Thank you for joining us for Part 3 of our series on Trump.

So far, we have discussed Trump’s positions on abortion (in Part 1, #Trump: The #Christian Candidate), terrorism, refugees, and Muslims (in Part 2, #Trump: A #MuslimProblem?). Today we will look at Trump’s position with respect to various facets of Christianity.

While the whole truth is not yet clear about Trump’s relationship with Christianity, the evidence about his command over Christian voters warrants a closer inspection of the situation.

#Trump and #PopeFrancis

Despite his early promise to build a wall along the Mexican border earning him a comment from the pope about his attitude being “not Christian”, public opinion seemed to deem the showdown a win for Trump who retorted with indignation saying that “For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful. I am proud to be a Christian, …No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion or faith.”

His answer sounds like a doublespeak threat – can you imagine what would happen if Trump were to start questioning the religion and morality of the pope and his army of pedophiles?

In true doublespeak form though, Trump’s comment, while seemingly righteous, is in fact a clever manipulation. If what he said were reasonable it would prevent peaceful Muslims and Islamist scholars from being able to claim that the extremists of ISIS are perverting the spirit of their faith. More importantly, it would prevent the future criticism of any future political actions Trump may take in the name of religion.

Again we would like to highlight the dangerous and anti-democratic mixing of religious and political issues, themes, and goals. It cannot be politically incorrect to question someone’s faith when we are all currently faced with global religious war.

Earlier [in February], Mr Trump called Pope Francis “a very political person” in an interview with Fox News.

The pope’s comments and Trump’s comments are two faces of the exact same coin. The pope claims Trump is not truly religious, Trump claims the pope is political. Both are right.

To further highlight the mixing of these political and religious themes, take Trump’s assurance that the pope had only said those negative things about him because the Mexicans had convinced him that ‘Trump is not a good guy’.

He also said the Vatican was the so-called Islamic State group’s “ultimate trophy” and that if it attacked, “the Pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president because this would not have happened”.

Two of Mr Trump’s Republican rivals, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, both Catholics, said they look to the Pope for spiritual guidance, not political direction.

Mr Rubio said the US has a right and an obligation to control its borders.

Mr Bush told reporters he “supports walls where it’s appropriate” and that “Christianity is between he and his creator. I don’t think we need to discuss that”.

Jerry Falwell Jr, the president of the conservative Christian Liberty University and a Trump supporter, told CNN that the Pope had gone too far.

It seems like all the Pope really did was give Trump another day – or more – of great headlines.

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Falwell also said: “Jesus never intended to give instructions to political leaders on how to run a country”.

Somebody should tell that to the pro-lifers. And Poland’s PiS government and their supporters. 

Not long after this first inappropriate political interference by the the pope in the American presidential election, the Vatican did it again.

This time, the ploy was a confusing invitation to Bernie Sanders – confusing because it did not actually come from the pope. Sanders took time out from his busy campaign schedule to deliver a speech that echoed the socialist – uh, whoops, we mean, social – values Christianity, and the current pope, promote.

The result was more scandal and intrigue after the pope made sure to greet Sanders privately before he left for a trip to Greece despite the fact that the pope had not actually been witness to the speech. This begged the question of whether the stunt was political, which the pope denied by saying that if someone thought a greeting was a political act, then he recommends that person find a psychiatrist.

To the untrained observer, the event could have appeared to show a moment of closeness between the pope and Sanders, and between the two men’s ideologies, but the fact that the pope claimed he was unaware the invitation had been sent, and the subsequent salacious photo opportunity he created when he personally greeted Sanders after the speech despite missing its presentation, caused a storm of speculation about Sanders’ political competence, the pope’s impartiality, and the real effect of the whole story on the election and global politics.

It seemed that while Trump had won his showdown with the pope, the pope, or at least the Vatican, had gotten their way with Sanders.

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A Business Insider article titled Christian leaders come to Donald Trump’s defense amid spat with ‘confused’ pope reported that Jerry Falwell Jr., president of the conservative Christian Liberty University, also said:

“I think John F. Kennedy would be rolling over in his grave right now if he could hear what the pope was saying. Because that’s a man who fought to be president against a lot of prejudice because a lot of protestants in this country did not want to elect a Catholic president and he broke down those barriers and now here’s the pope saying we have to elect leaders that share his faith or share the Christian faith.”

Falwell added that, in the middle of a presidential election, the pope was bringing up Christianity as a criteria to be president. 

“It’s not our job to choose the best Sunday school teacher, like Jimmy Carter was,” [Falwell Jr.] said.

Further commentary on the history of the relationship between religion, specifically Christianity, and the American presidency will be made later in this series.

Summary: While Trump did not receive an official endorsement from God’s representative on Earth, it appears that his superficially disapproving comments actually helped encourage support for Trump.

Whether this was a calculated, intentional move on the part of the pope is not clear however it seems unlikely as the pope seems to have utter inability to comprehend politics, based on his remark that a private greeting should not be considered a political statement.

Or perhaps the pope is simply relying on the general public’s utter inability to comprehend politics.

Either way, the Vatican has shown that it has a vested interested in the outcome of the American election – either to ensure their first choice is chosen or to ensure that a candidate who can outplay them at their own game is not.

Trump can be the man to fill the role of the latter, but we must ensure that he doesn’t simply eliminate one ruler in order to extend his own domain on the same principles of oppression and contempt – that is every citizen’s political responsibility.

Freedom is responsibility.

There’s a lot of information above and a lot more to come so this is probably a good place to pause. Part II of #Trump and #Christianity tomorrow as we continue to build to our #Question4Trump. Stay tuned.

Until tomorrow, much love!

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