Conservatives have finally found something about Trump to hate: his religion

Ever since Donald “92-Page Financial Disclosure Form” Trump surged in the polls on a platform of building a Great Wall of Texas to keep all of the raping, murdering Mexicans out of the country, the Republican Party has been trying — and struggling — to come up with a credible line of attack to deflate the festering, smoldering boomlet of their own creation.

They thought they could tell him to “tone it down” on immigration, since insulting our nation’s largest immigrant population is generally bad politics. Then they remembered that their base freaking hates those immigrants. So scratch that.

Then they thought they’d caught Trump making an unforced error when he told GOP pollster Frank Luntz that Senator John McCain isn’t really a war hero because he got captured. Then they remembered that the Republican base freaking hates John McCain right now. Partly because of, you know, that whole immigration thing.

They might even be thinking right now that they can put a dent in his poll numbers over his public disclosure of Senator Lindsey Graham’s private phone number. This isn’t going to work. The conservative base is for the most part fine with doxxing people when it suits them, and a lot of them freaking hate Lindsey Graham. Again, because of that whole immigration thing. And that other thing that we don’t talk about.

See a pattern?

However, today Rick Perry may have finally found a way to break that pattern. Conservatives don’t have to hate Donald Trump because he hates Mexicans. They don’t have to hate Donald Trump because he’s disrespectful to veterans. They don’t even have to hate Donald Trump because he donated to the Clinton Foundation and supported universal healthcare.

No, conservatives should hate Donald Trump because he is insufficiently religious:

Perry was referring to Trump’s answer at the Family Leadership Summit — the same answer in which he said that John McCain isn’t a war hero — to the question of whether he has ever asked God’s forgiveness for his mistakes:

Said Trump:

That’s a tough question…I’m a religious person. Shockingly — because people are so shocked when they find this out — I’m Protestant. I’m Presbyterian. And I got to church and I love God and I love my church.

Trump then rambled for a minute about his former pastor without answering Luntz’s question, which he then repeated: “But have you ever asked God for forgiveness.” To which Trump said:

Donald Trump, screenshot via YouTube

Donald Trump, screenshot via YouTube

I’m not sure I have. I just go and try and do a better job from there. I don’t think so. I think, if I do something wrong, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. Now, when we go in Church and when I drink my little wine — which is about the only wine I drink — and have my little cracker, I guess that’s a form of asking for forgiveness. And I do that as often as possible because I feel cleansed…I could say “absolutely;” I don’t think in terms of that. I think in terms of “let’s go on and let’s make it right.”

Luntz went on to ask what Trump’s relationship was with God, to which Trump implied that God had played a hand in his business success by giving him an amazing brain, which is odd because I always assumed Trump had maintained his IQ through a series of leveraged cognitive bankruptcies. He then pivoted to John McCain, and we all know the rest.

Those in the online press, who weren’t at the Summit and didn’t gauge its attendees’ response to Trump’s comments, latched on to the attack on McCain, proclaiming that this could finally be the political taboo that brought Trump down. However, those who were actually at the Summit reported that this story simply wasn’t so. While the attack on McCain certainly didn’t go over well, it was Trump’s secularism that they found particularly distasteful. As Byron York wrote on Monday:

A senior Iowa Republican who was in the room, sitting with a group of grassroots activists as Trump spoke, was dumbfounded by the candidate’s views of religion. “While there were audible groans in the crowd when Trump questioned whether McCain was a war hero,” the senior Republican said via email, “it was Trump’s inability to articulate any coherent relationship with God or demonstrate the role faith plays in his life that really sucked the oxygen out of the room..”

The senior Republican continued: “Milling around talking to activists in the hallways/lobby after Trump’s speech, THAT is what those Iowa conservatives were discussing, not the McCain comment.”

As one likely Iowa caucus-goer who had been considering Trump because she liked his stance on immigration told The New York Times, “I was not too impressed…He sounds like he isn’t really a born-again Christian.”

And there it is. For all of the reasons we’ve tried to laugh off Donald Trump as an absurdist sideshow, we’ve had to do so with the acknowledgement that he hasn’t actually deviated from the Republican Party’s platform in any serious way. Until now. Donald Trump on immigration is Rick Perry on immigration with a New York accent. Donald Trump on marriage is Rick Santorum on marriage with no sense of irony. But Donald Trump on religion is now a real point of contrast between himself and the rest of the Republican field, all of whom — even self-described libertarian Rand Paul — know how to wax theocratic when called upon to do so.

