Donald Trump is to the Bible what Sarah Palin is to newspapers

Donald Trump isn’t running to be our first openly irreligious president, but if elected he would become our first obviously irreligious president.

Trump took a hit back in July when he told Frank Luntz that he has never asked God for forgiveness, due to some combination of thinking he’s never made mistakes and thinking that he is, in fact, God. Since then, he’s stepped up his Bible talk…kinda. His knowledge of the Good Book now seems to be limited to it a) being the only book better than The Art of the Deal and b) good enough for his fans to send him many, many copies, which he stores in the classiest, most luxurious warehouse money can buy.

He very obviously hasn’t thought about the Bible in any meaningful way, as evidenced by his appearance yesterday on Bloomberg’s All Due Respect:

Asked if he had a favorite Bible verse, Trump gave a flat “none of your beeswax.” Asked if he had a favorite testament, Trump said he liked both the Old and New Testaments equally. It was the answer a candidate gives when their gears are spinning and turning up nothing, because they’ve been caught having not done their homework.

Like the last time a major Republican candidate said they had equal, universal appreciation for a specific genre of printed material:

Fitting, then, that Trump is open to having Sarah Palin in his cabinet.

Trump is laughably secular, and the Evangelicals thanking Jesus for sending Trump their way are laughably gullible (check the comments on this IJReview post for reference). And all this would be fine if it didn’t constitute a major slice of the American electorate, which proclaims piety while condoning the most impious acts. As Frank Bruni wrote on Tuesday:

Donald Trump and Sarah Palin (Gage Skidmore / Flickr, screenshot)

Donald Trump and Sarah Palin (Gage Skidmore / Flickr, screenshot)

What’s different and fascinating about the Trump worship is that he doesn’t even try that hard for a righteous facade — for Potemkin piety. Sure, he speaks of enthusiastic churchgoing, and he’s careful to curse Planned Parenthood and to insist that matrimony be reserved for heterosexuals as demonstrably inept at it as he is.

But beyond that? He just about runs the table on the seven deadly sins. He personifies greed, embodies pride, radiates lust. Wrath is covered by his anti-immigrant, anti-“losers” rants, and if we interpret gluttony to include big buildings and not just Big Macs, he’s a glutton through and through. That leaves envy and sloth. I’m betting that he harbors plenty of the former, though I’ll concede that he exhibits none of the latter.

Trump’s punt on the Bible came on the same day that the Des Moines Register reported on leaked emails showing that Trump’s new national co-chairman, Sam Clovis (who recently defected from Rick Perry’s campaign), was trashing Trump only a month ago for — you guessed it — having “no foundation in Christ, which is a big deal.” Clovis went on to praise Rick Perry for calling Trump a “cancer on conservatism,” expressing particular dismay at Trump’s obvious lack of religious faith.

What prompted the change of heart? Rick Perry’s campaign is out of money, and Donald Trump has plenty.

So the Party of God doesn’t actually care if you know anything about God, but we knew that already. Practically no one reads the Bible. It’s a long book, and most translations are written in ways that seem deliberately designed to make it difficult to read. So Jeb Bush, et al probably aren’t reading his Bible with any more regularity than Donald Trump.

If they were, they may have a some different ideas on the Biblical issues they’ve pounded into the American conservative.


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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  • DoverBill

    Actually, he does have a religion that he worships: The Church of the Perpetual Greenback.

  • DoverBill

    Yeah, but did they ever comprehend this one?

    https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=what+is+the+seattle+space+needle

  • THE CAP IS MIGHTIER THAN THE MOUTH
    I’ll bet that the next person to get tossed out of a Trump appearance will be some brave soul wearing a baseball cap with the slogan “America Is Still Great.” They’re being offered on the new website http://www.AmericaIsStillGreat.com that defiantly claims Trump is wrong, and that “America is Still Great,” and
    doesn’t need Trump to re-make it. Now Sarah Palin will have to find someone to explain TWO cap slogans to her.

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  • labman57

    Dammit Trump — You gotta give us advanced warning when you open your mouth. I stepped in your B.S. and made a mess on the bottom of my shoe.

  • nicho

    . It’s a long book, and most translations are written in ways that seem deliberately designed to make it difficult to read.

    Just the opposite, Jon. It’s not a long book. It’s a collection of short books that are more or less connected by a few themes. The Epistle to the Hebrews, for example, has no logical connection to the Book of Numbers.

    But most English translations are actually designed to make it easier to read. In the original languages, it is terribly complex and convoluted — especially the NT. Were it translated directly into English, it would be incomprehensible to most people. So the translators try to make it “readable,” but that glosses over a lot of the complexity and confusion — and leads people astray. Imagine trying to “translate” Supreme Court decisions so they would be readable for a 4th grader.

