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The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

Trump’s “Religious Freedom” Executive Order

The Daily Escape:

Cinco de Mayo parade in Puebla Mexico, where Mexico defeated France in 1862

Happy Cinco de Mayo! At the Mansion of Wrong, its ahi ceviche with mango, jalapeno, cilantro, ancho chili, lime juice and tequila in toasted won-ton wrappers. And Don Julio Anejo to wash it down. Not bad.

But among yesterday’s depressing news regarding the House passage of the Obamacare Repeal and (not) Replace, was the Orange Overlord signing yet another Executive Order (EO) touted by the Trump administration to protect “Religious Liberty”:

 

The EO directs the IRS not to enforce the Johnson Amendment. The Johnson Amendment is a part of the tax code that forbids 501(c)(3) organizations (including churches) from participating “directly or indirectly” in political campaigns.

Churches have historically been free to discuss and promote any issue or idea. So, they can address things like civil rights, reproductive rights, police violence, or the sanctity of law and order. They can also urge people to get out and vote on Election Day.

In other words, they can push and prod about all kinds of civic issues and engagement, in order to get their members to cast their votes.

The red line for the Johnson Amendment is actually endorsing a candidate. Churches can give a sermon about the evils of abortion, and let the attendees connect the dots to a candidate, but it’s a violation of the Johnson Amendment for the church to connect the dots directly, and tell the members to vote for a specific candidate or party.

Trump’s EO removes that red line. It will let churches give full endorsements so they can tell their congregants that God wants them to vote for Candidate X, and if they fail to do so, He will be angry and the baby Jesus will cry.

Trump’s EO leaves the decision whether to enforce the Johnson Amendment in the hands of the IRS. That means the IRS could pick and choose which institutions to penalize, and it might be your church, and not your neighbor’s.

In February, Trump promised to “destroy” the Johnson Amendment. But, presidents can’t “destroy” laws with EOs; that takes an act of Congress. Republicans may try repealing the Johnson amendment as part of their tax reform package.

Nancy LeTourneau thinks that:

The executive order the president will sign today isn’t really so much about “religious freedom,” as it is being framed by Trump and the religious right. This is actually designed to further erode one of the remaining restrictions on campaign finance.

LeTourneau points to the “indirect” efforts by Franklin Graham to elect Trump last fall, and offers him as an example: (brackets by the Wrongologist)

To the extent that the IRS ignores this statute, Graham will be able to accept tax-free donations to Samaritan’s Purse [Franklin Graham is president] (or another non-profit he might set up) that will go towards endorsing and advocating for the political candidates of their choice. That will likely make Franklin Graham a major player on par with the Super PACs in American politics.

LeTourneau thinks the EO has little to do with “Religious Freedom”, but instead opens a path for professional evangelists like Franklin Graham to become king-makers in our politics.

This turns “no taxation without representation” into “representation without taxation”, a Republican wet dream that could undermine whatever remains of our campaign finance regulations. Where is the lack of religious freedom here? Churches don’t have to apply for tax-exempt status, and they could then say (or do) anything they want.

They just would have to pay taxes like everyone else.

OK, here’s some music for Cinco: Here is “Oye Como Va” by Santana. It was written by Tito Puente in 1963, and popularized by Santana in 1970 on his album Abraxas:

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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Rethinking Religion’s Place in Our Politics

The Daily Escape:

(Photo by Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters)

The Atlantic’s Peter Beinart has an article called “Breaking Faith” that references polling conducted in February by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI). Beinart makes a few interesting points about religion and politics that are at odds with conventional thinking about its role.

He points out that over the past decade, there has been a dramatic shift in religious affiliation in the US:

Americans—long known for their piety—were fleeing organized religion in increasing numbers. The vast majority still believed in God. But the share that rejected any religious affiliation was growing fast, rising from 6% in 1992 to 22% in 2014. Among Millennials, the figure was 35%.

Beinart shows that the conventional thinking − that this new secularism would end the culture wars and bring about a more tolerant politics – was wrong. More from Beinart:

Secularism is indeed correlated with greater tolerance of gay marriage and pot legalization. But it’s also making America’s partisan clashes more brutal…As Americans have left organized religion, they haven’t stopped viewing politics as a struggle between “us” and “them.” Many have come to define us and them in even more primal and irreconcilable ways.

