The Republican claim of being the party of family values is slowly eroding. The push for a return to Christian values was spearheaded by the moral majority, which saw prominent preachers speaking out against what they saw as an entire nation given over to immorality. In the 1970s and 1980s, these religious figures began to put their weight behind the Republican Party. This partnership has lasted to this day.
The state of Utah has been rocked by a sex scandal. Republican state Rep. Jon Stanard:
‘…twice hired a prostitute in 2017, House and state elections officials said they were checking to see if taxpayer or campaign money was used for the hotel stays that the report alleges Stanard booked.’
Not only were campaign funds misused. Stanard is a married man who twice hired a prostitute, Brie Taylor to sleep with him. And she’s got the receipts:
At first glance, this is simple hypocrisy because Stanard represents the party of Christian moralist. But it isn’t that simple. Not only was Stanard running under the banner of “strong Christian values,” (his website with this commitment has been deleted), he was actively creating legislation to increase punishments for the thing he was actually doing:
‘Last year 43-year-old Mr Stanard, of St George, voted in favour of stricter laws on prostitution, including increasing the penalty for soliciting sex to $2,500.’
This kind of hypocrisy, however, is not new among the Republican party.
Jerry Falwell, a southern minister, was at the forefront of the Moral Majority movement in the Republican party. He appealed to Christian voters, asking them to only vote for “moral” Christian candidates. Falwell went as far as stating:
‘If you’re not a born again Christian, you’re a failure as a human being.’
He connected this to politics:
‘We must, from the highest office in the land right down to the shoeshine boy in the airport, have a return to biblical basics.’
During the 2000 and 2004 U.S. presidential elections, one of the selling points for a George W. Bush presidency was his commitment to his Christian faith. Time and time again, voters voiced that their extreme support for Bush was motivated by their shared religious views. In a CBS Evening News interview in 2004, a voter stated she would vote for Bush:
‘…because he’s a Christian.’
In a New York Times article, a voter said:
‘When I watch him, I see a man with his heart in the right place. I like George Bush because he is God-fearing, and that’s how a lot of poplin this area feel.’
Another voter said:
‘I’m not sure of anything he’s done, but I like that he’s religious—that’s really important.’
This sentiment was almost weaponized against Barack Obama, during the 2008 election and continuing to present day. Fox News led the charge. After stoking fears about Obama for years, Fox News then reported on how voters felt about Obama:
It is clear that, to Republicans, correct belief and correct actions stemming from that belief are paramount. This is exactly why moral scandals in the Republican Party are so notable. Because the entire party has bolstered itself as the party of “real” Christians, it is interesting to observe the dichotomy between what religious Republican politicians say and what they do.