In his latest Washington Post column, Gerson continues to rail against the hypocrisy of pro-Trump evangelicals and the failure of evangelical politicians to display Christian leadership in the so-called age of Trump.
But in this particular column, Gerson is particularly hard (and rightly so) on outgoing Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Here is a taste:
At the Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said: “We see moral relativism becoming more and more pervasive in our culture. Identity politics and tribalism have grown on top of this.” Ryan went on to talk about Catholic social doctrine, with its emphasis on “solidarity” with the poor and weak, as “a perfect antidote to what ails our culture….”
It is often difficult to apply theological doctrines to public policy. But if there is one area where the teaching of the Christian faith is utterly clear, it is in the requirement to care for the vulnerable stranger. According to the Hebrew scriptures: “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born.” In the New Testament, Jesus employs compassion for an abused, reviled foreigner (a Samaritan) as the test and definition of neighborly love.
The dehumanization of migrants and refugees has been one of the most consistent themes of this president — including using the fact that some criminals enter the country illegally to fan a generalized hostility to Hispanic immigration. Can you imagine what would have happened if a White House staffer attending a policy meeting on family separation had said, “This is cruel. This is immoral. This is wrong”? They would have been quickly cleaning out their desk. The rejection of Christian teaching on this issue is pretty much a job requirement in the Trump administration.
And how did Ryan address the issue of Trump’s habit of dehumanization at the Catholic Prayer Breakfast? By avoidance, under a thick layer of hypocrisy. The Wisconsin Republican complained that politicians are too often in “survival mode” — trying to “get through the day,” rather than reflecting on and applying Catholic social teaching.
Ryan was effectively criticizing the whole theory of his speakership. He has been in survival mode from the first day of Trump’s presidency, making the case that publicly burning bridges with the president would undermine the ability to pursue his vision of the common good (including tax reform and regulatory relief). This, while a weak argument, is at least a consistent one. But by making the Christian commitment to human dignity relative to other political aims, Ryan can no longer speak of “moral relativism” as the defining threat of our time.
In the name of survival, Ryan has ignored and enabled the transformation of the GOP into an anti-immigrant party. This does not reflect his personal views. But it will be remembered as the hallmark of his time in office — the elevation of survival above solidarity.
Read the entire piece here.