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Democrats Vs. Traditional Christians

Here’s a revealing anecdote, via the Daily Mail:

The one issue Hillary and Chelsea don’t appear to agree on entirely is transgender self-identification.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, journalist Decca Aitkenhead asked the Clintons if someone with a beard and a penis can ever be a woman, to which Chelsea replied emphatically, ‘Yes.’

However, as Aitkenhead describes it, Hillary looked ‘uneasy’, and blamed generational gaps for being less accepting.

‘Errr. I’m just learning about this,’ Hillary responded. ‘It’s a very big generational discussion, because this is not something I grew up with or ever saw. It’s going to take a lot more time and effort to understand what it means to be defining yourself differently.’

Chelsea Clinton is 39 years old, and was raised in Washington and New York. She and her husband and children live in Manhattan. Plainly she has absorbed the lightning-fast cultural changes that have occurred in her lifetime. I would not be the least bit surprised if she affirmed Beto O’Rourke’s view that churches, religious schools, and charities that acted on their opposition to LGBT rights should lose tax-exempt status.

Unfortunately for the Democratic Party, its presidential candidates have to run in the United States of America, not Manhattan.

Pete Buttigieg this morning said that Beto went too far. His comments are somewhat reassuring, though he began by saying that “anti-discrimination law should apply to all institutions.” How does he reconcile that with the rest of his statement? And does he think that only explicitly religious institutions should receive a pass?

In the Democratic televised debate coming up on Tuesday, every one of the candidates should be forced to declare themselves, and to explain their decision, one way or the other. Writing in the Atlantic, law professor John Inazu said the Dems are going to regret what Beto said. Excerpt:

O’Rourke’s comments mark the first time a Democratic presidential candidate has overtly endorsed stripping the tax-exempt status of religious organizations who hold conservative views about marriage and sexuality. This feels very much like the candidate Obama’s “cling to guns and religion” comment at a 2008 San Francisco fundraiser that became first an attack line used by Hillary Clinton and then a well-worn conservative talking point that the would-be president was aloof and out of touch with small-town America. But more troubling than the rhetoric is where it leads. And for that, let me offer three suggestions to people with skill sets I lack: one for pollsters, one for journalists, and one for policy analysts.

First, pollsters should ask voters about O’Rourke’s comments and the issue of tax-exempt status, both now and in the exit polls for the 2020 presidential election. We can be certain this issue will be used in Republican political ads, especially in congressional districts that Obama won in 2012, but that Trump won in 2016. And I suspect this issue and O’Rourke’s framing of it will lead to increased turnout of evangelicals in states that matter to Democrats, such as Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. O’Rourke’s comment may quickly fall out of the national news cycle, but it won’t be forgotten among churches, religious organizations, and religious voters. And if the Democrats lose in 2020, this issue and their handling of it will likely be a contributing factor. That will be true regardless of who the eventual Republican or Democratic candidates are.

Second, journalists should ask O’Rourke and every other Democratic candidate how this policy position would affect conservative black churches, mosques and other Islamic organizations, and orthodox Jewish communities, among others. It is difficult to understand how Democratic candidates can be “for” these communities—advocating tolerance along the way—if they are actively lobbying to put them out of business.

Third, policy analysts should assess the damage O’Rourke’s proposal would cause to the charitable sector. O’Rourke’s stance—if played out to its end—would decimate the charitable sector. It is certainly the case that massive amounts of government funding flow through religious charitable organizations in the form of grants and tax exemptions. But anyone who thinks this is simply a pass-through that can be redirected to government providers or newly established charitable networks that better conform to Democratic orthodoxies is naive to the realities of the charitable sector.

Inazu goes on to point out that liberals — even really smart ones, like Harvard’s Robert Putnam — often greatly underestimate the role churches and religious charities play in fighting poverty and doing disaster relief. I can well imagine that for liberals who don’t know any church folks, “conservative churches” are nothing more than local version of Trump cheerleader Robert Jeffress’s Baptodome in Dallas. (And for the record, Jeffress’s church, whether or not you approve of its pastor’s politics, does a lot of charitable work.)

And by the way, guess how much Mr. and Mrs. Beto O’Rourke donated to charity this year? A whopping $1,166, or about 0.3 percent of their income. 

More:

The O’Rourkes reported an adjusted gross income of $366,455 in 2017, the most recent year made available by the campaign, and gave only $1,166 to charity. The two years before, the couple gave even less: $857 in 2016 and $867 in 2015.

Over the ten years of tax returns released by O’Rourke, only one year showed giving that rose above $2,000. That was 2013 when the O’Rourke’s gave $12,900 to a variety of charities. With an adjusted gross income of $301,092 that year, the larger gift boosted the percentage donated to nearly 4.3% of their income. But none of the other years, going back to 2008, show charitable giving over 1% of their income.