This had huge ramifications in the 2016 presidential election. PRRI reports that the percentage of white Republicans with no religious affiliation has nearly tripled since 1990, and that this shift helped Trump win the GOP nomination. Even though commentators had a hard time reconciling Trump’s apparent ignorance of Christianity and his history of pro-choice and pro-gay-rights statements with his support from evangelicals, the polls showed it had little effect:

A Pew Research Center poll last March found that Trump trailed Ted Cruz by 15 points among Republicans who attended religious services every week. But he led Cruz by a whopping 27 points among those who did not.

Beinart reports that culturally conservative white Americans who are disengaged from church experience less economic success and more family breakdown than those who remain connected, and they grow more pessimistic and resentful. Since the early 1970s, rates of religious attendance have fallen more than twice as much among whites without a college degree as among those who graduated college. And that was a big part of Trump’s support. According to PRRI:

White Republicans who seldom or never attend religious services are 19 points less likely than white Republicans who attend at least once a week to say that the American dream “still holds true.”

And secularization created political differences on the left too:

In 1990, according to PRRI, slightly more than half of white liberals seldom or never attended religious services. Today the proportion is 73%. And if conservative non-attenders fueled Trump’s revolt inside the GOP, liberal non-attenders fueled Bernie Sanders’s insurgency against Hillary Clinton: While white Democrats who went to religious services at least once a week backed Clinton by 26 points, according to an April 2016 PRRI survey, white Democrats who rarely attended services backed Sanders by 13 points.

Beinart point out that the trend is also true among Blacks, where the Black Lives Matter movement exists outside of the influence of Black churches:

African Americans under the age of 30 are three times as likely to eschew a religious affiliation as African Americans over 50. This shift is crucial to understanding Black Lives Matter, a Millennial-led protest movement whose activists often take a jaundiced view of established African American religious leaders.

Beinart speaks about Chris Hayes’s book Twilight of the Elites, in which Hayes divides American politics between “institutionalists,” who believe in preserving and adapting the political and economic system, and “insurrectionists,” who believe it’s rotten to the core:

The 2016 election represents an extraordinary shift in power from the former to the latter. The loss of manufacturing jobs has made Americans more insurrectionist. So have the Iraq War, the financial crisis, and a black president’s inability to stop the police from killing unarmed African Americans. And so has disengagement from organized religion.

The grim conclusion is that secularization may be dividing us more than we realize. Beinart closes with:

Maybe it’s the values of hierarchy, authority, and tradition that churches instill. Maybe religion builds habits and networks that help people better weather national traumas, and thus retain their faith that the system works. For whatever reason, secularization isn’t easing political conflict. It’s making American politics even more convulsive and zero-sum.

The corollary seems to be that religious affiliation brings at the very least, some appreciation of community and civility to our culture.

But, the increasing distrust in institutions in America continues to grow. If it’s big and rules-based, people are less interested than ever in participating, and that includes churches.

Now, let’s hear a song for Zeus’ sake! Here is REM with: “Losing My Religion” from their 1991 album, “Out of Time”:

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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Is Taxing Robots a Solution to Fewer Jobs?

The Daily Escape:

(Slot canyon with dust devil – photo by Angiolo Manetti)

Yesterday, the Dutch voted in an election pitting mainstream parties against Geert Wilders, a hard-right, anti-Islam nationalist whose popularity is seen as a threat to politics-as-usual across Europe, and possibly, as an existential threat to the EU.

Wilders, who wants to “de-Islamicize” the Netherlands and pull out of the EU, has little chance of governing, as all of the mainstream parties have already said they won’t work with him. Given Holland’s complicated form of proportional representation, up to 15 parties could win seats in parliament, and none are expected to win even 20% of the vote. OTOH, polls show that four in 10 of the Netherlands’ 13 million eligible voters were undecided a day before voting, and there is just 5 percentage points separating the top four parties, so Wilders could surprise everyone.

As Wrongo writes this, the Dutch election results are not known, but PBS NewsHour coverage on Tuesday surfaced a thought about taxing robots. PBS correspondent Malcolm Brabant was interviewing workers in Rotterdam:

Niek Stam claims to be the country’s most militant labor union organizer. He says the working class feel insecure about their prospects because of relentless automation and a constant drive to be competitive. The union is campaigning for robots to be taxed.

Brabant then interviewed a worker:

Robots do not buy cars. Neither do they shop for groceries, which leads to a fundamental question: Who’s going to buy all these products when up to 40% of present jobs vanish?

