Lease this WebApp and get rid of the ads.
Merlin
Supporting Roy Moore Is a Devilís Bargain
Thu Dec 7, 2017 4:42pm
24.228.93.156

Supporting Roy Moore Is a Devilís Bargain
https://nyti.ms/2AYUMz5


It began with Donald Trumpís taunting of prisoners of war: ďI like people who werenít captured.Ē Then came his mocking of a disabled reporter; his suggestion that Judge Gonzalo Curiel wasnít qualified to do his job on account of his being ďMexicanĒ; his attacks on a Muslim Gold Star family; his flirtation with David Duke. By election night, the catalog of Mr. Trumpís insults was thick.

That first jab at P.O.W.s persuaded me, a staunch social conservative, that Mr. Trump wasnít qualified for the office he sought. A loudmouth who denigrates war heroes, I knew, doesnít belong in the White House.

Yet I watched with dismay as many evangelicals and social conservatives ó people I consider allies ó embraced him. How could they back a candidate who obviously didnít care a whit for basic decency, let alone religious tradition?

The question of how social conservatives should practice politics in the age of Trump has resurfaced as Alabamians are poised to elect Roy Moore to the Senate. The likes of Mr. Trump and Mr. Moore promise social conservatives an appealing menu of policies and judicial nominations. Their offer is especially attractive after a decade during which the left embraced a new, aggressive mode of secular progressivism and continued its war against tradition long after it had won most courtroom and ballot-box battles.

But these vulgar populists exact an exorbitant price: namely, complicity in the degradation, conspiracism, thinly veiled bigotry and leader-worship that is their stock in trade.

To understand the social conservativesí dilemma isnít to excuse the vile personal conduct of a figure like Mr. Moore. But if you believe, as they (and I) do, that a public culture informed by the Bible and traditional morality is essential to Americaís constitutional order, then the stakes are high indeed.

Ultimately, however, social conservatives strike a terrible bargain when they support men like Roy Moore.

They seem to think, first, that placing originalist judges on the federal bench is the only path to political success in America. I canít tell you how many times I have heard some variation on the line: ďTrump brought us Neil Gorsuch. You like Gorsuch, donít you?Ē The answer is yes. I have written in praise of the justice, especially his cleareyed view of the danger that euthanasia poses to the weakest Americans.

But any of the other 16 non-vulgar, non-erratic Republican candidates in 2016 would also have nominated a Gorsuch. We look to our lawmakers not just to enact policies, but also to represent our nation on the global stage with the dignity that their offices demand. American exceptionalism is set back every time the president takes to Twitter to ridicule the least of these our brethren, as the Gospel puts it. Likewise, the worldís greatest deliberative body will be tainted if Mr. Moore is seated in the Senate.

Well, respond the Trumpian conservatives, our vote is just the opener. We will call our leadersí moves as we see them ó the good and the bad.

Except they donít. They might take issue with this or that White House policy. But they rarely if ever call out the presidentís moral degradations. And such criticism is the only kind that truly irritates Mr. Trump.

Thatís precisely why the likes of the Rev. Jerry Falwell Jr. shy away from it ó even to the point of contorting themselves to defend Mr. Trumpís unconscionable response to white-nationalist violence in Charlottesville, Va. Idolatry of class, nation, race and leader is a constant temptation for people of faith, and too many are succumbing to it today.

Behind social conservativesí Trumpian turn, I suspect, is deep pessimism about Americaís future. Many fear that under secularismís relentless onslaught, Judeo-Christianity will be banished permanently from the public square. I feel similar angst.

But then I look back on the late 20th century, when, thanks to heroic figures such as Pope John Paul II, the Christian idea bested Soviet Communism, an ideology that was far more hostile to religious faith than Americaís Enlightenment liberalism has ever been. I also look to the explosive growth of Christianity in places like China and Iran today.

Unlike under Communism or Iranís Islamic theocracy, Christianity in America has the First Amendment and freedom of conscience. And there are other reasons to be optimistic about our place in the culture in the long term. The cascading harassment scandal, for one thing, suggests that even liberals may rethink some aspects of the sexual revolution. And if ultra-permissive liberalism is passing away, then the people who grew up in its wreckage will eventually turn toward tradition.

Christians are called to live in faith, hope and charity. Political fear should never drive them to tie their fate to the Roy Moores of the world.

  • Click here to receive daily updates


    Religion and Ethics BBS