David Bernstein

RNA poll: Trump dominates 2016, but was not (#Really) Religion Newsmaker of the Year

RNA poll: Trump dominates 2016, but was not (#Really) Religion Newsmaker of the Year

So when did Citizen Donald Trump win the White House? 

You could make a case that it was when Hillary Rodham Clinton kept going to see the musical "Hamilton" over and over, rather than taking her husband's advice and making a few campaign trips to visit with angry working-class, labor-union Catholic families in the deeply depressed corners of Rust Belt states like Wisconsin and Michigan.

Or maybe the key moment in the cultural earthquake that topped this year's Religion News Association Top 10 religion-stories poll -- the subject of this week's Crossroads podcast -- actually took place in 2015.

That's what David Bernstein argued in a Washington Post analysis that ran with this headline: "The Supreme Court oral argument that cost Democrats the presidency." He argued that the crucial moment in this campaign took place on April 28, 2015, during debates at the U.S. Supreme Court (.pdf transcript here) that led to the 5-4 decision on the Obergefell same-sex marriage case.

JUSTICE ALITO:  Well, in the Bob Jones case, the Court held that a college was not entitled to tax­ exempt status if it opposed interracial marriage or interracial dating. So would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same­sex marriage?
GENERAL VERRILLI: You know, I, I don't think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but it's certainly going to be an issue. I, I don't deny that. I don't deny that, Justice Alito.  It is, it is going to be an issue.

From that moment on, argued Bernstein, it was clear that -- for millions of doctrinally conservative religious believers in various faiths -- the future of the Supreme Court and the First Amendment's free exercise of religion clause was going to be the No. 1 issue in the 2016 presidential race. I totally agree with his take on that. Hold that thought.

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