January 24, 2017
FREDERICK CLARKSON, frederick.clarkson[at]gmail.com
Clarkson is Senior Fellow for Religious Liberty at Political Research Associates, a progressive think tank in Somerville, MA. He is the author of the report, When Exemption is the Rule: The Religious Freedom Strategy of the Christian Right, and most recentlythe article, A Dystrumpian Vision for LGBTQ People, which will appear in the Winter issue of The Public Eye magazine.
He said today, “While Donald Trump has been making news with his gaffes and tweets, Mike Pence has been quietly assembling a dream team of Christian Right figures for senior administration posts. He is doing exactly what he was expected to do as head of the presidential transition team.
“The Christian Right is now not only one of the most powerful political movements in the country, but a leading force in the federal government as well.
“Pence has placed his religious identity front and center of his politics and in his approach to government. He has often declared that he is ‘a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order.’ In the 1990s he served as a board member of the Indiana Family Institute, a political affiliate of Focus on the Family, founded by Christian Right leader James Dobson.The way that this has translated into public policy, both when he served as governor and in his new role with the Trump campaign and administration in formation, can be seen in his highlighting the three main contemporary themes of the Christian Right, ‘life, marriage, and religious freedom.’
“Donald Trump, via his son Donald Jr., reportedly called an aide to his first choice for veep, Governor John Kasich of Ohio, and told him that a president Trump would put Kasich in charge of both foreign and domestic policy, while the president himself would be in charge of ‘making America great again.’ Pence hasn’t said whether he got the same deal, but his role as chair of the transition team suggests that he is already among the most powerful vice presidents in American history.”