Bible Was Never Meant To Be Used As A Way Of Signalling To A Target Demographic
President Donald Trump holds a Bible outside St Johns church in Washington, DC, on Monday. Part of the church had been set on fire during protests the previous night. Photograph: Patrick Semansky/AP Photo
My favourite response to US president Donald Trumps use of a Bible in a photo opportunity outside St Johns church in Washington, DC, came from a priest on Facebook who captioned the photo with: Open it. I dare you.
Episcopal clergy and others who had been handing out water and first aid to peaceful protesters from the plaza outside St Johns were cleared with what protesters believed to be tear gas. This was all to facilitate President Trump posing outside with a Bible.
Trumps team did not inform the rector of the church before the president chose to brandish the Bible outside it
The irony is that while St Johns is known as the presidents church, Trump rarely attends. In fairness, the last president to attend St Johns on a semi-regular basis was George W Bush, who spent more time in Lincoln Park United Methodist and Washington Cathedral. Bill Clinton favoured Foundry United Methodist Church, which Hillary and he attended very regularly. Barack Obama attended church so rarely in Washington that it once made headlines when he did. His family did attend church regularly in Chicago before he became president.
Get Weekly Insights On Progressive Policy Sign Up For Inprogress
Public opinion polling reveals that even the so-called benefits of the Trump administration to those select faith groups crusading against reproductive and LGBTQ rights are rejected by majorities within faith communities other than white evangelicals. According to the Public Religion Research Institute , majorities of white mainline Protestants and Black Protestants say abortion should be legal in most or all cases, as well as a plurality of Catholics.2 The vast majority of U.S. women of faith have used or currently use birth control.3 The PRRI also found that majorities of all major religious groups in the United States support government-backed health insurance programs covering contraceptives and supporting nondiscrimination protections for the LGBTQ community.4
Much less attention is paid to the Trump administrations manifold attacks on the rights and safety of faith communities. The administration has systematically targeted religious freedom both at home and abroad, including through its marquee policy priority of instituting a Muslim ban. The administration has also presided over a nation with an alarming uptick in anti-Semitic and Islamophobic hate crimes, and its policies have contributed to a climate conducive to white nationalism. The administration has turned Americas back on religious minorities in China and refugees fleeing religious persecution around the world.
As this report details, the Trump administration has:
A Catholic In The White House
On the eve of John F. Kennedy’s election in 1960, there was still a debate about whether Catholic elected officials might take their directions from Rome and the Pope instead of the US Constitution.
Since then, Catholics have become integrated into American public life to the point where Biden’s religious affiliation is just another point in his biography. The last three Speakers of the House have been Catholics, and so are the majority of justices on the Supreme Court. Biden was the first Catholic to serve as vice president.
And despite American Catholics initially finding a home in the Democratic Party, they’re now a diverse group politically, especially as the Republican Party has embraced positions on several social issues in line with the church’s teachings. CNN’s exit polls showed Catholics were nearly evenly split, with 52% supporting Biden and 47% supporting Trump. That’s an improvement for Biden over Hillary Clinton’s performance with Catholics four years ago, when she lost them to Trump 50% to 46%.
Among conservative Catholics in Washington, Biden’s election has been greeted with caution and suspicion. His support for abortion rights and the Obama administration’s legal fights with Catholic non-profits over providing contraception coverage loom large.
“It just sort of highlights even more where he is at odds with the church,” said McGuire.
Also Check: How Much Does It Cost To Stay In Trump Hotel
Trump Grew Up In A Presbyterian Congregation
Trumps mother Mary was born in a Scottish Presbyterian household and emigrated to the United States when she was 18. Fred Trump grew up in the home of German immigrants who held to the Lutheran faith in which they were born. The Trumps were members at the First Presbyterian Church of Jamaica, Queens, which was the oldest continuous Presbyterian congregation in the Western Hemisphere.
Trump took the oath of office with his hand on two Bibles. One of them was a Bible given to him by his mother when he graduated Sunday Church Primary School at First Presbyterian when he was eight years old. Trump went through confirmation when he was 13 years old. According to David Brody and Scott Lamb, who co-authored the book The Faith of Donald Trump, the PCUSA congregation took young people through a booklet titled This is My Church. At the end of the class, they signed a certificate saying that they had placed their faith in Jesus Christ and were welcomed into the membership of the church.
