Because you can’t bring the world to the brink of nuclear war on Twitter all the time, Donald Trump took a break from eroding the public discourse online this morning to address one of the few American demographic groups not yet willing to admit what a moron he is: evangelical “values voters.” That “values” bit is more than a bit ironic, given that the man of whom there are literal paintings of Jesus guiding his hand as he signs some unenforceable executive order is also the embodiment of greed, dishonesty, adultery, bigotry, and all the other sins Jesus preached against. But hey, what’s a little hypocrisy as long as baristas can’t force you to acknowledge religions besides Christianity, right?
At the summit, Trump indulged at length in the sin of hubris, praising his own efforts to eliminate healthcare for impoverished Americans—a key tenet of the “pro-life” agenda. (Again, what’s a few dead Americans if we can prevent women from controlling their own reproductive health?) “We know that it’s the family and the church—not government officials—who know best how to create strong and loving communities,” he said. He added, “We don’t worship government, we worship God,” before muddying the message by praising himself some more for “defending” veneration of the American flag.
“We are stopping cold the attacks on Judeo-Christian values,” Trump went on to say, receiving rapturous applause from people whose quality standards have been permanently eroded by listening to Christian rock music:
But the biggest crowd-pleaser was Trump’s brave defense of a federal holiday accompanied by a massive annual marketing push. “We’re getting near that beautiful Christmas season that people don’t talk about anymore,” Trump said, which is curious because he watches a lot of TV, and Christmas commercials began in mid-October this year. “They don’t use the word ‘Christmas’ because it’s not politically correct. You go to department stores and they’ll say ‘Happy New Year,’ or they’ll say other things, and it’ll be red, they’ll have it painted. But they don’t say—well, guess what? We’re saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again.”
As NPR reports, Trump is the first sitting president to speak at the Values Voter Summit, held every year by the Family Research Council, which has been labeled an extremist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center thanks to its anti-LGBTQ views. The group routinely cites discredited research to spread homophobic myths associating LGBTQ people with pedophilia, which, again, is pretty fucking rich given that a quick Google news search for “youth pastor” turns up multiple contemporary news stories about youth pastors charged with (heterosexual) child sex crimes. The FRC is also staunchly anti-Muslim, frequently raising the specter of “Sharia law” to frighten its predominantly white, increasingly elderly base.
That last part is significant: A 2015 Pew Research study found that the number of Americans who self-identify as Christian dropped nearly eight percentage points from 78.4 percent to 70.6 percent between 2007 and 2015, driven in part by a mass exodus by millennials from organized religion. Only 56 percent of people born between 1990 and 1996 call themselves Christians, and a 2016 study from the Public Religion Research Institute showed that only 11 percent of self-identified evangelicals are under the age of 30. Millennials also overwhelmingly support same-sex marriage—74 percent of those born after 1981 polled by Pew Research in 2017 said they favored it—making the Family Research Council’s hard-line anti-gay stance seem more like a desperate fumble than a resurgent movement. Now if only those secular, tolerant millennials would actually, you know, vote.
Speaking of fumbles: Evangelicals—based on the flyer MSNBC correspondent Garrett Haake received at the summit that’s embedded below—are also apparently still non-ironically quoting Austin Powers in the year 2017.