Religion, Politics, and the RNC: Separation of Church and State Anyone? by Marie Cartier

MarieCartierforKCETa-thumb-300x448-72405When you read this Feminism and Religion community, we will have just finished the televised portion of the Republican National Convention (RNC), which as I write this Wednesday, July 20 has announced that Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee for president of the United States.

Last night the first night of the RNC we witnessed the emerging platform of the party going far to the right.

From the New York Times:

Republicans moved on Tuesday toward adopting a staunchly conservative platform that takes a strict, traditionalist view of the family and child rearing, bars military women from combat, describes coal as a “clean” energy source and declares pornography a “public health crisis.”

The platform demands that lawmakers use religion as a guide when legislating, stipulating “that man-made law must be consistent with God-given, natural rights.”

It also encourages the teaching of the Bible in public schools because, the amendment said, a good understanding of its contents is “indispensable for the development of an educated citizenry.”

One thing we might ask—those of us who discourse in religion and the profane, or ways of the world—is the somewhat obvious question- whose God? Whose religion?

Trump-religionSo, while Trump, Inc. demands in this platform to force lawmakers to use “religion as a guide” we are left assuming that will be a conservative form of the Christian religion- especially since Trump has been clear that Muslims would be separated out from the rest of the population as “different” and therefore dangerous. Reported on CNN:

Trump did not suggest that Muslim-Americans should be required to wear a symbol that would visibly identify them as Muslims, such as a gold crescent. (On the other hand, he did not rule it out.) As The Holocaust Center notes on its website, the Nazi-era laws that required Jews to publicly identify their faith was “… marking them as being different (i.e., inferior) to everyone else.” …making Muslims carry special religious identity cards or having to register with the government sends a clear message to other Americans that Muslims are different….are less than fully American.

What is then– fully American? Certainly not LGBTQ+ citizens, who only recently received full citizenship benefits, finally in 2015 with the SCOTUS decision in June of that year. Trump, Inc. seems to believe that this is a decision he can change with his hoped for presidency.

Delegates at the Republican National Convention ratified Monday afternoon with little opposition a party platform considered to contain the most anti-LGBTQ+ language in history:

In addition to opposition to same-sex marriage, the platform also objects to use of federal law to ensure transgender people can use the restroom consistent with their gender identity, indicates support for widely discredited “ex-gay” conversion therapy and endorses the First Amendment Defense Act, a “religious freedom” bill that would enable anti-LGBT discrimination.

religous freedomSo again- whose God? Whose religion is guiding the lawmakers should this Republican presidential hopeful actually win the election?

I was recently in the United Kingdom (UK), London to be exact, for a conference and was there when BREXIT happened—separating the UK from the European Union (EU). The vote was very close: Leave won by 52% to 48%. The referendum turnout was 71.8%, with more than 30 million people voting. It was the highest turnout in a UK-wide vote since the 1992 general election.

Many of the folks I was with—those at the conference I was attending, an international LGBTQ+ conference on Archives, Libraries, Museums and Special Collections, were against the separation of the UK from the EU. However, every cab driver I spoke with during my ten days there was for it. Because they felt they were losing work.

It’s also true that the most Googled word after the referendum passed was “Brexit”- what did it mean? It appeared that a lot of folks voted for this thinking it meant one thing and it actually meant another.

photo by: Cristina Vegas
photo by: Cristina Vegas

I can imagine something similar if Trump won—what did we actually do? What do you mean we voted for someone who is going to make American citizens (some of them) wear I.D. to identify that they might be dangerous…take away the Supreme Court decision (and ensuing rights of other citizens) …is that what we actually wanted?

Defunding Planned Parenthood? His VP pick, Mike Pence, given more power in a national framework might just be able to get away with legislation he has tried to enact in the past:

In 2015, Pence signed into law the highly controversial anti-LGBT Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which gave businesses license to discriminate against LGBT people. The law caused a nationwide backlash. …As governor, Pence also oversaw a cut in Planned Parenthood funding in the state and signed legislation, since blocked that would have restricted abortion access statewide. In 2011, he threatened to shut down the entire government if Congress didn’t defund Planned Parenthood. 