And they won’t let him forget it.

Conservatives like a man who has more money than God, as long as that man doesn’t admit that he doesn’t need God. That was Trump’s real mistake over the weekend. And for all of the other mistakes (if that’s what you choose to call them) that we’d like to go after him for, this was by far his biggest.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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44 Responses to “Conservatives have finally found something about Trump to hate: his religion”

  1. Mitch says:

    I suppose you get all offended when people say “God bless you” to you as well. Did you ever think that maybe, just maybe, you’re just a fking dckhead when you say stuff like this?

  2. Mitch says:

    When the fk are you Christian conservatives going to actually nominate a candidate that takes his believe in God seriously????

  3. Mitch says:

    You do realize that the majority of humans that have ever lived on this Earth believe in God, right? Oh, and that apparently includes the current population of your country. Oh, and don’t expect you and your atheist buddies to ever be a majority. You’re not even going to get close.

  4. Glen Thompson says:

    Please don’t include all of us in your “we”. We’ve already had our fair share of false prophets with the likes of Falwell, Baker, Graham and the rest of their religious gang.

  5. B A Dragon says:

    “And
    all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not
    written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the
    world.” Rev.13:8

  6. B A Dragon says:

    Beth A Dragon Wait!
    Aren’t we all supposed to love the antichrist at first? “For there
    shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great
    signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall
    deceive the very elect.” Matt 24:24

  7. The_Fixer says:

    Oh, I knew about the story of Trump giving out Lindsey’s number. It just seems so nonsensical to destroy the phone when it was Trump who wronged him. The phone didn’t give out his number. That’s why I say what Graham did was pointless and quite frankly, stupid.

    And yes, McCain and Graham are two old warmonger buddies from ‘way back. I think Lindsey has a man crush on him, to tell you the truth.

    In any case, it is nice to see the boys squabble like this, it’s most entertaining.

  8. Wayne Robert Smith says:

    Wow. Americans are still obsessed with childish bronze age fairy tales. That makes me proud to be Australian. Here 48% of us don’t believe in god. Fictional imaginary friends have no place in politics. http://www.facebook.com/AustralianAtheism

  9. FLL says:

    Trump was pissed off that Graham called him a jackass for criticizing John McCain’s status as a hero. In retaliation, Trump publicly announced Lindsey Graham’s cellphone number on a talk show. In retaliation for that, Lindsey Graham made this lovely video about destroying his cellphone (now that Trump publicized his phone number). If there’s anything that Lindsey Graham freaks out about, it’s someone criticizing his best friend, John McCain.

  10. The_Fixer says:

    Huh! He throws like I do – like a girl.

    Just how many cellphones did he destroy?

    And what was the point of this? The phone didn’t do anything wrong…

  11. FLL says:

    Trump did indeed give out Lindsey Graham’s cellphone number. In revenge, Lindsey uses his theater skills to turn in an entertaining, polished and rather fey performance:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXSFRMJhlgY

  12. FLL says:

    O dear image of Baby Jesus on waffle! “The Donald” will run as independent/third party in the general election if the national Republican Party doesn’t treat him better:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-third-party_55b0f56de4b07af29d5799e5?

    An icy wind creeps in at the RNC. At the DNC, giddiness ensues. On Americablog comment pages, laugh-out-loud humor or stunned silence (depending on the individual commenter).

  13. The_Fixer says:

    Ha! It’s becoming an old Batman TV show melee, except there are no good guys in the fight. The funny summary you posted even adds the Pow! Zing! and Zap! to it.

  14. 2karmanot says:

    “it was Trump’s inability to articulate any coherent relationship with God” OMG (pardon the pun) the irony it burns, Absolutely hilarious.

  15. Doug105 says:

  16. Doug105 says:

    +=

  17. The_Fixer says:

    There’s a few things I’ve thought about after reading the article.

    First, who wrote that for Rick Perry? I almost represents some form of linear thinking, even if it was Christer mumbo-jumbo. I didn’t think he was capable of that.