This isn’t an entirely new idea. Silvia Merler, blogging at Bruegel, says:

In a recent interview, Bill Gates discussed the option of a tax on robots. He argued that if today human workers’ income is taxed, and then a robot comes in to do the same thing, it seems logical to think that we would tax the robot at a similar level. While the form of such taxation is not entirely clear, Gates suggested that some of it could come from the profits that are generated by the labor-saving efficiency…and some could come directly in some type of a robot tax.

The main argument against taxing robots is made by corporations and some economists (Larry Summers), who argue that it impedes innovation. Stagnating productivity in rich countries, combined with falling business investment, suggests that adoption of new technology is currently too slow rather than too fast, and taxing new technology could exacerbate the slowdown.

It can be argued that robots are property, and property is already taxed by local governments via the property tax. It might be possible to create an additional value-added tax for robots, since an income tax wouldn’t work, as most robots are not capable of producing income by themselves.

Noah Smith at Bloomberg argues that the problem with Gates’ basic proposal is that it is very hard to tell the difference between new technology that complements human work, and new technology that replaces them. Shorter Noah Smith: Taxation is so hard!

Why are Western economies stagnant? Why has wage growth lagged GDP growth? Automation is certainly a key factor, but rather than point the finger at the corporations who continually benefit from government tax policies, let’s just assign blame to an object, a strawbot, if you will. That way, we won’t look too carefully at the real problem: The continuing concentration of economic and political power in the hands of fewer and fewer corporations.

Automation isn’t the issue, tax laws that allow economic treason by corporations in their home countries are the issue.

Why is nationalism on the march across the globe? Because fed-up workers see it as possibly the only answer to the neoliberal order that is destroying the middle class in Western democracies.

Let’s find a way to tax robots. Something has to offset Trump’s tax breaks for the rich.

Now, a musical moment. Did you know that “pre-St. Patrick’s Day” was a thing? Apparently, some dedicated celebrators prepare for the day itself by raising hell for up to a week beforehand. With that in mind, here is some pre-St. Pat’s Irish music, with Ed Sheeran singing “Nancy Mulligan” a love song about his grandparent’s marriage during WWII, against the wishes of her parents, and despite their Catholic/Protestant differences:

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – February 5, 2017

Another Orwellian week. We have a Supreme Court nominee who joked in his yearbook that he was president of a “Fascists Forever” club in prep school (its just a JOKE, why are you so upset at a joke?), the GOP redefined “repeal and replace” Obamacare to “repair” and “replace”. There was a botched special ops raid by Trump in Yemen that he later blamed on Obama. And Fox News gave helpful instructions to the hive:

The article is called: “How to behave in the age of Trump? Five essential lessons for Republicans”. Their guy did win, but even patriotic, heterosexual Conservatives aren’t always going to buy everything that the Orange Overlord is selling, without some instruction. Here are a few of Fox’s commandments:

1 . Don’t help the Democrats

We get it, maybe you don’t like Trump…maybe you are not certain he is a real conservative…Maybe you are right…But this is not about you. The Democrats are busily marginalizing themselves by being shrill, caustic, and vulgar. Give them room to do this…

  1. Show Restraint

Don’t take potshots…One more tweet on the oddity that was the first press briefing by the press secretary helps no one…See point number 1, do not help the Democrats.

  1. Give the Trump Presidency a Chance to Succeed

Trump had no chance of winning. So now, the same line of thinking holds that he has no chance of being a successful president…Every Republican needs to accept this truth — you need him to succeed, for the good of the country, and the party.

Having been the vocal, disrespectful minority for a considerable time, it stands to reason they might not yet know how to deal with success.On to humor.

Hypocrisy was on full display by Mitch McConnell:

Gorsuch’s nomination proves that the GOP knows nothing about irony:

The National Prayer Breakfast showed Trump at his best:

Trump’s call for allowing religion in politics is Islam tested, Ayatollah approved:

Trump fails in his first use of our military in Yemen:

The reality of Super Bowl parties:

 

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December 25, 2016

Christmas day. We are with family, eating well, and opening gifts. It is a day of peace and reflection.

Later, we will take a few hours to go to the local multiplex and watch a movie, since it affords each of us a choice of the seasonal offerings. Then its home for a “dinner that can’t be beat”, if you remember Arlo Guthrie.

Here is a flash mob singing the Hallelujah Chorus at a shopping mall during the Christmas season. Watching this should help you achieve peace and reflection; it is exquisite, it took tons of courage to do it, and great skill to get it right:

Today, try to remember those who are alone, who are missing their loved ones. Those who are under railway arches, who live in boxes, who need food banks to get by, or who are trying desperately to survive in war-torn countries.