We, who are liberal, cannot assume that the Republican platform is a joke. It’s not—it’s serious business for those folks who are Republican and are voting for Trump. In point of fact, a lot of people are voting for Trump– or he would not have made it this far. He received more votes in the presidential primary than any other Republican candidate ever in the history of the United States.

Who are those people?

–a woman who I met at a gay and lesbian film festival in Los Angeles, an artist, whose gay son had a movie at this international LGBTQ+ arena in Hollywood, who “hates” Hillary and believes Trump is a good businessman.

— a Goddess loving woman friend and medical worker who thinks Trump will bring business back to the United States.

Just two among many other examples. I’m sure all of you reading this know Trump supporters, and some of you undoubtedly are Trump supporters.

I invite anyone who knows folks who are voting for Trump to try and talk with them. If you are part of the LGBTQ+ umbrella, if you are a “different” religion, such as Muslim, than the “religion” that Trump and the RNC specifies in their platform…if you want the diversity of American solidified and strengthened at the table rather than minimized… If you believe that the Supreme Court and the Constitution and the United States are “great” already—now is the time to talk to the people in your circle.

I also  encourage discussion on this page in an honest, respectful way in order to actually talk openly about the issues.

We cannot afford to have people Googling whether or not they really voted to get rid of Muslims, replace ObamaCare with a Health Savings account, get rid of gun-free zones, etc.

If you are voting for Trump, I’d love the opportunity to respectfully try and change your mind. Let’s have the conversations now—rather than regret we didn’t have them later.


Marie CartierDr. Cartier has a Ph.D. in Religion with an emphasis on Women and Religion from Claremont Graduate University.  She is the author of the critically acclaimed book Baby, You Are My Religion: Women, Gay Bars, and Theology Before Stonewall (Routledge 2013).  She is a senior lecturer in Gender and Women’s Studies and Queer Studies at California State University Northridge, and in Film Studies at Univ. of CA Irvine. She is also a published poet and playwright, accomplished performance artist, scholar, and social change activist. She holds a BA in Communications from the University of New Hampshire; an MA in English/Poetry from Colorado State University; an MFA in Theatre Arts (Playwriting) and an MFA in Film and TV (Screenwriting), both from UCLA; and an MFA in Visual Art (Painting/Sculpture) from Claremont Graduate University.  She is co-chair of the Lesbian-Feminisms and Religion session of the national American Academy of Religion and co-chair at the regional level of the Queer Studies in Religion session, founder of the western region Queer Caucus, and a perma-blogger for Feminism and Religion. She is also a first degree black belt in karate, Shorin-Ryu Shi-Do-Kan Kobayashi style, and a 500 hour Yoga Alliance certified Hatha Yoga teacher.

16 thoughts on “Religion, Politics, and the RNC: Separation of Church and State Anyone? by Marie Cartier”

  1. What is more frightening than Trump is all the people who claim him as their voice–and the fact that they seem to care nothing about whether he speaks truth or falsehood as long as he expresses their anger and feeds their fear.

    A Hillary pick of a middle of the road pro-Wall Street pro-military hawk will not do our cause any good, but all the signs is that she is leaning that way!

    Let’s hope Michael Moore is wrong this time–he predicts Trump will win because he voices something people want to hear.


    1. Even more than voicing something the people want to hear, Trump’s hubris is evident when he asserts that “Only I can save you.” I think we’ve absorbed into our collective consciousness this idea that we need a “savior.” In fundamentalist, conservative Christianity, Jesus is the “way, the truth, and the life.” We want someone to get us out of the perceived mess we’re in–whether it’s a knight in shining armor or a risen Christ that will come in power and glory to rule the earth. Trump is expert at branding himself as something the people “need.”


      1. It puzzles me how so many people buy into his rhetoric, often people who do not even need help–they have good jobs, nice houses, new cars. I did notice that if you scanned the crowd at the Republican convention, very few people of African, Asian, or Hispanic descent were evident. That says a lot to me.


  2. Whose god indeed?

    I don’t know how to discuss Trump because I have still trying to digest the fact that he is a presidential candidate at all. The fact that he feeds people’s fear and rage is terrifying.

