For four years, many Christians watched in horror as fellow Christians and evangelist leaders publicly and proudly supported a President that represented the antithesis of Christian ideals. Supporters misread Trump’s bravado and bullying as strength, then argued that they supported Trump’s policies, not Trump himself. Still, they cheered Trump on with bravado, and made a mockery of Christian beliefs in the process.
Those outside of our religion took notice of our sycophantic adoration and labelled us zealots. Skeptics found their skepticism validated and as strange as it may seem, to others, we now appear to be the exact opposite of what we believe.
Yes, the change in administration will bring a more liberal agenda. Some changes will simply undo Trump’s hateful agenda. Some changes may try to balance Trump’s far-right policies with an equally damaging far-left approach. When the dust clears, we must ask ourselves, did Trump’s presidency really accomplish anything beneficial to Christianity? Or did we simply damage Christian credibility?
Here’s what to expect in a post-Trump America.
The reversal of Trump-era Executive Orders
Donald Trump’s dictatorial-like rule by executive order was a mistake of the highest order. Rather than work toward a long-term solution, Trump forced his will on the country using Executive Orders. But Executive Orders are short-sighted solutions that are easily overturned when the winds of change shift. Many of Trump’s Executive Orders will be rescinded or reversed and potentially replaced by far-left orders.
Christians viewed as the far-right nationalists
Christians are now seen as far-right supporters of fascism and blatant racism. This is not what we are of course, but it is how *others* now see us. This mistaken characterization will drive people away from Christianity. If you felt marginalized before, fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
No federal money for Christian schools
If federal money is distributed to private schools, they will be forced to adhere to federal education curriculum and mandates. Secular standards of education would become a requirement, even for Christian private schools.
Health care programs must adhere to secular standards – including abortion
Any federal money distributed to health care programs could come with requirements including mandates that the health care provider provide the full spectrum of services – including contraceptives, abortion services, or programs that some branches of Christianity find offensive.
Faith-based organizations will not be exempt from secular employment requirements
Faith-based organizations like Hobby Lobby, will be required to follow federal-mandated employment requirements including hiring of transgender, homosexual, and non-binary genders who, regardless of the organizations long-held, faith-defined measurement of morality, will be allowed to represent the organization’s principles.
Non-medical exemptions for vaccination requirements will be removed
Most Christians accept vaccinations as valid science but do appreciate the choice of whether to be vaccinated or not. That will end. The federal government will likely incentivize states to increase their vaccination rates by repealing all exemptions to mandatory vaccinations for children. Again, most Christians will not be opposed to this but some will find it infringes on their beliefs.
Dismantling of pro-life services
Services such as crisis pregnancy centers and abstinence-only education programs could cease or at the very least, be prohibited from receiving federal or state funding.
Faith-based adoption and foster care services will end
Government-funded contractors that provide faith-based adoption and foster care services will likely lose all government funding. This has been a sore point for atheists for a long time. We can expect a heavy push to secularize child services.
The end of disaster relief for houses of worship
DHS/FEMA policies that allow disaster relief to be used toward houses of worship, including funds for facility repair, will likely end.
The end of SBA economic disaster loans
Similarly, churches could no longer be eligible for business or economic disaster loans. This includes loans for rent, utilities, and clergy salaries.
Expanded fetal-tissue and stem cell research
Abortion is typically a concern for Christians. It was short-sighted to believed that a single President would reverse course and institute a pro-life agenda through Executive Orders. Instead, we will soon see more federal funding for fetal-tissue and stem cell research. Religion objections will likely be seen as Trump-era pseudoscience and ignored.
The Memorandum on Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty will be reversed and replaced
No longer will religious displays on government property be allowed. The Memorandum on Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty will be replaced – likely by something much more restrictive.
COVID-19 rules will be changed
COVID-19 rules for houses of worship will be tightened significantly. Many Christians will not object to this but some will consider it an infringement of their religious rights,.
Government officials and federal employees will be prevented from engaging in religious expression while at work
A clear separation of religion from work will be required for all government employees. In fact, depending on pressure from the far-left, religious expression could be prohibited in the government workplace entirely.