CNN reports that Americans on average give two percent of their annual income to charity. Most conservative religious believers I know tithe around ten percent to their church, or church-related charities. If the poor are depending on liberal Catholic Beto O’Rourke for charitable contributions, they’re going to go hungry.

Anyway, Beto is not going to be president, but Elizabeth Warren might. I would like to reacquaint you with her contempt for religious conservatives. Nota bene: disagreement is not the same thing as contempt. One expects a liberal Democrat to oppose the views of a religious conservative on same-sex marriage. What this response demonstrated was mockery and spite:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5KlaEjIqMg]

That answer went viral. The media loved it too.

But ask yourself this. What if a religiously conservative GOP presidential candidate were asked this version of the question: “Senator, I believe that marriage should be between two people who love each other, regardless of their sex. What is your response?” And what if that religious conservative said, “I’m going to assume that the questioner is a woman, and I’m going to say, ‘You just haven’t met the right man yet — if you can find one to look at you, bless your heart.'”

That is the exact parallel to what Elizabeth Warren said, to the guffaws and applause of people in the room, and the cheers of many in the media. Had a Republican said such a thing, the pile-on and beatdown would have been endless, and that Republican would have deserved strong criticism. I don’t at all agree with the pro-gay marriage position, but those Americans who do believe in it, both gay and straight, deserve respect from our leaders, not mockery.

But this is how the Senator from Massachusetts and former Harvard professor regards religious conservatives. Believe me, it is useful to get that learned. This was one of those Covington Catholic moments, when the latent contempt liberal elites have for social and religious conservatives comes right to the surface.

Warren’s views on same-sex marriage are popular; nearly two out of three Americans support it. That number is going to rise as older Americans, those least likely to oppose it, die off. Transgender is still a divisive category. Strong majorities of Americans favor allowing transgender soldiers to serve in the military, but the question of trans bathroom use remains divisive. The fact that an older liberal feminist like Hillary Clinton has problems with it, and that her 39-year-old daughter not only supports it, but shows anger at her mom not embracing it, is telling.

My sense is that the national media are going to have a huge blind spot on covering the political implications of the clash between LGBT rights and religious liberty. Again, if a religiously conservative presidential candidate — Sen. Josh Hawley, maybe — had given the same kind of response that Warren did, it would be widely perceived as a gaffe. If she’s the Democratic nominee, I doubt Elizabeth Warren stands to win too many votes of religious conservatives. But what her contempt for religious conservatives who have not embraced LGBT rights to the extent that she has will energize religious conservatives to vote against her.

And believe me, a non-trivial number of religious conservatives are sick and tired of Donald Trump, and are open to voting against him, or at least withholding their votes. I heard a speech that the Southern Baptist pastor Russell Moore delivered on Friday evening. It did not mention politics at all, and certainly not Trump, but it was a sermon about power, faith, and responsibility. As one of the nine religious conservatives left in America who don’t know what they’re going to do at the ballot box in 2020, it challenged me deeply in my thinking. Elizabeth Warren and Beto O’Rourke have made the cost of standing against Trump, or not standing up for him in the ballot box, significantly higher.

We will see what the other Democrats have to say about this issue on Tuesday night — provided that the moderators ask them about it.

UPDATE: Reader MichaelGC:

In the New York Post coverage of the interview with Hillary and Chelsea, Chelsea shot her mother a “furious stare” when Hillary said she is uncomfortable with biological males being in women’s restrooms.

That is telling. To the wokest of the Woke (and Chelsea certainly sits at the pinnacle of the virtuous Woke) it is major blasphemy to even suggest that dudes in dresses don’t belong in women’s spaces.

Think about the times we are living in.

The Equality Act waits for the Dems to come into power so that the remaking of society can begin in earnest, ending privacy and women’s athletics, even forcing women who work in salons to put their hands all over the male genitalia of people like Jonathan Yaniv because of his woman’s soul.

The Supreme Court just heard arguments about whether the word sex can be made to refer not to hard biological fact but ephemeral, unconfirmable, fanciful “gender identity” which everyone will be obligated to recognize contrary to what they see before them. Arguments indicate that it looks to be close, and 12 federal and district decisions have already redefined sex to mean “gender identity.” Pray that the Court does not have another megalomaniacal spasm like it did in 2015.

Finally, Democratic presidential candidates boast that they would violate the First Amendment, establishing a state orthodoxy around SSM and severely restricting the free exercise of those churches, synagogues, and mosques who dissent.

Oh, and the Dems want Chelsea to run for office.

This must be what civilizational decline into collapse looks like.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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