US: Eroding of the separation of church and state has enormous and disturbing implications

Eliel Cruz is an activist, speaker, and writer on religion, LGBTQ+ issues, and culture. His work has been published in Upworthy, NBC, Mic, Teen Vogue, Washington Post, DETAILS, GQ, Quartz, Rolling Stone, The New York Times, and many other outlets.

How Trump's State of the Union Harms Queer People and Other Vulnerable Groups

Donald Trump's State of the Union address was contradictory in his calls for unity while proposing policies that would inherently divide, harming our society’s most marginalized. As a queer American Christian, one of the most disturbing aspects of the speech was the matrimony of conservative politics and Christianity that threatens one of America’s most fundamental principles, that we are a country of religious pluralism rather than an exclusively Christian nation.

This eroding of the separation of church and state has enormous and disturbing implications for queer people and other marginalized groups, as it is this conservative Christian theology that uses religious freedom as a license to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people. The integration of this theology with our government, which has come from decades of conservative evangelicals building political power, furthers an extremely dangerous agenda that marginalizes and discriminates against our community.

Religious language peppered Trump’s speech throughout, mostly used as bookends, to forward his political agenda. But it was really halfway through the speech that he exemplified this union of American conservative policies with Christianity.

“In America, we know that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the center of American life. The motto is ‘In God We Trust,’” Trump said. “And we celebrate our police, our military, and our amazing veterans as heroes who deserve our total and unwavering support.” Trump continued to assert that Americans must have “reverence” for veterans as a reminder of why “we salute our flag, why we put our hands on our hearts for the Pledge of Allegiance and why we proudly stand for the national anthem.”

This conflation of American conservative policies with Christianity is disconcerting, not simply for its disregard of the separation of church and state, but also because the United States of America is not a Christian nation. Religious plurality is a cornerstone to this nation and it is critical to religious freedom and liberties for all. This conservative Christian dominance of religion, in which “religious freedom” and “people of faith” are synonymous with conservative evangelical Christianity, ignores the religious diversity in our nation. Conservative Christians have monopolized religious language as a political tool to further their agenda. As a Christian, I find this continued blurring of the lines between scripture and policies from the state to be blasphemous. Read more vai them.