“There’s no one who’s done more for Christianity than Donald Trump. No one.”
So says the former president’s son Eric Trump, who made the bold comment at Freedom Fest in Morningview, Ky., Saturday, Sept. 10. Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., also spoke at the rally.
Those comments came two days after the CEO of the National Religious Broadcasters went on a far-right cable network to denounce current President Joe Biden for putting Christian faith “under attack” in his address to the nation the week before.
“Evangelicals are being attacked,” said Troy Miller, leader of the NRB, on Newsmax. He declared Biden’s Sept. 1 speech not only was divisive but was derisive to evangelical Christians who form a large part of Trump’s political base. In his speech, Biden differentiated between MAGA Republicans and more traditional Republicans who do not admire or follow Trump.
“I don’t think he was talking to a majority of the country in a positive way,” Miller said. “I think he was talking to a large part of the country in a very negative way, because you look at, again, Christianity and he didn’t bring out all of the things Christians do across this country. Christians are the first to respond in disasters. Christians are the first to be there for help and food aid and a number of things. But yet he pointed out the things his party doesn’t agree with and then villainized Christians for holding those views. So I really think he divided the country rather than pulled it together. I don’t think that’s right at all.”
The narratives spun two days apart fit the close connection between Trump and the evangelical base of the modern Republican Party. Even though Trump never has been known as a practicing Christian or churchgoer, he has taken on hero status among evangelicals who believe he is a champion of their social causes.
That includes three appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court that have swung the high court to its most conservative majority in a century, paving the way for many evangelical grievances to be addressed in the courts.
The response to Eric Trump’s deification of his father drew harsh criticism on Twitter, where a video clip of the comment was posted by Ron Filipowski.
Replied one woman: “Yep. The thrice married, serial philander who mocked the disabled and bragged about sexual assault is the champion for Christianity. The guy who can’t quote a single verse, the guy who upside down shook a Bible that wasn’t his in front of a church he didn’t attend. Yep, that guy.”
Another person replied: “Well, there’s that Jesus guy but there is no way he measures up to what Trump has done. Right?”
The former president’s son echoed his father’s own words with this declaration, however. In October 2021, Donald Trump said in an interview that “nobody has done more for Christianity or for evangelicals or for religion itself than I have.”
President Biden has a polar opposite view of his predecessor, declaring in his Sept. 1 address to the nation that Trump and his MAGA forces “are determined to take this country backward, backward to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love. They promote authoritarian leaders and they fan the flames of political violence that are a threat to our personal rights, to the pursuit of justice, to the rule of law, to the very soul of this country.”
It was that clip of Biden’s speech that Newsmax host Shaun Kraisman teed up to elict response from the NRB head.
Miller, the NRB leader, followed the Republican line and criticized Biden for being “divisive.”
“The president really looked directly at us when he said that.”
“Here’s our president that campaigned on bringing the country together and was going to, you know, help us heal our wounds,” he said. “And then he comes out and he gives his speech and he really opens those up wide. If you think about it, the things he said the country was moving backward on, on freedom of choice, on freedom of contraception, on privacy issues, on the rule of law, that really is evangelicals’ base. That’s the base of evangelicalism within the party and within the country, those founding fathers, those, freedoms that we have are the things we cherish in the evangelical world. And the president really looked directly at us when he said that.”
Even though conservative evangelicals represent a statistically documented minority of the country, Miller accused Biden of “talking to a large part of the country in a very negative way.”
The NRB leader then highlighted the Christian nationalist belief that “our democracy is built on the foundation of faith. … The founders were people of deep faith. They looked at faith as a part of their life and a part of being a good citizen.”
Miller then raised a common conservative conspiracy theory that a recent Congressional allocation to the Internal Revenue Service — which has been understaffed for decades — will result in more intrusive investigation of evangelicals.
“We’ve had a number of agencies that are looking into Christians,” he said, citing specifically a letter from some Congressional leaders asking the IRS to review its designation of the Family Research Council — a conservative evangelical political advocacy group — as a church.
“We don’t want to go back to the … days when the IRS was investigating faith-based communities.”
Of the 87,000 new IRS agents, Miller asked: “What are those agents going to do? … We don’t want to go back to the … days when the IRS was investigating faith-based communities. Most people of faith, they want to just be left alone. They want to be able to worship God, to live out their faith in their conscience, in the way they put it, in their environment and not have the government intruding in that.”
The NRB is a nonprofit organization that brings together thousands of religious broadcasters, ranging from televangelists to radio stations and internet services.
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