Thanks to “Leaders” Like Michael Shermer…

…the Religious Right runs circles (politically) around secular Americans.

In a new piece in Politico Magazine, skeptic Michael Shermer shows that his skepticism is limited to religion and pseudoscience. In other aspects of life, such as politics, he delves into conspiracy theory. Basically, Shermer thinks evangelicals are getting conned by Trump (they are, but not because of the reasons he thinkss).

Trump was elected president despite being the least religious major candidate in the 2016 field. Looked at this way, Trump isn’t the evangelicals’ savior. He’s just another data point in America’s long march away from religion.

Of course, this assumes that evangelicals voted for Trump because he was one of their own. They voted for him because he is:

  1. A Republican. As Pew shows, white evangelicals have been a core constituency of the GOP for a long time. They just voted for the candidate representing the party they prefer (and against the candidate they totally hate).
  2. A racist. A recent analysis of the American National Election Study by Prof. Thomas Wood who found that:

Since 1988, we’ve never seen such a clear correspondence between vote choice and racial perceptions. The biggest movement was among those who voted for the Democrat, who were far less likely to agree with attitudes coded as more racially biased.

Nineteen eighty eight was the year of the infamous “Willie Horton” and “Revolving Door” ads. The GOP had not been as explicitly racist in its appeals for nearly two decades. But the Obama presidency and Latinx and Asian-American presence have reignited a nativist streak in the GOP not seen since the 1924 immigration quotas law.

His use of the phrase “evangelicals” is telling. Shermer, who is not a very sensitive fellow on issues of race, doesn’t call Trump’s religious base for what it is: white and evangelical. The vast majority of blacks are evangelical, and they didn’t vote for Trump. The polling firm Latino Decisions found in its election eve poll that 60 percent of “born again” Latinx (Latinx evangélicos) voted for Clinton. These data show that Trump’s appeal to “evangelicals” was mostly limited to white ones.

Aside from pushing the “Trump is a closeted secular” conspiracy, Shermer sounds naive in his approach to politics and totally ignorant of American history. He’s politically naive as he ignores the reasons for why the Religious Right is so powerful.

The Religious Right emerged as a force in American politics not because it was pandered to, but because it made it an effort to get politicians to pay attention to them. Or by becoming politicians themselves. Shermer expects that because there’s a large number of secular Americans now, politicians will automatically seek our votes. They won’t, as I have explained before.

Amazingly, for a man who rails against identity politics, he seems fine with claiming victory for secularism because the President is not that religious (according to Shermer). Cheerleading the victory of a megalomaniac, sexist, racist con man is fine as long as it can serve as a f-u to religious American voters. Thankfully, not all of us have such low standards in our identity politics.

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4 thoughts on “Thanks to “Leaders” Like Michael Shermer…

  1. Even if we accepted that Donald Trump is “secular,” whatever that really means in this context, what good is it to nonreligious people if he’s perfectly willing to advance the same anti-science, anti-secularist policies that the right has been pushing for decades? How does it represent a step toward secularism for a President, nonreligious or not, to campaign on persecuting a religious minority, choose a religious fanatic as his running mate, and stock the Departments of Education, Housing, Energy, Environmental Protection, Justice, and so forth with far-right Christian ideologues?

  2. Exactly. Trump’s religion isn’t as relevant as the fact he’s empowering the blatant sexist and homophobic dreams of the Religious Right.

    He makes valid points about the far Left, but completely ignores what’s right under his nose. It’s frustrating because I have respect for him but he just doesn’t want to think more broadly.

  3. Does he really think religious people are that dumb? He didn’t dupe them, he made a deal with them. Does Shermer think every politicians is as religious as they claim, or believes what they say? The religious right is like every other lobby, they have money, and trade that money for support for their issues. I used to think Shermer was just ignorant/racist on race issues and instersectionality, but this makes him look outright naive, on top of his normal completely condescending attitude towards the religious.

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