In the years leading up to the birth of the nation we know as America, political discourse was exercised in pubs, in the pages of newspapers, in the town square, and on the steps outside courthouses. The patriots who forged America would define and refine together what liberty means and what responsibilities are carried with it, how men are governed and by what authority, and what a nation is and what it means to be an American.
Today, that same patriotic spirit that burns in the hearts of conservatives articulates itself largely on social media. On Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and even on less mainstream sites like Gab or former President Donald Trump’s Truth Social, conservatives carry on the work of their forefathers and clarify ideologies, debate traditions, and ask what it means to be an American conservative. Just as early American patriots made their voices heard in the streets of Boston, Philadelphia, and Annapolis, so American conservatives made their voices heard on Twitter last week, resoundingly declaring that Christianity is core to conservatism.
Lizzie Marbach, a former Trump 2020 campaign staffer and current Ohio pro-life advocate, tweeted last week, “There’s no hope for any of us outside of having faith in Jesus Christ alone.” The tweet itself garnered a moderate amount of notice and many social media users agreed with Marbach, who was essentially repeating longstanding (and, honestly, pretty basic) Christian doctrine. And then along came Max Miller. The Republican congressman from Ohio and former Trump staffer reposted his fellow former Trump staffer’s tweet with his own derisive commentary, saying, “This is one of the most bigoted tweets I have ever seen. Delete it, Lizzie. Religious freedom in the United States applies to every religion. You have gone too far.”
First of all, it is important to note that Marbach is not a sitting legislator, nor even a government employee. Her tweet did not advocate, endorse, or even remotely suggest the suppression or persecution of any religious group or set of religious beliefs. This makes Miller’s comments all the more infuriatingly ironic: while claiming to support “religious freedom,” a sitting U.S. congressman told an American citizen to delete her profession of one of the most fundamental doctrines of her faith — a faith shared, by the way, by an estimated 70% of Americans.
Miller, who describes himself on Twitter as a “proud Jew,” was instantly ridiculed, shamed, and flatly contradicted by conservatives. Political commentator and podcast host Matt Walsh asked, “Do your constituents know that you consider basic Christian teaching to be ‘bigoted’? They do now I guess. Good luck in the next election!” Journalist Jack Posobiec, senior editor at Human Events, posted a meme reading, “[T]he best time to delete this tweet was immediately after sending it, the second best time is now.” Media personality and former GOP congressional candidate Lauren Witzke quipped, “Mask off moment.” Countless others commented simple variations of “Christ is King.”
Miller went further than merely airing his ignorance, though; he complained to Marbach’s employer, Ohio Right to Life, where his wife is a board member, and she was fired from her position as communications director. Ohio Right to Life stressed that Marbach wasn’t fired due to “any single event,” but even the ol’ post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy might be a bit of a stretch in application to this particular scenario.
In 2020, President Trump famously said, “It’s called ‘we do a little trolling.’” Well, trolling works. After the torrent of purely-digital backlash from Americans, Miller was forced to apologize. He said, “I posted something earlier that conveyed a message I did not intend. I will not try to hide my mistake or run from it. I sincerely apologize to Lizzie and to everyone who read my post.” Now, whether the apology was sincere or simply a PR necessity in the wake of denigrating the beliefs of over two thirds of Americans is not yet clear, though it’s worth noting that Miller did not delete his tweet calling expression of Christian thought “bigoted” and ordering an American Christian to “delete” her tweet, nor has he apologized for his role in having Marbach fired.
In fact, Marbach herself showed Miller just how “bigoted” and threatening Christians are by publicly forgiving him. She tweeted, “Max, I accept your apology 100%. However the truth is that it is not me from whom you need forgiveness, but God himself. I genuinely pray you seek him and find salvation!” She also posted the text of Matthew 18:21-35, in which Christ tells the parable of the unforgiving servant and instructs His disciples to forgive others not just seven times but “seventy-seven times.”
Aside from Miller’s appalling behavior and lackluster attempt at an apology, this episode demonstrates the commitment of conservatives to Christian ideals. Those who do not identify as Christian — atheists and agnostics, even some of Miller’s fellow Jews, were among his detractors — but as conservatives recognize the inherent truth that, without Christianity, there is nothing to conserve. The entirety of the conservative movement is founded upon distinctly Christian principles, traditions, and culture: liberty, order, virtue, duty, sacrifice, and all those noble ideals Americans have fought, bled, and died for over the past 250 years. These ideals were practiced, preached, preserved, clarified, and dogmatized by Christianity.
While nations and empires have risen and fallen, while the Roman republic decayed into tyranny, while kingdoms and races warred across medieval Europe, while European powers pioneered new lands, while the dream called America was realized, while bloody revolutions felled and founded new cultures and governments, while world wars raged, and even now into the present age, Christianity has stood strong, lovingly maintaining the doctrines laid out 2,000 years ago by a Carpenter from Nazareth, Who was also told, “Delete it,” in the parlance of the day, and lost far more than just His job.
Just as American patriots once agreed on what liberty is while sitting around their drinks in pubs, just as they once proclaimed what they knew to be true in the pages of their newspapers and gazettes, just as they once shouted their common beliefs in the streets, so too have today’s American patriots, speaking in today’s town square, agreed that conservatives must not condemn or denigrate Christianity but embrace it.
Hopefully, today’s patriots will continue following in the footsteps of their forefathers and will not be content with pub-table conversations, printed words, and marching in the streets, but will speak at the ballot box too and elect representatives who respect and even share their beliefs, the beliefs that this nation was built upon.
S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.
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