The Faith Of Donald Trump
What difference does the faith of an American president make? In the United States, we go to great pains to keep church and state separatein theory anyway. Should it matter what the head of state believes about God, or if he or she believes in God at all?
Most of the past presidents would tell you that they actually prayed in the Oval Office, that they made decisions daily that affected millions of lives. They were often uncertain about what was the right thing to do. In those cases, they drew on their religious background, says David L. Holmes, professor emeritus of religious studies at Virginias College of William and Mary and author of two books on the faiths of presidents. Thats why I think it is important for them, for voters, for citizens. Its important because people are looking for honesty and reliability in their politicians. That said, Holmes points out, while there is a presumption that religious faith translates to a better bet for honesty and reliability from a president, We know that isnt necessarily the case. We just went through an election where that was looked at rather carefully.
I spoke with Professor Holmes recently over the phone, to follow up to an interview he did with U.S. Catholic in 2012. At that time Republicans had nominated Mitt Romney, a Mormon, to run against the Democratic incumbent, Barack Obamawhose Christian faith many debated.
Intense Religion And Donald Trump
Many people were surprised when Donald Trump became U.S
Many people were surprised when Donald Trump became U.S. president, considering him a long-shot candidate with a message more suited to the past than the present. But despite, and in some ways because of, social change, intensely religious Americans embraced him.
Many Americans are disaffiliating from organized religion, which could make it seem as though the United States is secularizing like comparable countries. But, as I demonstrate in research with Sean Bock, the United States is not secularizing like other countries and intense religion persists. Our study, titled The Persistent and Exceptional Intensity of American Religion, shows that there is no decline in evangelicalism, biblical literalism, strong affiliation, or the most frequent levels of religious practice. Instead, only moderate religion is on the decline.
As a result of the persistent intensity of American religion and decline of moderate religion, a growing proportion of religious Americans are intensely religious. The intensely religious arent just people for whom religion is important they are a particular segment of religious Americans for whom religious and conservative political identities have become intertwined. They perceive their religious identity as embattled, may well support some form of Christian nationalism, and look fondly on the time before the gender and sexual revolutions.
More: Joe Biden Picks Sen Kamala Harris As His Running Mate
Back in 2007, leading up to his run for president, Biden predicted to ABC News’ Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos that rivals would try to undermine his faith.
“These guys are going to suggest with me as a nominee that I’m not a man of faith, that I do not have the values that exist that are shared by the vast majority of this country,” Biden said on ABC’s “This Week.””To use, George Bush’s phrase, bring ’em on.”
ABC News’ Chris Donovan contributed to this report.
You May Like: Why Donald Trump Is The Best President
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.
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
Recommended Reading: How Does Donald Trump Feel About Healthcare
Weaponizing Religion: Trump’s Attacks On Biden’s Faith Calling Him ‘against God’
Trump questioned the faith of both Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday.
President Donald Trump on Monday defended questioning the faith of his main political rival, doubling down on calling former Vice President Joe Biden“against God” and extending his attack to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — “weaponizing” religion in an apparent appeal to evangelical voters.
He appeared to be referring to policy recommendations made by a Biden and Sanders “unity task force” in July, that included proposals to combat climate change and expand health care coverage.
“Well, if you look at the manifesto that they have come up with and if you look at their stance on religion and things having to do very importantly with aspects of religion and faith, I don’t think a man of deep religion would be agreeing to the Bernie Sanders plan,” Trump said at a news conference Monday evening.
“You take a look at what they have in and you — you just can’t put that into the realm of a religious group of people, I will say that,” he added.
Trump said last Thursday in Ohio that Biden is “following the radical-left agenda: take away your guns, destroy your Second Amendment, no religion, no anything, hurt the Bible, hurt God.”
Biden in a statement called the comments “shameful” and insisted that his religious faith has been a “bedrock foundation” of his life.
