I get alternately amused and annoyed when self-identified “religious” folks question the morality of agnostics and atheists. How, they piously declaim, can one be moral without (their version of) God?
It’s pretty easy, actually.
Most of the nonreligious folks I know have thought deeply about the nature of morality and their ethical obligations to their fellow-humans. And my genuinely religious friends–who tend not to be among the self-righteous and self-congratulatory “Pence-ites”–are equally thoughtful. But lately, I’ve begun wondering just how those “Christian warriors” define the morality they’re so sure we nonbelievers don’t have.
Pat Robertson, for example, has weighed in on the issue of how America should respond to Saudi Arabia’s recent murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
A major evangelical leader has spoken in defense of US-Saudi relations after the apparent killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi consulate, saying that America has more important things — like arms deals — to focus on.
Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, appeared on its flagship television show The 700 Club on Monday to caution Americans against allowing the United States’ relationship with Saudi Arabia to deteriorate over Khashoggi’s death.
“For those who are screaming blood for the Saudis — look, these people are key allies,” Robertson said. While he called the faith of the Wahabists — the hardline Islamist sect to which the Saudi Royal Family belongs — “obnoxious,” he urged viewers to remember that “we’ve got an arms deal that everybody wanted a piece of…it’ll be a lot of jobs, a lot of money come to our coffers. It’s not something you want to blow up willy-nilly.”
I’m going through the Christian bible right now, looking for the place where Jesus said that money from the sale of weapons with which to kill people takes priority over the sanctity of life. (Unless, I assume, it’s the life of a fetus…)
Robertson’s response is part and parcel of the fervid fundamentalist Christian support for Donald Trump–support that has generated numerous academic analyses and chattering class punditry devoted to the question: how do these “family values” and “morality police” Christians explain their support for a man who exemplifies everything they previously professed to hate?
It isn’t just his personal immorality–three wives, multiple affairs (including with a porn star), bragging about sexual assault, constant bullying and even more constant (and obvious) lying. It’s also his business practices.
A recent article in The New Yorker provided evidence that fraud is at the heart of the Trump business model.
The Times published a remarkable report, on October 2nd, that showed that much of the profit the Trump Organization made came not from successful real-estate investment but from defrauding state and federal governments through tax fraud. This week, ProPublica and WNYC co-published a stunning storyand a “Trump, Inc.” podcast that can be seen as the international companion to the Timespiece. They show that many of the Trump Organization’s international deals also bore the hallmarks of financial fraud, including money laundering, deceptive borrowing, outright lying to investors, and other potential crimes.
Of course, my question is rhetorical. We all know why so many White Christian men (and the women they dominate) support Trump–he tells it like (they think) it is: they are superior by virtue of their religion, their genitals and their skin color, and so they deserve to keep a more privileged status than women and minorities.
There are lots of words that describe that attitude and that support, but “moral” isn’t one of them.