Speaking to a group of evangelical Christians one day after assassinating Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani of Iran, Donald Trump gave the gullible audience everything it wanted as he told lie after lie.
During his talk at Ministerio Internacional El Rey Jesús in Miami, Florida, Trump lied about how he repealed the Johnson Amendment. (He has not.) And how Democrats like Rep. Ilhan Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib “hate Jewish people. (They don’t.) And how his administration was “defending religion itself, which is under siege.” (He’s not. It’s not.) And how Pete Buttigieg only became religious “two weeks ago.” (He’s always been religious.)
And, of course, he claimed that he had God’s full support:
In his address Friday, Trump hearkened back to his support among evangelicals during 2016, predicting he would “blow those numbers away in 2020.” He urged supporters to “get out and vote” in November, a comment that ushered in chants of “four more years” from the crowd.
“I do really believe we have God on our side,” Trump said of his first presidential campaign. “Or there would have been no way we could have won.”
He’s confusing God with propaganda and Putin. But no doubt white evangelicals who have no concern or respect for people outside of their own bubble played an important role in pushing him over the top in swing states. They’re used to taking people at their word instead of looking for evidence of their actions.
At a time when Trump’s flaws ought to be glaringly obvious, and when he’s creating chaos around the world, these white evangelicals have been thoroughly duped into thinking he’s the only person who can save them.
They don’t have faith in God because, apparently, God can’t survive a Democratic president. They don’t give a damn about the Bible, because Trump’s ignorance and opposition to its better parts means nothing to them. They are part of a cult whether they want to admit it or not. Their inability to think critically has made them vulnerable to a demagogue.
Just listen to this woman who attended the rally:
“He’s talking from his heart,” said Michelle Hoff, who came to the rally with two other women from her prayer group. “I can’t remember when we had a president who was honest like he is. Like everyone else, he’s a sinner saved by grace. A lot of people say stuff that they don’t do. He’s doing it.”
The rally inside the massive church began with energetic Christian rock, with many supporters clad in red M.A.G.A. hats dancing and lifting their hands in prayer.
They’re hopeless, every last one of them. Their pastors have failed them. Trump’s greatest trick has been convincing white Christians that he’s one of them. It’s also the easiest lie to debunk. And yet they’ve fallen for it because he’s the only person who treats white evangelicals the way they demand to be treated by the world. They’re blind to the fact that he’s an asshole to everyone else. Or they just don’t care.
For Trump to be defeated in 2020, it’ll take Democrats getting out their base, yes, but it’ll also require courageous Christians, progressive and moderate — especially ones who live in the evangelical bubble — to try and break the spell Trump and the Religious Right has over these people. Only they have the power to do that.