Leaked Emails Show Christian Nationalist Anti-Trans "Holy War"Historians in the News
tags: religious right, evangelicals, LGBTQ history, Christian Nationalism
“Under His wings,” one lobbyist wrote in an email. “The Devil never sleeps,” another person sent in an email chain about the distinction between gender and sex. “I pray for the 2nd coming more and more.”
These missives are part of a trove of leaked emails between South Dakota GOP Rep. Fred Deutsch, anti-trans lobbyists, and other state lawmakers about anti-trans policies that are filled with language so deeply religious that, at times, the communications read like scripts from The Handmaid’s Tale. It’s the language, one expert told VICE News, of Christian nationalists who believe they’re engaging in a holy war.
The emails, which are available online for journalists and others to read and were first reported on by Mother Jones, include revelations about some of the ways that anti-trans lobbyists—and elected Republicans like Deutsch and Idaho Rep. Julianne Young—collaborate and strategize to write and endorse policies that directly target trans people on a national scale.
It's not surprising to experts that the language in the emails looks like that.
“It is the language of Christian nationalism,” Thomas Lecaque, an associate professor of history at Grand View University focusing on apocalyptic religion and political violence. “It is the language of people who very much believe they are doing God’s will, and it is the language of people who very much believe that they are engaged in a holy war.”
Explicit references to warfare pop up in the emails a few times: “I prayed for you and the others supporting the bill today. Asked the Lord to put all of you in the Armor of God for this fight,” wrote Elisa Rae Shupe, a trans woman, in an email. Shupe, at the time, had detransitioned and was an anti-trans advocate. She’s since re-transitioned, renounced her ties to Christianity, and shared the emails with journalists. “I fell prey to the belief that if I did what they suggested that I would be cured of my gender dysphoria… I was encouraged to confess my sins, ask for forgiveness by Jesus, and turn my plight over to the Lord Jesus Christ. I was also asked to accept that my transgender status was a sexually motivated sin and to cure myself by attending a religious 12-step program, which I did for approximately a year,” Shupe told VICE News.
“Stopping the existence of transgender people and the acceptance of trans people in the public sphere is to them some sort of religious imperative,” Lecaque told VICE News.“It’s particularly fascinating that this group that has all this money, control in state legislatures, control of the house, they had a presidency, is acting like somehow they are David in the struggle.”