You’ve seen the proof everywhere.
Red hats embroidered with the slogan “Make America Great Again”. Massive banners printed with Trump 2024 hung beside American Flags. Dark blue lawn signs sprinkled across suburban neighborhoods.
Thousands of American Republicans across the country still support Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States.
But for a subset of these people — white evangelical Christians — showing their support for Trump means more to them than just supporting another politician.
A vote for Trump means a vote for god’s will.
Since Donald Trump announced his run for the presidency in June 2015, evangelic ministers like Pastor Mark Burns preached that Donald Trump was a “believe[r] in the name of Jesus Christ!”. After facing years of “anti-christian” legislation, there was finally a presidential candidate that would “make sure … Christians are protected” and support Christian principles in law.
Sure, he may not have been a morally perfect candidate. His history as a TV personality was scarred by condemning scandals. Accusations of fraud, numerous sexual assaults, and overt misogynistic behavior tarnished his name. But evangelical Christians, like future Trump energy secretary Rick Perry, believed, “God uses imperfect people through history. King David wasn’t perfect. Saul wasn’t perfect. Solomon wasn’t perfect”. As long as Trump was a believing Christian, he could understand god’s plan for the U.S. government and would help bring the country closer to salvation.
Trump’s inauguration revitalized pro-Christian advocates across the country.
Challenges to legislation that limited supposed “religious freedom” started dominating the national news cycle and were ruled in favor of the religious plaintiffs. School boards began to get flooded with calls to ban books with ‘dangerous’ depictions of LGBTQ+ figures and Black Americans before they harmed conservative teens. And three conservative anti-choice justices — Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett — were given lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court, an action that will sway the highest court in the U.S. toward conservative principles for generations to come.
All these supposed ‘wins’ for evangelicals further cemented the idea that Trump was gods chosen candidate and the GOP the party selected to enact his will through law.
Donald Trump, the deity
Just a few weeks before the 2016 presidential election, religious leaders gathered at Trump tower in New York City. Influential evangelical Christians like Robert Jeffress, Wayne Grudem, Eric Metaxas, Ryan Anderson, and Jay Richards were invited to speak with the president-elect about sex-reassignment surgery. The topic had just made national headlines with the introduction of North Carolina’s bathroom bill, HB2¹.
They lauded the Republican president-elect for being the first to organize a meeting where conservative leaders were free to share their views¹. Evangelical leaders had never before had such close access to a presidential candidate.
After their meeting, these religious men started to preach to their followers —- like those at the Southern Baptist megachurch —- that Trump was God’s chosen president. He had the strength conservatives would need in their continued quest again evil. He would stand up against those “liberal bullies” and fight for what evangelicals, and god, thought was right¹.
Allegedly, Trump would be the one to stop the Democrats from killing babies in selfish abortions and put prayer back into public schools¹. He would even protect the nation’s vulnerable children from “evil” and “pedophilic” indoctrination at the hands of LBGTQ+ people.
They promised their followers that all they had to do to make America a god-fearing nation again was to cast their ballot for Trump. And evangelicals couldn’t get enough of the rhetoric.
They turned out in large numbers to political rallies headlined by conservative far-right speakers like Micheal Flynn? and Roger Stone. Their emotional support for the presidential nominee was so convincing that a jaw-dropping 81% of all white evangelicals cast their vote for Trump in the 2016 election.
By 2020, his support among the far-right religious voter base held steady. Despite a slight drop in popularity, around 8 out of 10 adult evangelical voters reported they would vote to help Trump secure a second term in office.
But, far-right conservatives like Helgard Müller — author of the 2-star rated novel President Donald J. Trump, The Son Of Man — The Christ — took their support for the president one step further. They wove grand stories about his significance as a vital religious figure.
Müller claimed in his novel that President Trump was not an ordinary politician. Instead, he was a deity sent to earth from heaven above. He wrote that Trump was the prothesized Son of Man, the Son of the bible’s King David. After the former president had served his time on earth and corrected the moral failings in American culture, Müller believed he would join god in the kingdom of heaven in his destined “place of power at God’s right hand.” Through Trump’s leadership, America would achieve salvation².
And he was not alone in his ideology.
As of 2019, nearly 40% of white evangelicals who attended weekly church services believed god personally anointed Trump. And they are not afraid to publicly declare their devotion to the 45th president to anyone that would listen. Comparisons like the one pictured below dominated far-right social media sites.
Some evangelicals truly believed the former president was an important religious figure chosen by none other than god himself.
Religion and Republican policy
It would have been impossible for former President Donald Trump to represent Christian ideology and Republican policy if the two had not been entwined decades earlier. In 1979, pastor Jerry Falwell and Paul Weyrich, “a religious political activist and co-founder of the … Heritage Foundation”, founded the Moral Majority. For years before they met, Weyrich had wanted to form a Christian voting bloc around critical issues. Falwell provided Weyrich with a topic to organize these voters around for the first time¹.
Their organization would go on to become one of the most influential conservative lobbies in the country. They would advocate to see Christan beliefs enshrined in American law¹.
A year later, in 1980, practicing Christian Ronald Reagen was elected as the 40th president of the United States. After his first term in office, he began to blur the lines between church and state. At the 1984 Republican National Convention, he delivered a speech that argued that “politics and morality are inseparable”. For America to succeed, it had to keep being a nation “under god”. The country’s legislation would have to reflect the will and morals of Christian teachings³.
So, it’s somewhat unsurprising that after the former president’s public endorsement, the Republican Party’s and white evangelicals’ goals started to align. Both organizations called for a nationwide abortion ban and voluntary prayer in schools. They actively opposed the Equal Rights Amendment and the advancement of women’s rights³.
Today, Republicans and white evangelicals oppose slightly different issues — like LGBTQ+ equality, reproductive rights, and religion-free public education. Though the problems have changed, their core ideologies remain the same.
Both the GOP and evangelicals believe the words of the bible should control policy decisions across all 50 states. They want the separation of church and state erased and for the U.S. to openly embrace becoming a Christian nation even though this country guarantees the right to religious freedom.
The future of church MAGA
It would be irresponsible for us to pretend that Trump’s 2020 presidential term will not continue to affect U.S. policy for decades. Future generations will be subjected to Christan law. The signs are already clear everywhere in American society.
Evangelical Christians are mobilizing in greater numbers than ever before, and their pro-Christian legislation is passing in multiple Republican-led states. The line between government policy and religious ideology has never been so blurred, and these evangelicals will not stop until Christian beliefs dominate every piece of GOP legislation.
But this war against religious freedom extends far beyond the borders of traditionally red states run by republican politicians. With Trump being in the unique position to nominate three openly conservative justices to the Supreme Court during his term, liberal states will also be ruled by the laws of Christian ideology.
We have already seen this happen firsthand with the Supreme Court’s unprecedented reversal of the historic Roe v. Wade decision in favor of Christian morals.
We must remember that the 2022 midterm elections are our last chance to stop these evangelical Christians from imposing their religious views on all American citizens.
Suppose we do not show up at the polls in record numbers and put democratic lawmakers who believe in the right to religious freedom in power. If that is the case, we will ultimately lose all rights to practice the religion of our choice.
Evangelical principles will dominate U.S. laws. And the U.S. will become a Christian nation dominated by the moral teachings of one intolerant religious group led by none other than former President Donald J. Trump.
- Rolling Stone – “False Idol — Why the Christian Right Worships Donald Trump”
- Amazon.com – President Donald J. Trump, The Son of Man – The Christ: Müller, Helgard
- The Washington Post – “Reagan tied Republicans to White Christians and now the party is trapped.”