Happy Sunday, y’all. This is Becca Andrews stepping in for our dear Anna B, who’s out sick. Prayers for a speedy recovery. Do not worry. I’m no Anna, but you’re in pretty good hands. I, too, was raised evangelical—these days I’m not sure what I believe spiritually, but I reckon there must be something bigger than us out there. As an investigative reporter, I’ve spent a significant part of my career investigating sexual abuse within evangelical institutions, and reckoning with my own experience through writing and reporting.
Anyway, let’s get on with it.
Make the Yuletide Gay
The holiday season is here, and with it comes the predictable, petty fights over who is doing Christmas right and who is….going to hell, probably. Candace Cameron Bure, better known as DJ Tanner of Full House, has kicked us off this year with a steaming mug of homophobia. Cameron Bure announced this week that she’s dumping the Hallmark Channel, once her holiday home, for the Great American Family channel. (Yeah, I don’t know what that is, either.) It’s no coincidence that this, too, is the year Hallmark will release its first queer Christmas movie. “My heart wants to tell stories that have more meaning and purpose and depth behind them,” said Bure. “I knew that the people behind Great American Family were Christians that love the Lord and wanted to promote faith programming and good family entertainment.”
Thank God for Hilarie Burton Morgan, another Hallmark Christmas movie regular, who isn’t having it. “Bigot,” she tweeted. “I don’t remember Jesus liking hypocrites like Candy. But sure. Make your money, honey. You ride that prejudice wave all the way to the bank.”
Congress Votes to Protect Marriage—for Everyone
The Respect for Marriage Act, which would codify the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges and make marriage equality a federal constitutional right, passed the Senate this week in a 62-37 vote, which also stamps out any chance of filibuster. It is expected to pass the Senate and be signed into law by President Joe Biden before the year is out. It’s an easy slam dunk for the Biden administration, politically speaking. Currently, seven in 10 Americans support marriage rights for same-sex couples.
The twist is that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints released a statement in support of the legislation—though it did clarify first that Mormons doctrine still states that marriage is between a man and a woman, referring to cisgender individuals. “We are grateful for the continuing efforts of those who work to ensure the Respect for Marriage Act includes appropriate religious freedom protections while respecting the law and preserving the rights of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters,” the statement says.
The Next Battlefront in the Abortion Wars
This week, ProPublica and WPLN published the contents of a call between conservative Tennessee lawmakers and representatives of Tennessee Right to Life and Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. The result is a rare look inside the anti-abortion playbook. For much of the call, lawmakers heard pleas to stand their ground on the state’s current abortion ban, despite the midterm outcomes that showed, again, that abortion bans are deeply unpopular. (According to the Associated Press, evangelical Christians still hewed to their traditional causes, abortion included.) Here are a few telling quotes from anti-abortion folks on the call to give you a taste:
“I encourage you to be able to, in a certain sense, hide behind the skirts of women who’ve actually been there.” -David C. Reardon, researcher with the Charlotte Lozier Institute, an anti-abortion think tank
“It can feel like, ‘What did we do? We need to go back and like, tear this all apart and open up the law and change all these things. But I really want to urge you tonight, if you take away nothing else from what I say in the next few minutes, please have confidence in your work.” -Katie Glenn, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America’s state policy director
Maybe your caucus gets to a point … where you do want to talk about IVF, and how to regulate it in a more ethical way, or deal with some of those contraceptive issues.” -Stephen Billy, vice president for state affairs at Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America
Will evangelicals stick with Trump in 2024?
Maybe not, cautions Caroline Anders at the Washington Post. (Don’t get it twisted, this doesn’t really present any opportunity for the Dems.) While Trump won the support of about 8 in 10 white evangelical voters in 2020, his campaign is behind those of former vice president Mike Pence, who recently decided to pretend to have a spin and criticize Trump, and Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor who knows how to hit all the evangelical sweet spots without sounding like a total imbecile.
The fact is, as Anders points out, the GOP cannot win an election without evangelical support, a reality the party is acutely aware of. So who will clinch the nomination for the 2024 presidential run? Will DeSantis’ strategy of saying “God” as many times as possible (that’s 10 times, at least in this campaign video) in a 90-second ad pay off? Or will it be Pence’s more demure displays of piety?