Welcome back to part II of our piece on #Trump and #Christianity, thanks for joining us. You can read part I here if you missed it.

Without further ado.

#Trump and #Christian #Voters

Headlines such as NBC’s Catholic Thinkers Urge: Don’t Vote for Trump only serve to affirm suspicions that Trump has indeed caught the attention of the marginalized Christian voter. The article is short, most of it is quoted below:

In a piece written for the conservative National Review, Princeton University professor Robert George and George Weigel of the Ethics and Public Policy Center argue that Trump’s policy positions and his often outrageous demeanor are at odds with Catholic teachings.

“Donald Trump is manifestly unfit to be president of the United States. His campaign has already driven our politics down to new levels of vulgarity. His appeals to racial and ethnic fears and prejudice are offensive to any genuinely Catholic sensibility,” the authors write in the letter, which is also signed by more than 30 other allies.

Weigel also serves as a senior Vatican analyst for NBC News.

I guess if the Pope doesn’t want to say it himself, he has other people who say it for him. Kind of like how Trump will have when he’s not allowed to give any illegal orders to the US military.

Citing Trump’s promises to target the families of terrorists and his “appeals to racial and ethnic fears,” George and Weigel state that Trump’s record only promises “the further degradation of our politics and our culture.”

Again, we wonder who they are referring to when they say ‘our’. Also, remember the name Weigel, it’s going to come up again later in this series in connection with a sexual scandal.

An article published on The Catholic World Report titled Why are Catholics Voting For Trump? summarizes serveral prominent views on the issue.

Korey Maas of The Federalist, in answer to the question he poses in the title of his article Why do Catholics Support An Unrepentant Strip Club Owner For President?, writes: One probable answer … is simply that many remain unaware of Trump’s astonishing support among Catholics, not least on account of the unhelpfully blinkered nature of much exit polling. 

So, Catholics are supporting Trump because they are unaware other Catholics are doing it too, because the exit poll information is incomplete? Ummmm… but he has numbers (ironically) to back it up.

Trump isn’t simply dominating among Republican Catholics; he’s also drawing Catholic support from Democrats. According to Pew’s 2014 U.S. Religious Landscape Study, 37 percent of American Catholics are (or lean) Republican, while 44 percent are (or lean) Democrat. Yet pollster John Zogby noted earlier this year that, in Trump versus Clinton polling, “Trump is ahead among Catholics—a group that Democrats have won every election since 1992.” (Let’s not dwell on this “prime paradox,” that for more than three decades the Catholic vote has been in the pocket of the party that’s explicitly supported Roe v. Wade in every platform since that decision.)

Carl E. Olson, author of the Catholic World Report article, adds his own observations to the mix:

It would seem that part (but only part) of the answer is …the Catholic vote in Presidential elections tends to follow, quite closely, the overall percentages of the country at large. In 2012, Catholics voted 50% for Obama and 48% for Romney; the country as a whole voted exactly the same: 50% to 48%.

So, as we can see, the Catholic vote is very easy to sway and very easy to grab.


Rod Dreher, in his piece A Catholic Neocon Collapse, writes: 

This is an astonishing political and cultural moment on the Right. When grassroots orthodox Catholics no longer believe that their leaders, both ecclesial and lay, speak and lead in their interests, the world as we conservatives have known it for at least the last 30 years begins to fall apart. Personally, I don’t fault these Catholic leaders (some of whom are friends of mine) for taking a stand on an issue that they feel strongly about, especially one as critically important as the American presidency. But I also understand why these conservative Catholic readers interpret the statement as an attempt to shore up a party establishment that has failed, even on Catholic terms.

Remember that theme of religious leadership speaking out on political issues? Here it is again except in this case we have examples of religious leaders who are speaking out against Trump – something they are NOT, democratically, allowed to do.

It was this kind of political preaching in the church that influenced the majority victory for the PiS party in Poland last October and Poland is now experiencing a religious anti-democratization that was the cause of one of Europe’s largest ever political demonstrations since the end of communism as well as negative economic impacts of at least $50 billion.

Perhaps the demonstration was because of PiS’ plan to merge key state-owned enterprises and boost “state control of the economy”; a plan that sounds eerily like a return to socialism under a new, more nationalistic and capital-friendly banner…national socialism?

Hey, doesn’t Trump already have a whole empire of business lines that we bet would make great cornerstones of a new Trumpified American economy?

