Two seemingly unrelated tales of Christian conservative leadership in the United States.
1. Rev. Franklin Graham, son of Billy, was on Christiane Amanpour's Sunday show making a tremendous ass of himself by plastering on his Most Serious Face and talking nice about Donald Trump. Forgive my manual transcript here, but the statement is approximately:
Graham: "Trump, when I first heard that he was getting in, I thought this has got to be a joke. But the more you listen to him, the more you say to yourself, you know, maybe this guy's right."
Amanpour: "So he might be your candidate of choice?"
Graham: "Sure. Yes."
This comes after 5 minutes of Graham pontificating about living in "the time of the Antichrist" and about the moral decline of America, the cure for which is apparently Donald "Mr. Morality" Trump – an ambiguously religious (variously reported as Catholic, Presbyterian, Protestant Reformed, etc.) man-whore with a taste for 20 year old Eastern European girls and serial infidelity.
2. Foreign Policy ran an interesting piece about the staunch support for Ivorian dictator Laurent Gbagbo from key U.S. Christian conservatives, notably OK Senator James Inhofe (who has his own mission organization in Africa, where he has made more than 25 trips since being elected). Gbagbo, who transitioned from democratic reformer to typical African "big man" after losing an election, is an evangelical Christian whereas the declared winner is Muslim. But actually Foreign Policy forgot to note that Gbagbo is a Christian…with two wives, one a Muslim he married in an animist ceremony. Inhofe sure does like his fellow Christians, up to and including overlooking bigamy (not to mention the crimes Gbagbo has perpetrated in office, of course).
I haven't the slightest problem with people being atheists, bigamists, man-whores, evangelical Christians, or anything else they so choose. I can respect the hell out of a deeply religious person – provided there is some small nod toward consistency rather than the "buffet style" (pick the plates you want and ignore the rest) attitude toward religion and morals that is so common in this country. If Franklin Graham is a humorless, moralizing Christian, then be a humorless, moralizing Christian. Don't be one 98% of the time and sing the praises of Donald Trump the rest of the time. If James Inhofe wants to preach to "the natives" or whatever in his spare time, so be it. But don't lecture us about our moral failings if, for reasons of economic, political, and military expediency, you're willing to overlook the fact that your SuperJesusPal Laurent Gbagbo has two wives. OK? OK.
I do not understand this impulse, this inability for our self-appointed evangelists and moral guardians to apply their belief systems consistently rather than making exceptions whenever political points are to be scored or advantages are to be had. Do they not see their hypocrisy? Do they see it and not care? Do they see it and think we're too stupid to see it? This American brand of TV bible-thumping and neo-theocracy arguably is no more or less hypocritical than other major religions. However, with the Mormons or the Vatican one must at least do a little digging to find the rank hypocrisy. People like Franklin Graham think nothing of laying it out in the open for all and sundry to see. If Pope Benedict goes on TV to endorse Rudy Giuliani and lavish praise on George Tiller I'll retract that statement.