Sunday, October 18, 2020

Arizona, California, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming

OCT. 19 - Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, North Dakota
OCT. 20 - Louisiana, Utah, and Wisconsin
OCT. 21 - West Virginia
OCT. 24 - Florida and New York
OCT. 26 - Maryland
OCT. 27 - Washington, D.C.
OCT. 29 - Oklahoma

What did Donald Trump do today?

He went to church.

Trump is on a western campaign swing today and tomorrow. More specifically, he is campaigning in Nevada and Arizona, where he could still conceivably win, and begging for money in California, where he cannot. The California portion of his itinerary took him to a fundraiser on Lido Isle, where he sold photo opportunities for $150,000 in campaign donations

But he also made a rare stop at a church, where he was photographed stuffing what was either a "wad" or a "fistful" of twenty-dollar bills in the collection plate. Trump, his close advisor Hope Hicks, and his press secretary Kayleigh McEnany refused to wear masks at the indoor service. During the service, Trump told congregants, "I love going to church." 

It's quite possible Trump loved this church service, where the officiant declared that God had told her that Trump would be re-elected. But it's not clear if Trump has ever voluntarily attended church in his adult life, except for campaign-style appearances and events like weddings and funerals.

Trump desperately needs white protestant evangelicals to vote for him, although he's lost a fair amount of support from them since 2016. Many of them were horrified when he staged a Bible-waving photo opportunity in front of a Washington, D.C. church after tear-gassing protestors gathered at the White House in order to get to it. (The rector of that church, who was acting as a protest medic at the time, was among those gassed.) 

Conservative evangelicals have always known their support for Trump was a bit of a Faustian bargain. Reaching for a way to reconcile Trump's ostentatiously un-Biblical lifestyle with his political support, James Dobson in 2016 called Trump a "baby Christian" with a "fairly recent" connection to the faith. But Trump has privately repaid his religious supporters with scorn, calling mega-church pastors "hustlers" who were "full of shit."

More than that, Trump often seems baffled by basic things most Christians learn in Sunday School. He has said he doesn't ask God for forgiveness, referred to communion as "my little wine and little cracker," mistaken a communion tray for an offering plate, and asked Presbyterian clergy to confirm that Presbyterians were, in fact, Christians. (Trump is, at least in theory, a Presbyterian himself.)

Recently, Trump also attributed to his opponent, Joe Biden, the ability to "hurt God" or even destroy God altogether (along with "guns" and "oil") if Trump is not re-elected. This is not a traditional Christian teaching.

It's not immediately clear what Bible verses were read at the nondenominational church Trump attended today, but in most Protestant and Catholic churches todayx, the Gospel reading was Matthew 22:15-21. That is more commonly known as the "render unto Caesar" lesson, in which Jesus counsels the Pharisees to pay their taxes and devote themselves to God.

Why is this a bad thing?

  • Presidents don't have to be religious, but it's still wrong to lie about religion.
  • Past a certain point, pandering just becomes insulting to the people who actually believe in something.