Donald Trump is the most transparently irreligious candidate to win a major party nomination in the modern era. He doesn’t claim to attend church often, is clearly uncomfortable with religious terminology and can’t name a favorite Testament — to say nothing of a favorite Bible verse. Not to mention the fact that he’s a thrice-married egomaniac who has spent his entire life exaggerating his wealth and sexual exploits.
The only thing that would make Donald Trump less of a Christian is if he sacrificed a goat in front of a golden statue of himself (perhaps with horns) in front of Trump Tower.
Trump’s clear disregard for the core tenets of his self-professed faith stand in stark contrast to Hillary Clinton, who will be the most religious Democratic nominee since at least Jimmy Carter. There is one committed Christian in this race, and it isn’t the Republican.
And yet, the Evangelical Christian community nevertheless feels the need to speak in some rather strange tongues in order to justify their support for the Republican nominee. As Bloomberg is reporting today, Trump has begun reaching out to Evangelical leaders in an attempt to raise a hefty sum of money for his presidential bid — since now that the Republican primary is over, he no longer feels the need to “self-fund,” whatever that meant. Despite the fact that he has no sincerely-held religious beliefs, they’re going to go out of their way to play along:
At one recent meeting with Trump, evangelical leaders noted how he often flashes a signature hand gesture, with a thumb out and a finger point to the sky, as he enters and exits rallies.
“You see athletes do it all the time and it’s their chance to point to the sky, to thank God for their success,” said Pastor Mark Burns, CEO of a Christian television network based in South Carolina. “Trump does this all of the time, too. He’s giving reverence to the man upstairs.”
“Even with Mr. Trump’s billions of dollars, he too still submits himself to God,” said Burns, who has become a top Trump surrogate and a staple on the campaign trail, frequently introducing the candidate at rallies. “We should all chip in to help him out. You know, even a billionaire needs some cash flow.”
This sounds positively bonkers, but it’s a fairly standard trick in industrial Christianity. These folks can take pretty much anything and spin it into a sign from God that means you should give them and their friends — who just so happen to already be rich, in accordance with the Lord’s will — a sizable chunk of your money.
Still, this is pretty impressive even by their standards. Think how hard you have to dig to find a religious justification for picking Trump over Clinton in order to land on “he points to the sky a lot.”
Just so we’re clear, this is the gesture Burns thinks is drawn from divine inspiration:
Trump makes that gesture all the time. It’s one of his rhetorical tics. It doesn’t look at all like he means anything by it, unless you choose to believe he means exactly what you want him to mean.
And if you choose to believe that Donald Trump hearts Jesus because he points upward a lot, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, perhaps you don’t deserve the $20 you send him anyway.