May 4, 2018

Christian Extremism in the White House

Mike Pence

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Vice President Mike Pence recently claimed,
There's prayer going on on a regular basis in this White House. And it's one of the most meaningful things to me, whether it's public meetings or not, I've lost count of the number of times that the president has nudged me, or nudged another member of the Cabinet and said, 'Let's start this meeting with prayer.'
Aside from losing what little respect I might have otherwise had for Pence, which admittedly wasn't much anyway, I can't say that this bothers me. He's a Christian extremist in an administration that has embraced evangelical fundamentalist Christianity. I'd be fairly surprised if there wasn't a great deal of prayer taking place.

What concerns me is that this prayer may be taking the place of critical thought, reasoned action, and good judgment when it comes to policy. Take the new executive order described as a "faith initiative" as one example. Instead of dismantling all this nonsense, nonsense in which both Republican and Democratic administrations have embraced, the current administration seems to be expanding the nonsense. This appears to have the effect of further entangling Christianity and government. It seems like a direct assault on the separation of church and state.

I think that Pence's religious beliefs are relevant to the degree that they affect his behavior. He has religious freedom in the same way anybody else does, and he can believe whatever he wants to believe. He's not supposed to govern based on his religious beliefs. He's not supposed to use his office to promote his particular religious beliefs over the many alternatives. The issue here is that Pence does not appear to agree with any of this. He likely sees his office as an opportunity to advance his religion, and that's a problem.