For those who wonder how a supposed Christian could support Donald Trump, here is a summary of how conservatism in the US has evolved regarding views on character and morality of political leaders, the effect of the lying and government manipulation of the media, and the narratives that make Donald Trump possibly chosen by God. There are still plenty of conservative Christians who are never-Trumpers, but they may be caught in the Puritanical approach of the late 1900’s and the misinformation of the media. Donald Trump is somewhat unique in American history, and understanding his appeal will be the topic of historians for quite some time to come.
1. Shift in focus from morality to policy
In the 1990s, conservatives heavily emphasized the importance of personal character and sexual morality, as evidenced by their strong critique of Bill Clinton over the Lewinsky scandal. However, in recent years there has been a shift on the right towards a more pragmatic approach focused on effectiveness and advancing the conservative policy agenda.
This was demonstrated by conservative support for Donald Trump in 2016, despite his multiple affairs, crass comments, and lack of traditional Christian virtues. Conservative thought leaders made the argument that flaws in personal character could be separated from one’s ability to enact policies.
Conservative Christianity also evolved to be more focused on policy issues like religious liberty, abortion restrictions, and constitutional principles rather than upholding morality for those in power. This enabled working with imperfect but effective leaders who could deliver on key goals. Some see this as a political maturation beyond moral purism.
In summary, this shift can be seen in a positive light as conservatives embracing political wisdom, prioritizing policy victories, and evolving towards pragmatic strategizing beyond past culture war divides. The right now focuses more on impactful results benefiting citizens.
2. Recognition of and prioritization of dismantling “the swamp”
Opposition to “the swamp” of establishment insiders, lobbyists, and bureaucrats became a new priority for many on the right. Trump’s outsider status and promise to “drain the swamp” resonated, even if he did not meet standards of moral character.
2.1 Government witch-hunts against Trump
The extent of corruption within the American government became increasingly evident as the targeting of Trump through government entities such as the IRS, DOJ, DHS, and FBI, coupled with the central role of the Democratic Party in these questionable exercises of governmental authority, became more conspicuous. The unequal enforcement of the law was so flagrant that numerous independent and Democratic individuals have privately acknowledged this disclosure.
These unaddressed falsehoods and shortsighted exaggerations, strategically concocted to impede Trump’s candidacy, encompass a range of actions. These include the Obama administration’s refusal to grant 501(c)(3) approval to conservative election organizations, the debunked Russia collusion allegations against Trump, which were funded by the infamous Steele dossier linked to the Hillary Clinton campaign, as well as the misuse of FISA courts. Furthermore, there were instances of the Obama administration’s utilization of the FBI and the Mueller Investigation in persistent attempts to establish Russian collusion with Trump, impeachment efforts stemming from a singular phone call with the Ukrainian president (which now appears ironic given the revelations about Biden’s dealings in Ukraine), various congressional probes, investigations into Trump’s tax records, and most recently, the events of January 6th. 1
2.2 Blacks for Trump
The uneven and illegitimate use of law against Trump is also so obvious that it has exploded the support of black Americans for Trump who feel a kinship with his experience of abuse by the power of the law. 2 3
2.3 Media bias and government collusion laid bare
Initially, Trump faced ridicule for his criticism of what he labeled “fake news,” alleging it to be nothing more than the propaganda wing of progressivism. However, as the evident bias in news coverage and the narrative spun by major news networks became increasingly apparent, especially when contrasted with the right-leaning perspective of outlets like Fox News and individual commentators such as Glenn Beck, Trump’s claims seemed to gain significant validation.
