It’s been amazing to watch President Trump the last couple weeks. He is going deep into the playbook of damage control and pulling out all the stops. He is clearly bothered and embarrassed that he has been impeached. He was clearly hurt by the editorial from Christianity Today which said that he deserves to be removed from office. He can barely contain his paranoia-driven rage. He’s been busier on Twitter than ever. Just the other day, Trump tweeted so many times that one observer did the math and figured out that, assuming it took him 3 minutes to think of and type out each tweet, he would have spent more than 5 hours tweeting in that day alone. He is doing everything he can think of to deflect attention from his impeachment. I have decided not to comment on the attack/assassination in Iraq because I’m not sure we have all the facts. Is it possible that Trump made that call as a diversionary tactic–the very same tactic he once predicted President Obama would use to help him be reelected? I believe it is entirely possible, but until we have all the facts on that still developing story, I’ll not venture too far into the land of speculation. But I will comment on the other obvious manipulation Trump is orchestrating. I’ll comment on it because I see many of my friends being manipulated. Ever since the Christianity Today bombshell dropped on Trump, he has been scrambling to rally his suddenly wobbly evangelical support base. My question to my Christian friends on the right is this: Do you understand how you are being worked by this charlatan president? Do you see it as plainly as the rest of us do, or are you so naive–so under the control of your political party–that you actually believe the president to be sincere? Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, who is not a conservative Christian sees it so clearly, do you not see it, or do you see it and just not care?
Let’s look at just a few recent examples of Trump pushing the buttons of the Christian Right. Last week, Trump spoke at a rally in a church near Miami, Florida called King Jesus International Ministry. This church preaches the “prosperity gospel” so this congregation was ready made to support Trump. Boy oh boy, did Trump ever play every ace he had up his sleeves. He brought back out the tired old canard that, given the chance, Democrats would wage war on Christianity, claiming that he was “defending religion itself,” because it is “under siege.” He went on to say, “these angry radicals want to impose absolute conformity by censuring speech, tearing down crosses and symbols of faith and banning religious believers from public life.” That is nothing more than a complete load of horse crap but that audience ate it up with a spoon. Trump wasn’t done, however. “Very soon,” he said, “I’ll be taking action to safeguard students’ and teachers’ First Amendment rights to pray in our schools. They [Democrats] want to take that right away along with many others.” I get so very sick of dispelling this notion that people can’t pray in public schools. Anyone can pray in public schools, anytime they want to. I teach in a public school and we actually build a moment into each morning where prayer is indirectly encouraged. After standing and reciting the Pledge of Allegience (with the words “under God”, by the way), we pause for a moment of silence. Trump cites the First Amendment, yet he clearly either doesn’t understand it or, more likely, counts on the fact that his conservative Christian base doesn’t understand it. The First Amendment is exactly the reason why public schools can’t sponsor any specific type of prayer, nor endorse any particular branch of religion. What Trump hints at by his assertion that he’ll be “protecting” First Amendment rights is that he wants to dismantle them for all people but Christians. This is a dangerous man we are dealing with here, conservative Christian friends, very dangerous indeed.
Trump also went on the attack against Democratic candidate, Pete Buttigieg. Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has maintained a solid position in the race among Democratic candidates, consistently remaining in the top 3 or 4. He is perhaps the most outspoken candidate regarding his faith. Buttigieg is a Christian and frequently cites the teaching of Jesus in his campaign messages. He also happens to be gay–a fact that should have no bearing on the topic, but certainly does with the most conservative of Christians. Trump claims Buttigieg was “trying to pretend he’s very religious.” He claims that Buttigieg has only recently begun talking about his faith, “all of a sudden, he’s become very religious…this happened about two weeks ago.” The very next sentences out of the president’s mouth made fun of Buttigieg’s last name and his appearance. Donald Trump’s family doesn’t even use their actual last name, which is Drumpf and I think we can all agree that the president is the last person on earth to mock someone else’s personal appearance, but unbridled hypocrisy runs deep in the president’s veins. I’ve never seen any person project more of their own faults onto other people. Trump was accusing Buttigieg–a man who has a long track record of being a practicing Christian as a member of his church in South Bend–of pretending to be religious to gain political supporters. I can’t think of anyone in history more guilty of pretending to be religious in order to gain political supporters than Donald J. Trump.
Frankly, I’m in disbelief. I don’t understand how my conservative Christian friends don’t get angry at being played by this con man who cares nothing for them other than their votes. They simply must see what’s going on–they must. If they don’t, then my only recourse is to assume they’ve been so radicalized that they are beyond hope. If they do see what’s going on, then I must assume that they are willing participants in the greatest coup our nation has ever seen.
Either way, it breaks my heart.