Elizabeth Neumann, lifelong Republican, served as a senior advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff of the Department of Homeland Security in the Trump administration from 2017 to August 2020. She left her position to support the Biden candidacy because she found Trump’s language and actions racist and that his failed leadership made America less safe. She went on to form RePAIR (Republican Political Alliance for Integrity and Reform) with colleague Miles Taylor (recently revealed author of The Anonymous letter from 2018) in order to return to principles-based governing in the post-Trump era.
Neumann describes herself first and foremost as a follower of Jesus Christ and voted for Trump in 2016 primarily because of his support of evangelical issues. She was educated at Trinity Christian Academy. The changing of her support from Trump to Biden took a thoughtful reexamination of her faith and convictions. I have seen Elizabeth interviewed several times and have nothing but the upmost respect for her, her honesty and her candor. When she was asked why she supported Trump in the first place, she listed three issues; abortion, religious liberty and the support of Israel. I understand a pro-life stance, but need some clarification on religious freedom and the support of Israel.
The first Amendment of the Constitution of the United States protects religious freedom by guaranteeing the right to religious belief and expression, and it guarantees that the government neither prefers religion over non-religion nor favors particular faiths over others. This is commonly referred to as separation of church and state.
One of the issues cited by those who feel their religious liberty is compromised is the rights of religious schools and institutions to be protected from discrimination claims based on their employment practices. For instance they want the right to not hire or to dismiss people from the LGBTQ community without legal ramifications. They also don’t want to lose tax exempt status for engaging in what others consider discriminatory admission practices. Two other examples may be the baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple and the county clerk who refused to give a legally granted marriage certificate to a same-sex couple.
Certain faith communities assert to their believers that their religious liberty is imperiled by claiming that the government is going to dictate what they can believe, even though that is definitely protected under the law. Many times these hyperbolic views circulate within these communities and those outside (including mainline Christians) are unaware of these grievances.
Trump’s public answer to these grievances was to claim that he made it okay to say “Merry Christmas” again and a photo-op of him awkwardly holding a Bible outside a church, not to mention quoting from “two” Corinthians. More importantly, his administration added three conservative Supreme Court Justices, one spot stolen from Obama and one probably stolen from Biden. He also packed the lower courts with conservative judges (many reportedly unqualified). As a result, civil rights, women’s rights and LGBTQ rights are all in peril due to the perceived violations of the religious liberty of just a quarter of the population.
Seemingly, this minority feels their liberty is violated when they can’t impose their views and beliefs on to others. Since there are thousands of Christian denominations in the United States, there is not one unified set of beliefs in America. Separation of church and state must be maintained to protect the rights of all.
The support of Israel is based on Christian Zionism which believes that the gathering of Jews in Israel is necessary to fulfill the Biblical prophecy of the second coming of Christ and the subsequent rapture. This is why Trump moved the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It is that simple.
Some, maybe many, evangelical Christians have removed themselves from the general population by isolating themselves in church-based communities, only consuming conservative media sources, home schooling their children or sending them to Christian schools, primary and secondary sometimes. They are retreating from our quickly changing culture that can be at odds with their beliefs. They felt so strongly that they were willing to elect a morally, mentally and ethically damaged man to the presidency. I hope that they vote for decency, truth and respect this time around, like Elizabeth, and that we can work on making our world a better place together. Also know, there are a lot of really good people out here in the general population, some of us, maybe many of us, are fellow Christians! Remember love casts out fear.