The wave of coronavirus deaths in conservative states is the disastrous result of a decades-long scheme to protect the white male supremacy that underlined the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the Texas abortion law case.
The religious right traded explicit racism for anti-abortion extremism in the 1970s as they fought federal laws mandating integration, and Republican strategist Paul Weyrich persuaded conservative evangelical leaders to adopt opposition to Roe v. Wade to rally their voting base as public attitudes about race shifted and they were forced to accept Black students or lose tax-exempt status, according to a new book reviewed Rita Nakashima-Brock for Religion Dispatches.
"[Author Randall] Balmer's treatment of the story of the evangelical abandonment of reproductive justice exposes the crass opportunism, bald-faced lies, and corruption of the racist charlatan preachers of the Religious Right in their own words," the reviewer writes. "[Bad Faith: Race and the Rise of the Religious Right] reveals layers of deception and double-think as the process of building their right-wing voting base on abortion politics evolved. Their facile lies about medicine and science, their profound sexism, their strange-bedfellows arrangement with Catholics on the Supreme Court, and their bogus 'morality' created the template for the current anti-democratic politics of the die-hard evangelical Trump base."
The religious right's decades of lies have turned their followers against medical experts and public health safety measures, and instead toward unproven and potentially dangerous "cures" for COVID-19, and led Donald Trump's supporters to attempt and insurrection to hold onto the power they've gained.
"Having built a meaning system desperate for power, the sociopathic Religious Right leadership has no capacity for moral injury — for experiencing devastation and tragedy as a challenge to the white male supremacy that is their meaning system and their god," Nakashima-Brock writes. "They have demonstrated that they will use any means necessary to prop up white male supremacy. By not heeding the plague for the sake of political power, they have sacrificed their people for their tax exempt status and doomed them to the ravages of a global pandemic decimating their ranks."
"That consequence might be poetic justice for the Religious Right leadership," the reviewer adds, "but it's tragic for those who believe in and follow them."