On June 3, 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination for president of the United States and bombastically declared, “This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and the planet began to heal.”
This Friday, many of the nearly nine-in-10 Americans who believe in God will be thinking the same after eight years of President Obama’s hostility toward religion.
“This administration oversaw an unprecedented effort to intentionally malign and dethrone religious liberty as a central pillar in American political and civil life.”
To say that President-Elect Trump is an unknown when it comes to his personal relationship with God, if any, is an understatement. Yet eight in 10 self-identified white, born-again or evangelical Christians voted for Trump, while just 16 percent voted for Clinton.
Trump’s 65 percentage-point margin of victory among voters in this group — which includes self-described Protestants, as well as Catholics, Mormons and others — matched or exceeded the victory margins of George W. Bush in 2004, John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012. But why?
To understand why religious voters will rest easy Friday night, all one need do is review the record of the outgoing administration vis-à-vis religious institutions as well as what the current Democratic Party represents.
Fifty-five percent of those who attend church or synagogue once a week voted for Trump, whereas 62 percent who never attend religious services voted for Clinton.
Consider: Of those who label themselves Democrats, the largest single block of voters are what the Pew Center calls “nones” — those who have no affiliation with any organized religion. They are 28 percent of the party, up from 19 percent just in the last eight years. In the GOP, evangelicals make up 38 percent, up one percent in eight years.
Why is this significant? Because the party in which faith has largely eroded has also become the redoubt of the secular-progressive movement. The simple fact is that in the culture wars, this side represents the aggressors.
Conservatives understand there will never be a perfect world; only heaven can be heaven. But with no faith, indeed no God, the Left tries to make a paradise of this earth. It’s a Dante-esque torture for them, as this carrot of an earthly utopia on the stick can never be tasted.
But self-righteous dragon-slaying is what drives them. As their titular head, the outgoing president represents for the faithful one of the most formidable progressive antagonists in the post-modern age.
“The Obama administration has just told the Catholics of the United States, ‘To hell with you.’”
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On Friday, people of faith will look back on eight years of edicts, laws, and court rulings that back up this assertion. HHS mandates supported by the administration showed uncompromising dismissal of religious values, compelling Catholic hospitals to engage in family planning practices and provide services that contradict their core beliefs in the sanctity of human life in-utero.
Pittsburgh’s bishop, David Zubik, likened the mandates to “a slap to the face.” He declared: “The Obama administration has just told the Catholics of the United States, ‘To hell with you.’” White Catholics also supported Trump over Clinton by a wide, 23-point margin (60 percent to 37 percent).
It wasn’t just Catholics who found themselves on the receiving end of the secularist assault. Obama’s about-face on same-sex marriage (“evolution,” as he called it) was seen by many evangelicals as yet another salvo aimed at core values that they see not just as divine but also essential to the very fabric of a cohesive moral society.
The list of the administration’s hostile positions toward religion in favor of secularist activism is long. From initial abandonment of The Defense of Marriage Act and overt support of Obergefell (the same-sex marriage ruling), to opposition to the Conscience Protection Act, to secularist edicts aimed at privately held businesses, to the Little Sisters of the Poor battle — the administration presented an overarching dismissal of the Judeo-Christian values that form the historical and cultural bedrock of our republic.
When Donald Trump places his hand on the Bible and takes the oath of office, the faithful may not look up and see one of them, but they will see in Trump a man who does not disdain them. Evangelicals, Catholics, and the many other Christian and religious Jewish denominations that feel so put upon by the Left will have some relief in the form of a president who leans toward the authority of the states to decide the matters of culture and life.
Such legal federalism could have far-reaching implications for how the Supreme Court views Roe v. Wade and other lightning-rod decisions in the culture wars. In this respect, though, the seas may still rise; come Friday, the religious skies will be a little clearer.
After eight years of torrential assaults on values that the faithful hold dear, this promise of relief was enough to prompt an Election Day coalescing around the man who will be the 45th president of the United States, warts and all — a man who owes a debt to these religious voters who played a pivotal role in his extraordinary ascendancy to the highest office in the land.
Brad Schaeffer is an energy broker, columnist, musician and historian based in New Jersey. His commentary has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, New York Daily News, Zerohedge and Breitbart.