Since the beginning of his time on the campaign trail, Trump has enjoyed strong support from a huge base of Christian evangelicals. But a new report from The Atlantic shows that when he’s in private, he ridicules those same supporters of faith and views them with cynicism and contempt.
Trump has tailored his priorities to fit the agenda of the Christian evangelical crowd for years, trying to gain support from religious leaders by supporting anti-abortion legislations, trying to protect student prayer in public schools, and appointing constructionists to the bench.
According to Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer, Trump became fascinated with the story of Black megachurch pastor Creflo Dollar, who asked his congregation to help him raise funds for a $60 million private Gulfstream jet.
Cohen said Trump liked the “scam” and believed Dollar was “full of s—.”
According to Cohen, Trump said, “They’re all hustlers.”
The Atlantic had reports from several aides who said that they “have heard Trump ridicule conservative religious leaders, dismiss various faith groups with cartoonish stereotypes, and deride certain rites and doctrines held sacred by many of the Americans who constitute his base.”
The aides said that Trump viewed the conservative evangelical base “as a kind of special-interest group” that was there for the taking. To that end, Trump has NEVER been known for being particularly religious- not until he NEEDED support from Christian evangelicals.
According to one former aide, “His view was ‘I’ve been talking to these people for years; I’ve let them stay at my hotels—they’re gonna endorse me. I played the game,'” the Atlantic reports.
The White House was asked to respond to these allegations and a spokesperson said, “people of faith know that President Trump is a champion for religious liberty and the sanctity of life, and he has taken strong actions to support them and protect their freedom to worship.”
They added, “The president is also well known for joking and his terrific sense of humor, which he shares with people of all faiths.”
Many of his fervent supporters view Trump as a “savior” of sorts for a country knee deep in a moral death spiral. With his nominations of Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court have reinforced the support from the faith community.
Trump has also used religion and faith as a means to disparage his opponent, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, attacking his faith on multiple occasions. At a recent rally in North Carolina, Trumo even said that “there will be no God” if Biden is elected president.
Ryan Burge, a political scientist at Eastern Illinois University, recently told the Associated Press that Trump has had a longstanding goal of trying to cause a rift between evangelical voters and Democrats.
Burge said, “Trump wants to tap into that very base feeling of ‘white Christianity is under attack.’ It’s all posturing to set up this God gap, where if you’re a Christian — especially a white Christian — the Republican Party is going to protect you.”