    Translators often add cultural or political interpretations. For example, the word “homosexual” never appears in the NT. There is no word for it in Koine Greek. In fact, the word “homosexual” doesn’t appear until translations in the early 20th Century, when gays were emerging as a distinct group.

    And the OT doesn’t say “Thou shalt not kill” — another mistranslation. It’s much more ambiguous than that. Although anyone who has been exposed only to dimestore English translations would argue otherwise.

  • bijou2

    I really think he’s an ass–but who cares if he knows the bible? Common sense is all you need to know he shouldn’t ever be president.

  • LamanLemuel

    Donald Trump believes that Jesus saves sinners and redeems them for valuable cash prizes.

  • eldueno

    While some admire Trump for his wealth. Trump’s history of failed businesses and bankruptcies leaving creditors, folks who contributed money, labor and materials unpaid indicate poor business sense.Trump’s history of failed marriages and relationships indicate a lack of ability to commit. His hateful and insulting retoric indicate an inability to manage talent and retain competence, necessary to manage a commercial or governmental enterprise. I would not trust Trump with a mail truck, much less representing our country.

  • Indigo

    It’s just a rumor.

  • Indigo

    LOL! or Haha! (Wired Magazine reports that LOL is out of date). I hadn’t thought of that but it makes a lot of sense. He’s that kinda guy.

  • He’s the kind of guy who would buy every Gutenberg Bible, and then burn all but one to give the one that was left more value.

  • dcinsider

    I like the new and old testaments equally. Say what?

    Granted both are BS, but there are some rather large distinctions between them, and more than a boatload of contradictions.

  • mahogma

    Given the opportunity, I’m sure Donald would straighten out God Himself on what He is doing wrong.

  • Indigo

    That’s the 500 pound gorilla in the room. Curiously, the deluded fools don’t see it.

  • Indigo

    I read somewhere that Trump collects Bibles but it’s apparently doubtful that he reads them. Maybe they’re an investment with good resale potential. I don’t know. It seems odd that a man as obsessed with his wealth as he is doesn’t at least know enough to refer to the Prayer of Jabez (1 Chronicles, 4:10).

  • Demosthenes

    This piece connects the dots — yes, evangelical supporters of The Donald are deluded fools if they think he cares about their issues one bit.

  • Skycat

    What’s this I hear about rich men and eyes of needles?

    http://biblehub.com/mark/10-25.htm

  • emjayay

    I sometimes see people with probably a low level of reading comprehension reading a Bible on the subway. I always wonder exactly what they possibly get out of ancient literature recounting ancient myths and stories written in ancient literary forms from an ancient culture on the other side of the world.

    Other than God Works In Mysterious Ways.

  • The man is a raging pathological narcissist. From the DSM-IV-TR:

    – Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).
    – Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
    – Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
    – Requires excessive admiration.
    – Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations.
    – Is inter-personally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.
    – Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
    – Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
    – Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.
    (snip)
    In addition to these symptoms, the person may display arrogance, show superiority, and seek power. (…) Narcissists have such an elevated sense of self-worth that they value themselves as inherently better than others, when in reality they have a fragile self-esteem, cannot handle criticism, and often try to compensate for this inner fragility by belittling or disparaging others in an attempt to validate their own self-worth. Comments and criticisms about others are vicious from sufferers of NPD…

    That he doesn’t think he’s ever done anything wrong in his entire life, nothing that needs forgiveness, is just part of the package.

    Yes, one of the the few remaining funny aspects of his campaign and some of his supporters is how many of those supporters think Trump gives a flying rat’s ass about their religion. He’s one of the least obviously religious candidates to come out of the GOP in ages.

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  • The_Fixer

    Well, yeah. Trump’s understanding of the bible is about as thorough as that of the rest of the churchgoing public. His answers to Bloomberg TV’s questions could come right out of the mouths of anyone but the most vehement, fire-and-brimstone-spewing fundamentalist.

    I mean really, it’s clear that they haven’t read much of it – by their displayed lack of knowledge and their deeds. If indeed they did read any of it, it was selected stuff to use as a cudgel on anyone who is different to them.

    If one really reads it, they certainly can be forgiven for being horrified. It really is not the “good book” so many call it. Blissful ignorance certainly pays off in this instance.

    It might be one of the reasons why these fools love Trump – he displays their own casual, cursory knowledge of the bible. In that regard, he’s relatable.

    That, and he also acts a lot like a spoiled, entitled child. And we’ve all dealt with one of those in our lives.

    What’s not to love about the man?

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