Is Tony Perkins really responsible for Trump’s “Two” Corinthians slip-up?

When Donald Trump spoke at Liberty University earlier this week, Christian observers caught Trump saying “Two” Corinthians instead of “Second” Corinthians. After all of the things Trump’s said that have made it plainly obvious that the man is to Bible verses what Sarah Palin is to newspapersthis was their last straw. This is their proof that Trump’s religious conviction is fraudulent.

As if that would be news to anyone.

Calling in to Don Lemon’s show on CNN last night, Trump came up with a number of explanations for this slip-up. His mother was from Scotland, where they say “two” instead of “second” (really?). The verse was written down with the number 2 in his notes. And, most interestingly, Tony Perkins wrote that part of his speech for him:

Said Trump:

Frankly, Tony Perkins wrote that out for me, Tony thought it would be great. He knew I was going to Liberty, he has a great respect for Liberty.

David Badash wrote this morning that, if Trump and Perkins really have started palling around, this should sound off all kinds of alarm bells for the LGBT community. And he’s right: Trump’s campaign has been a series of odious public policy proposals that would be disastrous for pretty much every minority group in the United States, but his Pissed Off and Angry coalition has by and large targeted racial minorities. If he really is teaming up with Tony Perkins, who knows what kind of Christian supremacist ideas could start popping into his head at the expense of the LGBT community?

That said, I’m also about 70-ish percent sure that Trump and Perkins aren’t, in fact, new BFFs. As in, I’m pretty sure that Trump was just fishing for an answer and threw in Perkins’s involvement for good measure.

Here’s why:

For starters, plenty of Christians across the political spectrum — both in and out of the United States — say “two” instead of “second.” And that may have something to do with the fact that it really is written with the number instead of the word. Of all of Donald Trump’s heresies, this really isn’t one of them. It shouldn’t be that big of a deal, and there are plenty of easy answers Trump could give as to why.

Tony Perkins, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Tony Perkins, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

But! Instead of giving a simple answer, Trump flailed around for a complex one, eventually passing the buck to Tony Perkins for having written the verse down (correctly, as it happens). This carries the dual benefit of shifting the blame for his error onto a leader who the Evangelical community considers to be unimpeachable while also implying that he’s friendly with said unimpeachable leader. Bear in mind that Tony Perkins is already committed to backing Ted Cruz for president. By claiming that he and Perkins aren’t just friendly, but that Perkins is literally writing parts of his speeches for him, Trump’s at least suggested that Perkins would be fine with him, as well. This could potentially blunt the effects of Perkins’s eventual endorsement of Cruz, who currently represents Trump’s most (only?) serious threat to the Republican nomination.

To be clear, if Perkins really wasn’t involved in Trump’s speech, then Trump is basically daring him to say so and call Trump a liar. It’s a gamble, sure, but it wouldn’t be the first time that Trump has exaggerated or made up endorsements from faith leaders.

In any case, it’ll be interesting to see if Perkins responds, and what he says.


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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  • UncleBucky

    Getting a bit theological for this point. The character that made/was Moses had a good idea: Don’t make any false image of the Infinite, Eternal Creator. Essentially, a text is as carven/graven as is a statue or image. And in effect, what thumpers (ancient and contemporary) have done is to create a text image that they worship. As we have said, a creative force that made just ONE Universe can’t be comprehended, and what humans try to do is to control the uncontrolable and to define the INfinite. That is a mortal sin, in essence.

    And by controlling, defining and making “God” in man’s image, they are sinning BIG TIME.

    It is better, like the Muslims say, to not speculate on the Nature of God, but to do the things that are required of a cognizant being that recognizes that he is a speck on a flake on a dot of Creation and to “get over” ourselves.

  • DoverBill

    Did ya mean 2 Corinthians walk into a bar …?

    And the bartender says “The usual, guys, a Doric and an Ionian?”

  • Duke Woolworth

    The smell of leather…I swoon!

  • Considering the emphasis that evangelical Christians place on obedience, there’s something very Orwellian about that.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    Yes, but it’s best for the residents of Lesbos.

