Donald Trump isn’t running to be our first openly irreligious president, but if elected he would become our first obviously irreligious president.
Trump took a hit back in July when he told Frank Luntz that he has never asked God for forgiveness, due to some combination of thinking he’s never made mistakes and thinking that he is, in fact, God. Since then, he’s stepped up his Bible talk…kinda. His knowledge of the Good Book now seems to be limited to it a) being the only book better thanThe Art of the Deal and b) good enough for his fans to send him many, many copies, which hestores in the classiest, most luxurious warehouse money can buy.
He very obviously hasn’t thought about the Bible in any meaningful way, as evidenced by his appearance yesterday on Bloomberg’s All Due Respect:
Asked if he had a favorite Bible verse, Trump gave a flat “none of your beeswax.” Asked if he had a favorite testament, Trump said he liked both the Old and New Testaments equally. It was the answer a candidate gives when their gears are spinning and turning up nothing, because they’ve been caught having not done their homework.
Like the last time a major Republican candidate said they had equal, universal appreciation for a specific genre of printed material:
Fitting, then, that Trump is open to having Sarah Palin in his cabinet.
Trump is laughably secular, and the Evangelicals thanking Jesus for sending Trump their way are laughably gullible (check the comments on this IJReview post for reference). And all this would be fine if it didn’t constitute a major slice of the American electorate, which proclaims piety while condoning the most impious acts. As Frank Bruni wrote on Tuesday:
What’s different and fascinating about the Trump worship is that he doesn’t even try that hard for a righteous facade — for Potemkin piety. Sure, he speaks of enthusiastic churchgoing, and he’s careful to curse Planned Parenthood and to insist that matrimony be reserved for heterosexuals as demonstrably inept at it as he is.
But beyond that? He just about runs the table on the seven deadly sins. He personifies greed, embodies pride, radiates lust. Wrath is covered by his anti-immigrant, anti-“losers” rants, and if we interpret gluttony to include big buildings and not just Big Macs, he’s a glutton through and through. That leaves envy and sloth. I’m betting that he harbors plenty of the former, though I’ll concede that he exhibits none of the latter.
Trump’s punt on the Bible came on the same day that the Des Moines Register reported on leaked emails showing that Trump’s new national co-chairman, Sam Clovis (who recently defected from Rick Perry’s campaign), was trashing Trump only a month ago for — you guessed it — having “no foundation in Christ, which is a big deal.” Clovis went on to praise Rick Perry for calling Trump a “cancer on conservatism,” expressing particular dismay at Trump’s obvious lack of religious faith.
What prompted the change of heart? Rick Perry’s campaign is out of money, and Donald Trump has plenty.
So the Party of God doesn’t actually care if you know anything about God, but we knew that already. Practically no one reads the Bible. It’s a long book, and most translations are written in ways that seem deliberately designed to make it difficult to read. So Jeb Bush, et al probably aren’t reading his Bible with any more regularity than Donald Trump.
If they were, they may have a some different ideas on the Biblical issues they’ve pounded into the American conservative.
Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. Article archive.
It is the kind of "news item" that conservative websites -- particularly "Christian" websites -- neither quote nor promote although it is the antidote they need.
If American conservatives do not soon exhibit some significant measure of self-awareness, they will ruin the "Christian brand" while, ironically, they see themselves in the vanguard of religious renaissance.
"Christians Are Their Own Worst Enemy: Wrecking The Brand"