Last week featured a sickening display of faith and politics colliding.
At a reelection rally on Friday in Miami, held at the Ministerio Internacional El Rey Jesús (King Jesus International Ministry), a prosperity gospel church, President Trump spoke to nearly 7,000 fans. Many fans were wearing the signature red MAGA hats.
It was Trump's first public address since the airstrike that killed Iran's top general, Qassem Soleimani, as well as several Iraqi militia leaders. The airstrike, which struck near the Baghdad airport on Thursday, has been the culmination of escalating tensions with Iran since last year when President Trump announced the United States would pull out of the 2015 international nuclear deal.
After the opening prayer at Friday's rally that saw Trump surrounded by several pastors, he briefly spoke about the airstrike, saying that Soleimani was "planning a very major attack, and we got him."
As he continued his speech, President Trump's ego and mania were on full display. “We are defending religion itself, it’s under siege. A society without religion cannot prosper,” he told the crowd. Those in attendance responded strongly as Trump proclaimed that God is "on our side."
Speaking about his Democratic opponents, Trump said, “These angry radicals want to impose absolute conformity by censuring speech, tearing down crosses and symbols of faith and banning religious believers from public life.”
For the record, no Democratic politician has advocated for any of those things. Some Christians on the other hand, want to ram their faith down everyone's throat, and take over the United States government.
And of course, that brings us to prayer in schools, a favorite topic among some Christians. “Very soon I’ll be taking action to safeguard students and teachers’ First Amendment rights to pray in our schools,” Trump said. “They want to take that right along with many other ones.”
Ugh, students can pray in schools! How many times do we need to go over this?! Public schools just cannot mandate or promote prayer.
Friday's rally was a very transparent attempt to shore up Evangelical support for Trump's reelection campaign. 81% of Evangelicals voted for Trump in 2016, and as he faces mounting challenges, up-to-and-including impeachment, he once again goes to the Evangelical well of support.
All is not well, however, even with Evangelicals. In the middle of December, the editor of Christianity Today wrote a scathing editorial calling for Trump's removal from office, and criticizing any Christian who supports him.
While some polls show an increase in Trump's approval rating since the airstrike, survey aggregator Five-Thirty-Eight, as of today, shows him with 52.9% disapproval versus 42.5% approval.
No wonder, then, that he is pandering to Evangelicals.