  • hauksdottir

    A great pity that he never wrote letters to a church on Lesbos. ;^)

  • John Masters

    How funny is it that, while not exactly endorsing Trump, you’ve got lots of Republican establishment types (including a number of other Republican Senators) coming out against Cruz. How big an a–hole do you have to be to get your fellow Republican Senators to detest you that much?

  • John Masters

    Nothing there I disagree with UncleBucky. I suspect we’re pretty close in whatever “theology” we hold. Man has created God in his own image so as to be able to try to comprehend and understand him. A god (or creative force) capable of creating even just one universe on the scale of ours could never be fully comprehended by the mind of man…but to try to understand, and make ourselves feel more important that we likely really are in the grand scheme of things, we create a religion based on a God is watching every single move made by every single creature on this one single planet.

  • In January of my junior year in High School I embarked on a “read the bible through in one year plan”. They even had book marks for us at church that had the readings broken down by day. If there is a heaven I should get in just for making it through the Pentateuch! I read every begat and list of kings and all the rest. I read it very seriously and had a great many “WTF does it really say that?” moments along the way. By the middle of my Freshman year in college I was skipping church often. I later fled the Baptist church for a less literal Episcopal one and even then found the logical twisting required to justify most of it too much. And then one Sunday in a church gig I sat through a light hearted children’s sermon on Jacob and Esau and thought “why are we teaching this horrible message to children: that the way to get what you want is to lie and cheat!” And from there I read The God Delusion and started watching clips of The Atheist Experience on youtube and well you can guess the rest. Sorry that took so long but it was easier to go along as I got paid to be at church most Sundays (and at Temple most Friday nights and Saturday mornings).

  • 2karmanot

    Let’s see…hummmmm Doesn’t it begat 1 Genesis and the Old Testament by Charleton Heston is for those over 65 and the New Testament by Mel Gibson for those under 65? I went to Liberty College.

  • nicho

    Most Christians don’t actually read the bible. They may turn pages, but they don’t read it critically. Anyone who reads it critically can’t possibly believe the nonsense in it. Christian “bible study” involves surfing from passage to passage in totally unconnected books. The only thing that links them is (a) they’re in the same volume labeled “Bible” and (b) they may contain a similar word of phrase. Often the passages that are studied together have nothing to do with one another — no matter how hard the bible study leader tries to connect them.

    One day I was sitting within earshot of a bible study group in a park. It was hilarious and scary. It was a bunch of kids with what assumed was a youth minister. So they started with a gospel verse. Then they hopscotched to Proverbs. Then they made a detour to one epistle or another. Then back to Genesis. It got to the point where I wanted to scream, “Stop it. Those passages are in no way connected.”

  • FLL

    I agree that Perkins and most evangelicals pretty much have to endorse Cruz. Not only does Trump have a track record of statements in favor of LGBT civil rights protections, but consider the advice he gave opponents of marriage equality after the SCOTUS decision. Below is an excerpt from the interview that Trump gave with The Hollywood Reporter on August 19, 2015 (link here):

    The Hollywood Reporter: You say you would have liked the states, rather than the Supreme Court, to decide on gay marriage. Have you been to a gay wedding?
    Trump: Yes, I have. [Broadway theater owner] Jordan Roth. You know Jordan, right? Great guy.
    The Hollywood Reporter: So is this a dead issue for the GOP at this point?
    Trump: Some people have hopes of passing amendments, but it’s not going to happen. Congress can’t pass simple things, let alone that. So anybody that’s making that an issue is doing it for political reasons. The Supreme Court ruled on it.

    Trump may still make pandering comments about how he personally feels that “marriage is between a man and a woman,” but in the interview excerpt above, he’s clearly telling evangelicals to throw in the towel. In my own words, the issue of undoing nationwide marriage equality is dead, buried and paved over… and they built a shopping mall on the spot where it was paved over. If Cruz doesn’t win the Iowa caucus like Huckabee handily did in 2008 (34% to Romney’s 25%) or like Santorum barely did in 2012 (24.6% to Romney’s 24.5%), then the political fortunes of evangelicals will be sliding over the edge of the cliff. Evangelicals are shouting “We’re Little Nell and we’re tied to the railroad tracks! Help!” If you want entertainment, what more could you ask for?