Apparently there are surprisingly good acoustics in Mall food courts. It must have something to do with all of the bodies absorbing the echoes.

Merry Christmas!

Those who view the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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Christmas Eve 2016

(We will be taking the next few days off. Regular posting will resume on December 27)

Family starts arriving tonight here at the mansion of Wrong. We always have three Christmas parties, one the weekend before the holiday week, and in this case, on the 25th and the 26th. It’s a big family, with many adult children and adult grandchildren, so we try to accommodate as many schedules as possible. There’s less tension that way.

Many say that this is the most wonderful time of the year. Perhaps it’s better if we don’t think about what a roller coaster ride of a year we had in 2016.

Do you think that we need a little Christmas after the year we had? The tune “We Need a Little Christmas” is from the musical Mame, which opened on Broadway in 1966. It is sung in the scene when the stock-market crash of 1929 has just hit, and Mame’s deceased brother’s 10-year-old son has been entrusted to her care. She introduces him to her free-wheeling lifestyle, using her favorite saying: “Life is a banquet, and most poor sons-of-bitches are starving to death.”

Sounds about right in our unequal society.

We are having a little collapse of our own in America now, although it is more prospective than a harsh reality. Right now we are either at the end of the good times, or we are about to go on such an awesome winning streak that you will bow in obeisance to our Orange Overlord, saying you are so sorry we ever doubted him. You be the judge.

Wrongo is thinking about all of this. He is also thinking about the loss of his brother Kevin to complications of ALS in June. Kevin personified resilience, and fought very hard. Wrongo and his sisters were able to be with him up to his last moments. We miss his humor and fierce intelligence every day.

Kevin didn’t live to see his candidate win the presidency.

One thing that we did at Christmas when he was alive was to all sing the Tom Lehrer song “Christmas Carol”. It was always an exuberant rendition, if not always on key. Here is the real song:

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

Lyrics:

Christmas time is here, by golly,
Disapproval would be folly,
Deck the halls with hunks of holly,
Fill the cup and don’t say “when.”
Kill the turkeys, ducks and chickens,
Mix the punch, drag out the dickens,
Even though the prospect sickens,
Brother, here we go again.

On Christmas day you can’t get sore,
Your fellow man you must adore.
There’s time to rob him all the more
The other three hundred and sixty-four.

Relations, sparing no expense’ll
Send some useless old utensil,
Or a matching pen and pencil.
“Just the thing I need! How nice!”
It doesn’t matter how sincere it
Is, nor how heartfelt the spirit.
Sentiment will not endear it,
What’s important is the price.

Hark the herald tribune sings,
Advertising wondrous things.
God rest ye merry, merchants,
May you make the yuletide pay.
Angels we have heard on high
Tell us to go out and buy!

So let the raucous sleigh bells jingle,
Hail our dear old friend Kris Kringle,
Driving his reindeer across the sky.
Don’t stand underneath when they fly by.

In closing, you may not know that it is perfectly correct to use “Xmas” wherever “Christmas” is called for. From Today I Found Out:

Myth: “Xmas” is a non-religious name/spelling for “Christmas”.

It turns out, “Xmas” is not a non-religious version of “Christmas”. The “X” is actually indicating the Greek letter “Chi”, which is short for the Greek, meaning “Christ”. So “Xmas” and “Christmas” are equivalent in every way except their lettering.

The practice started with religious scribes, who used the symbol “X” in place of Christ’s name, and it has been continued by religious scholars for at least 1000 years. If it seems offensive to you to use Xmas, then by all means spell out Christmas.

Still, it’s another loss for O’Reilly’s War on Christmas.

And there’s this: Public Policy Polling (PPP) released a survey on Monday that shows that only 34% of Americans believe there is a war on Christmas. Most Americans now find both “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays” to be acceptable greetings but favor “Merry Christmas” when asked to choose.

So, no need to get angry with people who say “Happy Holidays”.

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Weekend Links to Help Improve Voting

“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

If you read the Wrongologist, the chances are excellent that you will be voting, or, have already voted in the local, state and presidential elections that will culminate with some kind of decision next Tuesday.

