Decent Christians And The Politics Of The Right

Professor of Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies, Oregon State University

How do peo­ple who think of them­selves as decent Christians sup­port politi­cians like Donald Trump and Roy Moore? How do they cham­pi­on poli­cies that dis­crim­i­nate and dis­ad­van­tage and some­times even do vio­lence?

Part of the answer may lie in their decen­cy itself.

Latin American the­olo­gian Marcella Althaus-Reid iden­ti­fied decen­cy as a con­cept uti­lized with­in colo­nial­ism and patri­archy to ensure main­te­nance of the social order that ben­e­fit­ed wealthy, white, male col­o­niz­ers.* What was out­side the approved behav­iors of wealthy white men became “inde­cent.”

Althaus-Reid notes in Latin American cul­ture refer­ring to a man as decent means he is eco­nom­i­cal­ly hon­est and prop­er in his social exchanges. A decent woman is one who doesn’t engage in sex­u­al behav­ior out­side monog­a­mous het­ero­sex­u­al mar­riage. She says these decen­cy codes con­trol men and women’s behav­iors, polit­i­cal­ly and per­son­al­ly, and keep dom­i­nant social, polit­i­cal, eco­nom­ic, and reli­gious struc­tures intact. Christianity has often par­tic­i­pat­ed in and rein­forced these norms of decen­cy and the oppres­sive insti­tu­tions they sus­tain.

Decency assumes nar­row­ly cir­cum­scribed stan­dards as defined by the dom­i­nant social order. People who uphold and abide by these stan­dards are then decent peo­ple.

If we fol­low Althaus-Reid’s log­ic about the gen­der­ing of decen­cy, we also rec­og­nize that women and men, LGBQ and straight, cis-gen­der and trans/​gender non-con­form­ing peo­ple, whites and peo­ple of col­or are held to dif­fer­ent stan­dards of decen­cy. Men are decent when they obey the law and when they con­form to the care­ful­ly craft­ed patri­ar­chal scripts of white, het­ero­sex­u­al male gen­der and sex­u­al behav­ior. Women are decent when they avoid sex­u­al behav­ior out­side nor­ma­tive het­ero­sex­u­al mar­riage (although the sex­u­al dou­ble bind means they still must present them­selves as sex­u­al­ly allur­ing to men while main­tain­ing their purity).Read more here: https://​www​.huff​in​g​ton​post​.com/​e​n​t​r​y​/​d​e​c​e​n​t​-​c​h​r​i​s​t​i​a​n​s​-​a​n​d​-​t​h​e​-​p​o​l​i​t​i​c​s​-​o​f​-​t​h​e​-​r​i​g​h​t​_​u​s​_​5​a​0​8​8​0​9​d​e​4​b​0​c​c​4​6​c​5​2​e​6​b74