Trump Caught Secretly Mocking His Religious Supporters

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According to a new report in The Atlantic, President Donald Trump “secretly mocks his Christian supporters.” Based on his publicly known behavior, it’s not exactly surprising for there to be behind-the-scenes accounts of Trump belittling the religion of the people who have chosen, for whatever reason, to support him. Trump doesn’t even regularly attend church (Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden does, however). Among other examples, Trump’s former longtime “fixer” Michael Cohen told reporter McKay Coppins that on one occasion in 2015, Trump insisted to him that top conservative Christian leaders are “all hustlers.”

Writing in The Atlantic, Coppins summarizes:

‘[In] private, many of Trump’s comments about religion are marked by cynicism and contempt, according to people who have worked for him. Former aides told me they’ve 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.’

Rather than finding some kind of common ground with the espoused morals of their religion, Coppins writes that the idea from those who’ve been in the president’s inner circle is that Trump was more interested in using grifting as the common ground between him and certain top evangelicals. As Coppins writes, “From the outset of his brief political career, Trump has viewed right-wing evangelical leaders as a kind of special-interest group to be schmoozed, conned, or bought off.” Trump has secured the support of numerous prominent evangelicals during his time in the public spotlight, many of whom have simply written off his glaringly belligerent personal behavior.

According to Cohen, who shared this anecdote in his new memoir, after a 2011 meeting with conservative Christian leaders in which they laid their hands on him and prayed for him, Trump mockingly asked, “Can you believe that bullshit?”

Trump has even been somewhat blunt about his dubious connection to Christianity while speaking directly with certain conservative leaders. The Atlantic obtained a recording of a late 2016 meeting between Trump and top evangelicals in which he says that he doesn’t “know the Bible as well as some of the other people” and mockingly recounts his first encounter with his eventual vice president, Mike Pence.

Trump said:

‘The first time I met [Pence], he said, “Will you bow your head and pray?” And I said, “Excuse me? I’m not used to it.”‘

Citing sources including former Trump Organization executive Barbara Res, former campaign staffer A.J. Delgado, and the president’s own niece, Mary Trump, Coppins writes that “[to] those who have known and worked with Trump closely, the notion that he might have a secret spiritual side is laughable.” Again — this dubiousness shouldn’t exactly come as a surprise to anyone who has followed Trump’s behavior for any substantial amount of time. He has demeaned women, his political opponents, people of color, people from certain other (majority non-white) countries, and the list goes on.

Will there be any Christian movement away from Trump in the 2020 election? The Biden campaign seems to think it’s possible — they’ve bought ad space on Christian radio stations.