However, you have an additional job this weekend, and that is to reach out to friends or family that may be hoping to skate by the big decision altogether. We need to help them screw up their courage for the task of voting, and to help you with shaming or compelling them to vote, here are a few electoral links for your weekend reading. Grab a hot cup of “Wake the Fuck Up” coffee and check these out:

Trump fans try to fool Clinton faithful into voting via text: The ads, in English and Spanish, encourage Clinton voters to text “Hillary” to a 5-digit number to cast their votes and avoid the long lines at the polls. Twitter user Robert McNees said he flagged the tweets. Then, he said Twitter told him the tweets didn’t violate their terms of service. They eventually took them down. Sorry folks, politics isn’t American Idol.

It’s unnecessarily hard to vote in America: US voter registration numbers are abysmal. According to Pew Research, only 71% of voting-age citizens were registered to vote in the 2012 presidential election. That’s compared to 99% in Japan, 96% in Sweden, and 91% in Canada. Why? In a Brennen Center study of democracies across the world, the US was one of only four countries that didn’t proactively solicit or initiate voter registration. We also struggle to get our voters to the polls. Again according to Pew Research, in 2012 the US ranked 31st out of the 35 developed countries in the OECD. Only 55% of eligible voters cast a vote on Election Day, compared to 87% in Belgium and 83% in Sweden.

Gaps in voter turnout are an important factor in the growing misalignment of public policy with the concerns and needs of working-class and low-income people: The linked study by Demos shows that our democracy mainly serves a single dominant class of affluent white voters, largely due to poor turnout by millions of Americans who would vote for progressive ideas.

A Guide to selfies that won’t get you arrested when you vote. Selfies taken inside the voting booth are illegal. Justin Timberlake took one that could land him behind bars. Don’t be like Justin. However, there is research that suggests people are more likely to vote if they see their friends talking about actually voting on social media. So, voting selfies may be useful on Election Day. Post a pic of you and your “I Voted” sticker after you leave the polling place.

The music video service Vevo, is encouraging its users to vote in the upcoming elections by launching an original series call “Why I Vote”, featuring pop stars talking about the reasons why they are going to the polls this year. The purpose is to galvanize first-time voters interested in shaping their own future.

Here is American Authors , two of the band members have brothers who have served time for shooting someone. They examine the circumstances and explain their opinions on the need for comprehensive gun reform:

If you read the Wrongologist in email, you can view the video here.

Or you might like this “Why I Vote” Vevo by musician/actress Becky G., who, since it is her first opportunity to vote, and given her Mexican heritage, talks about immigration:

If you read the Wrongologist in email, you can view the video here.

Voting for Democrats risks eternal damnation, says San Diego Catholic Church bulletin: An insert to San Diego CA’s Immaculate Conception Catholic Church’s weekly bulletin on Oct. 16, told parishioners that “it is a mortal sin to vote Democrat.” That’s not all. An article in the Oct. 30 bulletin compared a statement by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to Satan. The San Diego Diocese disavowed the messages, and say they have no idea how this happened. Get James Comey on the phone!

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – October 16, 2016

(this is a re-post of Sunday’s column after the site’s database crashed)

“Important issues in the presidential campaign are like the Oakland A’s. You aren’t going to see much of them in October” Rocky Mountain Mike

The best things that happened last week were the Nobel Prize for Bob Dylan and Michelle Obama’s speech. Perhaps the worst thing last week was the US’s deeper involvement in Yemen: The Saudis bombed a funeral. An American naval vessel was attacked at sea by the Houthis. We launched cruise missiles at Yemen. The Iranian navy started patrolling off of Yemen in the same space as the US navy. Escalation, and what does the US get out of this? The Obama administration must be held to account for this.

Dylan wins the Nobel:

cow-get-stoned

Trump’s decline in the polls means his call “Hillary for jail” has a new meaning:

cow-hillary-for-jail

The GOP establishment walks away from Trump just a little:

cow-hedge-your-bets

Trump admitting sexual assault has given some Christian supporters a moral dilemma:

cow-christian-values

 

Trump gets a new campaign logo:

cow-grope

 

 

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – January 31, 2016

Big week for news. The Bundy standoff winds down, Trump & Fox, Planned Parenthood, Iowa, and Barbie’s makeover. Most of Bundy Brigade have been arrested:

BUNDY STANDOFF

But Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, a 54-year-old Arizona rancher was killed at an FBI checkpoint. Finicum seemed deluded but decent, thinking he was doing his patriotic duty. But like the rest, he was misled by bad information, and a barrage of lies. Despite what extremists claim, there are no internment camps positioned to lock up patriots, no black helicopters waiting to attack, no government agents massing to confiscate guns, and no reason for citizens to occupy government land with arms. But because there are earnest-but-gullible citizens who take these lies to heart, Finicum may not be the last martyr for a ridiculous cause.

