(RNS) On the first day of their convention, delegates to the Republican National Convention meeting in Cleveland adopted a party platform with plenty for evangelicals to like:
In a section titled “Defending Marriage Against an Activist Judiciary,” Republicans say they “condemn” the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which made same-sex marriage the law of the land. Religious conservatives from several denominations also have opposed this ruling as the work of “activist judges,” a charge and a term echoed in the platform.
Tax-exempt status of churches
The platform calls for the repeal of the Johnson Amendment, a 1954 law that prohibits tax-exempt houses of worship from endorsing politicians. Its repeal has been a major goal of some Christians, as it would allow them to bring politics to the pulpit. “Places of worship for the first time in our history have reason to fear the loss of tax-exempt status merely for espousing and practicing traditional religious beliefs,” the platform states. “Republicans believe the federal government, specifically the IRS, is constitutionally prohibited from policing or censoring speech based on religious convictions or beliefs.”
Also supported in the platform is the First Amendment Defense Act, which would ban “government discrimination” against individuals or businesses who act on their religious belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.
Voluntary school prayer, the inclusion of the Bible in public school literature curricula, the display of the Ten Commandments on public property and the right of religious organizations to set their own membership standards get a platform shoutout as well.
“We support laws to confirm the longstanding American tradition that religious individuals and institutions can educate young people, receive government benefits, and participate in public debates without having to check their religious beliefs at the door,” the platform states.
The platform asserts that the unborn have a right to life under the Fourth Amendment. It specifically condemns Planned Parenthood “so long as they provide or refer for elective abortions or sell fetal body parts rather than provide healthcare.”
The platform says every child deserves a married mom and dad. The same section brings religion into the proper equation for a solid family. “Strong families, depending upon God and one another, advance the cause of liberty by lessening the need for government in their daily lives. Conversely … the loss of faith and family life leads to greater dependence upon government.”
President Obama, the platform states, has sought to impose a “revolution” on American society and values by using Title IX to open bathroom choice to transgender persons. Without using the word “transgender,” the platform holds that restrictions on “restrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities is at once illegal, dangerous, and ignores privacy issues. We salute the several states which have filed suit against it.”
Gay conversion therapy
The party platform does not specifically name gay conversion therapy — the widely discredited use of psychological and spiritual counseling to change a person’s sexual orientation. But a pair of sentences in a section on health care are being interpreted by LGBT rights organizations as upholding it: “We support the ability of all organizations to provide, purchase, or enroll in healthcare coverage consistent with their religious, moral, or ethical convictions without discrimination or penalty,” the platform states. “We support the right of parents to determine the proper medical treatment and therapy for their minor children.”
Religious liberty overseas
American religious organizations, especially Christians, have long been concerned about the persecution of religious minorities in conflict zones such as Iraq, Iran, Syria, Egypt and Russia. The platform promises to ensure “all religious minorities, whether Yazidi, Bahai, Orthodox, Catholic or Protestant Christians, are free to practice their religion without fear of persecution.”