    And what about Hillary? Most women I know say that ” I don’t like her.” When I try to find out why I get responses like “I don’t want another Clinton as president” or “she’s a warmonger.” One woman told me “that Hillary should have left her husband when he cheated on her.” All of this hatred for Hillary is real but I am not clear why beyond the fact that Americans will go to any length NOT to vote for a woman for president.


  3. I went to see Cabaret (live on stage) last night. I didn’t have to listen to The Donald’s speech. One of the songs in the show is “Tomorrow Belongs to Me.” It’s sung by the Nazis. Here’s the Youtube version from the movie. Please listen to it. Pay careful attention to the Fred Ebb’s lyrics. John Kander’s melody is deceptively beautiful. It’s the lyrics that are so scary I think it should have been played at the RNC…, all those crazy people would even get it. Or they’d just sing along. Do take the time to listen. It’s a wonderful song. It’s a terrifying song.


  4. On Hillary winning the Presidency, I read that a phenomenon often referred to as the “Gender Gap” reflects the fact that “women over the past 24 years tend to prefer the Democratic nominee and have created a voting gap from three to thirteen percentage points in favor of any Democratic Party nominee.”

    However Hillary has to show that as President of the United States she would be strong enough to command its armed forces.. I’ve been listening to the British Prime Minister Theresa May’s speeches, too, as regards similar problems, and she makes every effort to show her strength to meet whatever the threat might be, including their nuclear missile, which she calls a “deterrent” not a weapon. In other words she would never launch it but don’t try bombing us either, because we can defend ourselves.

    I’ve linked my name here to one of Theresa May’s talks, with relevant material, and with some humor that is priceless regards women in power.


  5. I can’t vote, but I live next door! Hilary wouldn’t be my first choice because of her past choices re: invading Iraq, connections with Wall St. and Corporate interests. I question whether she will care about people who are homeless, sick, poor, etc. Those vulnerable in society. But I would vote for her in this election simply because she appears sane and doesn’t “build walls” or “expel people”, or encourage (as far as I know) divisiveness and violence. The Republican Party seems to have been taken over by Westboro Baptist Church – scary indeed.


    1. I read today Hillary may pick Tim Kaine, for VP. Apparently the prospect of Kaine on the ticket has been met with hostility by some on the party’s left wing, many of whom are pining for Warren. I’m among the “pining,” and I have a feeling Hillary will loose the election with any sort of pick like Tim Kaine. Another article I read said that supporters of Bernie Sanders have slammed Kaine for lacking “progressive backbone.” Hillary’s mistake here seems to be a lack of solidarity with the left and with women, and she may lose the election on account of it.


  6. Trying to have a conversation with Trump supporters is often extremely frustrating and often pointless if the supporter is a fundamentalist Christian. I cannot find anything in the Republican Platform with which I agree. I even read the Libertarian Platform and only agree with the Personal Issues part. I do not vote for people as much as I vote for a party platform and what seems likely to work better for the country as a whole in the long term. How can racism, laws allowing people to discriminate against LGBTQ people, laws limiting women’s reproductive rights be ok? You can find these things in the Republican Platform. I strongly believe that much of the vitriol toward Hillary Clinton has absolutely nothing to do with anything factual about her, but rather says a lot about how our society feels about assertive, strong, independent, unemotional, organized, intelligent, not particularly nurturing women. As to why she probably picked Kaine? He is a Catholic, who even though personally against abortion, thinks it is a personal choice and not any one else’s business, speaks fluent Spanish because he worked as a missionary in Honduras, never lost an election and is liked by both Democrats and Republicans. He has a 100 per cent rating from Planned Parenthood and several other organizations and a 0 rating from the NRA. While I like Warren, she turns off many moderates in both parities. My guess is that if Clinton wants to win, she will have to appeal to moderates. While many people who love Bernie want to write in votes for him, I will not even though I voted for Bernie in the primary. The next president will probably be able to appoint several Supreme Court Justices and that is way too important for the future of women’s rights to take any risks.


Please familiarize yourself with our Comment Policy before posting.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: