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Desperately Seeking Jesus
Trump Turns To Evangelicals
In early 2016, Trump is anointed by Christian evangelicals in Cleveland
to protect him from "concentrated satanic attack"
By Ray Cunneff
January 11, 2019
A report today in The Guardian underscores what may be President Donald Trump's last line of defense against a sea of troubles - from the tightening noose of the Mueller investigations, pending ally and family indictments, and a painfully protracted and unnecessary government shutdown - the devoted white Christian evangelicals who stand by him despite his very un-Christian offenses.
The Guardian article paints a portrait of the president and members of his regime increasingly invoking their supposed faith in a mutual support system with evangelical Christians, i.e. white nationalists, seen as a major component of his zealous, unwavering base.
Reporter Julian Borger notes that an important part of Trump's appeal is in the people he chooses to surround himself, people deeply immersed in white Christian nationalism and a belief in the “end times”.
Borger: “In setting out the Trump administration’s Middle East policy, one of the first things (Secretary of State) Mike Pompeo made clear to his audience in Cairo is that he had come to the region as ‘as an evangelical Christian'”.
Borger recounted an episode at a Wichita, Kansas church at which then-congressman Pompeo told congregants "It is a never-ending struggle … until the rapture. Be part of it. Be in the fight”. Borger writes, “For Pompeo’s audience, the rapture invoked an apocalyptical Christian vision of the future, a final battle between good and evil, and the second coming of Jesus Christ, when the faithful will ascend to heaven and the rest will go to hell.”
Selecting Pompeo as Secretary of State, combined with the overly fervent "can't be alone with a woman" Christian Mike Pence as his vice president, reassured and endeared Trump to evangelicals who are willing to accept Trump’s monumental imperfections.
“Trump himself embodies the very opposite of a pious Christian ideal. Trump is not churchgoer. He is profane, twice divorced, who has boasted of sexually assaulting women. But white evangelicals have embraced him,” the Guardian reports, adding, “Trump’s choice of Pence as a running mate was a gesture of his commitment, and four of the six preachers at his inauguration were evangelicals, including White and Franklin Graham, the eldest son of the preacher Billy Graham, who defended Trump through his many sex scandals, pointing out: ‘We are all sinners.'”
Katherine Stewart, who writes extensively about the Christian right, says Trump is frequently compared to a modern day King Cyrus, a model for "a nonbeliever appointed by God as a vessel for the purposes of the faithful”, adding that evangelicals welcome his readiness to break democratic norms to combat perceived threats to their values and way of life.
She said, “The Christian nationalist movement is characterized by feelings of persecution and, to some degree, paranoia – a clear example is the idea that there is somehow a ‘war on Christmas’. People in those positions will often go for authoritarian leaders who will do whatever is necessary to fight for their cause.”
Donald Trump at the Republican national convention in Cleveland, Ohio, on 18 July 2016.
Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters