Donald Trump, during his commencement speech at Liberty University today, told graduates that, “in America, we don’t worship government.” Instead, he declared, “we worship God.”
That statement, as with so much of what Trump says, implies the President doesn’t give a damn about people who aren’t just like him — or whoever he claims to be. “We” don’t all worship his God.
For what I can only assume are his three marriages, pussy-grabbing ways, and attempting to ban Muslim refugees from the country, Trump received an honorary Doctorate of Laws from the school’s president Jerry Falwell Jr..
His speech made clear he has every intention of continuing to pander to the Religious Right.
For example, he said that America is the “land of dreams” because it “is a nation of true believers.” Trump didn’t mention that rates of Christianity are falling in the United States, nor did he talk about the importance of church/state separation.
“When the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, they prayed. When the founders wrote the Declaration of Independence, they invoked our creator four times. Because in America, we don’t worship government, we worship God.”
“It is why our currency proudly declares, ‘In God We Trust,'” Trump continued. “And it is why we proudly proclaim that we are one nation, under God, every time we say the Pledge of Allegiance.”
Again with this “we”…?
Trump is no stranger to this sort of rhetoric. Not only has he served as a mouthpiece for the Christian Right since taking office, he has also appointed numerous religious fundamentalists to positions of power. All this, yet Trump seems to know very little about his own faith.
His comments are also blatantly false. The United States is a diverse country filled with believers and non-believers of all kinds. We have atheists, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, and believers of other stripes. Trump may not want to surround himself with anyone outside his base, but we’re here whether he likes it or not, and speeches like the one he gave today are precisely why our side is getting larger. And the more often we hear this sort of rhetoric, the more likely it is we’re going to vote against candidates who refuse to acknowledge our place in this diverse country.
Keep in mind that one of the things he and Falwell bonded over was their belief that President Obama was born in another country.
Trump neglected to mention during today’s speech that Falwell had supported him for raising the “birther” issue during a 2012 Convocation at the school:
Still, Mr. Falwell insisted during his introduction [in 2012], Mr. Trump should be regarded as “one of the most-influential political leaders in the United States.” After all, Mr. Falwell told his students, Mr. Trump had “single-handedly forced President Obama to release his birth certificate.”
“He was brave enough to say something that was so politically incorrect,” Mr. Falwell said. “I had no idea where Obama was born or if he had a birth certificate; I didn’t have an opinion on that. But just the fact that he was bold enough to challenge Obama on something like that, because you didn’t see the press challenging Obama much. And so that impressed me that he was bold enough to do it.“
Falwell failed to note the distinction between politically incorrect speech and racist dog whistles. It was hardly surprising to see a Christian leader advocate baseless hate speech, though, given that his father blamed 9/11 on abortion advocates, feminists, gays and lesbians, and groups that defended separation of church and state.
It’s also telling that Trump spoke at Liberty since he likely would’ve been DeVossed anywhere else. If you’re going to give a Commencement address, might as well do it at a campus made up of students who most resemble your campaign rallies.
In case you’re wondering, Obama never spoke at a fundamentalist Christian school, though he did deliver a commencement address at Notre Dame. For him, that meant going to a school where thousands of students were protesting his appearance. Trump could never handle that.