Why Trump and Evangelicals Go Together

trumpYesterday I got some exercise by walking 4 miles around Las Vegas. On the way back I saw one of the buildings in Donald Trump’s hotel empire. It dawned on me then why Trump has garnered support among the religious right-wing Evangelicals. This match seems so crazy at first. But it is not so crazy. Here are three reasons why I think the Trump-religious right match makes sense–painful, obvious sense.

1. They both want to build an Empire called America


Trump’s hat says “Make America Great Again”. His platform seems to be just that–make American great! Build a wall and make Mexicans pay for it! His speeches I’ve heard are rather inspiring. It is easy to get swept up in his in-your-face boldness.

In fact, Trump gives voice to things most won’t say. While I appreciate this trait of Trump’s character, I can’t support his manic, over-the-top rhetoric. I can however see how many in the religious right love him. They want to build an empire called America too. And if they can piggy-back on a man like Trump, they will. The religious right has turned the church into a machine powered by a kind of empire-building gospel meant to counteract the evil society around them. And both of them seem to be at war.

2. They both read the Bible Pathologically

Recently Trump said how much he loves the Bible and how good the Bible is. He says the Bible just keeps getting better the more you read it. Then he said he loves that great Bible passage about “never bending to envy”. I don’t know what Bible Trump is reading. Perhaps he is alluding to Proverbs 23:17? Maybe he is referring to the TBT (Trump Bible Translation)? Or is he recalling Dante’s Divine Comedy…neverbendtoenvy

“Whereby, so sweetly Love burns in us, poured By live Justice, that we could never bend To any envy, or malice untoward.”

The problem is that Trump is not someone who thinks about what the Bible is saying. Nor is he someone you would look to in order to process the Bible. He just says the Bible is sooo good.

This sounds to me like the religious right. I have had too many encounters online in social media with Evangelical conservatives who do the same thing as Trump. They idolize the Bible but do not process what the texts say. The common mantra is “The Bible says it, end of story.” I’ve had several online conversations where I respond by quoting the Bible, without the verses. I am then told how unbiblical my words are… Pathological thinking cannot see itself. Pathological thought does not see itself, cannot see itself, and cannot see other types of thought. Trump and the religious right have this in common.

3. They both depend on Money

Trump’s empire is all about making money. He is successful. His platform seems to me to be entirely based on his business success. The religious right also depends on money–offering money. The churches they have built would collapse if there were no offerings. One prime example is the Billy Graham Association. Franklin Graham (Billy’s son) has made millions.

Thoughts? Questions? Criticisms?


  1. We all desire greatness since we are all made in God’s image. The desire for the U.S. to be great is not necessarily bad or wrong. The way Trump has gone about it stirs people up in arrogance and bravado, the way some Christians, churches and ministries tout their own greatness and superiority.

    His claim to love Scripture seems to just be his way of winning Christian votes.

    Making lots of money is not necessarily a sin. My philosophy regarding money is three fold: 1) Make as much money as you can. 2) Save as much money as you can. 3) Give away as much money as you can. #2 and #3 should be secret before God, while #1 seems to be what most people obsess about.

    • I would nuance and extend this a bit more, Ben. And we need to consider both the individual level and the national level.

      While I agree the desire for greatness is not good or bad itself for a person, the desire for a great nation is a dangerous thought that has led to disastrous consequences historically. For Christians, we have no city this side of Heaven.

      I don’t see advancing the kingdom of God as bound to establishing a political nation. We are not seeking to build a great empire, but to bring God’s kingdom to earth seeking to love–to love everyone.

      I would say we ought to seek to be good, not to be great. Seeking to do great things is fine, but I see our desire to be good at the heart of doing great things.

      I like Google’s philosophy “don’t be evil” and “great is not always good enough” Google’s philosophy

      On an individual level, when the disciples argued about who is the greatest, Jesus directed them to be like little children. They could do great things when they had goodness in them (Luke 9:46-62).

  2. I think that in our fallen humanity the desire for greatness become twisted and perverted, both individually and nationally. As a result, the illustrations of greatness by both individuals and nations are basically ugly.

    If I am to be frank and entirely honest, I desire greatness for myself, my children, my country (the U.S. and my home country Malaysia), my ethnicity (Chinese) and my church.

    But I do not have to flaunt it, boast about it, brag about it, insist on it, spin it, shove it in the face of others, etc. I can simply allow God to do whatever his plan and purpose is, regardless of whether I like it or not.

    As you pointed out, I should strive, not for greatness, but for goodness (and love), and in particular to learn how to humbly submit to God’s sovereign secret will, plan and purpose for myself and for his creation.

    • This may be somewhat of a half-baked notion here, so take caution. It appears as though Christ’s greatness was his willingness and competency in identifying and ministering to people from diverse walks of life. He also exposed the insidious nature of hypocrisy, especially that of a religious persuasion, through his life and actions. In the end, he gladly died for the ethic of love and truth which indeed made up the very character that he possessed and, which we so love. He died in obscurity as a common criminal and did not seek pomp and circumstance while he was alive.

