Donald Trump declares a vision of religious nationalism

The Atlantic reports: When Donald Trump looks out on the world, he sees a landscape of potential threats to the United States and its values. “Freedom of religion is a sacred right, but also a right under threat all around us,” the president said at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday. “The world is under serious, serious threat in so many different ways,” he went on, “but we’re going to straighten it out. That’s what I do. I fix things.”

He laid out a vision of what it means to end these threats to United States: Stop terrorism. End the persecution of Middle Eastern Christians. Defend the country’s borders from those who “would exploit that generosity to undermine the values we hold so dear.” Religious Americans also feel threatened within the U.S., he said: “That is why I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment,” a provision of the tax code that prohibits religious leaders and institutions endorsing or opposing political candidates, “and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution.” Repealing the Johnson Amendment would theoretically allow houses of worship and religious leaders to openly advocate for political candidates while retaining their tax-exempt status, while also allowing them to funnel religious donations into explicitly political efforts.

Trump is championing an agenda of religious nationalism. Along with key White House staffers like Stephen Bannon, he believes America represents a set of values, rooted in the country’s religious identity. While there’s little evidence that Trump himself is religiously devout, he has benefited from affiliations with largely white evangelical leaders such as Jerry Falwell Jr. [Continue reading…]

In the Steven Spielberg film, Bridge of Spies, Tom Hanks plays the part of James B. Donovan who in 1957 defended the Soviet spy Rudolf Abel. In the following scene Donovan explains to a CIA agent why he insists on following the law and what it means to be an American:

 

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Comments

  1. Linda Jansen says:

    What makes us American is that we happen to have been born on this extremely rich part of the globe. This wealth that should be shared by all humanity has been usurped by a very tiny minority of people. Both the corporate parties serve that tiny minority of people. Donald Trump is only pushing the envelope on a package of practices that has unnecessarily ruined the majority of the people who live here and around the world. The constitution has not saved us from this tragic fate.

  2. Paul Woodward says:

    The relevance of the Constitution at this juncture is manifold.

    Firstly, it is the foundation for the rule of law — as opposed to being ruled by Trump or any other power hungry leader, or ruled by the dictate of any religious doctrine.

    Secondly, it is the basis on which there is meant to be no discrimination between those Americans who were born here and the many of us who were born elsewhere.

    The Constitution as a document can’t save anyone from anything, but the rule of law as put into practice across this nation is the only thing protecting us from tyranny.

  3. Linda Jansen says:

    The U.S. has inflicted unnecessary war and mayhem around the world. I guess our constitution did not extend the rule of law to help those victims. Do we have any right to expect it to save us?

  4. Paul Woodward says:

    If there’s some logic to what you’re saying, I guess it would go like this:

    Since the United States has been the primary instigator of global conflict for many decades, the political system upon which the this country operates has no value, least of all for the victims of American warfare.

    This is a run-of-the-mill antiwar/anti-imperialist perspective and what I’ve found over the years I’ve been running this site, is that in spite of the ostensibly humanitarian sentiment it portrays, it has such a lack of analytical depth that it ends up serving to excuse all kinds of atrocities when they have not been carried out by Americans.

    The desire for peace metastasizes into an unqualified anti-Americanism in which the failings of this country obscure all its virtues.

    But here’s the thing: if ordinary Americans fail to appreciate the value of American democracy, it’s destined to disappear and believe me, in its absence, neither America nor the rest of the world will be a better place.

    Anyone serious about opposing war should recognize that this is not a human affliction solely because of American war-making.

    The military driving forces behind the worst humanitarian catastrophe of this century are the Assad regime, Iran, and Russia. America’s instrumental role in this conflict has arisen from its choice to minimize its intervention; not from its long-running habit of interventionism.

  5. Linda Jansen says:

    I see that your “context” is one of American exceptionalism. We are far from being “the shining city on the hill” and if we do take any hills, you can be sure it will be to fire down on the people below, if only for reasons like this: our oil is under their land. Or even when we Europeans first landed here: those savages couldn’t possibly know how to manage all this splendid acreage.

  6. Paul Woodward says:

    You know, at a time that Muslims are being prevented from entering this country because the U.S. government is being run by a band of Islamophobes, the only people who are offering some tangible help to the victims of this injustice are those Americans who are standing up to protect the Constitution, showing that Trump’s executive order is illegal and using the strength of the separation of powers that gives independence to the courts and the states.