  • UncleBucky

    Made my day, donnie 2. :P

    Thx!

  • UncleBucky

    Hi John,

    Yes I agree totally. But let me add a distinction. The man was named “Jesus”, as far as we know, and the appelation “Christ” was given to him, very probably in the years that Paul of Tarsus was doing his ambuloevangelism. So while you are spot on making a distinction between Paul’s and “Christ’s” religion, may I suggest that you use “Jesus” or the bar Joseph Brothers “Way” rather than Paul’s “Christ” or the later 1st to 4th century “Jesus Christ” which is an invention by Paul of Tarsus and his successors.

    I like to make a big distinction between the house contractor, carpenter and furniture fabricator “Jesus”, his group and the people who “got it” before anything was written down, AND the myth of the “Christ” undoubtedly invented by Paul of Tarsus before any gospel writers put ink to papyrus or paper.

    BTW, I am a “Biblical Atheist” in that I do not believe anymore in the sky god depicted therein and instead realize that any Creative Force must be beyond a bronze-age or Greco-Roman-Egyptian-Persian-Levant notion of what a god should be. I tend to think that the answer lies in the infinite Multiverse out of which an infinite number of Universes emerge, fade and blend.

  • Bloix

    He didn’t have to “find” a verse. The verse is Liberty U’s motto. Using it was obvious pandering:
    “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

  • Bloix

    Two Corinthians walk into a bar …

  • John Masters

    Paul was, based on the technology of the time, the first televangelist with all the letters. He never met Jesus (except of course as a vision after Jesus’ death…he’d be Baker Act’ed today for claiming that), but did go to Jerusalem and met with Jesus’ brother and other Apostles there. You know, people who actually knew Jesus. Came away actually saying they didn’t have any impact on him and his beliefs. Given that, is it any surprise today that the religion of Paul looks nothing like the religion of Christ?

    The Apostles who met Paul were skeptical as well, and be basically went off and created his own religion. Jesus never set out to do that. He was born, lived and died as a Jew, and respected the Jewish law. Paul, on the other hand, knew he’d never get the Gentiles to go along with that circumcision thing, nor following all that Judaic Code, so he he came up with Christianity Lite. In Paul’s version, you don’t even have to do good works, just say you’re a sinner, ask for forgiveness, and poof, you’re a Pauline Christian.

  • John Masters

    I won’t even touch the part about evangelicals and their intellectual capabilities. That one is just too easy. But don’t forget, Tony Perkins is, second only to being a grifter, a lobbyist. He’s got to try to ensure some level of influence with whoever wins the nomination (and hopefully, of course, the Presidency). I’m sure he’ll endorse Cruz…he pretty much has to. The minute he’d announce an endorsement of Trump, social media would explode with all the pro-gay statements of Trump, leaving Perkins with egg on his face.

    I’m thinking Perkins is probably pretty pissed right now that Trump said anything about his involvement. Cruz is already pissed about the Palin endorsement (but that may work to his favor more than it would have to his benefit), so this will kind of force Perkins’ hand…maybe earlier than he intended.

    I suspect he wanted this to be a quiet “gesture of friendship.” So, in the event Cruz loses and Trump wins, Perkins can just slide right on over to the Trump camp. That would have been the time he’d want Trump telling people Perkins had been helping him all along.