Non-profit (501(c)(3)) rules for churches will be tightened
The church’s non-profit status will be examined under a microscope. Form 990 filing will be required for all houses of worship. Some 501(c)(3) benefits could be lost.
The nation’s history may be altered to promote the United States as a secular nation
Christian support of Donald Trump has angered many. One very effective means to combat Christianity is to change how the nation’s history is portrayed. There will be a push to change the history of the USA from a nation formed to protect religious freedom to once created purely for secular reasons. This has already been proposed by the Christian opposition.
A new interpretation of the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause
The interpretation of the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause, that guarantees religious freedoms for all Americans, will change. This clause, which most notably emerged in the Hobby Lobby v. Burwell decision, will discard the protection of religious freedoms.
Prayer at school could be limited
The Department of Education could be instructed to limit religious expression in schools. Under the guise of protecting a “increasingly diverse student body”, prayer inside school walls could be much more limited than it is today.
Required secular education – elimination of religious teaching in schools
Under the guise of eliminating creationism education, religious history will be methodically removed from our schools’ core curriculum. At some point in the future, education will implement a strict secular curriculum.
Christians will increasingly be labelled as extremists
Because the Trump-era openly acknowledged, even encouraged in some cases, right-wing, white nationalist organizations, their visibility was greatly increased. Those outside of Christianity will presume these hate groups are representative of Christians and Christian organizations. Christians could begin to be viewed as extremists.
Patriotism will be reframed as a secular stance
Christians by and large are patriotic with a respect for discipline, law and order, and community. But recently it’s been implied that only Christians are true patriots. The opposition has stated that they will work to disentangle the conflation of faith and patriotism. Phrases like “God and country” and “In God we trust” will be discouraged. Faith-based practices in the armed services could be eliminated including, as crazy as it sounds, the use of nontheist chaplains in each branch of the military.
At the same time, patriotic dissent will be normalized
Actions that are profoundly offensive to patriotic citizens will be allowed. Kneeling during the national anthem or refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance will be reframed as a noble act of peaceful protest. The value and symbolism of the American flag could also be purposely diminished to allow its use in protests (e.g. flag burning).
Oddly, nonreligious representatives will strive to be a part of religious groups
Religious opposition has stated that anywhere clergy are invited, non-theists will fight to be included as part of the religious group so they can impart their influence. This will include interfaith ceremonies, meetings, and other gatherings. In face, since publication of this article, I have seen a massive increase in comments that attempt to promote an atheist agenda within the pages of this Christian website.
Atheism could become mainstream
Christians know this is coming. It could now arrive sooner than we thought. The religious opposition has already requested changes to what is considered “politically correct” verbiage, removing “nonbelievers” from the vernacular and using phrases such as “secular Americans” and “all faiths and none”.
There could be an attempt to transform Christmas into a secular event
Christian opposition argue that since Christmas is a federal holiday, it is a secular holiday. Just as we once saw attempts to replace “Christ” with “X” to label the holiday as X-Mas, we could see an increased opposition to the Christian influence on the Christmas holiday (e.g. removal of cross symbolism, disentangling the crucifixion from the Christmas story, etc.).
Christian government leaders will be encouraged to acknowledge nonreligious persons each time a religious reference is used
This is another request that has already been presented to the incoming administration. Despite their personal beliefs, each time a leader (e.g. President) mentions prayer or references scripture, they will be required to also acknowledge nonreligious persons/organizations.
The use of “interfaith” over “faith”
The word “faith” is used often in government programs and initiatives. Atheists despise the word and prefer words like “conscience” or “interfaith” which dilutes the meaning and attempts to transform the word from a measure of religious belief to a measurement of morality.
A return to the original United States national motto
This is another sore point for atheists. We will likely see a push to change to national motto from “In God We Trust” to “E Pluribus Unum – out of many, one”.
Consequences for actions
The Trump administration used religious nationalism to cover for policies that represented the antithesis of our Christian ideals. Thus, religious skeptics found their skepticism to be completely validated. Rather than characterizing Christians by their love for others, we are now characterized by our hatred of liberals or our penchant for parades. Sure, some battles were won but in the process, Christian credibility has been destroyed. As our parents taught us, there are consequences for actions.