In the past, former President Donald Trump was hardly a likely contender for icon of the Christian Right. He was a centrist Democrat most of his life, he grew up in Queens, he was twice divorced, and he was a non-practicing Presbyterian who used off-color language and often appeared on Howard Stern's show. But the far-right White evangelical movement adored Trump during his four years in the White House, and according to Guardian reporter David Smith, the Christian Right still adores Trump in the Biden era.
At the Faith and Freedom Coalition's recent annual Road to Majority conference in Orlando, Florida — Smith reports in an article published on June 19 — pro-Trump merchandise and signs were not hard to find. A t-shirt being sold read, "Jesus is my savior. Trump is my president," and a sign read, "Trump: Take America Back, 2024."
"The Christian Right's unlikely faith in Trump has not been shaken," Smith explains. "For many, he is a martyr who may yet rise again…. Interviews with a dozen attendees found a widespread conviction that the 2020 election was stolen, support for tougher voting restrictions and a reluctance to condemn Trump supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on 6 January."
One of those evangelical Trump devotees is Tampa-based Jonathan Riches, who booed former Vice President Mike Pence during a speech on June 18. Riches told the Guardian, "We feel like he abandoned Trump. We needed him to challenge the election. He doesn't represent our party. He's now trying to redeem himself, but we don't want him."
Riches obviously buys into the Big Lie, believing Trump's debunked and totally false claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump because of widespread voter fraud. In fact, the election was quite secure, and now-President Joe Biden enjoyed a decisive victory — winning 306 votes in the Electoral College and defeating Trump by more than 7 million in the popular vote.
The martyr who may rise again: Christian right’s faith in Trump not shaken https://t.co/rDCNJGMpm6 #Extremism… https://t.co/TY4c8T8SG4— tim schreier (@tim schreier) 1624116694.0
Another Road to Majority attendee who buys into the Big Lie is 56-year-old Shelley Villarreal, a retired school teacher from Houston. Villarreal, speaking to The Guardian, praised Sidney Powell — a far-right attorney who is being sued for defamation by Dominion Voting Systems for promoting the lie that Dominion helped Biden steal the election. Villarreal told The Guardian, "Sidney Powell has some pretty good statistics and data and facts. I rely on her to know."
Villarreal, who was wearing a "President Trump 2024" sweater, said of the January 6 insurrection, "Violence has no place in politics. However, I did think it was an emotionally charged crowd, and it just got out of control. I don't think that was the plan; it happened in the heat of the moment. It was a reflection of how frustrated the public was about the outcome of the election."
But another Road to Majority attendee flat-out condoned the violence that occurred on January 6. Identifying himself as only Greg A., that attendee compared the January 6 attack to the American Revolution and told The Guardian, "1776 was the same thing because your government says we are going to install a dictatorship. The people have no choice but to rise up."
Another Road to Majority attendee, 50-year-old Greensboro, North Carolina resident Glenn Romano, buys into the far-out conspiracy theory that the January 6 rioters weren't really Trump supporters —and Romano blames Black Lives Matter even though the mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol Building was overwhelmingly White.
Romano told The Guardian, "I think it was staged. There have been reports of BLM leaders. Our media's just completely anti-conservative. They're pushing the leftist agenda."
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