As of Sunday, Donald Trump’s average approval rating, as calculated by FiveThirtyEight, stands at 38.8 percent. At risk of sounding like a broken record, this is the worst approval rating on record for a newly-elected president at this early stage.
But that total appears to be grossly inflated. One of the biggest reasons Trump’s numbers are even that high is because of the religious right. They have spent the last two years bullying white evangelicals who either opposed Trump or feel even the slightest regret about voting for him. Supposedly, the opposition to Trump is driven by witchcraft and demons. For good measure, they would have us believe that opposing Trump puts you at risk of being cursed down to the third generation.
They’ve also peddled a false narrative about Trump. In the face of the nearly daily outrages coming from this White House, the nation’s so-called moral guardians have tried to tell us that Trump is actually a devout Christian who is restoring our Christian foundations. That may explain why, at last report, 61 percent of white evangelicals approved of Trump’s performance. Granted, that’s far less than the 81 percent of white evangelicals who voted for him in 2016. But it’s still well above what the nation at large thinks of the Donald.
We got a lovely example of how the religious right is trying to keep its followers bowing down to Trump late last week. One of the leading generals in the Trumpvangelical Army thinks that any Christian who objects to Trump’s behavior is making a lot of fuss over nothing.
Steve Strang, founder and publisher of Charisma magazine, initially supported Ted Cruz in the 2016 presidential campaign. But when Trump won the nomination, he and his magazine–one of the largest Pentecostal/charismatic-oriented publications in the country–went all in for the Donald. He recently rolled out a book, “God and Donald Trump,” which doubles down on Strang breathlessly declaring on the day after the election that Trump’s upset victory was nothing short of a miracle.
On Thursday, Strang dropped by TheDove TV’s flagship program, “Focus Today,” to promote his new book. Watch here.
Strang told host Perry Atkinson that he was inspired to write the book because of the “miraculous aspects” of the election–aspects that haven’t been covered as much in the media. For instance, Trump’s victory supposedly fulfilled four prophecies. He also maintained that God raised up “this very, very unlikely person” to stand against the climate of political correctness. E
Later, Atkinson asked if there was “something supernatural” working in Trump. Strang replied that from where he was sitting, Trump believes that God is at work in him. James Dobson, for instance, has recalled that Trump has been “more open to Christian counsel” than any other president. He acknowledged that Trump was far from perfect, but had become “a champion of Christian causes” in a way that Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush never were. He cited the Johnson Amendment; reportedly, Trump’s push to repeal it came when he asked several pastors to endorse him and they said they couldn’t do so because of this law.
Apparently Atkinson anticipated this, because he asked Strang what he would say to Christians who were still reluctant to back Trump “because of his tweets, his bite-backs on people, some of his conduct, some of his language?” Strang didn’t hesitate.
“I would tell them, ‘Get over it!’ I mean, what leader is perfect?”
Strang reiterated that Trump was nowhere near perfect, but wanted to know–“What is he doing that’s so terrible?” He thought that those who objected to Trump were looking at him from a partisan perspective. However, he said, Christians are supposed to look at things from a biblical perspective–and by that measure, Trump passes the test.
“Our filter as Christians needs to be the word of God. It’s got to be Christian principles, those kinds of things. And on those kinds of things, nobody could be stronger than Donald Trump.”
Okay, Steve. I’ll play. I am a charismatic Christian. And yet, there is no way I could have even considered voting for Trump. He has engaged in behavior that would have ruled out any prospect of him–or anyone else, regardless of party–getting my vote, even if I agreed with his policies 100 percent.
You mean to tell me that I should just “get over” the fact that we have a president who finds it acceptable to plaster a private cell phone number on social media and mock the disabled? Or finds it acceptable to retweet violent memes attacking his foes? Or, at the very least, fostered an environment in his campaign in which senior aides found it acceptable to solicit dirt on his opponent from a hostile foreign power?
I know that you believe it’s pharisaical to hold Trump’s past against him, since he is supposedly a baby Christian. But even if you get past the fact that you effectively threw domestic violence victims under the bus when you maintained support for Trump, even a cursory look at his Twitter feed would prove that you’re being swindled. No one who has Jesus living in his heart would would have hit the retweet button on memes attacking CNN and Hillary, or degrade Mika Brzezinski and Kirsten Gillibrand on Twitter. Those aren’t the acts of a man who is “open to Christian counsel.” They are the acts of a man who thinks being a celebrity gives him carte blanche to degrade women.
I’m reminded of John’s admonishment in Revelation 2 not to forsake our “first love.” That’s exactly what Strang is doing here. He’s effectively telling us that basic standards of decency don’t matter if a candidate makes the right clucking noises. If that doesn’t amount to rejecting our “first love,” I don’t know what does.
(featured image courtesy Strang’s Twitter)