    Secondly, l can forsee some dark times ahead for the Republican party when it comes to the Presidential election. The Evangelicals haven’t got a lock on the party, and as a matter of fact, no one really does. It’s completely factionalized, and they are going to be eternally squabbling.

    Donald Trump is not gonna get to the convention as a candidate, I think. He’s going to keep spouting off and blaming the media for his shortcomings (and they are plenty). He’d never be taken seriously in the election if he got the nomination, and everyone knows it. He’s only doing this to inflate his already huge ego.

    It appears that the famous “Republican Discipline” has broken down. I don’t see this becoming anything less than a disaster for them. They only have themselves to blame. They’ve fed an atmosphere of extremism to the point where anyone even affiliated with them is emboldened to say the most ridiculous things.

    If the inmates are now running the asylum.

  18. Doug105 says:

    ….,

  19. nicho says:

    Trump is the GOP’s dream. Ninety percent of his popularity at this point is name recognition. That will change as things heat up. Go to the local mall and stop people at random. Who is Bobby Jindal? Huh? Who is Scott Walker? Huh? Who is Donald Trump? Oh, yeah . . . .

    However, Trump can say, and is saying, in plain language what the other candidates have to say in code words and dog whistles. That way, the other candidates, who want to say the same things, get the message out — and then they can act with mock horror and indignation, taking what they think is the high road. So it’s win-win.

    This whole religion thing is stupid, but it cements the ties of the other candidates with the Christian wackos without their having to do anything.

    They know Trumps has as much chance of winning as George Wallace did. So the GOP brass isn’t worried about him. And even if he did get the nomination, which he won’t, they know he can’t win the general. The corporatists don’t want him in the White House (although they want him in the race at this time) and the corporatist propaganda media could take him down in about two weeks.

  20. Don Chandler says:

    It’s always amazed me that people will use a toaster oven without understanding the circuitry but they prefer to listen to PR folk rather than the unanimity of scientists on climate change…it must be the effects chemtrails.

  21. Houndentenor says:

    I avoid talking about the weather with them. That’s really not a safe topic for the reasons you give. And you can’t even acknowledge their position in the slightest (even if it’s just to change the topic) because they will take that as 100% endorsement of the whole Teavangelical platform). It’s why I have unfriended and blocked all the ones who post that crap on social media. I laugh when I hear them talk about “live and let live” as if they are nice respectful to everyone else and being assaulted by mean people who just hate them for no reason.

  22. Houndentenor says:

    Their kid’s kids are fucked. Read the long stories (not just the headlines and first paragraph) on any climate change. Things are happening faster than predicted, not slower. There is a cumulative effect and at this point we can online minimize the damage. We can’t stop it. And yet they are still in denial.

  23. Don Chandler says:

    I sympathize with you. Perhaps you can find hope in their kid’s kid’s…if only they could put their phones down for a second and look up. (did Gore really invent the internet?)

  24. Don Chandler says:

    Well, number 3 is in need of editing. They hate anything that is unrepentant of homosexuality–which is… gay ;)

    I was thinking about your hate list. San Francisco would probably encapsulate all 8 points one way or another, but especially since it is … disparate or non-uniformity. At the end of the day, or election day, the GOPers will vote for Trump because there isn’t a Trump Tower west of Vegas and East of Honolulu.

  25. nicho says:

    So do I. I just don’t want one running the country.

  26. nicho says:

    Unfortunately, my siblings are Teapeople. It’s gotten to the point where we can’t have a conversation any more. There are no “safe” topics. We can’t even talk about the weather. It turns quickly into a recitation of Fox talking points on climate change. (Did you know that Al Gore has lots of lights in his house — and he’s fat?)

  27. Houndentenor says:

    No, but Reagan, being an actor, mostly stayed on script. He said what was written for him by his advisers. There are some exceptions and they are all infamous, but mostly he could stay on script. Trump doesn’t seem to have a script. Yes, the far right loves his shooting from the hip routine but that just shows that they are just angry with no ideas. There’s no substance in anything Trump is saying and they like him because it’s the same rambling nonsense we hear them saying to themselves. (If you don’t know any Teavangelicals, count yourself lucky, but this bullshit is how they talk and have for a long time.

  28. Houndentenor says:

    Trump keeps saying he’s Presbyterian but he attends Marble Collegiate Church which is Dutch Reform. He doesn’t even know enough about his own church (assuming he’s there more than Christmas and Easter) to know what denomination it is.

