Trump Administration announces creation of Religious Liberty Task Force

By Jonathon Van Maren

With each new tweet igniting a firestorm that barely makes a ripple in public opinion, progressives are becoming increasingly exasperated. Why, they demand in frustration, does Trump manage to maintain the support of so many conservatives, especially those of the Christian variety?

The answer to that is a simple one, and is encapsulated by stories like this one in The Independent, stories that go by largely unnoticed, but are the key to understanding much of the conservative support for the Trump Administration:

The US Department of Justice has created a “religious liberty task force” to help implement the Trump administration’s new religious guidance.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions warned that the country had become “less hospitable to people of faith” as he announced its formation at a Justice Department Religious Liberty Summit. 

“A dangerous movement, undetected by many, is now challenging and eroding our great tradition of religious freedom,” he said. “There can be no doubt. This is no little matter. It must be confronted and defeated.” He added that it would help Justice Department officials uphold new religious liberty guidance in the cases they bring, the arguments they make in court and the policies they adopt.

Issued in response to President Donald Trump’s executive order last year, the guidelines prohibited the government from punishing anyone who acted “in accordance with one’s religious beliefs”. Advocates warned at the time that these stringent protections could become a “license to discriminate” against LGBTQ people.

The task force will be co-chaired by Assistant Attorney General Beth Williams and acting Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio. Mr Panuccio previously represented supporters of a failed attempt to ban same-sex marriage in California.

Responding to the task force’s formation, the Human Rights Campaign criticised Mr Sessions and the White House for “sanctioning discrimination against LGBTQ people”.

There you have it, in a nutshell. This is precisely why so many Christians voted for Trump: Because he said he would protect their interests, and he appointed men that evangelicals trusted to do just that. The LGBT movement, with the full support of the Obama Administration and the cultural elites, had been happily ramrodding their ideology into schools, hospitals, and Christian establishments, merrily pursuing the strategy one gay activist described as “punishing the wicked.” Hillary had promised this would continue, and in desperation, many evangelicals turned to Donald J. Trump.

That gamble paid off. Regardless of how much Donald Trump himself has had to do with these moves—and I suspect not much—the men and women he has surrounded himself with are using their positions to protect and defend the interests of American Christians. These voters no longer care if Trump lived like a hedonistic billionaire, because they no longer believe that there is a hidden moral majority out there that simply needs to be called into battle as they did in years past. Most American Christians now realize that the cultural winds are against them, and as such they have decided that they need someone willing to step up and fight their enemies. Many felt that Trump was the man for the job.

That’s why Trump’s support is holding firm. Trump supporters do not care about Russia. As far as they are concerned, progressives in America considered them to be the enemy and have been attacking their way of life viciously for several years, and they needed to elect someone who would make it stop—or at least take their side for a change. That is also why appeals to patriotism from both neo-conservatives and progressives are falling flat: Because there are now two Americas, and in many cases, they see each other as the enemy—and the presidency is a weapon to be used against the other side, or in the case of American Christians, used to fend it off.

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For anyone interested, my book on The Culture War, which analyzes the journey our culture has taken from the way it was to the way it is and examines the Sexual Revolution, hook-up culture, the rise of the porn plague, abortion, commodity culture, euthanasia, and the gay rights movement, is available for sale here.

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