Christian right replacing 'biblical commands' with 'secular prophets' like Tucker Carlson: columnist
Tucker Carlson speaking with attendees at the 2022 AmericaFest at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Far-right Christians are turning their backs on Biblical teachings, instead embracing near-totally areligious figures like Tucker Carlson in their war for political supremacy, New York Times opinion writer David French Monday.

"On April 25, the far-right network Newsmax hosted a fascinating and revealing conversation about Tucker Carlson with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, one of America’s leading Christian conservative advocacy organizations," wrote French.

Perkins, whose organization is considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, lamented the firing of Carlson and Bill O'Reilly by Fox News as a betrayal of conservatives.

But "what was missing from the conversation? Any mention of the profound moral failings that cost O’Reilly his job, including at least six settlements — five for sexual harassment and one for verbal abuse — totaling approximately $45 million. Or any mention of Carlson’s own serious problems, including his serial dishonesty, his vile racism and his gross personal insult directed against a senior Fox executive."

All of that, French said, is "a curious position for a Christian to take" — and something that is making him rethink everything he thought he knew about conservative Christianity, which might be more like the fanaticism of old where people killed each other over religion than he would care to believe.

It is, wrote French, "surprisingly difficult" to link former President Donald Trump's takeover of the GOP to the shift in moral values in evangelical circles — even though polls clearly show that shift happened.

"In countless personal conversations with Christians who are staunch Republicans, I heard some variation on the same plaintive question, 'What do you want us to do? Hand an election to Hillary Clinton? Or to Joe Biden?' said French. "For Democratic readers, that’s an easy choice.

"There’s no sacrifice in voting for Clinton or for Biden. But ... how corrupt would a Democratic politician have to be to keep you home, make you vote third party or perhaps even cast a vote for a Republican who wants to ban most abortions and nominate Federalist Society lawyers to judgeships? Honestly exploring that question can perhaps help you sympathize with Republican Trump voters. When character conflicts with policy, voting choices can be hard."

But, French wrote, "the Carlson question is different, and in some ways his loyal Christian support is even more troubling. What are the 'lesser of two evils' or the 'binary choice' arguments for sitting down and devoting an hour of your life, each night, to a cruel, dishonest man, much less hailing him as a 'secular prophet?' The more the Christian right latches on to cruel men, the more difficult it becomes to argue that the cruelty is a bug, not a feature."

"The great tragedy is that a moment of dangerous national polarization is exactly when a truly Christian message that combines the pursuit of justice with kindness and humility would be a balm to the national soul," lamented French. "But not when the right-wing pursuit of its version of justice overwhelms its commitment to kindness, much less any shred of humility. This is how the religious right becomes post-Christian. Its 'secular prophets' become even more influential than its Christian leaders, and it actively discards clear biblical commands for what it perceives to be the greater good."

In this kind of "consequentialist" ideology, French warned, "Aggression, not virtue, becomes the touchstone of political engagement, and anything other than aggression is seen as a sign of weakness" — and if Christian politics no longer is informed by Christian morality, "it will tear this nation apart."