So Joe Biden got his 306 electoral votes on Monday, Hawaii having cast its ballots last because of its time zone. Donald Trump got his 232. The winner: Biden, right?
Wrong, say some Republican lawmakers, who have vowed to object on January 6 when the electoral votes are submitted to Congress. They want to throw the people’s votes out and let Congress decide.
Why in the world would they do that?
Best answer: For heaven’s sake!
Besides being an appropriate comment “for heaven’s sake” is a precise and quite literal reply to the question, judging by what one prominent conservative tells us.
David French, interviewed on US television, said the final holdouts’ group consists largely of evangelical Christians. He assumes that those who’ll attempt to thwart the usual election machinery on January 6 will include some or all of the 126 members of Congress who backed a Texas lawsuit that sought last week – unsuccessfully – to overturn the election in the US Supreme Court.
French said religious views were behind the political actions of a lot of those. “I know many of the 126 members of Congress,” he said. “Most guys would say that they are absolutely Christians. The Texas GOP, which called for secession, is saturated with Christians.”
“These people are all in on him, believing he has a very specific mission from God, and that America will fall” without Trump at the helm, French continued. “Again, not all Christians, but his core. They believe that the fate of the church and the fate of the United States are inextricably bound up together with Donald Trump. It’s a stunning argument and it’s creating dangerous fanaticism, and I am very worried about its effect now and in the future.”
For readers who were not raised in that tradition, briefly: The evangelicals believe that their supreme duty is to spread the word of Jesus to those who, not having heard it, have not had the chance to believe; failure to believe places their souls in danger of eternal damnation.
This helps to explain why the heavily Christian (both Protestant evangelical and Catholic) so-called pro-life movement is tightly focused on opposition to abortion rights. It is not notable for expending much of its capital on improving the fates of living people. After all, the unborn have not yet had the chance to hear the Gospel, to believe it and thereby to attain salvation.
Carrying religious views over to politics to an extent where they dictate one’s political actions has not become a universal trait of American evangelicals, as David French noted – but pretty clearly it has become more common.
Trump himself does not come from the evangelical tradition and frequently looks awkward as he publicly attempts to mimic rituals of the faith of those evangelicals who follow him in such great numbers. His main religious influence when he was young reportedly was Norman Vincent Peale, a clergyman whose teachings about the earthly rewards of “positive thinking” are similar to what today is termed the “prosperity gospel.”
French finds it ironic that Trump, with his morally checkered past, is now so favored by people who “placed character the highest value of all of the American religious subgroups in evaluating leaders until around late 2015, early 2016,” he said. “I wonder what happened then.”
The typical response of evangelical Trump backers is to say they may disapprove of Trump personally but his policies – especially his picks of conservatives for federal judiciary openings – are essential if their religion is to survive this secular era.
Veteran foreign correspondent Bradley K. Martin delves deeply into the nexus between evangelical Christianity and politics in his North Korea-set novel Nuclear Blues.