Legal Affairs And Bankruptcies
Fixer Roy Cohn served as Trump’s lawyer and mentor for 13 years in the 1970s and 1980s. According to Trump, Cohn sometimes waived fees due to their friendship. In 1973, Cohn helped Trump countersue the United States government for $100 million over its charges that Trump’s properties had racial discriminatory practices. Trump and Cohn lost that case when the countersuit was dismissed and the government’s case went forward. In 1975, an agreement was struck requiring Trump’s properties to furnish the New York Urban League with a list of all apartment vacancies, every week for two years, among other things. Cohn introduced political consultant Roger Stone to Trump, who enlisted Stone’s services to deal with the federal government.
As of November 2016, Trump and his businesses had been involved in more than 4,000 state and federal legal actions, according to a running tally by USA Today.
While Trump has not filed for personal bankruptcy, his over-leveraged hotel and casino businesses in Atlantic City and New York filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection six times between 1991 and 2009. They continued to operate while the banks restructured debt and reduced Trump’s shares in the properties.
Also Check: Where Is The Next Trump Rally Being Held
Most Americans Dont See Trump As Religious Fewer Than Half Say They Think Hes Christian
President Donald Trump has often used religious language while in office, and he has surrounded himself with evangelical leaders and supported conservative Christian causes. But Trumps personal religious beliefs and practices have not been as public.
Indeed, half of U.S. adults either say theyre not sure what Trumps religion is or that he has no religion , while just 33% say hes Protestant.
And Americans overall dont think Trump is particularly religious: A majority say Trump is not too or not at all religious, while 28% say hes somewhat religious and only 7% say hes very religious, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
The findings in this post are drawn from a new survey exploring the intersection of religion and politics in the U.S. The survey of 6,395 U.S. adults was conducted Feb. 4 to 15. All respondents to the survey are part of Pew Research Centers American Trends Panel , an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Read more about the ATPs methodology.
What is Trumps religion?
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
Read Also: How Many People Have Died Because Of Trump
Id Say Yes Toward Women
Yes, theres certainly been salacious conversation.
Ronald Reagan never swore. And Trump doesnt drink or smoke. He has a certain amount of discipline in those areas. He has discipline in his life, Id say. But certainly not over his emotions.
Right now, voters are looking for a singular figure who can make America great again, the definition of which includes going back some decades in our understanding of our place in the world.
What Do You Expect Well See From Trump In Terms Of His Religious Practice Over The Next Four Years
Trump is surely the most unpredictable president in the history of the American presidency. So any predictions are foolishbut guesses are maybe OK.
A guess is that Trump will develop some relationship with a Presbyterian church in Washingtonperhaps Westminster Presbyterian, where Eisenhower and Reagan worshipped. My guess is also that his church attendance will increase.
When in New York on a Sunday, he might go to a Presbyterian church. When at his estate in Palm Beach, hell surely continue to occasionally attend Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church. And I would also guess that, at least in the early years of his presidency, he will occasionally attend an evangelical church.
Though a list of his charitable donations displays many gifts to Roman Catholic churches, schools, and hospitals, I do not see a close relationship with Catholicism. Because of his daughters conversion to Judaism and his support of Israel, he could conceivably attend synagogue services. Its a conjecture, but I would guess that the amount of Judeo-Christian and biblical references in Trumps unscripted comments will not increase.
In the years since Norman Vincent Peales retirement, his spiritual mentor, Trump didnt turn his back on his religious upbringing. He had his children baptized. All his marriages were conducted by a minister. He seems to have gone to church at least on Christmas and Easter. Hes received communion.
You May Like: Who Has The Best Chance To Beat Trump
Tweeting The God Word
My research suggests that President Trump seems to have developed a rhetorical style to appeal to this constituency.
To examine how Trump compares with his predecessors in terms of the language he uses, I looked at the frequency of 111 religious words and phrases established by previous researchers to have, religious specifically Christian meaning. These included pray, church and bless and also variations of each term such as prayer, praying and prayers.
Within this list were specific God terms which consisted of nine explicit references to the Christian God: for example God, Lord and Supreme Being.
