Let’s engage in a thought experiment: Pretend that it’s May of 2009, and Barack Obama, who has been president for a few months, has just shared some highly classified intelligence with the Russians. Let’s say this material has damaged America’s standing with our allies, exposed sources to possible retaliation and jeopardized the war on terror.
What do you think the leaders of Religious Right groups would be saying? My guess is they’d be calling for his impeachment, if not outright imprisonment.
So what have they said about President Donald J. Trump, who is accused of doing the very thing I’ve outlined above?
Nothing. Zilch. Radio silence.
Like other Religious Right leaders, Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, has been silent on President Donald Trump's decision to share highly classified information with Russia.
I get daily emails from a number of Religious Right groups. The American Family Association (AFA) issues regular bulletins through its OneNewsNow “news” service. Yesterday’s lead story was headlined, “Trump praised for voter fraud inquiry.”
The second story was a column by Bryan Fischer, the AFA’s loon-in-chief, who went on a typical anti-LGBTQ rant. Another story celebrates Trump’s anti-abortion views. If you scroll down enough, you eventually come across some stories from the Associated Press, one of which deals with the Trump gaffe. It’s presented without commentary.
What about the Family Research Council (FRC)? Surely this bastion of “America firsters” is standing up to Trump for selling us out to the Russians? Nope. As the rest of the nation was consumed with the story of Trump’s blunder, FRC President Tony Perkins issued an email attacking the Democrats for being pro-choice. He had nothing to say about Trump handing sensitive intel to an enemy nation.
Let’s look at Ralph Reed. The former executive director of TV preacher Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition and now head of the Faith & Freedom Coalition has always been concerned about issues of national security. Surely he’s had something to say? Not about this issue. As of this morning, the Coalition’s website has several items about Trump’s phony “religious freedom” executive order but is silent on the Russia story.
Richard Land, the former lobbyist for the Southern Baptist Convention and now president of Southern Evangelical Seminary, loves being in the media so much he has hired a PR firm to issue a steady stream of press releases instructing the nation on how to think “biblically” on just about everything. Land has not seen fit to pontificate on the latest Trump scandal.
Even the smaller groups are staying mum. The American Pastors Network, a collection of fundamentalist clerics who love to lecture the rest of us on how to behave, did put out a press release yesterday, but it’s about one of their supporters appearing on CNN to defend firearm ownership.
During the campaign, Religious Right groups issued a torrent of statements attacking Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server. They insisted this was a threat to national security, a stand later rejected by the FBI.
By contrast, commentators across the political spectrum agree that Trump’s action really has jeopardized national security. Yet the leaders of the Religious Right remain silent. As usual, they’re employing a double standard: A questionable thing done by a progressive is absolutely horrible and must be met with swift punishment. When a conservative does the same thing, or something worse, it’s met with a shrug.
Religious Right leaders may believe their silence on Trump’s reckless antics will offer them some protection. It does not. In fact, their silence speaks volumes: It screams that they are hypocrites who long ago surrendered the right to judge the rest of us.