Ross Douthat points out that only about 15% of churchgoing Republicans supported Donald Trump in the primaries, their support generally went to Rubio, Cruz or Carson (two Cubans and a black guy, because churchgoing Republicans are soooo racist). Had the religious right been a stronger element in the Republican party, the Rubio campaign would hypothetically be coasting to victory.
Trump is what a Post-Christian right looks like. (The left has been Post-Christian so long we forget what a serious Christian left looks like… Dorothy Day perhaps?)
When religious conservatives were ascendant, the G.O.P. actually tried minority outreach, it sent billions to fight AIDS in Africa, it pursued criminal justice reform in the states. That ascendance crumbled because of the religious right’s own faults (which certain of Trump’s Christian supporters amply display), and because of trends toward secularization and individualism that no politics can master; it cannot and should not be restored.
But some kind of religious conservatism must be rebuilt, because without the pull of transcendence, the future of the right promises to be tribal, cruel, and very dark indeed.
Sorry Ross, the future is already here.
I’m not sure whom Douthat is addressing. Is it the Times’ liberal readership? Not likely. Is it religious conservatives themselves? In that case, perhaps what Douthat fears is religious conservatives simply disengaging themselves from a Republican party that increasingly disgusts them. Or let’s take that a step further, disengaging from an America that both increasingly disgusts them, and that is increasingly hostile towards them.
The future of Christianity in America is ghettoization. The question isn’t how the ghetto will help save America, the whole point of a ghetto is to restrict a group’s influence on the broader society. Of course ghettos also exist for the group to preserve itself. There is both an external and an internal force that create a ghetto and both forces are only going to increase for the foreseeable future.
The Christian project right now is to make sure that the inevitable ghetto is one that allows for human flourishing: that it is a community and not a cult, that it is a culture and not a self-referential echo chamber. If the ghetto ends up having a positive effect on the surrounding culture, as Jewish ghettos often did, good.