The leaked SCOTUS ruling shows why white evangelicals supported Trump en masse
He gave them what they wanted.
It was an eventful Monday for the Supreme Court, which has according to a draft opinion leaked by Politico, effectively overturned Roe v. Wade and upended reproductive rights in the United States.
In doing so, the SCOTUS bench has solidified Trump’s legacy two years after he left office in disgrace. This bench, crafted by McConnell’s nihilistic, norms-don’t-apply-to-us blocked confirmation of Merrick Garland during the Obama administration, and the installation of Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Coney-Barrett, has delivered the result that many Christian nationalists have longed for for decades.
Never mind that the origin story of the Religious Right being animated by abortion access is a provable fiction, and that their leaders were animated by threats to the tax-exempt status of Christian colleges because they refused to racially integrate.
Reproductive rights are not my area of expertise, and I will defer to other experts on that matter.
What is alarming about this ruling, and what has been alarming for some time is how effective the GOP—and the considerable white evangelical constituency that is fully ingratiated into the GOP, sometimes leading social & political efforts that began in their sphere before migrating to the political arena, sometimes following the guidance of the GOP—has been at achieving this goal.
This was not a fluke. This was the culmination of decades of political lobbying, networking, investment in conservative legal training, and the long-term cultivation of an entire culture, white evangelicalism, that would rally people to its cause.
As has been cataloged in book after book after book, widespread evangelical support for Trump’s candidacies and administration only served to make their long-sought political goals more brazen and apparent. Once granted access to levers of power, they made quick work to achieve them. As Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council said in 2019 to the Values Voters Summit, “What makes the difference in this administration is that we’re not on the outside looking in, we are on the inside looking out.”1
These decades-long investments are paying dividends. You can couch and condition language however you like to make your critique precise - that this is the work of white Christian supremacists or Christian nationalists, that evangelicals, even white evangelicals, are no monolith, etc. But these ideas and these movements have found shelter within white evangelicalisms, plural, and those with political power are exacting their will on an unwilling public because they believe it is righteous and godly to do so.
In response, we do need to continue to find ways to work together - especially those of us who have an in-depth understanding of how white evangelicalism and other high-demand religions approach politics and public life - and formulate responses.
This will not end with the defeat of Roe, and culture wars are not merely rhetorical. They have real consequences. I am not prone to using metaphors that depend on conflict—especially something as loaded as “culture war.” But these conflicts are undeniable. The anti-CRT furor from last year, the anti-trans actions of 2022, all of these are proxies and expressions of the conflict that is already here.
Hope is sometimes hard to muster. I don’t intend to stay in a paralyzed alarmist mode. But the simultaneously religious & political dimensions of these events, with high personal and social consequences, must be reckoned with.
Quoted by Sarah Posner in her excellent book Unholy: Why White Evangelicals Worship at the Altar of Donald Trump.