Religious Right Wants To Make Withdrawn Army Nominee Mark Green Latest Religious Freedom Martyr

Mark Green, Donald Trump’s nominee to be secretary of the army, last Friday became the latest Trump nominee to be withdrawn from consideration after his record generated intense criticism and opposition from civil and human rights activists. Now Green and his Religious Right allies are trying to spin the episode as an example of anti-Christian persecution.

Green’s opponents cited a long and well-documented record of rhetoric and support as a Tennessee state senator for legislation harmful to LGBTQ people, Muslims, Latinos, and immigrants as well as his efforts to restrict women’s access to reproductive health care. The day before Green’s withdrawal, People For the American Way delivered 32,000 petition signatures opposing Green’s nomination to Sen. Jack Reed, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

In his withdrawal statement, Green claimed, “my life of public service and my Christian beliefs have been mischaracterized and attacked by a few on the other side of the aisle for political gain.”

That kicked the Religious Right’s well-oiled martyr-making machinery into motion.

On Monday, the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer ranted that the “Gay Gestapo” was continuing its “Christian carnage.” Fischer criticized Trump for not making even a “feeble attempt” to defend Green from being “vilified, demonized, and cashiered from public service” because “he shares God’s view of human sexuality.”

Anti-LGBTQ activist Peter LaBarbera appeared on Janet Mefferd’s radio show on Monday, where the two bemoaned what Mefferd called the “implications for Christians” of Green’s withdrawal. La Barbera agreed with Mefferd’s proposition that the “LGBT Left” wants to make being anti-gay “a non-starter for high public office.” Said LaBarbera, “If we keep going along with this sort of political correctness where we don’t speak out forcefully while the left does, we’re toast.” He said Christians and conservatives need “a rapid defense network” to defend people like Green. “If you go silent,” he said, “you’re only encouraging this anti-Christian leftist bigotry.”

On Tuesday, the Family Research Council complained that Green was the victim of “a nasty campaign” from “the Left.” Tony Perkins seemed particularly galled that Green’s anti-LGBTQ positions were held against him when the person he was named to replace, former Army Secretary Eric Fanning, was openly gay. Perkins’ Washington Update newsletter quoted Tennessee L. Gov. Randy McNally, who portrays criticism of Green as an example of the Democratic Party’s supposed hostility to Christians:

“I think there is a movement to target people of faith who are being nominated,” Tennessee Lt. Governor Randy McNally told the Washington Examiner. “They want their own, either agnostics or people who are non-Christians. ‘They’ being the Democratic Party.”

FRC Vice President Jerry Boykin, who was himself at the center of a Religious Right martyr-mythology campaign—Perkins says Boykin “knows what it’s like to be in the cross-hairs because of your Christian views”—said Green’s downfall was sad evidence that liberals are “so powerful, and so vicious,” an odd claim to make at a moment in which the power in the White House and Congress are in Republican hands.

Perkins is urging Trump to appoint another far-right nominee, suggesting Allen West or Randy Forbes. Meanwhile, Green is reportedly considering a run for governor.