Trump's Church Is Not Your Momma's Ministry
He has fathered five known children by three different wives, been accused of sexual assault by at least sixteen different women, continually rants "no collusion" almost daily in television interviews, and does so using abusive, vulgar, expletive-laden language causing most parents to move their small children away from the television. But, the President of The United States has developed an evangelical Christian following, which comprises his political base, in conjunction with God as his underwriter. And the old-time Republican Party---the one that formerly preached about 'family values'---could care less about the immorality of its leader.
Donald J. Trump has been kept afloat politically through nationwide broadcasting networks in a way in which no other politician has ever dared. He is the minister of a brand new church.
As the video below clearly shows, Kenneth Copeland, a long-time televangelist, literally invokes the "wrath of God" on those who would dare vote for Hillary. Indeed, he even insinuates that if you don't vote for Trump you must be a non-believer and a "murderer of babies". The politics of fear and doom---using God as the mystical prosecutor-----runs rampant throughout Trumpland!
Racist Dog Whistles
The president has trampled over most all traditional norms and institutions---referring to his own FBI as “corrupt”---but so far, at least, has not been challenged in any major way by anyone within his own party. His persistent name-calling, bullying, and revolving-door turnover of employees and staffers in the White House------higher than most fast-food operations-----has not swayed his true believers. After all, his political base of support remains at 40-44% job approval regardless of his transgressions against almost anyone who disagrees with him. But there is a crafty method to his madness.
The Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) and The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) have merged and now own more television outlets throughout the country than even Fox News. And since 2017 Donald Trump and his surrogates have appeared on these networks more than they have on any of the major cable and national news outlets combined. And the softball conversations always lean in Trump’s favor and feed his audience the red meat they love to devour.
Back In 2011 his messaging began as a private citizen with a racist indictment of President Barack Obama’s citizenship, and by extension, his legitimacy as president. Thus, the ‘birther’ movement began and many evangelical Christians bought into Trump’s outrageous claim. The fairy tale was broadcast widely through the CBN and TBN networks and eventually took on a life of its own. Finally, public pressure from these broadcasts forced Obama to produce a copy of his birth certificate: an unprecedented, shameless and disgraceful stunt for the first black president to be subjected to.
The New Religion
Years ago politicians were never eager to join religious programming. For one thing, the telecasts had a tasteless reputation due primarily to far-out claims and predictions supposedly straight from God’s mouth. For example, Oral Roberts, an Oklahoma televangelist, once claimed he would die if he didn’t receive $8 million by the next month; predictably, huge donations poured in and spared his life. Then there was the Jim and Tammy Faye Baker fiasco for which Jim served time behind bars.
But Donald Trump, a reality show president, seized the opportunity to engage regularly with right-wing, conservative-leaning, evangelical Christians. After all, the CBN and TBN broadcasts boast the third most-viewed networks in the land, and surveys have shown that the networks have access to more than 100 million American homes.
Trump’s past and present impious behavior are of little concern to many of his evangelical supporters; his agenda is all that matters. His supporters claim they knew they weren’t electing an altar boy, and that his presidency is “a message from God” confirming his “spiritual journey towards Jesus”. Indeed, during much of the programming, the hosts skillfully weave in biblical Scripture pertaining to forgiveness and judgement as those virtues may relate to Trump. In fact, his positions on most issues, and those of his evangelical base, are in perfect alignment---no immigrants of color, less gun laws, less regulations and taxes, but very little concern for the plight of regular, hard-working poor people. In fact, his most-recent targets have been poor children and working mothers on Medicaid. Indeed, even his Housing Secretary, Ben Carson, is being sued in Federal court for attempting to eliminate housing subsidies for the less fortunate. So, the question of hypocrisy is an obvious concern.
“I like your Christ,
I do not like your Christians,
your Christians are so unlike your Christ”
Huckabee And Company
Recently, Politico published an online magazine piece entitled Church Of The Donald in which it discussed the connection between Trump and the evangelical Christian broadcasting networks. “In Hendersonville, Tenn., a suburb of Nashville, TBN had acquired the old Conway Twitty sound stages and auditoriums, refurbished the studios with large columns and neon signage that resulted in the set resembling a Greek Temple”.
The network's biggest star is Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas. His headliner show Huckabee debuted last year and immediately drew an audience of over 100 million viewers. The show has been branded a variety show, of sorts, but uses god-fearing, evangelical themes at its core. As star of the show Huckabee occasionally strums his guitar, as other musical guests and comedians round out the entertainment. Interviews are conducted with guests who are well-known conservatives with right wing views on everything from abortion to Israeli-Palestinian issues. The show's very first guest was Donald Trump.
It should be noted that Trump, always one seeking strict loyalty, has never had an issue with hiring family members to watch his back, both as a private businessman and president. Thus, Huckabee's daughter, Sarah, is the president's Press Secretary who delivers his fanciful stories from the White House Briefing Room to the world everyday---and she does so with a straight face, no less.
From Politico, "Today, Christian broadcasters have rewarded Trump not just with airtime for his surrogates, but with uncritical, often defensive coverage of his administration. Appearing as a guest on The Jim Bakker Show soon after the racial violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last summer, Paula White [Trump's personal minister] compared Trump to the biblical queen Esther, and told viewers that opposing the president meant fighting against the hand of God."
Following that dubious threat, CBN's faithful were treated to Trump's "spiritual voyage"---a published biography by David Brody, one of the networks chief Trumpkin interviewers; the book, The Faith Of Donald J. Trump, was then heavily promoted by Trump himself, presumably to thank Brody for his kind words.
Are You A CBN or TBN Viewer?
How Often Do You Tune In To Christian Television?
A Prayerful Trump?
But the Trump church doesn’t promote itself solely through the Christian television networks. Weeks ago at the traditional National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, Trump continued to promote his evangelical bona fides. Sarah Pulliam Bailey, a religion reporter for The Washington Post, reports that he delivered a strict “God-and-country infused” diatribe appealing to the Christian nationalists among us. This primarily evangelical line of faith attempts to revive the racist Manifest Destiny Theory which promulgated the notion that Europeans had the blessings of Providence to take over the world. It was debunked long ago. However, the Post reports that the president furthered, “…the belief that God has a uniquely Christian purpose for the United States”..."and the world". Ignored by Trump was the fact that religious leaders from all faiths around the globe were in attendance also.
The prayer breakfast is intended to focus on different faiths of all believers but Trump’s speech was dotted with the very same rhetoric he and his surrogates use on television, basically god-threatening, doom and gloom political propaganda that somehow appeals to his base of support.
This year, according to reporter Bailey, “Trump vowed to end the Johnson Amendment, a provision in the tax code that prevents nonprofit organizations such as churches from endorsing or opposing political candidates. It would take an act of Congress to repeal the measure, but attempts by Republican leaders to do so last year were unsuccessful”.
In his speech to the gathering, Trump delivered a rather ironic---indeed comical----message, given the current climate engulfing his Administration, “Let us resolve to find the best within ourselves”, he claimed. But, one might imagine that there had to have been some in the assemblage who laughingly reflected back on the recent White House Correspondents Dinner wherein comedienne Michelle Wolf toasted and roasted many of Trumps staffers, most notably, Sarah Huckabee, his beleaguered Press Secretary.
Trump’s church is a television studio, his dogma and main theology is "Trump and Cash Money", and his creed is to take America back to 1950 before the days of Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, and the elimination of Jim Crow; an era long before the significant browning of America, back when "justice and equality for all" didn’t apply to women, people of color, immigrants, the disabled, children, and the elderly.
No, Trump’s church is not your mommas’ ministry.
© 2018 Dan Dildy