Trump’s Transactional Christianity is as Shallow as his Tan.
Donald Trump is a lot of things. President, regrettably, but also a failed businessman, fraud, racist and serial liar. Similarly, he is also not a lot of things – presidential, statesman-like and diplomat being three of the more glaring examples, despite Trump’s whining and protestations to the contrary.
There is one more thing that Trump is not, absolutely definitely not, and that is a Christian. And that’s what makes Mark Galli’s recent Christianity Today editorial attack on Trump all the more satisfying.
Two of the enduring features of Christianity are its longevity and malleability. That is to say that it has been around for a long, long time and has been interpreted in any number of ways, albeit with broadly shared principles – be nice to one another, don’t be greedy, don’t be lustful and so on.
Tellingly though, throughout that long and varied pedigree, no meaningful interpretation of Christianity has
ever placed emphasis on paying hush money for sex to porn stars. Or praising white supremacists. Or calling for torture to be restored.
Or even having a gold toilet. Yet while all of things are Trump to the core, bizarrely yet completely expectedly, none of them feature in any of the Gospels.
Trump was of course heavily reliant on white, evangelical Christian support, especially so in key swing states, for his victory in 2016. The same is true if Trump is to secure re-election in 2020 – an utterly non-heavenly thought if ever there was one. Trump’s reliance on that particular demographic is though nothing more than a cynical marriage of convenience.
Trump is pandering to the ultra-conservative instincts of the vast majority of white evangelicals with a purely transactional arrangement. So, he gets to appoint ever more conservative judges, with shocking views and records on things like abortion, trans-rights and guns, while the evangelicals turn a huge blind eye to Trump’s equally as shocking behaviours and history so that they can get the eighteenth-century like judiciary that they
As much as Trump is making a brazen mockery of American politics and history with his tenure in the highest office in the land, white evangelicals are making just as much an affront to the very core principles of Christianity by continuing to offer Trump their support.
This is nothing more than raw political expediency by both parties and is truly repellent to behold.
On a positive note, while there have been some established subscribers to Christianity Today that have since the editorial said that they intend to abandon the magazine, the publication has reported that new subscriber numbers have jumped three-fold.
Maybe then, just maybe, to be a white evangelical Christian doesn’t automatically mean selling your soul to whims, prejudices and political machinations of spoiled, narcissistic man-baby from Queens,NYC, with a particular penchant for bad tans and even worse hair?
Whether you regard yourself as a Christian or not, it is as clear as day that Donald Trump is as much a believer as he is a philanthropist.
That is to say not at all. Again, it is hard to reconcile the teachings of Christ with, say, ripping off a New York child cancer charity and then getting fined two million dollars for doing so (one of the most exasperating features about Trump’s presidency is that if that had been any other president, that would have been enough to bring them to the point of resignation – with Trump it’s just another day in his poisonous hall of distorting mirrors).
Christ was renowned for rubbing shoulders with the poor, the sick and the disadvantaged – precisely the “types” that Trump would no doubt order his Mar-A-Lago security staff to keep firmly out of sight.
Christianity Today should therefore be applauded for going against the evangelical grain, condemning Trump and endorsing his removal from office. One can only hope that this is the start of Trump’s evangelical foundations starting to crumble.
While Trump would do well to resign immediately and go away and think long and hard about pretty much everything he’s ever done ever, evangelicals really do now need to also think on long and hard as to their transactional relationship with Donald Trump against the backdrop of what scripture actually commands them to do. They are two very different things.