Fox debate is shadow of former self:

COW Fox Debate

The Trump/Kelly poutrage was brilliant strategy:

COW Donald and Megan

Cruz still pushin’ his values in Iowa:

COW NY Values

Cruz looks to be auditioning for attack-dog vice presidential contender. Wherever Spiro Agnew is now, he must be smiling and nodding in approval.

Iowa will be over soon. What’s next?

COW Whats Next

Planned Parenthood grand jury surprised everybody:

Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press

Apparently we misunderstood what it meant to come to this country to practice religious freedoms – it really is the freedom for the guy on the right to force everyone else to follow his religion.

Barbie’s makeover will do nothing for women:

COW Barbie

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Evangelical Voters Have Big Influence on Primaries

As we continue our deep dive into American demographics and its impact on politics, today, let’s consider the role of evangelical Christians in our primaries. In Iowa, evangelical and born-again Christians account for 60% of those who attend Republican caucuses. Last fall, The Economist published a chart showing the percentage of evangelicals by state, and each state’s power at the Republican Party convention:

Evangical Voters

The Republican candidates are trying hard to court evangelicals. Nationally, Ted Cruz has a 64% favorable rating among evangelicals, according to Public Policy Polling (PPP), behind Ben Carson, who has a 69% rating. Marco Rubio and The Donald are at 54%.

Blog readers may remember our review of One Nation Under God” by Kevin Kruse. In that book, Kruse shows how Rev. Billy Graham influenced our politics for 50 years. He believed that our way of life and our economic system were ordained not just by God, but by the Christian God.

Billy Graham said during the 1952 presidential campaign:

The Christian people of America will not sit idly by…They are going to vote as a bloc for the man with the strongest moral and spiritual platform, regardless of his views on other matters.

Well, Billy’s son, Franklin Graham, has a group called Decision America that is conducting a 50-state tour to energize Christians to vote. From his website:

I’m going to every state in our country to challenge Christians to live out their faith at home, in public and at the ballot box…

Franklin Graham has been involved in politics before. He supported Romney. He has backed ballot initiatives opposing gay marriage; he led prayers at the first inauguration of President George W. Bush.

Like many evangelicals, he sees a pattern of bullying by secular forces and their allies in government. He worries about Christian employers having to fund health insurance that covers birth-control, and wonders if religious colleges will one day have to admit gay students (like they don’t already!).

As Kevin Kruse shows, the history of American Christianity is full of prayer meetings in which the faithful bewail a nation adrift, and vow—like the tribes of Israel before them—to stand fast in the face of tyrannical rulers. At his kick-off meeting in Des Moines, IA, Franklin noted that:

…an estimated 20 to 30 million Christians stayed home in the 2012 election.

He wondered what our country would look like if city councils, school boards and mayor seats were filled by believers in the next two or three elections. And he urged Christians to not only vote in next year’s elections but to run for office at every level of public office. Franklin Graham will not be supporting any specific candidates or parties. He says that he left the Republican Party in late 2015 in favor of an independent status.

Gee, political enlightenment came just a few months ago.

But today, most American politicians are already believers. HuffPo says that 92% of 114th Congress are Christian. Compare that to the 73% of American adults who are Christian, according to Pew Forum. A full 99% of Republicans in Congress are Christian, compared to (only) 81% of the Democrats.

And Graham’s not being a member of a political party is a fiction. His agenda is supported by just one party, the one that his 97 year-old father affiliated with back in 1952. The party that already has 99% of its Congress people affiliated with the Christian religions. And it takes a fair amount of cognitive dissonance for a religious group that already has a supermajority of Congress and takes an absolutely important part in our politics to claim persecution at the hands of the government.

Franklin Graham may be a bit more subtle in 2016 than he was in 2012, but you have to wonder if his ultimate goal is to impose his own version of Christianity on the entire nation.

The Old Time Religion of both Billy and Franklin Graham has a deep, visceral attachment to the Republican Party from the marriage of capitalism to Christianity in the 1930’s that promoted religious hostility to the New Deal, to convincing Eisenhower to add “In God We Trust” to our currency, and “Under God” to our pledge of allegiance.

That Old Time Religion is still at work for the GOP, even if Franklin Graham says he is non-partisan.

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