He Has The Vocal And Public Support Of Several Prominent Evangelical Leaders
Prominent Evangelical leaders started to assemble around Trump in early 2016 and committed their enthusiastic support once it became clear that he would be the Republican nominee. Jerry Falwell Jr., James Dobson, Paula White, Franklin Graham and Robert Jeffress have used social media and media interviews to promote Trump as a friend of evangelical Christians and as being worthy of Evangelicals unquestioning support.
Several of the leaders have trumpeted Trump as one of the best friends evangelicals have ever had in the White House. Jerry Falwell, Jr. said that in Trump evangelicals have found their dream president, adding that Ive never seen a White House have such a close relationship with faith leaders than this one. James Dobson and Paula White each claimed that Trump came to faith in Christ during his Presidential campaign, with Dobson referring to Trump as a baby Christian.
Don’t Miss: Does Trump Give His Salary To Charity
Trump With 200 Congregants Attends Church Service In Las Vegas
President Donald Trump spoke briefly during a Sunday morning service at the International Church of Las Vegas, after spending Saturday night at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas.
At least 200 people prayed and cheered for President Donald Trump during a Sunday morning service at a church in western Las Vegas.
The president attended the 9 a.m. service at the International Church of Las Vegas, near Summerlin. Later in the day, Trump headed to Southern California for a fundraiser and then to Carson City for Make America Great Again rally at the Carson City Airport.
During Sunday mornings service, Pastor Marc Paul Goulet praised Trump and told him, Youre doing a great job.
The service did not fill the church to capacity. Many cheered as they prayed and blessed the president. It was unclear whether the attendance exceeded the 250 people in the venue, the maximum capacity Gov. Steve Sisolak set for churches.
During the service, the president placed a handful of $20 bills into the collection bucket. Most people in the crowd werent wearing masks Trump also was not wearing a mask, and neither were associates sitting next to him nor Goulet and his wife, Senior Associate Pastor Denise Goulet. However, Secret Service members and others in the presidents entourage were wearing masks.
Trumps visit wasnt his first to the church, which bills itself on its website as a multicultural, healing, prophetic church all about giving the grace of Jesus to Las Vegas.
Donald Trump’s Religious Background And The 2016 Presidential Election
Professor of History and Law, Ohio State University
Now that the Republicans are about to nominate Donald Trump as their party’s presidential nominee, a look at his religious background seems in order. It will likely tell us how well he will fare with churchgoing voters, and especially the most committed Christians among them, this fall.
One key factor in this area is generational. American religion has changed a lot over time, and Trump’s generation was a distinctive one in terms of what religion was like when they were growing up. Donald Trump is an “early” baby boomer. Like Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Trump was born in 1946, the first year of the post-World War II baby boom. Trump grew up in New York City during an era when a higher fraction of Americans engaged in weekly religious observance than at any other time in modern American history.
Trump’s parents were Presbyterians, and they and their five children attended Marble Collegiate Church in lower Manhattan. Donald Trump retained a connection to that church in his adult life. He and his first wife, Ivana, were married there in 1977. Though not currently an active member, Donald Trump has stated publicly that he considers Marble Collegiate to be his church.
The author gratefully acknowledges of the assistance of Reverend Tim Ahrens of First Congregational Church in Columbus, OH and Professor David Brakke of the Ohio State University History Department in preparing this blogpost.
Also Check: Contacting Donald Trump Email
George Floyd Death: Trump’s Church Visit Shocks Religious Leaders
Last night he held a Bible in front of St John’s Episcopal Church, just across the road from the White House. Today, he’ll visit the Shrine to St John Paul II, also in Washington DC.
But US President Donald Trump’s signalling of religious affiliation has not been welcomed by a range of clerics as the nation struggles to manage the twin challenges of a pandemic and widespread political protest.
The Episcopal Bishop of Washington, the Right Reverend Mariann Budde, said: “The president just used a Bible, the most sacred text of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and one of the churches of my diocese, without permission, as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus.”
James Martin, a Jesuit priest and consultant to the Vatican’s communications department, tweeted: “Let me be clear. This is revolting. The Bible is not a prop. A church is not a photo op. Religion is not a political tool. God is not your plaything.”
