Updates - Cases, Trump and more

Trump and the white evangelicals - understanding the Religious Right

"Why did so many Evangelicals turn out to vote for Donald Trump, a serial philanderer with questionable conservative credentials who seems to defy Christian values with his every utterance?"

- Publishers' blurb for one of the many such books in 2020

The oft-quoted statistic is that 81% of the USA's white evangelicals voted for Trump in 2016. This fact seems as strange to our American friends as it does to us in the UK.

As part of its coverage of the 2020 election, Tortoise Media asked me to explain to readers how the Religious Right happened - and where it's going next. Read my piece on the 'Grand Bargain' on Tortoise here.

It looks great on Tortoise so please do look there! However the text with references is also available (with Tortoise's kind permission) - as well as my booklist on the Religious Right with commentary.


Court in the Act - new and recent cases

Chapter 2 of The Jesus Candidate looked at twelve legal cases where anti-Christian discrmnation was alleged. These cases were used to promote Religious Right claims that the secular state was persecuting believers and suppressing Christianity. Often the public versions of the cases did not reveal the true facts. Sometimes the conduct of the cases suggested that the main purpose was to make a political point rather than to gain justice for the wronged.

This update looks at six recent cases and implications for law and policy.

The Ashers bakers eventually won their right not to sell their services to support a political project with which they did not agree.

Felix Ngole eventually won his case to make Sheffield unversity reconsider his dismissal from social work training.

Two cases heard in 2019 found that 'antitrangenderism' - denying that people can alter their gender - is not a 'belief' qualifying for protection against discrimination. The publicity around these cases, exploited by the Relligious Right, distorted the truth about these cases. But should it be a matter for judges to decide whether a belief is 'worthy of respect in a democratic society? I think the courts have misled themselves in the way they have interpreted the law on discrimination on grounds of belief.

Click here for the full story.


Liberty, Democracy, Civility - recent titles

How does Christianity assess and develop freedom in the modern liberal state? In The Jesus Candidate I took a line through the sixteenth century Anabaptists and Roger Williams' foundation of Rhode Island, seeing the foundation for liberalism in this strand of Christian history. On this basis I advocated a state that is neutral in matters of faith.

Since the Jesus Candidate appeared we have seen Robert Louis Wilken's mighty book Liberty in the things of God. Mostyn Roberts has produced the first British biography of Williams. Teresa Bejan suggests that Williams is a more significant contributor to modern political thought than Hobbes or Locke. And Cecile Laborde shows that liberalism does not require neutralism.

Click here to see more on these.