      In contrast, I see quite the opposite attitude in what is known as the Evangelical Industrial Complex (EIC). Leaders seek to become highly visible, to amass a plethora of Twitter followers and have no qualms about buying themselves onto the NY Times best seller list (even some very well known conservative pastors). Pastors become ‘brands’ and make small fortunes off of book sales and speaking fees. This is the Christianity that America loves and has embraced for some time. This is the Christianity that is worthy and willing to elect Trump as its leader.

  3. Thank you for sharing this. I also was wondering why Trump has been so popular with the Republican Party and I think you hit the nail on the head with #3, “They both depend on money.”

    But a country is not a company. And success is not defined by your net worth. I personally do not want my country led by a fromer beauty pageant manager and reality tv star. Yes, Trump knows how to make money but that’s not all that’s important. Trump’s good at getting himself rich, but can he lead a nation with 300 million people?

    Or is his candidacy a joke to get everyone to vote democrat? I just don’t understand how anyone can take him seriously. Are his supporters simply those who have disdained Obama for so long? Seriously, though what political experience has Trump had? Is he really going to run?

  4. Besides being rich, successful, entrepreneurial and entertaining, I think Trump has several attractive attributes, which also makes him easy to criticize and condemn. I’m not saying that this would make him a good president, just that these traits garner interest, even from people who are not at all interested in politics.

    He doesn’t care what others think.

    He doesn’t care if he wins or loses.

    He doesn’t play politics and is not trying to be politically correct.

    He is being himself and thus comes across as fresh (or bratty), instead of coming across as trying to win votes or approval.

    As much as many do not like what he says, say regarding women and immigration, etc, many think those exact same things but know they will get lynched if they say it. But Trump doesn’t care and just lets it rip.

    • Ben, I’m kind of mystified by some of your descriptions of trump. You make him sound like someone who is not agenda driven in any way and just wants to sincerely lend a hand in helping their country to live up to what some percieve as unparalleled greatness. I would say that these statements are actually the opposite of what trump embodies:

      He doesn’t care what others think.

      He doesn’t care if he wins or loses.

      He doesn’t play politics and is not trying to be politically correct.

      – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2015/09/18/why-trump-and-evangelicals-go-together/#comment-19460

    • Had the same thoughts. In short, Trump is a populist, like Le Pen in France or Zhirinovsky in Russia. Every country has this category of politicians. They say these “politically incorrect” things exactly because they know a certain part of the population likes to hear them. Mainstream politicians cannot say these things, but populists can. I agree with David, populists are not to be acknowledged for their “honesty.” They are sleazy persons who do not deserve any respect. Trump is simply disgusting like all the other populist politicians I know.

    • You hit the nail on the head, Chris. Populist is the precise term which defines Trump. If we’re lucky, this campaign run will send him into bankruptcy for the fifth time after which we won’t hear from him for a long time.

    • Neither is perfect nor ideal. But in an imperfect world, I guess I “prefer” populist to political, since the repeated and ongoing political shenanigans has simply made so many people sick with politics and political self-interests.

      Maybe it’s just that I prefer obviously disgusting younger brother “populist” sinners, instead of prim and proper, well-behaved, hypocritical, older brother “politically correct” sinners.

      Of course, both sides are disgusting and both sides are hypocritical to varying degrees!

  5. forestsfailyou

    Donald Trump is devilishly cruel on multiple levels. Imperious and proud. When people point this out to him we dismisses it as “politically correct” because otherwise we might be able to have a conversation about it. I am all for his style, but the things he says are absolutely indefensible. After being informed his supports nearly beat an immigrant to death he responded by calling them “passionate”, when being told white supremacists support him his response is “A lot of people like me.” When he is asked a question he doesn’t know he refuses to respond and when he is asked questions in arenas where he is forced to respond he either comments on the character of the journalist, or else says something complete asinine like “That’s a ‘gotcha question’ its not important to know… but tomorrow I will know more about it than you ever will.”

    It saddens me because I can’t vote for him, and I also can’t vote for someone who self describes himself as a socialist.

  6. I read an article recently that said one of the reasons trump is so successful now in general is because he has no respect for government.

    This was a meaningful statement. I think we could characterize 90% of his insane behavior as lacking respect for anything connected with government.

    The reason this is possible is that so many Americans also have no respect for government.

    However, I think the connection between the evangelicals and Trump being about making an empire called America. “Make America Great Again” is a self-defeating campaign.

    I just feel like the world we live in is one where most things are completely irrelevant. I have no doubt this is part of leading up to the unbelievable international behaviors we see in Revelation.

  7. I wish “Make America Great Again” would imply better education.
    The education in this country is horrible and it is only for the rich.
    I don’t understand why university education is so expensive here as opposed to other countries.
    The education of ones citizens is the greatest investment a country/government can make.
    There has to be a more viable option, then student debt.

  8. *the education is not horrible, it’s not equal.
    Talent is universal, but opportunity is not.