August 29, 2018

If Republicans Lose Congress, Forget All About 'Merry Christmas'

White House

According to CNN, President Trump said the following to a room full of evangelical Christian leaders he invited to the White House this week:
I just ask you to go out and make sure all of your people vote. Because if they don't -- it's November 6 -- if they don't vote, we're going to have a miserable two years and we're going to have, frankly, a very hard period of time. You're one election away from losing everything that you've gotten. Little thing: Merry Christmas, right? You couldn't say 'Merry Christmas.'
As silly as all the "Merry Christmas" nonsense is, what matters here is that these Christians will vote. They have been extremely effective at getting their members to show up to the polls. Trump could not have won in 2016 without them, and he knows it. They will vote in the midterm elections. Will you? I hope so.

The portion of Trump's remarks getting most of the attention, and understandably so, was his warning that there would be "violence" if his political party does not do well in the midterm elections. Although such comments will likely strike many readers as farfetched, they fit the persecution narrative embraced by many evangelical Christians. I have little doubt that many of these evangelical Christians believe this, or at least recognize that it is politically advantageous to pretend that they do.

Still, let's not lose sight of the fact that a sitting U.S. president summoned a bunch of evangelical Christian leaders to the White House, told them what they wanted to hear, and begged for their continued support and political activism. It does not appear that he has done this with leaders of any other religious tradition or even with non-evangelical Christian leaders. Those of us who are bothered by this sort of thing need to make sure we show up to vote in the midterm elections.

H/T to Religion Clause