For the better part of the last four years, the religious right has helped peddle a false narrative about Donald Trump. To hear the nation’s so-called moral guardians talk, Russia didn’t hack the election–God did. Supposedly, God is using Trump to not only make America great again, but make America Christian again. Among the main point (wo)men for this campaign is Trump’s top spiritual adviser, Paula White.
For some time, White has tried to convince white evangelicals that Trump is really one of them. Indeed, she supposedly helped lead Trump to Jesus. Um, Pastor Paula? Have you been paying attention to Trump’s Twitter feed? Even a cursory look at that feed would reveal irrefutable evidence that Trump is still the man who claimed he could treat women any way he pleased–even “grab ’em by the pussy”–just because he’s a celebrity.
For instance, on Christmas Eve 2017, Trump tweeted a meme depicting CNN as a bloody splatter on his shoe. The following morning, White had the audacity to go on “Fox & Friends” and claim that Trump’s Christian faith “guides him” and “leads him.” And not long after Trump called Stormy Daniels “horseface,” White told a Christian television television show that Trump still held his faith close to his heart.
Under the circumstances, it’s only fair to wonder if Pastor Paula is trying to gaslight the nation in the same manner as her boss. We got yet another reason to ask that question on Friday, when White dropped by Todd Starnes’ show to gush about how Trump was becoming more and more open in his faith. People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch got a clip.
Starnes asked White how Trump was holding up in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic; she’d visited the White House for the National Day of Prayer. White gushed that people were getting a chance to see “the man that I’ve known for 19 years,” saying that he was doing as well as anyone could be expected “under this kind of pressure, this kind of stress.” She claimed that anyone who watched Trump in the Rose Garden on Friday would “see the heart of our president” and his “authenticity.”
White was absolutely tickled to see that Trump seemed to be “becoming more and more open with his faith and his walk with God.” She believed the optimism he displays on a regular basis can only come from God.
Um, Paula? You’ll have to pardon us if we don’t believe you. Would a man who has Jesus living in him call lawmakers “savages” and “human scum” knowing he was talking to Jews and people of color? Not likely. Would he sit and watch while his followers suggested that he send one of them back to her home country? Not likely. And in the midst of people dying nationwide during the coronavirus, would a president with Jesus living in him go on unhinged tirades against his foes? Not likely.
The most benign interpretation is that White has told herself so often that Trump really is saved that she’s starting to believe it herself. At worst, White is showing that she is spending too much time around Trump. After all, when she insists Trump is a changed man in the face of incontrovertible evidence that he isn’t, it sounds a lot like gaslighting.
Apparently for White, Starnes, and other Trumpvangelicals, gaslighting is an accepted part of the Gospel. It must be somewhere in Two Corinthians.
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