In the presidential speeches I examined, Trump used 7.3 religious terms per thousand words of speech far higher than any other president from the last 100 years. In fact it was more than double the average rate of 3.5 terms per thousand used by presidents in general. Similarly, explicit mentions of God by Trump came at a rate of 1.4 per thousand words almost three times the average of 0.55.
The average length of presidential speeches in the archive was around 3,000 words, with each speech containing on average 10 religious terms and one or two specific mentions of God. Trumps speeches were similar in length but contained on average 22 religious terms and four mentions of God.
May : Trump Declares Churches Essential
As states implemented shutdown orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the coronavirus pandemic, a debate quickly emerged over whether churches should be allowed to worship indoors. Scientists and many faith leaders pointed to evidence that in-person worship provided ample opportunity for the spread of disease, but conservative Christians in particular argued that banning worship infringed on religious liberty. Trump eventually weighed in and of worship essential, setting up a standoff between his administration and state governors, who ultimately have the authority to ban churches within their borders.
Don’t Miss: Why Is Trump A Racist
Taoiseach Calls For Michael Collins Memorial To Mark Death Centenary Next Year
The move was a controversial one because the divided city is also claimed by Palestine as its capital, and its status was seen as key to the Middle East peace process.
The state of Israel and the pro-Israel lobby in the US were virtually the only ones to celebrate the decision, which was slammed by US allies around the world.
The presidents daughter Ivanka also converted to Judaism after marrying Jared Kushner, who was made one of his top advisers.
And Trump has spoken fondly about having three Jewish grandchildren.
You Said Earlier That Presidents Often Say They Pray When Faced With Major Decisions That Affect Billions Of People Will Trumps Faith Come Into Play If He Has To Make Those Kinds Of Decisions
That we cant predict. Most presidents would tell us that they actually prayed in the Oval Office. Presidents are required to make decisions daily that affect millions of lives. They are often uncertain about what is the right thing to do. In those cases, they draw on their religious background.
The question is whether Trump will be in that tradition. We just cant predict with Trump. He could become awed by the power and influence he has and turn in part to his religion, but so far he has not exhibited that sense of awe. I could not predict that he will turn to his mainline Protestant upbringing any more than he has turned to evangelicalism. But I dont think hell ignore his background.
You May Like: Who Sells Ivanka Trump Merchandise
Trump’s Actions And What They Reveal
Trump believes that he does not need to ask for forgiveness. At a campaign event in Iowa, he was asked if he had ever asked God for forgiveness. His response, after several attempts to evade the question, was that he had nota statement that must have shocked most Christians: “I am not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don’t think so. I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.”
He mocks and reviles every sign of weakness in others. Even a physical disability does not escape his disdain. Early in the presidential campaign, he mocked a disabled reporter.
Trump married his first wife, Ivana In the Marble Collegiate Church he married his second wife Marla in the ballroom of the Plaza Hotel he married his third wife in the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, Florida.
More: Trump’s Defiant Campaign Amid Pandemic Ramps Up Ground Game As Biden Looks For Another Way
Notably, Biden has often spoken publicly about the significant role his faith has played in his life, particularly during moments of tragedy. He regularly wears his late son Beau’s rosary beads on his wrist.
“Like so many people, my faith has been the bedrock foundation of my life: it’s provided me comfort in moments of loss and tragedy, it’s kept me grounded and humbled in times of triumph and joy,” Biden said in a statement last week responding to attacks on his faith. “And in this moment of darkness for our country — of pain, of division, and of sickness for so many Americans — my faith has been a guiding light for me and a constant reminder of the fundamental dignity and humanity that God has bestowed upon all of us.”
A Pew Research Center survey conducted in February found that more adult Americans view Biden as more of a religious person than Trump — with 55% of U.S. adults saying they think Biden is “very or somewhat religious” and just 35% of adults saying the same about the president.
Gregory Smith, associate director of research at Pew Research Center, said one of most striking things revealed to him in surveying public opinion data is the amount of stability in the pattern with respect to religion and politics.
Asked if the president is “weaponizing religion,” Budde expressed concern for the “unintended consequences” of invoking faith in political attacks.
Read Also: How To Tweet Donald Trump