When I first read in my news feed that Donald Trump had become a Christian, I chuckled. With Jesus being Middle Eastern and all, I was certain Trump had built a wall around his heart a long time ago to keep him out. Although, there are those on the right who insist, as Fox News' Megyn Kelly stated, that not only is Jesus white, but the fictitious character of Santa Clause is white, too!
Truth is irrelevant in the game of politics. It's all about stirring the passion of the people who can get you where you want to go. In Hitler's Mein Kampf, he said, "All propaganda must be presented in a popular form and must fix its intellectual level so as not to be above the heads of the least intellectual of those to whom it is directed..." Donald Trump is a master at reaching the least of the intellectuals.
Political strategist, Paul Weyrich, also knew this well. It was his decision to involve the untapped fundamentalist Christian right in the mid-60s while working with Barry Goldwater. Goldwater famously denounced the unholy union of politics and religion when he said:
Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them.
It's no surprise the Christian Right is trying to maintain power through Trump. He threw them off their game initially by espousing their hate-filled speech against Muslims, immigrants and Democrats and then awkwardly quoting a Bible verse. They struggled to reconcile his three marriages (all to immigrants) and his flip flopping ideas on abortion. His sexist views on women were ignored, or squeezed into some kind of Biblical patriarchal origami to say what they wanted to hear.
But it's all good now. He's a "baby Christian," according to James Dobson. In the evangelical faith, a mere admission of acceptance of Christ -- particularly if you are person in power (Obama excluded) -- and all is forgiven.
The announcement of Trump's newfound faith comes on the heels of a June 21st meeting where he met with 400 of the most influential leaders of the Christian Right. This meeting included James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Tim Wildmon, Penny Nance, Pat Robertson and Gary Bauer. Time magazine reported the meeting last May, calling it "a step that could lead to an eventual embrace of the presumptive Republican nominee."
NPR reported Trump told his audience, "You really don't have religious freedom." He said he would "get rid" of the law prohibiting pastors from talking about politics in the pulpit. He would bring in Justices to the Supreme Court who will be "great intellects," but also pro-life. He reminded these leaders, "You're the most powerful group in the country, but you have to band together."
Trump's conversion was the only missing piece of the equation, which has now been confirmed by James Dobson. Naturally, the next step is to spread the good news to the faithful, announcing, "He is one of us! Everything will be ok. You can vote for him now." The Christian Right leaders have millions of followers who send millions of dollars to their beloved organizations, believing and voting as told.
Trump has learned to say what needs to be said to win. His former strategist, Stephanie Cegielski, in an open letter to his supporters about her resignation from his campaign said, "Trump is about Trump. Not one of his many wives. Not one of his many 'pieces of ass.' He is, at heart, a self-preservationist." Who or what Trump actually stands for, or what he truly believes is only likely to be seen upon his inauguration into the White House.
The human brain desperately tries to resolve mental conflict. The incongruities of Donald Trump are many, but the stakes in this political contest are high. Polarity grips the country along racial lines, political lines, and economic unrest, while education remains an unattainable goal and ignorance abounds.
Religious conservatives need to make Donald Trump fit their idea of a godly, Christian leader. They have no one else in the race who upholds their rigorous view of the Bible. The most devout Biblical inerrants seem to have abandoned the party and the nominees who more closely fit their idea of a Christian in favor of authoritarian leadership.
Is anyone actually fooled by the thinly veiled (and I mean thinly) declaration of Donald Trump's newfound confession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal savior? We may just have to wait and see who turns out to vote in November.
Photo - Flickr/Gage Skidmore