Their president might be floundering, but religious right groups are successfully lobbying the Trump administration for a rollback of LGBT and abortion rights, The New York Times reports. The changes range from regulatory adjustments to Trump’s infamous military transgender ban. Regarding the latter policy, the Times confirms that Trump announced the ban not because the military requested it, but because it came from a prominent right-winger.
At the same meeting, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a conservative religious lobbying group, broached the topic of banning transgender people from the military, Mr. Moore recalled, also adding that some participants disagreed with that stance. Some Republican members of Congress had been pushing for a similar prohibition, pointing to the medical costs of supporting transgender people. Again, within days of the meeting, Mr. Trump took action, announcing his transgender military ban.
Perkins does not sit on Trump’s board of evangelical advisors, but he’s clearly located comfortably within Trump’s orbit. He may be an extremist, but he’s not stupid. The religious right has always known that you don’t just wander your way into power then punch blindly in the dark. You have to decide what you want to do years before you win, then go about doing it.
Nevertheless, evangelicals have trapped themselves. Trump’s pet evangelicals—his court evangelicals, to borrow Messiah College historian John Fea’s term—may successfully re-order the country to their liking. But their agenda remains unpopular with the vast majority of Americans, and their association with this president should be an indelible stain on their movement. As I reported in a story about the Nashville Statement, their machinations will eventually cost them the power they’ve worked so cannily to achieve.