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: