Ramping Up The Rhetoric
When commentators say Trump is speaking evangelicals language, what they mean is not the language of theology and faith, but the language of politicised religion that has come to form a large part of whats now frequently referred to as the culture wars in America.
Trump began employing this language during the 2016 campaign and has continued throughout his term in office. He has consistently claimed that people of faith are under siege, language which pointedly echoes a common refrain from evangelical leaders.
He also promised to totally destroy the Johnson amendment which bars non-profit organisations such as churches from endorsing or opposing particular candidates although he hasnt done so. And he became the first sitting president to address the annual anti-abortion March for Life rally in 2020.
In this light, Trumps claim that Biden poses a threat to the American faithful is part of a much longer history of the politicisation of conservative Christianity. Its increasingly associated with issues such as free market capitalism, support for the state of Israel, abortion, gun ownership and religious liberty rights. The rhetoric, promises and symbolism has far outstripped the reality of policy change, but that does not appear to matter a great deal.
The Undermining Of Religious Freedom
Defending the right to practice ones religion, free from fear, is of grave importance to everyone who cares about the nations long-standing commitment to true religious freedom. Yet the Trump administration has consistently undermined the rights of religious minorities.
One of the administrations first acts upon assuming office in 2017 was attempting to implement the Muslim ban that Trump promised as he campaigned for the presidency. Executive order 13769 blocked entry of people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, for at least 90 days, in addition to other provisions curtailing refugee admissions. In response, thousands of Americans rushed to airports across the country to stage protests. Five federal judges soon ruled in defense of religious freedom, temporarily blocking the Muslim ban.20 On March 6, 2017, the Trump administration issued a revised Muslim ban 2.0executive order 13780that was also blocked by federal judges.21 On September 24, 2017, the Trump administration released Muslim ban 3.0presidential proclamation 9645which made more changes to the ban.22 While this version was blocked in federal court and by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court took up the case and allowed the ban to go into partial effect during its review.23
One Of The Abiding Mysteries Of Contemporary Times Is How A Man Described As A Morally Louche Adulterer With Scarcely A Hint Of Faith Love Or Charity Won The Fealty Of Americas Evangelical Christians
Star Editorial Boardtimer
One of the abiding mysteries of contemporary times is how a man described as a morally louche adulterer with scarcely a hint of faith, love or charity won the fealty of Americas evangelical Christians.
Yet Donald Trump did just that in 2016 even if it was the most cynical of marriages and it carried him to the presidency of the United States.
As Trumps former lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen has written since seeing the light, places of religious worship held absolutely no interest to him and he possessed precisely zero personal piety in his life but he knew the power of religion, and that was the language he could speak.
Everything Trump told evangelicals about himself was untrue, Cohen wrote in his book Disloyal.
He was pro-abortion… He didnt care about religion. Homosexuals, divorce, the breakup of the nuclear family hed say whatever they wanted to hear.
He could lie directly to the faces of some of the most powerful religious leaders in the country and they believed him.
And so a deal was struck: evangelicals laid their hands on Trump and delivered their votes Trump delivered rants about godless liberals and, most important, nominated to the Supreme Court conservative judges who seemed open to revisiting abortion rights.
In 2020, however, Trumps grip on that key sector of the electorate seems to be slipping. Not hugely. But possibly enough to, God willing, humble him.
Not Our Faith is not alone.
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Enacting An Executive Order On Religious Liberty
On the National Day of Prayer in May, Trump gathered a number of the nations leading evangelical and Christian leaders at the White House Rose Garden and signed an executive order on free speech and religious liberty.
Among other things, the order instructed the Department of Treasury and the IRS not to take adverse action against churches and 501 nonprofits that speak out about moral and political issues in accordance with their faith.
The move was Trumps attempt at taking the teeth out of the Johnson Amendment, a 1954 law that bans tax-exempt nonprofits from engaging in political campaigning. It was a law that Trump had vowed to abolish during the campaign.
The executive order also called on the Department of Justice to issue guidance to federal agencies about how they can best protect religious liberty as it applies under federal law. The order also called on the Department of Health and Human Services to consider providing religious exemptions to an Obamacare contraception mandate that religious organizations felt violated their religious convictions.
Ahead Of The 2020 Election Supporters And Critics Of President Donald Trump Are Sparring Over His Religious Freedom Record
Pastor Paula White, left, and other faith leaders pray with President Donald Trump, center, during a rally for evangelical supporters at the King Jesus International Ministry church, Friday, Jan. 3, 2020, in Miami.
Lynne Sladky, Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY President Donald Trump cites his defense of religious freedom as a reason why Christians should support him in the 2020 election. But some critics say his approach to faith-related policies has done more harm than good.
Yes, hes stood up for religiously affiliated adoption agencies that, for religious reasons, dont want to screen same-sex couples. However, in the process, hes made it possible for some agencies to turn away people of faith who dont share their beliefs.
Yes, hes enabled most employers with a moral objection to birth control to exclude it from company health plans and supported the Catholic sisters who brought their contraception concerns to the Supreme Court. But his administration also rejected a Catholic dioceses efforts to retain control of land along the U.S.-Mexico border since it would interfere with border wall plans.
And yes, hes committed more government resources to preventing religious persecution around the world. Yet hes made harmful remarks about religious minority groups within the United States.
Its left room for both critics and supporters to stake positions on the president and religious liberty.
Trump and religion
Questioning Trumps record
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‘christian Nationalism’ In The Us
But aside from specific campaign issues, some academics say “Christian nationalism” was behind much of the religious support for Mr Trump’s campaign.
They say Christian nationalism merges Christian identity with national identity: to be American is to be Christian. Proponents believe that America’s success depends on its adherence to conservative Christian positions and warn, in Mr Trump’s words, of “an assault on Christianity” from political opponents.
“Voting for Trump was, at least for many Americans, a symbolic defence of the United States’ perceived Christian heritage,” the sociologist Andrew Whitehead wrote in a paper analysing the support for the president.
Academics such as Mr Whitehead and Philip Gorski, professor of sociology at Yale University, argue that throughout his presidency, Mr Trump explicitly played to Christian nationalist ideas by repeating the claim that the United States is abdicating its Christian heritage.
He promised “to protect Christianity” and for many supporters his campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” could have been synonymous with “Make America Christian Again”.
At a rally in Ohio last year he warned a Biden presidency would mean “no religion, no anything”.
“Hurt the Bible, hurt God. He’s against God, he’s against guns,” he claimed.
But American Christianity is divided.
The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the US, the Most Reverend Michael Curry, described the riots as a “coup attempt” and “deeply disturbing”.
No Trump Did Not Save Christianity
In addition to Trumps latest tweet, his son, Eric Trump, went so far as to make the insulting claim that his father has literally saved Christianity. For Christians, of course, the position of Savior is already filled, and Jesus is one person Trump cant fire or bully.
Yet, Trump supporters arguing that Christians must support him often want us to believe Joe Biden is responsible for every statement ever uttered by anyone on the political left, while they fail to hold Trump accountable for his own actions.
Trump has evaded accountability for long enough.
The effects of Donald Trumps vulgarity, incivility, and cruelty have not stayed confined to politics, but have affected our culture, our families and our churches. While the toxicity of our politics wont be completely excised once Trump has left the White House, we cant even hope for healthier politics while hes still president.
It is Biden who has run a campaign that has promised to , not Trump. It is Biden who has committed to pursuing racial justice from the basis of our shared humanity, as opposed to Trumps consistent use of race as a tool to tear the American people apart. It is Biden who insists political opponents can be good people, and that those who have a different perspective must still be valued members of the American family.
Trump: Nobody’s Done More For Religion Than I Have
President Donald Trump is supremely confident that evangelical Christians, who have consistently been among his most loyal supporters, will continue to show up for him during the upcoming midterm elections.
With his characteristic sweeping bravado, Trump told a Christian news station that because of everything he has done for Americas religious groups, hes certain evangelicals will come through for him, even though hes not on the ballot next Tuesday.
Theyre going to show up for me because nobodys done more for Christians or evangelicals or, frankly, religion than I have, he said in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network published on Thursday.
Trump suggested this support stems from how his administration has nullified the Johnson Amendment, a provision in the U.S. tax code that forbids faith groups from endorsing or opposing political candidates. In fact, both progressive and conservative groups agreed that his executive order targeting the amendment in May 2017 had little impact on religious leaders ability to engage in political campaigns.
He also referred to his expansion of the Mexico City policy, which withholds U.S. aid from foreign nongovernmental health organizations that offer women advice about abortion. In practice, the new policy has placed tighter restrictions on a wide swath of health organizations and applies to about 15 times the amount of foreign aid previously affected.
Watch CBNs interview with Trump below.
Justice Department Guidance On Religious Freedom
Just as Trump had called for in his May executive order, Attorney General Jeff Sessions in October issued a sweeping guidance on religious freedom to all federal agencies.
As there is much debate surrounding the intersection of religious freedom and LGBT rights, Sessions order states that The Free Exercise Clause protects not just the right to believe or the right to worship it protects the right to perform or abstain from performing certain physical acts in accordance with ones beliefs.
The guidance also states that individuals and organizations dont lose their rights to religious liberty protections under federal law simply because of their employment status or their affiliation with any level government.
The guidance explains that agencies must not second-guess the reasonableness of a religious belief, adding that religious freedom protections apply to all sincerely held religious beliefs, whether or not central to, or mandated by, a particular religious organization or tradition.
Sessions guidance went on to add that religious freedom protections are not lost in situations in which religious exemptions could deprive a third party of a particular benefit.
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The Undermining Of Democratic Norms
The Trump administration has undermined democratic norms and violated ethics laws that many religious groups have championed. People of faith depend on democratic norms for freedom of religion and often for protections of their identities. With safeguards under attack, the actions of the administration extend far beyond partisan differences, threatening many of the core institutions of the democratic system and leaving people of faith in an increasingly precarious position.
One of the Trump administrations first priorities, announced at the National Prayer Breakfast in February 2017, was to destroy the Johnson Amendment,89 despite polling indicating that the overwhelming majority of religious leaders want it to stay in place.90 The Johnson Amendment, adopted in 1954 without controversy, prohibits 501 nonprofit organizations from endorsing political candidates. Many religious leaders naturally prefer this prohibition as a means of protecting their houses of worship from interference from partisan politics.91 Yet the president signed an executive order that purports to promote free speech and religious liberty on May 4, 2017, a predominantly symbolic effort with limited legal force, since overturning the part of the U.S. tax code92 involved in the Johnson Amendment would require an act of Congress. Despite this, President Trump started claiming that we got rid of the Johnson Amendment.93
Neuroscientist Explains Why Christian Evangelicals Are Wired To Believe Donald Trumps Lies
President Donald Trump lies so often that it is no longer shocking when it happens, no matter how blatant or absurd the falsehood may be. Not only does Trump regularly exaggerate the truth, he frequently denies facts that can be observed directly from video or audio tapes. This has led some professionals to diagnose his lying as compulsive or pathological, and many psychologists have pointed out that he is constantly gaslighting his basea term that refers to a strategic attempt to get others to question their direct experience of reality.
With so much evidence to contradict his claims, like having the largest inauguration crowd size despite pictures clearly showing otherwise, one must wonder how there are still people out there who believe anything the man says. But the fact of the matter is there are many who swallow it hook, line, and sinker. Most of his fervent supporters are convinced that Trump is the harbinger of truth when it comes to important issues like climate changewhich is really just a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese government.
One reason Trump supporters believe his lies comes from a basic fact about the brain: it takes more mental effort to reject an idea as false than to accept it as true. In other words, its easier to believe than to not.
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The Four Lies Trump Tells Evangelical Christians
Donald Trump routinely lies to his evangelical supporters. This isnt to say merely that he lies in general and that those falsehoods are heard by everyone including evangelicals, but rather that he lies specifically to Christians. Some of these lies are about himself, some are about the world we all live in. Some are about what Trump claims hes done for Christians.
To be clear, conservative Christians have some real reasons to like Trumpthe most important being the appointment of many conservative judges and the promotion of some pro-life policies.
But on other issues, Trump has been less helpful than Christians seem to think. For instance, when it comes to protecting religious freedomwhich Trump often cites as one of his greatest achievementshe routinely lies to their faces.
Perhaps evangelicals know this and dont mind. Then again, maybe they dont quite realize the extent of Trumps double-speak.
Lie #1: Trump repealed the Johnson amendment.
During the 2016 campaign, one of Trumps main applause lines for evangelical audiences was his promise to repeal the Johnson amendment. This is the law that limits the ability of nonprofit organizationsincluding churchesfrom endorsing political candidates while still maintaining their tax-exempt status.
Trump did issue an executive order that encouraged the Treasury Department to go easy when enforcing the law, but in truth the law was rarely enforced to begin with. In other words, almost nothing has changed.
How The Trump Administration Has Harmed Faith Communities
People of faith have suffered under the Trump administrations attacks on civil rights, religious freedom, and health and economic well-being.
- Maggie Siddiqi
- Samantha Behar
In this article
See also: Connecting the Dots: How the Trump Administration Misuses Religious Freedom To Create a License To Discriminate by Maggie Siddiqi, Kurt Mueller, Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons, and Sharita Gruberg
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Donald Trump: ‘nobody Has Done More For Christianity Than I Have’
The former President of the United States says no one has done more for the Christian faith than he has.
Donald Trump has been making an appearance, via telephone, on the Christian TV station The Victory Channel.
Speaking to Gene Bailey on Flashpoint, he said: “Nobody has done more for Christianity, or for evangelicals, or for religion itself, than I have.
“So many different things, getting rid of the Johnson amendment, Mexico City policy, and we could go down a list of items.”
Trump also took time to criticise his successor, labelling Joe Biden’s administration “far worse that anybody ever thought”.
He said: “You talk about abortion, you talk about all of the subjects that you do every Sunday and during the week, and he’s terrible on these subjects.
“I said it was going to happen, but I had no idea was going to be this bad. You take a look at what they’re doing. It’s, it’s destructive.”
In a conversation which he appeared to be seeking further support, the 45th President also highlighted his work in the Middle East.
“Nobody’s done so much for Israel, as I have, with Jerusalem, and ending the Iran nuclear deal, which is a disaster.
“In the evangelical community I actually get probably more credit for that than I do with Jewish people. But Israel is a very important element.”
In recent weeks, Donald Trump has increased the number of media engagements, most of which come via telephone.