Let me be clear. This is revolting. The Bible is not a prop. A church is not a photo op. Religion is not a political tool. God is not your plaything.
But while he may not consider church essential to his personal life, it may yet hold the keys to his political future.
In 2016, Mr Trump won 81% of white evangelical votes and exit polls found that white Catholics supported him over Hillary Clinton by 60% to 37%.
Does Donald Trump Go To Church
Donald Trump is in Iowa getting ready to speak to a crowd of supporters who want to see him as the next President of the United States. Before walking on stage, Trump tweeted: People are always amazed to find out that I am Protestant . GREAT.
In 2012, Trump told Christian Broadcasting Network that he used to go to First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, Queens. And you know Ive had a good relationship with the church over the years. I think religion is a wonderful thing. I think my religion is a wonderful religion. In the same 2012 CBN interview, Trump said fans often send him Bibles and he keeps every one of them in a very nice place. As to whether or not he goes to church, Trump said: Always on Christmas. Always on Easter. Always when theres a major occasion. Then he added: Im a Sunday church person.
Recommended Reading: Was Melania Trump A Prostitute
How Unchurched Evangelicals Are Helping Create A God
From the very beginning of the white Evangelical embrace of Donald Trump, there have been a series of raging debates about how that embrace would affect the church. Will the about-face on, say, the importance of character in politicians alienate people from the church? Will the policy gains from a Republican president be worth the partisan anger?
But heres a question that wasnt asked quite enough. Will Evangelical devotion to Trump change the nature of Evangelicalism itself? Studying American religion is a complex exercise, one that requires sorting through vast amounts of data. It can sometimes be difficult to draw hard-and-fast conclusions, but heres one that seems a bit surprising:
Between 2016 and 2020, white Evangelicalism grew, and it likely grew because of Donald Trump.
Before I tell you the rest of the story , lets explain the basis for the statement above. On Wednesday, the Pew Research Center released the results of a study indicating that the percentage of white adults identifying as Evangelical or born-again grew between 2016 and 2020, and that growth was concentrated amongst Trump supporters:
And no, the growth in Trump-supporting Evangelicals wasnt offset by an exodus of Trump opponents:
At the same time, if you vocally oppose Trump in these communities, people will often throw up barriers. Youre an outsider, and theyll keep you at arms length. Trust me, I know.
Biblicism: Devotion to the Bible as God’s word
The President Has Surrounded Himself With Evangelical Leaders Is He Learning From Them
Find your bookmarks in your Independent Premium section, under my profile
In September 2016, presidential candidate Donald Trump gathered evangelical pastors, whose support he had courted assiduously, to discuss the political beliefs that they shared.
The reverend Robert Jeffress, who leads the megachurch First Baptist Dallas and preached at the church service Mr Trump attended on the morning of his inauguration, recalls looking at the agenda and starting to discuss the first item. Mr Trump interrupted him.
Pastor, don’t you think we ought to pray first? Mr Trump said, according to Mr Jeffress.
As president, Mr Trump has surrounded himself with a tightknit group of pastors like Mr Jeffress, evangelical leaders who heap praise upon him for his socially conservative stances, his judicial appointments and his support for Israel’s government. Mr Trump often invites these pastors to pray and seems to enjoy hearing their professions of faith. Many of the pastors insist that Mr Trump is a Christian believer.
But Mr Trump – who recently mocked the expressions of faith of two devout politicians, the Catholic house speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Mormon senator Mitt Romney – very rarely puts his own religious beliefs on display.
Also Check: How Much Is It To Stay In The Trump Tower
So Personal Morality Wasnt A Problem Even For Religious Voters What Has Been Or Would Be Problematic In Terms Of Religious Faith For American Voters
We seem clearly to have reached a point where moral character no longer matters the way it once did. We seem to owe that change to the careers of some recent presidents and to the growth of secularism in the United States. Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, John F. Kennedy, and other presidents contributed to this change. Today a person of known integrity who announced him or herself as an agnostic could be elected president.
Weve had agnostics, Im sure, who havent announced their lack of faith. In 2017 its probably helpful to be a church member in a presidential election, but its no longer essential.
Trump was given a pass on many things that evangelicals despise and preach against in churchsuch as divorce, worldliness, lack of church attendance, and profanity. Wait, does he use profanity? Im trying to think. He may not have used profanity.