Saturday, June 8, 2024

Conservative Christians as Trump Enablers

"Choosing Donald Trump" was written by Stephen Mansfield in 2017 after the 2016 election.  He seems to have mixed feelings about Donald Trump, but is an ideal person to explain how Trump was able to capture the Evangelical part of the American electorate of 2016.  Stephen has written numerous books including a few dealing with religious involvement of a few American presidents.

Donald Trump seems to be the most un Christian president of all time.  His behavior and misquoting the Bible would normally make him an outcast among church goers.  He had been made aware of the crucial role of Evangelical voters.  

He had been sent to a Military Academy supposedly to teach him some humility.  Surprised (or maybe not) to learn  Playboy with its philosophy made its way to the young students.  One aspect of the school was that new students had to endure extreme humiliation. from the seniors.  He learned from a sports coach how to deal with that and those strategies endured his whole life.  Attack the attackers.

 His formal education included the Wharton School of Economics.  The author points out that Trump already knew as much about his specialty real esttae as most of the professors.  The author suggests Trump wanted the prestige

With his father's guidance he developed a strategy that started with identifying neglected properties, fixing them up, seeking higher class tenants and advertising.

 Norman Vincent Peale was a family friend.  With his "The Power of Positive Thinking" he impressed Fred Trump who took his family to Marble Collegiate Church to hear the uplifting sermons.  Peale catered to Wall Street crowd and was against the New Deal.  Trump's first marriage was officiated by Peale and his two sisters also were married there.  Both parents had their funeral services performed there.

In 2002 Trump had been attracted to a tv program about Paula White which emphasized the importance of vision, a topic Trump was interested in and thought she had the best perspective.  Hard to say what motivated each partner.  Perhaps she saw an opportunity to bring a high profile celebrity to her fold.  Perhaps he saw her as a vehicle to expand his contacts for a long range project.  Over time they did get together.  Her brand of open minded religion and self improvement appealed to an increasing congregation.  She brought Trump to meet with a wide range of religious leaders.  In 2015 as he was fine-tuning his plans for the presidency he asked for her help.  She brought him in contact with the Evangelicals, but also Catholic and Orthodox leaders and even some Jewish religious leaders.

From there he learned of one of their pet grievances.  Back in 1954 Lyndon Johnson had become incensed  about that tax exempt institutions were intruding on political decisions and managed to puch legislation which is known as the Johnson Amendment to punish with loss of tax exemption if they attempted to influence political issues or endorse political candidates.  It was not targeted at churches, but they soon fell under its jurisdiction.  Many voters agreed churches should stay out of politics, but religious leaders felt a moral imperative to guide government decisions.

From some of the Evangelicals he learned the central role Jerusalem played in their aims.  A Biblical interpretation maintained that there would a second coming, but only if the Jews controlled the most holy city of Jerusalem.

Abortion was abhorrent to many of the religious leaders.  There were many non religious affiliated people who also were repelled by abortion.

Barack Obama was abhorred for his stand on abortion including insisting that his medical health plan had to include abortion.and towards the end of his presidency he promoted same sex marriage.  Hilary Clinton was an even more strong advocate for both abortion and gay rights. 

 Evangelicals are not blind to Trump's many faults and many strive to rationalize that he was most likely to achieve some of their objectives.  One thought was that he was like Cyrus the Great who achieved Biblical approval despite being considered an idolator as he helped free up Jews to go back to Israel. 

 The author is not a fan of Trump quoting him:  "When you are in business you need to get even with people who screw you.  You need to screw them back...go for the jugular; attack them in spades."  Many comments are made about Trump's un Christian behavior which the author does not approve of.  On the other hand he seems to be pleased with some of Trump's religious agenda.

Mike Pence is not mentioned, but obviously was a reassuring partner for on the edge evangelicals.  When he wouldn't support Trump's plans to overcome election results he was dispensable.  

Once in power Trump did move the American Embassy to Jerusalem.  He also was able to appoint conservative Supreme Court judges to reverse the Roe versus Wade rulings.  He tried to negate the Johnson Amendment, but was stymied.

 Our current election campaign is already giving an ideal Evangelical agenda which is concerned about contraception and some suggest they would like to reverse same sex marriages.  As I write this post Trump has been solidifying his Evangelical support after his guilty verdict which many vehemently denounce.  A song has been written to declare that he is the "Chosen One".   Trump claimed the whole trial was "bullshit" and surprisingly many believers chanted the same word out loud.

A progressive agenda is under assault not only by bigots, but the general population turned off by excesses.  Our education system may counteract some of this, but they are under assault as well.  The most conservatives had already identified education as one of their tools.  See

 We can't blame the Trump disaster all on the Evangelicals as he cultivated other enablers

No comments:

Post a Comment