Trump has engaged far more closely with groups like the Family Research Council than his predecessors. But the president's support could be a poisoned chaliceby Emma Yeomans / October 16, 2017 / Leave a comment
“Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs.”
So tweeted Donald Trump in June 2016. Yet on Friday, he spoke at the Values Voter Summit, an annual gathering of Christian conservatives where conference goody bags included a promotion for a book entitled “The Health Hazards of Homosexuality.”
Promising to refute “the born-gay myth”, the writers state that “the mainstreaming and normalization of homosexuality” is responsible for an epidemic of physical and mental illness—and there, honouring the group dispersing such literature, was the President.
Trump’s presence at the Summit is only an open acknowledgment of an ongoing relationship between the White House and the conservative Evangelical wing of America’s Christian population, a group known for their opposition to LGBT rights, equal marriage and abortion rights.
Evangelical voters overwhelmingly supported Trump; exit polling from the Pew Research Centre found that 81 per cent of white, born-again or Evangelical Christians voted for him. Now his voting core await their returns.
The Values Voter Summit has been held annually since 2006, though Trump’s presence is the first time a president has spoken there. It is organised by the Family Research Council, a conservative religious non-profit which lobbies against LGBT rights, divorce, abortion, and other social policy areas. After Tony Perkins, the sitting president, compared homosexuality and paedophilia in 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Centre classified them as a hate group.
Now the Family Research Council, alongside various other Evangelical groups, are climbing further inside the White House. Though three White advisory panels—two business councils and an infrastructure panel—were disbanded in the wake of the Charlottesville protests and Trump’s response, the Evangelical advisory board, a collection of church leaders, influencers and televangelists, remains strong. Its members include Tea Party activist and ex-congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, and psychologist James Dobson, founder of the ultra-conservative organisation Focus on the Family and an advocate for abstinence-only sex education and the teaching of creationism in schools.
Other evangelical figures find they don’t need to be on the panel to get Trump’s attention. “I’ve been to the White House I don’t know how many more times in the first six months this year than I was during the entire Bush…