One of the most nervous demographic groups in the nation during the 2016 campaign season was the Christian conservative right.
Self-identifying evangelicals found themselves constantly being asked, “How can you possibly support a man like Donald Trump?” as it related to words and deeds from Trump’s past as well as a seemingly steady stream of new additions. That nervousness intensified when he won the Republican nomination and reached off-the-charts levels when he won the presidency.
Now some nine months into his first term, those on the religious right are finding out just what they’ve got in Trump and so far the news is nothing but good. (From their point of view.)
A new report in The Hill chronicles just how faith-friendly the Trump administration has been and by most accounts President Trump is scoring huge wins for the religious right, causing some leaders in that bloc to call him the most faith-friendly president ever:
“President Trump’s administration is delivering for social conservatives, who are thrilled by the gains they’ve seen on their core issues of abortion and religious freedom. Through court appointments, administrative staffing, executive orders and agency guidance, Trump’s presidency has been a triumph for the religious right.
“He was a wild card, for sure, but we feel completely vindicated,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America. “Trump has been courageous in ways other Republicans, including George W. Bush, have never been. Who knew that a billionaire playboy from Manhattan would be the most pro-life president in history?”
Many social and religious conservatives view the last week as a watershed moment. On Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it would roll back an Obamacare requirement that employers include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans. The move exempts companies that might object to providing birth control on moral or religious grounds.
On the same day, the Justice Department issued a 20-page, government-wide memo detailing the ways the administration would protect those who “act or abstain from action in accordance with one’s religious beliefs.”
Also last week, the House passed a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who played golf with Trump on Monday, has introduced companion legislation in the Senate. Trump has said he will sign the bill if Congress sends it to his desk.
“It has been a banner year for pro-lifers,” said Jeanne Mancini, the president of March for Life. During the campaign, Trump made big promises to social conservatives about how he’d govern.
Many on the right were criticized for embracing Trump, who is not fluent in the language of evangelicals and was long celebrated in the New York tabloids for his decadent lifestyle. But Trump followed through on his promises to social conservatives from the start.
One of Trump’s first actions as president was to reinstate the “Mexico City policy,” which blocks foreign aid for international organizations that provide or “promote” abortions.
Trump in late January nominated Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, an anti-abortion justice known in conservative circles as a fierce defender of religious liberty. Conservatives are equally thrilled with the judges Trump has nominated for lower-level courts.
And in April the president signed a Congressional Review Act resolution that nullified an Obama-era regulation prohibiting states from defunding Planned Parenthood. A White House official told The Hill that building on those policies will be “an absolute priority” for the administration going forward.
“The best part of Trump’s record so far is what he’s done on abortion and religious freedom,” said Jay Richards, a Catholic University professor and executive editor of The Stream. “Lots of people voted for Trump not because they recognized him as a social conservative, but because they believed that he’d fulfill the pledges he made during the campaign. So far, he’s acting to fulfill those promises and seems immune from the usual social pressures that have led politicians to buckle in the past.”
Trump is proving himself the real deal on socially conservative issues and is tossing aside Obama’s layer upon layer of abortion-protecting and family-redefining policies and directives as fast as he can. Donald Trump, a Christian conservative voter’s best friend. Whoda thunk it?
[NOTE: This article was written by Derrick Wilburn, Founder and Chairman of the Rocky Mountain Black Conservatives, and a speaker, author, columnist and analyst for multiple print and broadcast media outlets. Follow him on Facebook and at RMBlackConservatives.com.]