I think it's ironic that religious voters actually back policies that are a mix of Social Darwinism and Randian (Ayn Rand) ideals. I've often wondered how they can deal with the cognitive dissonance that creates given the social order depicted among the disciples of Christ. They disciples shared in all things and gave their worldly goods to the group. Some other followers were even killed by god for holding back from the collective.
If I boil down the platform and policies it is all about survival of the fittest and the supremacy of individual rights. There are no collective rights, only the rights of the individual. Anything that imposes restrictions on those individual rights, even if it makes for a better society, are a restriction of freedom. The only time I see collective rights being expressed is if is not in alignment with theocratic beliefs on sex, child bearing, marriage, gender roles, or any other religiously related precept.
Hence in this worldview no one is entitled to healthcare, social security/other retirement schemes, control of their bodies, clean air/water, etc. Certain jobs are reserved for men such as leadership roles. Unless you are a woman who tows the line and preaches the same gender roles your fellow women. In this view, the value of human beings is reduced to how big their wallets are. If you are poor, you are not valuable and it is your own doing that makes you poor and unfavored by god. If you are rich, it is the same, it was your own doing (even if you inherited the money), and you are favored by god. Therefore we should not care or worry about anyone's plight. That is their tough luck/divine providence and they deserve their fate.
That is how it appears to me fro the outside looking in.
What am I missing?
Unfortunately, I believe your question is a true reflection of the natural world view. It is a basic tenet of evolution. Nature doesn't care for one paltry species and if that species is invasive, like us, eventually it will be too bad for us and others. We are now in the era of the Anthropocene and will be remembered for the sixth great extinction of species. All that is important for any life form is having enough resources to survive and procreate. When the resources get in short supply competition starts. We humans are no different from that basic drive. We think our intelligence is reflected in our technology which will allow us to overcome the basic rules. In the end our intelligence will fail us because it pits us against mother nature and instead of working with her and conforming to her rules. We will be the losers, not her.
It is a paternalistic world because men are stronger and can force their needs on the weaker especially women and children. It is up to the weaker groups to fight smarter.
I partially agree many of the poor are in that position due to their own making. They fall prey to absurdities presented by the strong and powerful. In the American Civil war it was the poor farmers that fell victim to the plantation owners spin about it being a "states Rights" issue (it was about slavery, period). the wealthy seldom fought but the poor died in droves. Trickle down economics is the modern version which too many poorly educated fall victim. Of course, the biggest absurdity is religion and again, the rich and powerful use it to manipulate others.
If I end up commenting a lot, this will become redundant, but we aren't properly educated in epistemology. People are very confused about why they believe what they believe, and seldom have taken the time to justify it all. They'll adopt ideas to the extent that they are useful to what they currently believe, which is the backward way to do this. We need to start from scratch and start making it popular to think about what you believe and work avidly to avoid contradictions and abide by intuitive principles of reason.
You're not missing anything, except perhaps the movement behind the scenes. You will find this paper agreeing with your observations. The religious right leadership is cunning and manipulative, and it's all about money and power, but most followers aren't aware of the deception because leadership is using scripture. The Truth Project has trained and indoctrinated millions. Prepare yourself. It ain't pretty.
"This paper explores the ideological reinforcement, shaping, and justification of neoliberalism contrived from Christian elements. The irony and unlikely marriage of lower class Christians accepting an economic policy platform that is detrimental to them are laid out as a puzzle. [snip] "The Truth Project", produced and disseminated by Focus on the Family, an evangelical Christian organization, is analyzed for elements of neoliberalism that are reinforced or justified. Finally, the dangers of this alliance and the general process of ideological formation are commented on."
Here's an excerpt on page 43:
"Christians here are being coached that it is acceptable to have great wealth disparity. This is demonstrated by the glorification of the current neoliberal system as seen in episode 11 - Labor Created to Create: “We are going to find that it is a glorious social system that God has given to us. Why? Because in reality, God has created us to create.” He is referencing the status quo of a neoliberal capitalistic structure. Later in episode 11, Tackett glorifies the role of CEO’s and large corporations as the job creators and wealth producers of society.
The concept of “roles” in society in this context is quite oppressive to women and minorities because if those who have a “role” of a poor person are “jealous” of another’s wealth, we are resisting God’s plan and being sinful. “If God declares that we are responsible for our actions, the world responds with blame. It’s not my fault, it must be somebody else’s fault.” This re-emphasizes the individualism/self-reliance narrative of neoliberalism that downplays circumstance, institutional oppression, or reliance on family, friends, community, or the state as a viable means for self-advancement."