What do Donald Trump and evangelicals have in common? Everything and nothing. Evangelicals are some of his most loyal supporters. But to those with only a passing familiarity with the New Testament, that’s a religious mystery.
To those with even a cursory knowledge of the teachings of Jesus Christ as described in the New Testament, the so-called Christian Right’s support of Donald Trump, the GOP and their policies must seem as strange as the North American Meat Institute endorsing a vegan diet or Greenpeace applying for a drilling license in Alaska.
While the latter two would never happen, white evangelical “Christians” actually are Trump’s most loyal voting bloc. This seems paradoxical — both with regard to the president’s persona as well as many of the policies he and his fellow Republicans are pursuing. It only makes sense when realizing that there is very little that is Christian about the current evangelical movement and its leaders.
“You cannot serve both God and money,” the Bible says. Well, the televangelists supporting Trump apparently have made their choice between the two and it isn’t God. Just ask Pat Robertson, who has called the president “God’s man for this job” and recently got to interview him in the White House. The chairman of the “Christian Broadcasting Network” is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Many others of the movement’s leaders are filthy rich as well.
If these men and women actually were true Christians, their affection for Trump might be rooted in the writings of St. Augustine, who taught “love for mankind and hatred for sins.” In the 1500+ years since he wrote this, the saying has evolved into “love the sinner, hate the sins.”
If you abide by that, there certainly is a lot to love about Trump. As a reminder, the seven deadly sins are lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride. At some point, somebody should ask Robertson why God would choose “as his man for this job” somebody who is married three times, cheated on his wives, overindulges, measures his self-worth by the amount of money he claims to have accumulated (and constantly inflates that number), doesn’t believe in exercise to the point of driving a cart onto the green of a golf course, seems angry at his perceived enemies all the time, can’t deal with any real or perceived slight (or the fact that he lost the popular vote), and constantly makes ridiculous boasts — from the size of his genitals to his intelligence to being the only one who can fix things.
Trump, of course, claims he is a strong Christian and offered this as the reason for why he is being audited by the IRS. WhoWhatWhy investigated the faith of the man who could not correctly cite a popular Bible verse and found that there is nothing in his own words prior to deciding to run for president as a Republican that would back up that claim.
The GOP’s policies are also far removed from what Jesus Christ said in the New Testament and run counter to many of the Bible’s core teachings. One need look no further than the current health care debate that would leave millions of Americans uncovered or the pursuit of an immigration policy that is pretty much the opposite of “love thy neighbor.”
So why are evangelicals so firmly in the corner of the GOP?
Abortion and power.
Abortion is one of the few issues on which modern evangelicals can make the case that their views are in line with that of the New Testament. Other than that, their agenda is largely about wanting to tell others how to live their lives, and their views on what that should look like happen to align with the GOP’s. And when Trump picked holier-than-thou Mike Pence to be his vice president, that was good enough to get evangelicals in his corner, because now they had one of their own a heartbeat away from the top.
To be clear, lots of groups are pursuing power and influence. In that, the evangelical movement is no different from the North American Meat Institute or Greenpeace. However, while those two groups don’t misrepresent who they are, evangelicals are calling themselves Christians even though they are supporting leaders and policies that are not at all compatible with what Jesus Christ preached.
In doing so, they are misleading millions of genuinely religious Americans while lining their own pockets. It could be argued that this type of demagoguery would fall under what is referred to as “bearing false witness” in the Bible.
Here is what Pat Robertson has to say about that: “I can think of no practice — other than deep-seated hatred and lack of forgiveness — that will so quickly cut off the blessing and power of God in a Christian’s life.”
Amen, Pat. Amen!
The cartoon above was created by DonkeyHotey for WhoWhatWhy from these images: Mike Pence caricature (DonkeyHotey / Flickr – CC BY-SA 2.0), Donald Trump caricature (DonkeyHotey / Flickr – CC BY-SA 2.0), plaster (andres musta / Flickr – CC BY 2.0) and Capitol Prayer Room window (US Government / Wikimedia).
Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from DC skyline (Ed Uthman / Flickr – CC BY-SA 2.0).