4

I read an opinion piece in USA Today stating basically that Trump is the best president ever (eletcted, insofar) for the Christian right:

Never has the religious right had such a strong friend and reliable supporter on policy in the White House as Trump. Not Ronald Reagan and not either of the Bushes. From the religious right perspective, those previous Republican presidents might have said the right things on social issues in campaigns, but they ultimately disappointed on policy.

Ever since the rise of the modern religious right movement in the 1970s, its activists have invariably backed for the presidency conservative pastors (the Rev. Pat Robertson, the Rev. Mike Huckabee) or establishment Republicans who promised to back social conservative policies (Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney). Only the establishment types ever won, but once in office they focused on the economy, foreign policy, fighting wars and fighting terrorism. And they mostly put core social issues on the back burner.

Religious conservatives time and again were disappointed. Their past political activism produced a deep disdain for establishment Republicans who said the right things on the campaign trail but always reverted to mainstream agendas while in office. Having been burned so many times, religious conservatives did not know who to trust. [...]

Along comes candidate Donald Trump. He pledged without embarrassment total support for socially conservative positions. He was politically incorrect and proud of it. He not only ran as an anti-establishment Republican, the party establishment itself lined up to try to stop his nomination at every turn. [...]

And time and again, Trump has delivered. He fulfilled his pledge to appoint a strong social conservative to the U.S. Supreme Court; he has appointed social conservatives to key posts such as Education secretary; he fulfilled a pledge to re-institute the global “gag rule” prohibiting federal funds from supporting international family planning agencies that provide either abortion related services or advice; his original travel ban executive order gave a special dispensation for persecuted Christians; he is creating a new conscience and religious freedom office in the Department of Health and Human Services to protect medical professionals who refuse to provide services that violate their religious principles. The list goes on.

The last paragraph I quoted has a list of fairly compelling arguments. But is this a correct evaluation if one considers similar lists for past (Republican) presidents? Is there some systematic attempt to checklist Trump and other presidents against the policy desiderata of the Christian right? (I'm aware that such a checklist would be somewhat subjective, but I think this question can have reasonable answer(s) nonetheless. And some scholars might have tried to do it. There might even be polls that tried to find out how much self-identified Christian-right members thought various presidents were actually implementing the goals of the Christian right movement.)

  • The only two past Republican presidents relevant to the "Christian right" would be Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush, correct? – guest271314 Sep 1 '18 at 18:27
  • 2
    @guest271314: Since the movement is considered to have started in the 70's... yes. But that's 3 (not including Trump). I guess one could use Nixon as some kind of frame of reference. – Fizz Sep 1 '18 at 18:31
1

There are articles which present the idea that Ronald Reagan "stiff-armed" the religious right, George H.W. Bush did not trust the religious right

George H.W. Bush regarded televangelists like Pat Robertson as snake handlers and swindlers. Reflecting his parents' attitude, Neil Bush referred to evangelical Christians in a speech for his father in Iowa as "cockroaches" issuing "from the baseboards of the Bible-belt." For their part, the evangelicals felt no affinity for Bush Sr. They found his patrician background off-putting and suspected the sincerity of his conversion to the pro-life cause.

where a number of memos were drafted concerning the religious right Bush's Evangelical Politics (The Bush Tragedy)

The most important of his memos is a 161-page document he wrote in the summer of 1985 and a long follow-up to it known as "The Red Memo." Wead argued for "an effective, discreet evangelical strategy" to counter Jack Kemp, who had been courting the evangelicals for a decade, and Pat Robertson, whom he accurately predicted would run in the 1988 primaries. Wead compiled a long dossier on the evangelical "targets" he saw as most important for Bush. ("If Falwell is privately reassured from time to time of the Vice President's personal friendship, he will be less likely to demand the limelight," he wrote.) Wead made a chart rating nearly 200 leaders for various factors, including their influence within the movement, their influence outside of it, and their potential impact within early caucus and primary states. Billy Graham received the highest total score, 315, followed by Robert Schuller, 237; Jerry Falwell, 236; and Jim Bakker, 232.

in 2000, George W. Bush broke with the Religious Right strategy decisively, compromises the religious right has made The evangelical slippery slope, from Ronald Reagan to Roy Moore, while Evangelicals and Politics: The Religious Right (Born 1979, Died 2000) argues that the religious right "died" in 2000.

President Donald Trump appears to be delivering on promises made following the vast support of the religious right, see Religious Right in America, where a number of articles are referenced concerning the religious right

Trump’s Electoral College victory benefited from securing over 80 percent of the white evangelical vote. Reasons for Trump’s support among conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists remain hotly debated in journalistic and scholarly circles, with explanations ranging from lingering white racism and suspicions over Obama’s religious and racial identities, to more practical economic and political concerns related to the economic populism unleashed by the Tea Party, and concerns over which party would nominate the next generation of Supreme Court justices.

See also First year of Trump-Pence brings bountiful blessings, religious conservatives say (Religious conservastives find much to like, little to criticize about Trump's first year)

Johnnie Moore, an informal spokesman for the group of evangelicals who advise President Trump, says the administration has “been a dream.” (emphasis added)

...

And Paula White, the televangelist and spiritual adviser to Trump, calls the president’s first year of accomplishments “absolutely astounding.” (emphasis added)

citing the reasoning being President Trump's official policy actions relevant to

  • Judicial appointments

  • Anti-abortion actions

  • Elevating religious protections

  • Weighing in on Supreme Court case

  • Recognizing Jerusalem as capital of Israel

  • Allowing federal money to pay to rebuild churches

  • Directing aid to persecuted Christians through faith-based groups

  • Doubling the tax credit for children

In all, Moore argues the Trump administration has done more for evangelicals than any recent administration, including Ronald Reagan’s.

“The general perception is that President Trump has granted more access. He has given greater priority to issues of concern to the community,” said Moore, who estimated he made about 30 trips to Washington last year from California where he is a lay evangelical leader and head of a public relations firm. "Probably the only people the president has spoken to more frequently than Congress and the world's leaders are Christian leaders in this country." (emphasis added)

with criticism being limited to issues regarding the "separation of families at the border" The Memo: Religious right hits Trump on border crisis.

The controversy over child separation at the southern border is prompting conservative Christian leaders to be more vocal in their criticisms of President Trump than ever before.

Some experts believe their dissent could build, eroding approval for Trump among a group that has been reliably in his corner up till now. But others caution that the depth and durability of the religious right’s support for the president has been underestimated before.

Given the post-Office critiques and actual policies of Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George H. Bush, the article at the question appears to be an accurate evaluation of actually delivering on promises to one or more factions of the "religious right" during their Presidency, so far; with appointment of federal judges being the policy decision of President's which generally far outlasts their terms in Office - and which the religious right pays particular interest in, which the current President has been actively responding to as well.

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.