  29. Houndentenor says:

    They care about this when it’s a Democrat. Republicans get a pass. Evangelicals believe that Cathlics and Mormons belong to cults, not real religions, yet plenty of them backed Romney, Gingrich and others. They also didn’t seem to care about Gingrich’s multiple marriages nor do they care about Trump’s. On the eve of the GOP convention in 2012 Franklin Graham had LDS taken of its list of cults. The only reason was political. Liberty University actually has a required class for its students explaining what is wrong with non-Evangelical religions including RCC and LDS. But come election time everything is cool so long as they aren’t too liberal.

    But then again as everyone already knows the true religion of Evangelicals is hypocrisy.

  30. Buford2k11 says:

    what was that legal thing about “making a religious test for office” or something like that? I don’t think the God Botherers care about our “lower laws”…

  31. Knottwhole says:

    But I love turnips?

  32. Knottwhole says:

    I had high (bong) hopes for Donnie. Sadly, he believes in other than noodly appendages.
    It’s not so bad to hate others, as long as you bow to the sky monster.
    The repuglican primaries are going to be a hoot. Tons of popcorn washed down by unimaginable amounts of alcohol.

  33. Doug105 says:

    I don’t think he’ll get much higher, but would love for him to make good on the threat of a 3rd party run.

  34. FLL says:

    As of the polls of two days ago, Trump is way ahead with 24% of likely Republican voters (and Walker in distant second place with 13%). (Link to the Washington Post article here.) Republicans have found their standard bearer! (Are the Republicans lemmings or Whigs?)

  35. FLL says:

    In his comments about God, Trump has collided with one of the major institutional problems of the present-day Republican Party, which is that the GOP is the Party of God (assuming you define that in evangelical terms). Another possible problem is Trump’s statement that he’s Presbyterian. For evangelicals, that might just be rubbing salt in the wound since Presbyterians in the U.S. ordain openly gay ministers and perform same-sex wedding ceremonies. My guess is that evangelicals just hate, hate, hate all those gay-loving Presbyterians and other mainline Protestants. This all illustrates how the Republican Party carries the seeds of its own destruction. Let’s list all the folks that the Republican activist base hates:
    (1) non-white people of any type, but Hispanics in particular
    (2) Mexicans and Mexican-Americans above all else
    (3) anyone who is not a perfect “0” on the Kinsey scale of sexuality
    (4) functionally secular people (who are perhaps the majority of the U.S. population)
    (5) mainline Protestants (because they’ve been seduced by gay Satan)
    (6) Jews (too liberal)
    (7) Muslims (competition in the worldwide missionary religion business)
    (8) just on general principle, anyone who doesn’t think it’s a good idea to run other people’s sex lives

    Donald Trump has seriously hurt the 2016 Republican ticket with his rants about Mexican criminals and rapists, but those in the evangelical Republican base have been hurting themselves for quite some time with their nonstop hate directed at the majority of the American population. Not a very auspicious beginning for the 2016 Republican campaign. Just sayin’.

  36. ammy.toilor says:

    HNJM

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  37. BeccaM says:

    Trump’s egomania is a form of mental illness that prevents him from admitting he has ever made a mistake or wronged anybody.

    It’s analogous to — but a much more extreme version of — Dubya’s inability to say the aphorism, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” The ‘shame on me’ part was the phrase he stumbled over several times before blurting, “You can’t get fooled again.”

  38. ihazconservative says:

    I don’t think he ever had the evangelical vote. He has the tea party vote. While there is some cross-over, they have their own sufficient numbers. He also gets the working class vote who want to be Trump; the people who would like to enroll in Trump U. This might be the first time evangelicals realize they aren’t flexing the muscles, if Trump can bring enough of the bros and joes out.

  39. Indigo says:

    I am confident that somewhere in the vast paper trail of religionism there is a loophole for Mr. Trump, he doesn’t have to “ask” forgiveness because he tries to do better next time. Oh, well, that should do it. Okaleedokalee!

  40. nicho says:

    St. Ronald Reagan was about as religious as a turnip — about as bright as one too. That never bothered anyone.

  41. Elmo Buzz says:

    If Trump survives the “he’s not christian enough” attack, he’s bulletproof.

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