The last few weeks have made clear that Donald Trump’s narrative for 2020 will include a steady diet of red meat. He has shown few qualms about firing off overtly racist and racially charged attacks at congress(wo)men of color who dare to stand up to him. It’s an essential part of his overall plan to brand Democrats as a radical socialist un-American mob who cannot be trusted to govern.
However, long before Trump’s ugly attacks on The Squad and Elijah Cummings, he’d given a lot of covert hints that this was his game plan. It’s a big reason why he enters the last half of 2019 with some of the worst approval ratings of any newly elected president. For instance, his average approval rating at FiveThirtyEight hasn’t budged too far above 42 percent even on his best days.
But you can make a pretty convincing argument that those numbers, even as brutal as they are, should be a lot lower. The biggest reason Trump is even doing that well is that the religious right remains firmly in his corner. For the last three years, the nation’s so-called moral guardians have peddled a false narrative to white evangelicals. To hear them talk, Russia didn’t hack the election for Trump–God did. For that reason, opposing Trump is tantamount to opposing God.
But it seems that the generals in the Trumpvangelical Army can’t make up their minds about the details of this false narrative. One school of thought holds that Trump is a modern-day version of the Persian king Cyrus. The way this story goes, Trump, like Cyrus, may not be a believer. However, God chose him to not only make America great again, but make America Christian again.
While Lance Wallnau is the loudest promoter of this narrative, another high-profile fundie is a firm believer in this line–Wanda Alger, co-pastor of Crossroads Community Church in Winchester, Virginia and a field correspondent with Intercessors for America. That’s the only thing you can conclude from her recent column in Charisma magazine.
Alger claims that “leftist liberals” are out to find just about anything to prove Trump is unfit. She wondered if Trump’s Christian critics were falling into the same trap when she asked, “Are Christians imposing a standard on our president that is not even mandated by Scripture?”
Alger argues that while God expects “high moral character and purity” from church leaders, he doesn’t expect the same of those in our government. She argues that God only requires five things from governmental leaders.
- God’s servant for the good of the people.
- A terror to bad conduct, bearing the sword.
- Avengers who carry out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.
- Servants of God, attending to taxation of the people.
- Sent by God to punish those who do evil and praise those who do good.
When she looked through the Bible, Alger claimed that she could find “no indications of personal morality or godliness being required.” For that reason, she argued that Christians should not concern themselves with Trump’s outrages, but ask themselves about his track record. Cliff Notes version: all that matters is winning.
So to hear Alger talk, when Trump calls women “dog” and “horseface,” twiddles his thumbs while his supporters chant racist slogans, and repeatedly brands critical coverage as “fake news,” we shouldn’t concern ourselves with that. Rather, we should ask what he’s done for the country. Um, Wanda? At what cost? Your mentality is no different from a college booster who doesn’t care whether a coach throws integrity out the window, just as long as he wins a bunch of games.
As ridiculous as this narrative is, it’s even more so compared to another narrative being peddled about Trump–that he’s the most godly president we’ve ever had. This narrative’s most shameless promoter is former congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Back in April, Bachmann claimed that we may never see “a more godly, biblical president in our lifetime” than Trump. She googled down on this line when she stopped by “Stand in the Gap,” the main radio program of the American Pastors Network.
Bachmann insisted that Trump was “without a doubt the most biblical president I have ever seen.” She claimed that his achievements were so remarkable that he was especially deserving of prayer given the “undeserved attack” he faces on a daily basis and the “demonic presence of many evil things in our society.” She argued that because of the times, Trump particularly needs to listen to “godly counsel,” which he gets on a daily basis.
To hear Bachmann talk, Trump has “some of the most godly people surrounding him that I have ever seen.” Gee, we wouldn’t have known that from his ugly attacks on the Squad and on Cummings, or when he simply stood and watched a MAGA rally crowd told him to send Ilhan Omar back to Somalia.
Even before then, we would have found it hard to believe he is listening to godly counsel when he fired off hateful and degrading memes at his foes, and called Stormy Daniels “horseface” and Omarosa a “dog.” Bachmann’s God must be awfully small.
Still, these two narratives, laughable as they both are, sound rather jarring when put next to each other. Is Trump the most biblical president ever, or is he a guy who is being used by God even if his character isn’t the greatest? It sounds like the fundies can’t keep their alternative facts straight.
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