  • FLL

    Liberty University, founded by Jerry Falwell, is one of the 20th-century starting points for fundamentalist Christian right wing. The Donald needs to explain a few things to the Liberty University crowd. First, consider the interview Trump gave in February, 2000, during his brief exploratory campaign in the presidential race. The interview was for The Advocate, an LGBT-interest magazine. The question from The Advocate was “What would you do to combat antigay prejudice?” You might think that Trump would have mentioned ENDA, which was what most gay rights organizations were pushing in 2000. Nope. Trump’s answer was a little more forward thinking: comprehensive civil rights. Here is Trump’s reply from the February, 2000 interview:

    ” I like the idea of amending the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include a ban of discrimination based on sexual orientation. It would be simple. It would be straightforward. We don’t need to rewrite the laws currently on the books, although I do think we need to address hate-crimes legislation. But amending the Civil Rights Act would grant the same protection to gay people that we give to other Americans — it’s only fair. I actually suggested this first, and now I see [Democratic presidential candidate] Bill Bradley has jumped on the bandwagon and is claiming the idea as his own.”

    Now how does that sit with Tony Perkins? Trump insults a lot of people, but no one so much as evangelical Christians. Am I to understand that Trump is telling evangelicals that he will give them a great big Christmas tree strung with lights that say “Merry Christmas”? Does Trump think that evangelicals are the intellectual equivalents of five-year-old children? Could Trump be right about that? Are evangelical Christians destined to be relegated to a peppermint ghetto at the fringes of American society? For answers to these and other questions, stay tuned.

  • 1) The fact that Perkins had to find a Bible verse for Trump tells you a lot about how little time Trump has spent reading the Bible. Even going to church once a month over 60+ years he’d have heard something he liked to quote. 2) It never occurred to Perkins that anyone (much less Trump) wouldn’t know that 2 Corinthians is read as Second Corinthians. In fact it never occurred to me that everyone doesn’t know that but obviously some don’t. How could he have spent any time attending church and not know that. The answer is obvious. He doesn’t go to church nearly as often as he’d like GOP voters to think he does. 3) ROFLOL This shit is hilarious. So much of this didn’t add up for so long and I’m not the only one who noticed that Trump didn’t seem to even know anything about the church he claimed to attend. Of course since I know people who sang there back in my gig slut days and none of them knew he was a member there (and even though NYers try to be cool about celebrities in our midst, we ALL notice).

  • …and for him one day to refer to his wife as Morgan Fairchild.

    Seriously, is there anything he says which isn’t an obviously baldfaced lie?

  • Olivia

    Whenever he comes up with one of his horseshit explanations, I expect the last line to be “Yeah, that’s the ticket”

  • Nice try, Trumpy, but no. Every time you pander about the Bible, it is mind-numbingly OBVIOUS you are pandering and that furthermore, you think your audience is full of rubes and willing idiots. Which is mostly true most of the time.

    The over-the-top patronizing “I really am talking to a bunch of gullible retards” tone is the dead giveaway. That, and the 100% unfamiliarity with anything actually IN the Bible. The Liberty (sic) University (sic) speech doesn’t count because as you just claimed, Donnie, you didn’t even come up with that line yourself. So we’re back to stone-cold ignorant about the Bible, period, end of.

  • Doug105

  • Don Chandler

    I’m a donnie 2, but I would say to corinthians. And my religious friends would say, STFU Donny:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6oxvm9Q68Q

  • UncleBucky

    Oh good! But while I don’t have a degree in scripture, I have studied (I think) enough informally (and somewhat rigorously) that we could have a great discussion about “TUU KORINTHIANS”.

    The opposite with Donnie, who would babble on and on and finally fire us from the conversation. √

  • nicho

    I always say “Two Corinthians” — and I have a degree in scripture.

    But if we’ve got them arguing over nonsense like this — good.

  • UncleBucky

    …and scold and scold and scold the inhabitants!

  • UncleBucky

    Two (2) is how I would say it too. But I am a freaking “Biblical Atheist” (don’t believe in the sky god there) and I kinda detest Paul of Tarsus.

    But the way a person who is well-versed in Bible talk/culture would say “Second”. And because Trump was dropping names, by not knowing this, or his staffers not cluing him in on this, he is guilty of the sin of hypocrisy.

    Too bad, 2 bads, two bads don’t make a good, Donnie.

  • Quilla

    Two Corinthians walk into a gay bar…

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