Trump Thinks Religious People Are Chumps. But They Think He's The Second Coming. Go Figure.
As the GOP revs up to accuse Democrats of hating Catholics, nay all religious people, in defense of a Supreme Court nominee who may have difficulty keeping her personal faith out of her judicial decisions, The Atlantic is out with yet another reminder that Trump himself views religion as a total scam.
"They're all hustlers," Trump laughed to Michael Cohen in 2015 over an article describing megachurch pastor Creflo Dollar's efforts to raise money from the faithful for a new jet. He managed not to giggle when those same "hustlers" were laying hands on him to imbue him with the Holy Spirit, though.
"His view was 'I've been talking to these people for years; I've let them stay at my hotels—they're gonna endorse me. I played the game,'" a campaign advisor told The Atlantic's McKay Coppins. And when it came to Jerry Falwell Jr., he was apparently right.
Trump reportedly admired the "racket" of faith healer Benny Hinn, and deeply respected Joel Osteen's massive television audience. Like recognizes like.
Coppins's article highlights the chasm between evangelical leaders, who accept that Trump is using them, as they are using him — "I'm not voting for Trump to be the teacher of my third grader's Sunday-school class. That's not what he's running for," hustler pastor Robert Jeffress said in the meeting — and their flocks, who view Trump as a sort of Christian avatar.
During a 2016 meeting with evangelical pastors on the dangers of trans women using the ladies' room, Trump joked, "The first time I met [Mike Pence], he said, 'Will you bow your head and pray?' and I said, 'Excuse me?' I'm not used to it." He was similarly blasé about his religiosity when it came to his habit of mocking his enemies.
"I call him Little Ben Sasse," Trump said. "I have to do it, I'm sorry. That's when my religion always deserts me." Presumably the decades of fornication and failing to render under Caesar were also during periods of religious desertion.
Trump's feelings about Jews were similarly different in private from his public pronouncements of respect and love. Just last week the Washington Post reported that Trump said Jewish people "are only in it for themselves" and "stick together." Which is consonant with his constant public pronouncements that he's done more for "your country" than any other president, by which he means Israel, not America.
But Coppins reports yet another gross anecdote.
And while he is quick to tout his daughter Ivanka's conversion to Judaism when he's speaking to Jewish audiences, he is sometimes less effusive in private. Cohen told me that once, years ago, he was with Trump when his wife, Melania, informed him that their son was at a playdate with a Jewish girl from his school. "Great," Trump said to Cohen, who is Jewish. "I'm going to lose another one of my kids to your people."
Huh, so weird that only 25 percent of American Jews vote Republican.
But no other religious group can match Mormons in Trump's disdain. Trump has consistently maintained that Mitt Romney would have beaten Obama in 2012 if not for "the Mormon thing," as Trump put it on the call with Jeffress and the evangelical crew.
"Oh my god," Cohen told Coppins. "How many times did he bring up Mitt Romney and the undergarments."
The "undergarments" haven't stopped him from dispatching Don Jr. to be his emissary to the Mormon community, though. Coppins reports that "according to two senior Utah Republicans with knowledge of the situation, Don Jr. has been so savvy in courting Latter-day Saints—expressing interest in the Church's history, reading from the Book of Mormon—that he's left some influential Republicans in the state with the impression that he may want to convert."
What is up with Donald Trump Jr in this video? 😳 https://t.co/bineNLaDwR— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar) 1601058036.0
Anyway! Trump launched into his regular spiel on Romney's lack of appeal to Christians in a 2014 interview with Coppins at Mar-a-Lago.
During our conversation, Trump began to strenuously argue that Mitt Romney's exotic faith had cost him the 2012 election. When I interrupted to inform him that I'm also a Mormon, he quickly changed tack—extolling my Church's many virtues, and then switching subjects.
Ah, yes. Very Christian. Unlike that nasty Joe Biden who is "against God."
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