Last year, congregants at the Church of Trump stormed into polling places nationwide and voted a godless reality star into the highest office in the land.
The previous months had been disappointing for conservative-leaning people of faith who could not support the GOP candidate. To reject the party’s choice branded you as some sort of Hillary lover who preferred to lose. Nevermind that principles kept people such as myself from supporting a man whose person was entirely questionable. We were sellouts.
It’s been crystal clear that too many Evangelical Trump supporters have not only placed their political faith in the real estate magnate; they have become sold-out disciples for him. It seems as if, in their eyes, the GOP and Christianity are interchangeable.
By forcibly attempting to merge the two, lines have been blurred and much damage has been done. But that matters little. The White House is theirs.
In the months since President Trump’s inauguration, his words and actions have done nothing to lead us to believe that he is a man of real faith at all. Pre-presidency, his attempts at explaining his “great relationship with God” were sadly laughable.
In an interview on Sunday with CNN, the Republican presidential frontrunner said that he does not regret never asking God for forgiveness, partially because he says he doesn’t have much to apologize for.
“I have great relationship with God. I have great relationship with the Evangelicals,” Trump said in the interview before pivoting to his poll numbers among Evangelical voters.
“I like to be good. I don’t like to have to ask for forgiveness. And I am good. I don’t do a lot of things that are bad. I try to do nothing that is bad.”
However, the talking point from the administration and the Trump faithful alike is just the opposite.
Kellyanne Conway calls Trump "the most faith-centric, pro-life president in our lifetime" #VVS17
— Jessica Taylor (@JessicaTaylor) October 13, 2017
The most faith-centric? The most pro-life? Hardly.
On Friday, President Trump addressed the Values Voter Summit in D.C., a gathering of politically-minded Christians from around the country. The 45th president was the first sitting president to speak at the summit. And why wouldn’t he make an appearance? He clearly understands the strong sway he has on many of the nation’s Evangelicals, as made evident by previous statements such as the one above.
While some of Trump’s presidential actions have indeed been worthy of praise by communities of faith (see his recent protection of religious liberty), it is his cheap brand of convenient, crowd-pleasing, substance-free Christianity that is truly loathsome.
At this past week’s summit, that brand was on full display.
The president received perhaps the loudest applause from the crowd when he addressed the “war on Christmas.”
“We’re getting near that beautiful Christmas season that people don’t talk about anymore. They don’t use the word Christmas because it’s not politically correct,” he said to cheers. “You go to department stores and they’ll say ‘Happy New Year,’ or they’ll say other things and it’ll be red, they’ll have it painted.”
“Well, guess what? We’re saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again.”
Home run! And the crowd…goes…wild.
It is entirely laughable to believe that a president can affect holiday greetings used by citizens of this great country, now or in the future. Furthermore, if the phrase “Happy Holidays” emblazoned on a store sign shakes your personal beliefs to their core, then I don’t suspect that those beliefs were very deeply rooted in the first place. The use of or disappearance of “Merry Christmas” in late December language has no bearing whatsoever on celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Whether that remembrance takes place is up to the individual alone.
But this very thing was a campaign promise of then-candidate Donald Trump. There is no way to measure whether “Merry Christmas” will increase this year, but it is of little consequence.
Trump knows this is his brand. Most of all, he knows this brand sells well as he steps onto stages and speaks to religious voters who have waited years for something different. As this president is showing, different isn’t always better.
The proud, starry-eyed Evangelicals who cast their ballot for the Christian-in-Chief believe Trump has miraculously brought faith back to the nation.
And that is all that matters.