The religious right insists that all it wants to do is give Americans with “traditional values” a place at the table. But from time to time, a religious right luminary lets slip that he and his cronies really want to turn this country into a Christian version of Taliban-era Afghanistan.
We got a lovely example of this last Sunday. One of Donald Trump’s most rabid fundie cheerleaders claimed that Harvey Weinstein’s rampage of sexual assault would have never happened if kids were still forced to pray in school.
A lot of eyebrows hiked into hairlines when Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, invited Sean Hannity to last Sunday’s service to promote the movie “Let There Be Light.” Hannity was the movie’s executive producer, which tells the story of a combative atheist who becomes a Christian. A number of prominent evangelicals thought it was grossly inappropriate to use a church service to promote an overtly political film.
Mars, I’m telling you. We’ve awakened on Mars.
— Beth Moore (@BethMooreLPM) October 22, 2017
Christians: Are we really this ignorant of the Scriptures?
"Jesus answered, 'My Kingdom is not of this world.'"
-John 18:36 https://t.co/P6TEX7h5f2
— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) October 22, 2017
But believe it or not, that may not have been the most outrageous part of the service. Not by a longshot. That came during Jeffress’ sermon. While condemning the many Supreme Court decisions that banned mandatory prayer in public schools, he suggested that those decisions ultimately made Weinstein’s debauchery possible. People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch got a clip.
About nine minutes in, Jeffress started peddling standard religious right agitprop on school prayer. He claimed that the Founding Fathers intended for this to be “a Christian nation”–and somehow got there after declaring that they wanted no part of a state church or people being “coerced to worship in churches they don’t want to be in.”
Continuing the line, Jeffress claimed that in 1962, “secularists” and “infidels” tried to see if this country could be “good without God.” They thought we could form our own morality and let each person “decide what is right or wrong for himself.”
But then Jeffress really went off the deep end. He mused that liberals were “in a dither” about Weinstein, and marveled at how long it supposedly took to get there. But he wondered why the left was even raising a fuss at all, considering their views of morality.
“Who’s to say, according to their thinking, that Harvey Weinstein is wrong? Who’s to say that it’s wrong to sexually assault somebody? Maybe Harvey Weinstein was just following his own morality that he developed for himself. What I’m saying to you is, Harvey Weinstein is no anomaly. He’s no accident. He is the natural result of a country that has untethered itself from the absolute truths of God’s Word. That is what the truth is!”
I had to listen to this twice to believe what I was hearing. You mean to tell me that force-feeding people Christianity is all that it would take to stop sexual harassment? If that’s the case, Pastor, then how do you explain the festering sexual harassment scandal at Hannity’s employer, Fox News? And how do you explain Trump reveling in his degrading of women?
Well, we already have an answer to the latter question. Just days after the “Access Hollywood” tapes came out, Jeffress told NPR’s “All Things Considered” that he and other pro-Trump evangelicals still backed Trump because they were voting on the issues, not on his lifestyle. Uh huh. So those issues are so important that we have to put a guy in the people’s house who talked in a manner that would get him thrown out of the houses of most fair-minded people in this country.
When Sasse rapped Jeffress for letting Hannity promote his movie, Jeffress had this to say in response.
Jesus also said His followers are to influence the world for good (Matt. 5:13-16). https://t.co/krq14uenSw
— Dr. Robert Jeffress (@robertjeffress) October 22, 2017
And yet, Jeffress not only supported Trump when the “Access Hollywood” tapes came out, but also doesn’t seem to have a problem with Trump retweeting a violent GIF showing him knocking Hillary Clinton to the ground with a tee shot.
So riddle me this, Pastor. You wag your finger at liberals for not speaking out fast enough against Weinstein, and yet still bow down to Trump? Stones, meet glass house.
(featured image courtesy Gage Skidmore, available under a Creative Commons BY-SA license)