Almost two thirds (63%) of Americans want churches to stay out of politics. There are two exceptions: white evangelicals and black Protestants. 

Some Senators and Congressmen are also Protestant religious leaders and a few are agruably commendable. There are two Baptist preacher Senators Langford (R) and Warnock (D). In the House, we have Representatives Corri Buch and Emmanuel Cleaver on the Democratic side. On the GOP side we have Georgia’s own Rep. Jody Hice.  

In an ideal world, the leaders that religious Protestant Americans most admire would all be individuals that they can look up to. Men and women that they can ask their children to aspire to be like. Someone who defends the oppressed, like in the bible quote, “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”-Isaiah 1:17. But we all know that our world is not an ideal world. It has many flaws and contradictions. 

Rep. Jody Hice

One such flaw is North Georgia’s Rep Jody Hice, who has just stated that he will be running in the GOP primary to replace the GOP GA Sec. of State for having the audacity to honestly say the 2020 election was not rigged. Hice has been a right-wing firebrand from the start of his term, receiving a 98% rating from the American Conservative Union. But, I was familiar with Pastor Hice before that, when I was a County Commissioner in a county adjoining his Congressional district.  

Specifically, I knew the Barrow County Commission Chairman and was familiar with the well-publicized fight over the unconstitutional placement of the Ten Commandments in the lobby of his courthouse. However, Pastor Hice does not believe in the constitutional separation of church and state and, therefore, noisily led the fight to keep the Ten Commandments there, even though the ACLU threatened to sue. Thus, Hice put tremendous political pressure on the Chair and the Commissioners. The ACLU did ultimately sue and win, with the County removing the display and paying substantial legal damages for blatantly ignoring the separation of church and state. 

And Hice has not changed since his election. According to Right Wing Watch, in a filmed conference (6-18-15), “Hice claimed that church-state separation has tricked Christians into ignoring their role in government.”  

Hice’s position is also that churches should not pay taxes but should be permitted to engage in politics endorsing political candidates and actively engaging in campaigns. 

For someone so worried about democracy, morality and conservatism, Hice has made many other questionable statements and moves over the years. Even though 83% of the benefits went to the rich and corporations, Hice voted for the 2017 tax cut which also created a tremendous $3 trillion deficit. 

More recently, he was one of only a handful of Representatives not voting to condemn the Myanmar coup d’état, whereby the military removed a democratically elected government. Of course, Hice also wanted to replace an elected President (Biden) with one who lost the 2020 election (Trump) via signing onto a Supreme court lawsuit contesting the results of the fair and honest presidential election of 2020. That case was laughed out of court. 

Which leads me to another religious hypocrite, Donald Trump. People can argue in good faith about individual Trump era policies. But given his lack of basic morality it is hard to defend Trump as a person, or to justify the abysmal way that he handled the Presidency from day one, cynically dividing the nation into feuding tribes He was the opposite of everything stated and implied in the above biblical quote.  

However, in April 2017 white evangelical Protestants strongly supported Trump with 71% approving of his performance. Even among white non-evangelical Protestants, the number was 52%, still a majority. 

Likewise, you may or may not like Biden’s policies, but it is hard to say that you disapprove of him as a person or the way he is handling his job at this early stage of his term. However, in April 2021, only 23% of white Protestant evangelicals approved of his job performance. The figure was only 45% for white Protestant non-evangelicals. 

For the religiously unaffiliated, including agnostics/atheists/ nothing in particular, the figures were reversed. In April 2017, only 24% approved of Trump’s performance. Whereas, in April 2021, 71% of the unaffiliated approved of Biden’s performance. 

So, where does this leave us regarding religious Protestants and politics? Frankly, with more questions than answers.  

Why do white Protestants (and evangelicals in particular) still support Trump, even though he is immoral and frequently lies? How do they justify doing this when they say that they follow the teachings of the bible? 

Are they just brainwashed by Fox, Breitbart and the other “fake news” outlets promoting right wing conspiracies? Do they just ignore traditional mainstream media and facts? Or is it something else that permits them to ignore their religious teachings and support Trump rather than Biden?

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Image Credit: the feature image is The Last Judgment, ca. 1440–1441. Jan Van Eyck, and the official photo of Rep. Jody Hice are both via Wikipedia.org/public domain.

Jack Bernard

Jack Bernard

Jack A Bernard is a retired SVP with a national healthcare corporation. He was Chair of the Jasper County, Ga Board of Commissioners and Republican Party. He was also on the Board of Health for Jasper County and is currently on the Fayette County BOH. Bernard has over 100 columns published annually, primarily in the South.