We agree with Carl E. Olson for acknowedging George Friedman for making some of the most keen remarks yet in his piece The Roots of Trump’s Strength:

His supporters tend to be less educated, less well-off, and white. This has become a central, disaffected class in the United States, and while focus has been on other groups, Trump has spoken to this one. He has addressed their economic and cultural interests, and no candidate has done that in a long time.

He continues: The Democrats have made a huge case about inequality, assuming that the problem is that the rich own too much. American political culture has rarely been triggered by inequality, but by the inability to acquire the basics of American life. The problem with the Republicans is that they have not noticed that the defining issue of this generation is the collapse in the standard of living of the middle and lower-middle classes. This is part of what brought Trump to where he is today, but only part.

The deeper problem was the perception of the white segment of the lower-middle class that their problems were invisible. They heard talk about African-Americans or Hispanics and the need to integrate them into society. However, from the white lower-middle class perspective, there appeared to be little interest in the challenges facing their demographic. Indeed, there was a perception that the upper strata and the media not only didn’t care about them, but had contempt for their beliefs.

The white lower-middle class is divided into two parts. One part has already been shattered by economic pressures, family fragmentation, drugs, and other forces. Another part is under equal economic pressure but has not yet fragmented. It retains values such as religiosity, traditional sexual mores, intense work ethic, and so on.

This is the class that has been deemed pathological by the media and the upper classes. Its opposition to homosexuality, gay marriage, abortion, promiscuity, and the rest (which was the social norm a generation ago) is now treated as a problem that needs to be overcome, rather than the core of a decent society. The speed of the shift in the values of dominant classes has left this class in a position where those values taught at home and at church are now regarded by the broader society as despicable. Repercussions are bound to happen.

The simultaneous economic disaster and delegitimation of their values marginalized this class.

Benjamin Wallace-Wells, in an article titled Donald Trump, Abortion, and the Collapse of the Conservative Coalition for the New Yorker, writes:

At the last Republican Presidential debate, in Miami, on March 10th, no one used the word “abortion.” The topic wasn’t raised at the previous one, in Detroit, either. When abortion has come up at the Republican debates in recent months, it has usually been mentioned briefly, often in the context of the Supreme Court vacancy. …But beneath the ineptitude and moral chaos of Trump’s statements was the question of how a Republican candidate for President could have made it so far without a clear position on what was long the signal social issue of the right. “I’m very pro-choice,” Trump said in 1999. In this Presidential campaign, he has echoed the language but reversed the position. “I’m pro-life. I’ve said it. I’m very strong there.” Mostly, the crowds have applauded and left it at that.

The article continues:

That abortion now has only a small role in the debates over the future of the Republican Party suggests a turn away from a long history. …By 1976 [the year before ‘Sunday school teacher’ Jimmy Carter was elected, the president before Reagan – another point to remember for our later analysis of the history of the relationship between the US presidency and Christianity], when the Republican Party included a proposal to ban abortion in its policy platform, the attachment between the Republicans and the anti-abortion movement was under way, and the religious right had begun to grow up around it. 

For more on the significance of the abortion issue, check out our post Abortion in Poland and Other Catholic Countries. 

The New Yorker article describes how Trump’s “supporters tend to be less regular churchgoers and seem comfortable with the casino mogul’s moral flexibility. One of the subtler emotional notes coming from the religious right in this campaign has been a frustration that its leaders no longer seem able to hold the old coalition together.”

Summary: So, is #Trump the #Christian candidate? It appears he is – for many other reasons than only religious – but whether he is the candidate of the Catholic church or simply an incredibly keen politician capitalizing on a political opportunity remains to be proven. Stay with us until the end of this series to find out how it can be proven.

While Trump himself does not appear to be closely linked with ultra-conservatism, Trump’s platform does seem to take into account the progressive makeover the Vatican is currently undergoing under the new ‘people’s pope’ Francis.

Calls to lift the lowest economic segments out of poverty and integrate marginalized people into society are echoed by both Trump and Pope Francis, however when the pope says them he is usually referring to ‘others’ and Trump is usually referring to Christian(-American)s, and Trump’s recent remarks over abortion – even if he took them back afterward – were a clear signal to those who are much further right than they pretend to be.

As the Vatican moves left, those with more conservative views are likely to feel un- or under-represented and may turn to a leader that they view as more strict and hardline on the issues they feel strongly about. Trump is there to receive them.

That’s enough for today, we’ll post the conclusion of this chapter on #Trump and #Christianity tomorrow. The information inside, if you haven’t already heard it, is incredibly shocking.

But our goal is to harness the power of shock for positive means, to turn fear into love using nothing but truth.

Much love,