In the presidential race, the evangelical right is by and large backing Donald Trump. It’s a strange move considering the candidate’s two divorces, qualified support of Planned Parenthood, and arguably weak grasp of the Bible. But Samantha Bee explained why it makes sense.
“Seriously, what is going on? Are evangelicals that eager to get the apocalypse going?” the host said on Monday’s “Full Frontal.”
“To understand how we got here, we have to go back to the origins of the new religious right,” the host continued. “For a generation, they have been like a wasp in an aeroplane. They’re small and outnumbered, but everyone still has to avoid pissing them off. But it wasn’t always that way.”
Bee’s history lesson goes back to evangelicals taking a break from politics after Prohibition and the Scopes Monkey Trial in the 1920s, which split the country. They would make a return to politics in the 1970s when the IRS decided it would pull tax exemptions from segregated private schools. The controversy swirled around Bob Jones University, whose founder believed that if you were against segregation, you were against God.
“I’m happy to say that guy is now in heaven, sharing a cloud with Prince,” Bee joked. “Sorry, pal, heaven integrated in 1990, 10 years before your college dropped its interracial dating ban.”
It was this issue that sparked conservative Christian groups’ return to politics, and their influence in other issues, like the movement to make abortion illegal, protecting prayer in schools, and banning sex education.
When Bee talks about the “religious right,” she doesn’t mean all people of faith, but rather “a political movement to harness the voting power of evangelicals to the conservative Republican cause.”
Voting and registering to vote became part of being an evangelical Christian. The religious right met its height of power with President Ronald Reagan in 1980.
“From 1980 onwards, the [Republican] platform came to read like a Baptist dream journal,” Bee said.
The Christian right continued to thrive through President Clinton and under George W. Bush, but the Barack Obama years have seen a decline in its power and a rise in nationwide acceptance of more liberal social issues, such as LGBT rights.
So, back to the original question: Why is the religious right backing Trump now? Bee explained that they just don’t have a choice.
“Old-fashioned value voters no longer have the clout to get their vat monster [Ted Cruz] the nomination, much less the Oval Office,” Bee said. “New evangelicals are happy to ditch the Bible for good ol’ white nativism and government anger. Hey, just like [Bob Jones] taught them.”
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