Conservative writer lays out 4 bald-faced lies Trump repeatedly tells his evangelical base
Although President Donald Trump is not universally loved in Christianity, his popularity among far-right white evangelicals hasn’t wavered — and if he is reelected in November, it will be in part because of a heavy turnout among that demographic. But conservative writer Steven Waldman, in a January 6 listicle for The Bulwark, outlines four ways in which Trump has been deceiving evangelicals.
“To be clear,” Waldman writes, “conservative Christians have some real reasons to like Trump — the most important being the appointment of many conservative judges and the promotion of some pro-life policies. But on other issues, Trump has been less helpful than Christians seem to think.”
The first of the four lies, according to Waldman, is that “Trump repealed the Johnson Amendment.” Introduced in 1954 by Texas Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson (who was sworn in as president after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963), the Johnson Amendment is a provision of the federal U.S. tax code that forbids nonprofits from endorsing political candidates. Of course, Christian Right nonprofits have violated the Johnson Amendment repeatedly over the years by promoting Republican politicians — usually without having their nonprofit status revoked.
Trump, Waldman notes, has repeatedly claimed to evangelicals that he repealed the Johnson Amendment. But while Trump made “an executive order that encouraged the Treasury Department to go easy when enforcing the law,” Waldman explains, the Johnson Amendment “is still on the books.”
Waldman (author of the 2019 book “Sacred Liberty: America’s Long, Bloody and Ongoing Struggle for Religious Freedom”) asserts, “What’s clear is that Trump says he repealed it, and he didn’t.”
Lie #2, according to Waldman, is that “Trump has fought hard for religious freedom across the globe.”
Trump, Waldman points out, has failed to promote religious freedom in China — where the Uighur Muslim population has been under attack by the government in Beijing — or in Saudi Arabia, where the government doesn’t allow the public practice of any religion other than Islam. And, according to Waldman, the Saudi government is also repressive when it comes to non-Sunni Muslims.
“Last April,” Waldman writes, “the Saudi government held a mass beheading of 37 Saudis as part of an action against the country’s Shiite minority.”
Lie #3, according to Waldman, is “everyone hates you.”
“When Trump wants to fire up his base, he doesn’t just encourage them to hate other people,” Waldman explains. “He insists that they have to understand that everyone else despises them. That way, his supporters can be angrily defensive, while still feeling good about themselves.”
But Waldman goes on to say, “what we’ve seen over the last 20 years, as society and the law have tried to navigate the world of conflicting rights, looks a lot like a series of imperfect, but workable, compromises.”
Lie #4 is that “Trump is personally a devout Christian.”
“Trump really doesn’t have to pretend to be religious,” Waldman emphasizes. “But he does anyway. He has spoken passionately about his love for the Bible in ways that almost always reveal that he’s barely read it.”
Waldman concludes his article by stressing that if Trump really respected right-wing evangelicals so much, he wouldn’t lie to them repeatedly.
“Trump and other religious conservatives often talk about how liberal cultural elites hold evangelicals in contempt,” Waldman observes. “This is sometimes true, but it’s hard to think of a greater sign of disrespect than lying to someone’s face and assuming the person won’t have the intelligence to figure it out.”