The Pew Research Center confirmed three months ago what we all suspected and what probably remains the case. An analysis of its data revealed
Trump’s support from evangelicals is strongest among those who attend church regularly. Eight-in-ten white evangelical Protestants who attend church at least once a month approve of the way Trump is handling his job as president, including 67% who strongly approve of his job performance. White evangelical Protestants who attend church more sporadically approve of Trump’s job performance at a nearly comparable rate (71%), but they are significantly less likely than churchgoing evangelicals to strongly approve (54%).
The President's recent interview with The Wall Street Journal yielded this characteristic exchange:
WSJ: I thought it was an interesting speech in the context of the Boy Scouts.
WSJ: They seemed to get a lot of feedback from former scouts and –
TRUMP: Did they like it?
WSJ: It seemed mixed.
TRUMP: They loved it. [Laughter.] It wasn't — it was no mix. That was a standing –
WSJ: In the — you got a good — you got a good reaction in –
TRUMP: I mean, you know, he writes mostly negative stuff. But that was a standing ovation –
WSJ: You got a good reaction inside the arena, that's right.
TRUMP: ... from the time I walked out on the stage — because I know. And by the way, I'd be the first to admit mixed. I'm a guy that will tell you mixed. There was no mix there. That was a standing ovation from the time I walked out to the time I left, and for five minutes after I had already gone. There was no mix.
WSJ: Yeah, there was a lot of supporters in the arena.
TRUMP: And I got a call from the head of the Boy Scouts saying it was the greatest speech that was ever made to them, and they were very thankful. So there was — there was no mix.
He didn't get that call, nor did he get a call from Mexican president Pena Nieto praising him for successful border control enforcement.
The lies are de rigueur for Trump, who in "The Art of the Deal" admitted engaging in "truthful hyperbole" for strategic purposes. The "innocent form of exaggeration," he maintained, is "a very effective form of promotion."
The other form of promotion Trump has elevated, however crudely, to an art form is self-promotion itself. "They loved it," Trump said of his speech to the Boy Scouts, whom he falsely claimed told him "it was the greatest speech that was ever made to them."
In just one speech in 2014, Trump contended “I happen to be, in my own way, an environmentalist. I’ve won many awards,” boasted "I have great feelings of compassion and helping people" and "the Old Post Office… is going to be spectacular. We are building something that’s going to be amazing. It’s going to be one of the great hotels of the world.
He is, after all, the fellow who once tweeted "my I.Q. is one of the highest" which is "like super genius stuff. I came out. I built a tremendous company. I had tremendous success." "I have the world's greatest memory" he once bragged and "I'm proud of my net worth. I've done an amazing job."
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves," Paul wrote the Phillipians. To the Romans it was "Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited."
The more liberal James wrote "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up" and the oft-overrated Peter declared "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time." The man Himself told his twelve apostles “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
Yet at the Republican National Convention, to a standing ovation
I am your voice, said Trump. I alone can fix it. I will restore law and order. He did not appeal to prayer, or to God. He did not ask Americans to measure him against their values, or to hold him responsible for living up to them. He did not ask for their help. He asked them to place their faith in him.
Nonetheless, evangelical Christians remain the most loyal fans of Trump and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, exults “I’ve been to the White House I don’t know how many more times in the first six months this year than I was during the entire Bush administration." "I think evangelicals have found their dream president," Jerry Falwell Jr. has said.
When the history of this period of American psychosis is written, the stance of the Christian evangelical community must be prominent, however ugly it is.