the 1970s, when the Christian right movement was formed and its members became politically involved – they went to demonstrations, issued petitions and, above all, began to vote, “Potz explained.
Moral majority and the Christian coalition
The most prominent organization that promoted the interests of the Christian right was the one called the Moral Majority at an early stage of the movement. Founded in 1979 by Baptist preacher Jerry Falwell, it mobilized voters to support Republican politicians with whom they shared the same conservative values. Although the moral majority went bankrupt in the 1980s, the Christian right remains active – especially in the fight against abortion and same-sex marriage.
Pat Robertson, an evangelical from Virginia and moderator of a religious talk show, was also an important figure in the early decades of the Christian right. Robertson founded the Christian Coalition, which later took over from the Moral Majority. She, too, eventually lost her influence, but gradually other similar groups emerged.
On the left is American ex-president Donald Trump, on the right is Jerry Falwell Jr. – the son of a Baptist preacher. Trump was the first president since George Bush Sr. to speak on the occasion of the graduation of Liberty University in Virginia.
“I’m not sure if this connection is growing – I think the strongest was in 2016, when Donald Trump was elected president. But a lot of factors play a role. For example, the extent to which people practice their faith: the more they go to church, the more they resonate with Republicans. And all the more so they would vote for Donald Trump, “said the expert. He has an academic base at the University of Łódži in Poland, but now works at Stanford University in the USA.
Trump mobilized people who had been forgotten
The United States is waiting for another important election in the fall. This time, the Americans will vote on the distribution of power in Congress, and at least according to the conservative part of the political scene there, American values and the Christian identity on which the States are based are at stake.
Foto: Stanford University
A political scientist from the Polish University of Łódži now works as a visiting professor at Stanford University in the United States. In 2020, he published the book Political Science of Religion: Theorizing the Political Role of Religion and previously two other publications in Polish. His research focuses mainly on the connection between politics and religion.
“According to some research, this issue was one that led people to vote for Donald Trump six years ago. Even now, they perceive him as such a protector of traditional Christian American values, “the expert explained.
However, it is interesting in itself how widespread popularity Trump – a twice-divorced tycoon who once supported the right to abortion – was able to secure among American conservatives. At first glance, according to Potz, this is not an ideal candidate – especially for traditional, secular republicans with higher education:
“But he did not target them, he won the favor of people who felt that they had been forgotten. For example, those living in the countryside. The American identity policy focused on ethnic minorities or the LGBT community, which the Democrats are focusing on, passed them by. So Trump became their president – he represented them better than the Republicans in Congress, well-educated members of the traditional party establishment. So it’s not just a religious issue, it’s also about the social situation of this part of the electorate. “
“People say ‘God protects Donald Trump.’ It also has to do with the feeling that Americans are a chosen nation, “said the political scientist.
The Christian right supported Trump as a presidential candidate during the Republican primaries before the 2016 election. For example, Russell Moore, former chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention Commission on Ethics and Religious Freedom.
Trump has made a living as a casino mogul – an industry that goes after the poor and encourages amoral and often criminal behavior. (…) He is an unrepentant serial adulter who has left two wives for other women. About someone who used vulgar, harsh expressions when talking about women, as well as speaking ugly and hatefully about immigrants and other minorities. I don’t think it represents the values that evangelicals in this country long for.
Russell Moore, former representative of the Southern Baptist Convention, in 2015
But Moore was in the minority with his criticism. For example, senior evangelical church leaders stood by Trump in 2020 to launch the Evangelical Coalition for Trump in Florida. It was another election year – in November the president fought for another election period. Unsuccessfully.
However, the then head of the White House in the video stands in the middle of a group of evangelical leaders who pray for him sensitively and here and there they raise their gaze pleadingly to heaven. “Father, we come to you today and thank you for this nation, which was born in 1776. We pray for 2020, when it will be born again,” says one of the speakers.
Topics? Abortion and the LGBT + community
Those shared traditional values are now crystallizing into thorny topics that are largely driven by American public debate. One typical example is the issue of abortion, which Potz said was controversial before it became part of the Christian agenda.
“But this question does not only mobilize Protestants – it is also controversial for Catholics and Mormons and other believers. Then there is anti-LGBT + rhetoric focused mainly on equal marriages. Some American states have tried to ban them or define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, but the Supreme Court later ruled that individual states may not take such measures, “the political scientist explained.
That was before President Trump managed to strengthen the Conservative wing of the Supreme Court, which now has a majority. There are six conservative judges, while there are only three liberal members. “In the future, it will be a way for Republicans to pursue their conservative agenda. That’s important, “Potz said.
The party as a tool of God
According to the political scientist, the Republican Party itself now functions for its voters on the Christian right as a kind of “political tool of God” to bring conservative values into general force.
“As early as the 1980s, the believers on the right wanted these values to permeate the public sphere. So that it is not a private matter, but rather something that the whole nation will subscribe to. Otherwise, she said, God would turn away from America, “the political scientist warned, adding that this was a legacy of Puritan roots.
“It has become a task for Republicans, who are closer to this thinking – the party is therefore trying to meet such goals and hold high positions. Including those on school boards and the like – they can control what is taught in schools in this way. And it is necessary to ban the teaching of Darwinism or to remove inappropriate books from circulation, “Potz said.
“It is extremely interesting. It is a company with the best scientists who come up with new technologies. And there are a huge number of people living in the same country who already believe in creationism and reject evolutionary theory. It’s strange. And the Republican Party is a way to get these ideas forward, “political scientist Maciej Potz added to the Connexionblog.