One of the more unique things about the election of Donald Trump as president, that hasn’t been widely talked about, is the fact that he is arguably the least religious person elected to this office in a century. He still gave Christianity lip service, of course, for you can’t hardly get elected to any governmental office without doing so at least a little bit, but he couldn’t have fooled anyone. Seriously, the man is such a braggart that he said he never asks God for forgiveness because he’s never wrong, and he said this when asked point blank about his religiosity. And after the primaries were over, when asked again about his Christianity, he replied that he had won the evangelical vote as evidence of his spirituality. It was pointed out that those aren’t the same thing, but he just said that he thinks they are.
There’s a strange problem here. Not for me, mind you, but for the religious right in this country. For decades now, religious conservatives of the Jerry Falwell variety have hammered home the point that what the country needs the most are people in office who will rule by God’s bidding, who will put the Bible first, possibly even before the constitution (in some cases, at least). They looked at people like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, both of whom have a history of church-going and who claimed a strong belief in God, and judged them as false Christians who lived ungodly lives. Might even be a Muslim, as a matter of fact. But just last week, evangelicals overwhelmingly looked at the example of Donald Trump, a thrice-married serial adulterer who was caught on tape bragging about sexual assault and an attempted affair mere months after his most recent marriage and who has given the least convincing Christian impersonation that I’ve personally ever seen, and said, “well, who are we to judge what’s in his heart?” Does anything appear off here?
The hypocrisy would be bad enough, but the added cynicism demonstrated here makes this whole episode simply disgusting. I know full well that there are conservative Christians in this country who just couldn’t bring themselves to vote for this man who their religious leaders and peers praised to no unembarrassing end, which suggests that the movement isn’t entirely filled with shameless political opportunists. But as a voting bloc, the religious right has proven that it’s not actually about religion. It likely never was. It was only about political power, very likely couched in racist and nationalistic motives, and its leaders cynically played the system to achieve what is Caesar’s while claiming to merely be doing the humble work of the Lord, with a capital L.
Even before it was a race between a Republican and a Democrat, evangelicals lined up overwhelmingly to support the man who called Mexican immigrants rapists and who had a history of racist business decisions. And who were their other choices to back? Ben Carson, Rick Santorum, and Ted Cruz, to name just some of the pious few! Why did these people line up behind a man who is one of the least religious people ever to seek the presidency? There was obviously something that drew them to him, and it damn sure wasn’t his faith. I know what I think about this, and I think I’ve stated it plainly enough, but this isn’t a question for me. Evangelical Christians, if they have any dignity left, need an answer as to why they support this man given what they claim their priorities are.
And so the so-called “moral majority” has played its most revealing card. I never liked or even respected the movement, but I will also say that I never actually doubted their sincerity when they claimed they voted with their faith as a primary motive. Well, I’ll never make that mistake again.