Donald Trump’s political career can best be described as one giant con. After all, we now know that nearly everyone who helped him pull off his double-inside-straight victory has been taken for a ride. While many of them seem to be coming to their senses, the religious right is still firmly in his corner. If you hear the nation’s so-called moral guardians talk, Trump is nothing short of a blessing from God. After all, in their eyes, Trump isn’t just making America great again, but making America Christian again.
We got a lovely example of this alternative facting late last week. A veteran culture warrior who is one of Trump’s staunchest religious right supporters said with a straight face that Trump is in the White House because God really, really wanted to bless this country again.
Anyone who has followed the religious right over the last three decades knows the name of Richard Land. As president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission from 1989 to 2013, Land was right in the thick of the culture wars at their height in the 1990s. He was pushed out in 2013 after it emerged that he had a bad habit of plagiarizing others’ work on his radio show, “Richard Land Live.”
However, in a classic case of failing upward, he was tapped as president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte not long after retiring from the ERLC. Since then, he has made no bones about training pastors who will preach social conservatism from the pulpit.
With a record like that, it should come as no surprise that Land is all-in for Trump. He initially admitted that he was holding his nose and supporting Trump in 2016, but felt that beating Hillary Clinton was so important that he would have to “apologize to Jesus” if he didn’t vote for Trump.
Not long afterward, he was named to Trump’s evangelical advisory board, and recalled soon after the election that the religious right had more influence over the Trump transition than he could ever recall it having under Reagan and both Bushes. It was apparent even then that the religious right thought rolling back abortion and marriage equality was so important that they were willing to support a guy who plastered a private cell phone number on social media, mocked the disabled, and reveled in degrading women. But it really says something that they were willing to have that kind of influence on his administration.
If there was any doubt Land is a full-on preacher of the gospel of Trump, it was erased on Friday when he sat down with Perry Atkinson of DoveTV’s “Focus Today.” Watch here.
While discussing the importance of D-Day and praying for the president, Atkinson wondered why God simply didn’t allow Hillary to win and let us slide “totally into socialism.” Land replied that Trump won in part because we have a God of “mercy,” “redemption,” “justice” and “moral vindication.” In his view, “great political leadership is a sign of God’s blessing, and its absence is a sign of God’s judgment.”
If there was any doubt where this was going, Land erased it with what has become the standard religious right line on both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. He claimed that Clinton’s tenure amounted to a judgment for this country’s “immorality and sin,” particularly regarding abortion, and that Obama was a judgment for “continuing down the road that we had been progressing under Bill Clinton.”
What of Trump? Well, Land believes his upset victory proved that “God has given us a narrow reprieve” to come back to him “before he sends even more judgment upon us.”
This sounds like another version of a common religious right claim–God hacked the election for Trump, not Russia. But let’s have a little discernment, shall we? So God so wanted to give this country another blessing that he put a thumb on the scale for a guy who has few qualms about sharing hateful and violent memes about his foes? Or calling women “dog” and “horseface”? Or playing fast and loose with the truth? Not likely.
If Trump is Land’s idea of a blessing from God, one has to wonder what a curse looks like.
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