Now that the Second Amendment is definitely returning to the Supreme Court next year and Hillary Clinton is savagely attacking churchgoing Americans as “deplorable” and “irredeemable,” railing that their beliefs “have to be changed,” a new segment of besieged voters are emerging that could propel Donald Trump into the Oval Office: gun-owning Christians.
Just last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit became the first court in American history to strike down a federal law for violating the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Although it has received no media attention, this means that the U.S. Supreme Court will definitely take this case in 2017.
It also means that if Hillary Clinton wins the White House and fills the seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, then the Supreme Court’s historic decision in District of Columbia v. Heller will be overruled, and 300 million Americans will only be able to own guns if the government allows them to; the Second Amendment will no longer be a right possessed by individual American citizens.
Observant Christians in America are under explicit threat as never before in the nation’s history. From the 1790s through the 1960s, faith was openly celebrated in the public square and people of faith were extolled as model citizens, whose faith was a political and business advantage for them. Then from the late 1960s until a decade ago, there was an ongoing struggle back and forth regarding the role of faith in public and private life, though people of faith were still held in high regard.
But over the past few years, devout evangelicals and Catholics—as well as faithful adherents of other religions—have been openly denigrated and opposed by President Barack Obama and his allies. A prime example of this hostility is Obamacare, when the White House approved regulations requiring organizations like Hobby Lobby (owned by the Green family, all evangelicals) and even the Little Sisters of the Poor (a group of Catholic nuns) to cover abortion-related matters in their healthcare plans. People of faith prevailed, but essentially by only a single vote at the Supreme Court (in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores).
This was the most hostility any president in two centuries had ever shown toward people of faith—until this past month, when Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton launched a shockingly angry and zealous attack on people of faith (and gun owners, too) calling them “deplorable,” “bigoted,” and even “irredeemable.” She even said that their beliefs on social issues, including abortion, marriage, sexuality, and living out their faith in their daily lives, “have to be changed.”
Never before has anyone nominated for the presidency declared outright war on churchgoing Americans, and promised to use the vast coercive powers of the federal government to punish them if they do not abandon their millennia-old beliefs on these issues.
Observant Christians were already feeling under threat before Clinton’s anti-Christian rant at an LGBT event, which she delivered only one day after the Obama-appointed chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights issued a report in which he claimed that terms like “religious liberty” are merely code words for illegal discrimination.
These militant secularists already charged the Little Sisters and the Green family with discriminating against women by declining to pay for abortion-related healthcare, and charged Christian-owned businesses like the Oregon bakers who did not want to custom-design a wedding cake celebrating same-sex marriage as discriminating against gay people, and that parents who don’t want their girls in public restrooms with grown men who identify as transgender women are discriminating against the fraction of one percent of people with gender dysphoria.
Trump is aware of this anti-Christian movement, being one of the first presidential candidates bold enough to tackle this issue, declaring that “Christianity is under siege” in America and that there is a “War on Christians“.
Professor Ken Blackwell at Liberty University School of Law—who is also both a member of the National Rifle Association’s board of directors and a national religious liberty leader with organizations such as the Family Research Council and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, as well as a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations—published a scholarly work on why biblical teaching and church doctrine support American Christians’ owning handguns, rifles, and shotguns for self-defense and protecting their families.
According to Blackwell’s law review article, America’s Two First Freedoms: A Biblical Perspective on How the Second Amendment Secures First Amendment Rights, some Christians are experiencing increasing intimidation and threats in America, and feel more secure when they lawfully own firearms to keep their families safe.
Blackwell cites the Christian belief in Divine Providence, that God determines all the circumstances of a person’s life, including the country and times in which they live. Having Second Amendment rights is part of this providence.
He also makes the case that in America, “We the People” are the ultimate authority through what the people express in the Constitution, and therefore that the biblical commands to subject to authority does not mean Christians automatically obey government officials when those leaders clearly violate the Constitution. (He is quick to note that usually the appropriate response to such lawlessness is to vote those leaders out of office or take them to court.)
Blackwell also quotes centuries of Christian authorities about the value of human life and the duty to protect the defenseless—such as parents protecting their children—making the case that lawful and responsible gun ownership is one way to fulfill this God-given duty.
Firearm sales have hit record highs during this last part of Obama’s presidency and Clinton’s candidacy, and the NRA has reached a new record of well over 5 million active members. The NRA endorsed Donald Trump for president, making its endorsement this year earlier than it has ever done in history, recognizing that Hillary Clinton poses an existential threat to the Second Amendment rights of 90 million American gun owners.
The 2016 presidential election is narrowing to just a handful of battleground states, including Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan. These are all states with huge gun ownership. (In Pennsylvania, for example, there are over one million people with guns in the woods on the first day of hunting season.) These states also all have large numbers of churchgoers.
All of the sudden a tremendous electoral opportunity opens up for Donald Trump. Tens of millions of these churchgoing gun owners are blue-collar workers, many of them union members. Millions of them are concentrated in those battleground states.
Historically many of them vote Democrat, and in 2012 fully more than 8 million registered observant Christian voters did not vote at all. If Donald Trump and Mike Pence can effectively reach out to them, showcasing their commitment to the Second Amendment—which primarily means appointing originalist justices and judges to the U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts—they can turn out those voters to pull the lever for Trump-Pence.
This key constituency could make a difference of several points in each of those battleground states, and thereby make all the difference in electing Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States.
Ken Klukowski is senior legal editor for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.