The delegates of the Republican National Convention pose for a group photo at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 18, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Mike Segar

GOP platform: Plenty for evangelicals to love

(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."

Same-sex parenting

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."


  1. This is absolutely horrifying. Let’s just scrap the 1st and 14th amendment, along with who knows what else? This is supposed to be a governing document for a SECULAR nation.

  2. They had Dominionist historical fiction writer David Barton and hate group leader Tony Perkins on the platform committee. It shows.

  3. The GOP needs to rename itself the ‘Christian Conservative Party’ or something similar. The transformation since the 1990’s is complete. I regret the loss. The Democrats are too left for my tastes and the GOP is way too right.

  4. Religion is the kiss of death for democracy. Barry Goldwater said it best:

    “When you say “radical right” today, I think of…..fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican Party and make a religious organization out of it.
    If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye.”

    – Barry Goldwater, Republican Nominee for President – 1964

    Religious nonsense has been ruining America ever since Nixon’s Southern Strategy.

  5. With corporate support of the GOP fleeing from Trump, the Democrats have become the party of big business, go figure.

  6. Evangelicals who really care about religious liberty and the church-state separation principle that protects it should be horrified by what the GOP extremists are doing. — Edd Doerr

  7. I agree Jim. This platform is red meat to the far right, wingnut, tea bagger types. The Republican party is making itself into the party for Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky and a few Plains states. That’s it.

    People like you Jim, need to create a new center right party. I’m quite liberal – and I recognize the need for balance. A center right party with the Democratic party, which is generally center left, means that government will work again.

    Mitchell McConnell came to the Senate in 2004 proclaiming that it was his job to stymie President Obama in every way possible. Basically he was vowing to sabotage the government. That’s un-American, nearly treasonous, and a faithful center right party would not do that.

    So sensible and patriotic conservative Americans, create a new party! America needs you!

  8. Re: “[The Johnson amendment’s] repeal has been a major goal of some Christians, as it would allow them to bring politics to the pulpit.”

    I’m sorry to inform everyone, that ship has already sailed! Christians have already “brought politics to the pulpit.” They’ve been politicking from the pulpit for decades now… in spite of the Johnson amendment (which isn’t enforced by the IRS).

  9. I don’t think that name would be satisfactory to any Christian. We need a new name for the American authoritarianism whose main hallmark is taking the Lord’s name in vain.


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