Earlier this week, a couple of former Trump administration advisors announced a new group called the “National Faith Advisory Board” to fight back against what they falsely claim is the “anti-faith” agenda of the current administration.
The NFAB has no actual power and it’s unclear what they’ll be doing that’s any different from other Christian Right groups, but yesterday, they launched the new group with an assist from Trump himself. And naturally, Trump spent plenty of time whining about the results of the last election. Specifically, he claimed he was shocked that Catholics didn’t vote overwhelmingly in his favor:
During a prayer call today, Donald Trump complained that he "did a lot for the Catholics" but didn't get more votes from them. He complained about it again later in the call while also griping about his poor showing among Jewish voters. pic.twitter.com/flEDWuWLsJ
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) September 2, 2021
I did a lot for the Catholics, and I don’t know… I guess I’m a little bit surprised that we didn’t do better with the Catholic vote… I think we got about 50% of the vote… yet we did a lot for the Catholic vote, so we’ll have to talk to them. We’re gonna have to meet with the Catholics… Any one of the topics that’s so dear to your hearts, we did better than ever before in the history of our country, and hopefully they’ll remember it.
We don’t say this often… but Trump’s not wrong: He got roughly 50% of the Catholic vote. That was also the case in 2016, though, so it shouldn’t have been surprising. U.S. Catholics are far from monolithic on social and political issues no matter what the Vatican says. They’re split on LGBTQ rights, abortion rights, and political preferences.
While conservative Catholics and white evangelicals may align on abortion, Catholics on the whole are a bit more savvy at seeing through Trump’s lip service. They’re not going to give him bonus points for his embrace of right-wing extremism mixed with Christian Nationalism. (And the “Two Corinthians” type of gaffes certainly don’t help.)
Trump’s statement suggests a major error in how he sees various religious groups too. To him, they’re all just religious. Therefore, pandering to the conservative Christian God, in his mind, ought to be enough to win over all religious people, period. That’s not how it works. Jewish Americans are generally liberal. Catholics are split. Black Protestants are overwhelmingly progressive. He doesn’t understand that, at least when it comes to Catholics.
Same with Jewish people, too. The call got even more cringeworthy when he argued he should’ve won more Jewish votes.
… Look what I did with the embassy in Jerusalem! And what I did with so many other things! Israel has never had a better friend, and yet I got 25% of the votes. I think they have to get together… with the religious groups, all represented on this call.
Again, he’s pretty close on the number. Only 31% of Jews voted for Trump. But Trump wrongly assumed all Jews share the mindset and priorities of the most conservative Jews. That’s not the case at all; Only a third of American Jews approved of what Trump was doing in Israel.
But it’s not like he took that action for them. He moved the embassy to appease white evangelicals, who saw the move as a step closer to the Second Coming. A smarter politician would have known that a stronger way to win over the Jewish vote involves social justice reform and pushing for (actual) religious equality.
Trump’s ignorance of religious nuance came back to haunt him. Thankfully. And it’s possible the legacy he’s left behind will hurt conservative Christianity as much as it does the Republican Party. It would be a silver lining to a disastrous presidency.
One other interesting note: Despite all his public proclamations that he actually won the election, Trump’s comments on this call suggest he’s well aware he lost — to the point where he even knew how he fared with different religious demographics. If only his followers would acknowledge that, too.