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The Fixer-Upper Witch Hunt

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On November 8, America came within a hairsbreadth of electing as its president a serious persecutor of the church. And Christian citizens still have plenty to worry about. Our enemies have made that perfectly clear, in the latest ginned-up media attack on Chip and Joanna Gaines, the loveable hosts of HGTV’s Fixer Upper. Imagine if five years ago I had told you that not only would same-sex “marriage” be imposed on 50 states, but that its proponents would try to destroy anyone in public life who even dared to attend a church that opposed it. You would have had me fitted with a shiny tinfoil hat. But here we are.

Centrist writer Megan McCardle sums up implications of Buzzfeed’s campaign against the Gaineses:

What message does this send? “Sure, the government won’t actually shut your church down. But the left will use its positions of institutional power to try to hound anyone who attends that church from public life. You can believe whatever you want — but if we catch you, or if we even catch you in proximity to people who believe it, we will threaten your livelihood.”

McCardle’s piece is aimed at sane liberal readers, so she warns them that church-trashing overkill like this is what led Christian voters to hold our noses and do the unthinkable — that is, vote for Donald Trump. She’s right about that, and the fact that leftists are holding witch-hunts like this tells us that we were right to make that choice. We’d be in a far worse position if we’d kept our hands “clean” by refusing to back him, and were now awaiting the January coronation of the Borg Queen.

Now We Must Hold Trump’s Feet to the Fire

Now it’s time for the ugly, uncomfortable question: How much good will Trump’s win do? Mr. Trump has made it clear he intends to “protect” American jobs from foreign competition using … protectionism, as promised. So he’s staying true to angry blue collar workers. Will he keep his word to us?

The most important vows Trump made during the campaign, from our perspective, were these, in descending order of importance:

Appoint pro-life justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, and fight for their confirmation by the Senate.
Sign the First Amendment Defense Act, which would protect churches and Christian business owners from litigation and prosecution when they obey their consciences on the marriage issue.
Overturn the Johnson Amendment, which gives the IRS the power to chill the free speech of pastors on political issues with the threat of a lost tax exemption.
Make Americans feel comfortable saying “Merry Christmas” again.

Of course, the most important items on this list are also the most politically difficult. So any politician will be tempted to fob us off with trivia — like calling the White House tree a “Christmas Tree,” goshdarnit! We can’t let Trump get away with that.
Trump’s “New York” Values Haven’t Changed

He’ll be tempted to try. Moving ahead of public opinion, Trump was the most pro-LGBT Republican candidate in history. While Marco Rubio holds fast to his defense of traditional marriage, Trump has got even Texas Baptist preachers like Robert Jeffress calling same-sex marriage “settled law.” (The Fugitive Slave Act was settled law once too, I seem to remember.)

Trump wouldn’t come out in defense of North Carolina’s sane “bathroom bill.” A good man and successful Republican governor, Pat McCrory, stood firm in defense of women’s modesty and religious freedom — and lost, even as Donald Trump carried his state. Don’t think Trump missed the significance of that. Trump sees that while conservative Christians were a part of his coalition, we are not strong enough or committed enough to stick up for our own.
Notional Christians are the National Bellwether

What is worse, if Trump looks closely at the numbers, he will see something that should disturb us. During the campaign I heard all sorts of cheerful numbers about the tens of millions of “evangelical Christian” voters in America. But statistician George Barna points out that there is a much larger religious group out there, which decided this election:

While the media have made a big deal about the prolific level of evangelical support won by Trump, the real story may be elsewhere. Barna’s research indicates that perhaps the most significant faith group in relation to the Trump triumph was notional Christians. These individuals – who consider themselves to be Christian, typically attend a Christian church, but are not born again – have supported the Democratic candidate in every election since 1996. On average, notionals have given the Democratic candidate 58 percent of their votes. That trend was broken this year as Hillary Clinton took just 47 percent of the group’s votes while Trump was awarded 49 percent. Given that notionals are by far the largest of the five faith segments, that transition was a game changer for the Republicans.

Of that list of four Christian priorities, the “notional” Christians are more likely to care about 4) than any of the others. They want the president to say “Merry Christmas” again. Given their numbers, Mr. Trump is likely to oblige them — and perhaps leave it at that. He might just follow the numbers. As Barna reports:

Evangelicals provided 10 million votes; non-evangelical born again voters produced 33 million; and notional Christians delivered 58 million. Adults representing non-Christian faiths generated 7 million ballots cast, and the skeptic segment was responsible for 28 million votes.

Trump is almost certain to realize, if not in such granular detail, that many of his votes came not from the deeply devout, but from the comparatively lukewarm “notionals,” who are much more numerous. More importantly, notionals have somewhere else to go — some 47 percent of them voted for Clinton. Serious, pro-life Christians, by contrast, have little choice in any election but to vote Republican or stay home. In that sense, we are in much the same position that black voters have been in the Democratic party: backed up in a corner.

What offers us grounds for hope here is the other side’s blatant thuggishness, the stratospheric contempt in which they hold those who disagree with them.

First They Came for the Gaineses …

What offers us grounds for hope here is the other side’s blatant thuggishness, the stratospheric contempt in which they hold those who disagree with them. While “notional” Christians are much more prone to the LGBT propaganda that tells them all bathrooms must be unisex — hence Gov. McCrory’s brave, sad defeat — they don’t like bullies. They might not want to attend Chip and Joanna Gaines’ church, but they don’t want to see it padlocked by the IRS, or the Gaineses hounded into poverty and obscurity by noxious online secularists. Even people who acceded to same-sex marriage expressed support for persecuted Christian bakers, florists, and wedding planners — just as lukewarm Catholics who reject the Church’s stance on birth control backed the Little Sisters of the Poor when the Obama administration tried to force them to fund the abortion pill.

Apparently that’s the sweet spot, politically, at least for now. We must move enough swing-vote notionals to support laws like the First Amendment Defense Act, by showing them how good, appealing people — like the Gaineses — are threatened by ideologues and bullies. We need them asking themselves questions like, “What if Buzzfeed decides that my church is next? If they try to destroy people like me?”

It’s the right question to ask, since the secular left is insatiable in its demands, implacable in its hatreds. They’re coming for the lukewarm Christians next.

Source: John Zmirak, stream.org