- File photo
- Mikey Weinstein
On Jan. 20, 2017, an event completely unprecedented in the history of the United States of America took place in the nation's capital: a blatantly Christianized inauguration.
A man devoted to driving as many wedges as possible between the people of this country was sworn into the highest office in the land. Taking up positions of inconceivable power with him are a "who's who" of the nation's worst possible representatives — those who preach "God's Word" to justify hatred, oppression and dominion over their fellow citizens.
Donald Trump's reign — there's no other way to describe the term of a dictator — ushers in an era of evangelical bullying and enforced conformism hitherto unseen. He surrounds himself with apostles of cruelty, who will gleefully inflict it on those marginalized and less fortunate than they, all in the name of the twisted, hateful, Dominionist version of the Christian god.
It became obvious which way the wind was blowing when Trump announced Jeff Sessions as his choice for attorney general. Sessions is closely allied with numerous hate groups, accepted an award from alt-right extremist David Horowitz in 2014, and is a strong advocate for an evangelical Dominionist theocracy. He claimed that only those who believe in truth are fit to lead, not secularists, ending with, "we are a nation that, without God, there is no truth." Along with Vice President Mike Pence, many of Trump's cabinet picks identify as Christians, and some are prone to making public statements about their faith.
A cabinet stacked with anti-women, anti-Muslim, anti-people of color and anti-gay proponents of an American theocracy are just the tip of the iceberg. Trump is openly fawning over those from the ranks of the religious right, as was evidenced by his inauguration lineup. After being turned down by multitudes of musical stars and having dozens of Rockettes refuse to participate, Trump's "victory event" was stacked with one reprehensible bile-spewing evangelist after another.
Christian evangelist and missionary Franklin Graham, who has been on the receiving end of censure from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF, of which I am the founder and president) must have relished the opportunity to crow about how God ensured Trump was elected and how Christians need to take back America. Maybe he sees it as his political comeback after MRFF managed to get him blocked from speaking at a Pentagon prayer service and pushed back against the U.S. Air Forces' participation in his extremist fundamentalist "charity." Of course, it didn't slow him down — Graham continually vomits anti-Islamic and anti-LGBT sentiments, and supports halting all "Muslim immigration" into the U.S., as well as using "weapons of mass destruction" to combat Islam, that "terrible, evil religion."
Trump's inaugural worship team also included prosperity gospel televangelist Paula White, who believes (like Trump) that being rich is a sign of God's favor. White is also the chair of Trump's evangelical advisory board (yes, such a thing exists), and the only thing she loves more than other rich people is owning a condo in Trump Tower and escaping penalties after being investigated by the Senate Finance Committee.
Other faith leaders who spoke were Rev. Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Roman Catholic archbishop of New York; and Bishop Wayne T. Jackson of Great Faith Ministries International from Detroit. The only non-Christian speaker — notably no Muslims were included — was Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
The flavor of religious fervor being promoted is clear: evangelical Dominionist Christianity with the heavy taint of prosperity gospel. Trump won more than 80 percent of the white evangelical vote, according to exit polls, and it would seem their support was well placed; under Trump, we can expect to see theocratic Dominionist precepts take hold with the stripping of rights and benefits from LGBT people, women, Muslims and other non-Christians, and the poor — all in the name of Christian charity.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation stands ever vigilant under the oppression of religious freedom by this Brave New World Order.
Michael "Mikey" Weinstein, Esq., is founder and president of the seven-time Nobel Peace Prize-nominated Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF).