A group of anti-equality leaders signed a Conservative Action Project letter dated July 26, which claimed that the Respect For Marriage Act would âwrongly marginalize social conservativesâ and further âa new era of oppressionâ that the letter claims was unleashed when the Supreme Court recognized the right of same-sex couples to get married.
In addition, dozens of religious-right leaders signed onto a similar letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, also dated July 26, that was organized by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a religious-right legal powerhouse that seeks to overturn marriage equality as one of the âgenerational winsâ it is pursuing. ADFâs letter charges that that Respect for Marriage Act is an âattackâ on people who want their views that marriage should only be between a man and a woman ârecognized in the law.â
The Conservative Action Project letter justifies its fearmongering rhetoric with a reference to Bob Jones University v. United Statesâ,â âin which the Supreme Court ruled in 1983 that the IRS could deny tax-exempt status to schools with racially discriminatory policies, even if those policies were grounded in religious belief. White evangelical leadersâ anger over IRS challenges to segregationist religious schools helped fuel the rise of the modern-day religious-right movement.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins signed both letters. When the Respect for Marriage Act passed the House, Perkins charged Republicans supporting marriage equality with âpolitical cowardice.â FRC was knee-deep in efforts to subvert the 2020 election.
Also urging lawmakers to reject marriage equality is Ralph Drollinger, whose Capitol Ministries uses Bible studies for members of Congress and other public officials to tell Christian lawmakers it is their duty to evangelize their colleagues and enact policies that align with Drollingerâs very conservative interpretation of the Bible. Drollinger devotes this weekâs Bible study and a column in the Western Journal to his argument that scripture âcrushes the same-sex marriage debate.â Drollinger writes, âIt is not the place of the state nor its populace to redefine what God has createdââand suggests that pro-LGBTQ Christian leaders are âSatanâs pawns.â During the Trump administration, Drollinger conducted Bible studies for members of the Cabinet and used Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to open doors for him to expand internationally.
The Conservative Action Project is affiliated with the Council for National Policy, a secretive and influential political network bringing together different strands of the right-wing movement. In December 2020, the Conservative Action Project distributed a letter falsely claiming, âThere is no doubt President Donald J. Trump is the lawful winner of the presidential election. Joe Biden is not president-elect.â That December 2020 letter urged legislators in six battleground states to ignore the âwill of the voters and appoint pro-Trump electors to the Electoral College.â
âOur nation has lost its way in having lost a belief of a higher power,â said Christi Fraga, a Miami-Dade school board member who in May successfully proposed establishing an annual day of prayer in her district. âSo in my community, there has been a cry for help â a cry to allow prayer in our schools.â Fraga added of the courtâs ruling: âI hope it brings back our country to its foundation.â
Some Christian critics of nudism, including Mary Lowman of The Christian Working Woman, see the lifestyle as an affront to God. On her websiteâs page The Christian Dress Code, Lowman claims âGodâs dress code from the beginning has been to cover our nakedness.â
Even still, nudism attracts unlikely allies. Some nondenominational, hard-line conservative clergy accept nudism. Pastor Ron Smith, of McAllenâs Church of the King, vehemently opposes homosexuality, abortion and the transgender community, but when it comes to nudism, his strident views loosen up.
âI think itâs odd, I think itâs strange, but I have no proof itâs sinning,â Smith said. âWe have a retired couple that sit in the front row every Sunday that live at a nudist camp. I believe theyâre dedicated Christians.â
Because the Bible doesnât explicitly forbid nudism, Smith says he cannot condemn those who practice it. In fact, the Bible condones nudism on several occasions: âAdam and Eve were in the garden talking to God every day. They were nude,â Katz says. âWhen David had his big victory in battle, he went dancing in the streets naked to praise God. So, that must be OK in Godâs eyes.â
Generations of evangelicals consumed millions of books and listened to countless sermons expounding these "truths." Within this framework, there was ready forgiveness for male sexual misconduct. It was up to women to avoid tempting men who were not their husbands and meet the sexual needs of men who were. When men went astray, there was always a woman to blame. For men, misdeeds could be written off as too much of a good thing or perhaps a necessary evil, as evidence of red-blooded masculinity that needed only to be channeled in redemptive directions.
Within evangelical communities, we see these values expressed in the way organizations too often turn a blind eye to abuse, blame victims, and defend abusers in the interest of propping up a larger cause â a man's ministry, an institution's mission, or the broader "witness of the church."
In 2016, we heard precisely this rhetoric in defense of Donald Trump. Trump was a man's man. He would not be cowed by political correctness, but would do what needed to be done. He represented "a John Wayne America," an America where heroic men were not afraid to resort to violence when necessary in pursuit of a greater good. Evangelicals did not embrace Trump in spite of his rough edges, but because of them.
At a time when many evangelicals perceived their values to be under fire, they looked to Trump as their "ultimate fighting champion," a man who would not be afraid to throw his weight around to protect "Christian America" against threats both foreign and domestic.