The overt deplatforming of conservatives on major social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube became so pervasive that the denials and attempts at obscuration by progressive leaders only served to deepen mistrust in the mainstream media, further reinforcing Trump’s perception of persecution. This sentiment was exacerbated when the “Twitter Files” were made public, revealing extensive collusion with the government in controlling messaging. Concurrently, Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, admitted to direct FBI influence over their content release decisions, including matters related to the Hunter Biden laptop controversy. 4 5
Even worse, the mainstream media took Donald Trump out of context so many times that a new term was coined for such deceptions, a “rupar,” named after Vox journalist Aaron Rupar, now infamous for spreading the purposeful hoaxes, including: 6
- Russia Collusion Hoax
- Steele Dossier hooker story
- Russia paying bounties on US soldiers in Afghanistan
- Trump called Neo-Nazis “Fine people”
- Trump called immigrants “animals” (he was referring to violent M13 gang members)
- Trump suggested drinking/injecting bleach to fight COVID
- Trump overfed koi fish in Japan
- Trump cleared protestors with tear gas for a bible photo op
- Hunter’s laptop was Russian disinformation
- Elections were fair because no court found major fraud. (procedural evasions caused the evidence to not even be presented)
- January 6th was an “insurrection” to overthrow the government
- Trump tried to grab the steering wheel of “The Beast”
- Border Patrol Agents whipped illegal border crossers (they were merely controlling their horses)
- Trump stored nuclear secrets at Mar-a-Lago
- Governor kidnapping plot (an FBI entrapment scheme)
- Trump mocked a reporter’s disability
- Government spending to subsidize green products reduces inflation
- Trump invited Nick Fuentes to dinner at Mar-a-Lago
Humorously, conservative independent iconoclast and creator of the Dilbert comic strip Scott Adams created an infamous quiz based on the many hoaxes.
3. Rejection of the GOP Leadership
There was also growing disillusionment with moralistic leaders who failed to stop liberal political gains. The GOP leadership was increasingly seen as giving lip service to religious conservatives, and it dawned on conservatives that their own team was nearly as compromised by the flows of money and power as the Democrats.
The fact that Trump enjoys being a bull in the China shop has served him well. Trump was willing to do what, in all likelihood, no other president of either party would have done: shake the global trading establishment out of its stupor, apply fully the existing tools of economic power, and get his administration to be innovative in creating other tools. That’s an enormous achievement in two years. 7
In fact, many conservatives, including religious ones, sent Trump to Washington as a big middle finger to the GOP leadership – or to put this anger more “Christianly,” Trump was sent as a prophetic sign that even a wicked man like Trump was more righteous than the GOP leadership.
4. Recognizing the work of God in Roe v. Wade’s defeat
Religious conservatives hoped that Trump, unlike the GOP leadership, would keep his promises to conservatism, and suprisingly, he did so in spades, save his increasing of the national debt. To our great pleasure, Trump put the pro life agenda to the top of his action list. Under his leadership, we got the first president to speak in person at the annual National Right to Life March. More than that, he kept his word and appointed pro life judges, to both the supreme court and federal courts around the country.
And the fruit of his actions? After 50 years of efforts, the overturning of the Roe v. Wade decision. If my fellow Christians want to stick to their prudish rejection of the man while missing this tremendous victory for the unborn, I have to take my leave of them. Think about it – Trump accomplished what is arguably the #1 priority of the religious right, but many don’t think this is an answer to prayer.
Trump accomplished what is arguably the #1 priority of the religious right, but many don’t think this is an answer to prayer.
5. Biblical Narratives that could explain Trump
In the light of Trump’s overwhelming efforts and success in supporting pro life causes, many religious conservatives began to suspect that God was at work in Trump’s successes. But how could that be, considering his three marriages, womanizing, questionable business practices, and crass manner? Many narratives, some of which can be combined, were created, admittedly post hoc, but in response to what many believe is God’s obvious use of a very imperfect man.
5.1 Trump became a true Christian
Some have surmised that, after a life of greed and debauchery, Trump became Christian while in office. There was some evidence of that, though cynics will default to the idea that Trump is merely playing conservatives like Hitler did the Church. 8
But interestingly, during his presidency, Trump changed his religious affiliation from Presbyterian to Non-Denominational. 9 Additionally, he surrounded himself with evangelical and charismatic preachers rather than mainline leaders.
The benefit of this approach, like the others, is that Christians can explain away his previous behaviors. In this narrative, Trump’s former actions were all part of his previously unredeemed life. In addition, any continued surly behavior, which is not per se as wicked as adultery, can be explained by his neophyte Christian status, since spiritual growth and character do not develop significantly in 1 year after 70 previous years of bad thinking and habits.
5.2 Trump as an analog of King Cyrus
An important historical event in the history of Israel was the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the second Temple. This was accomplished largely by the permission and support of an unrighteous king in the Edict of Cyrus. In this narrative, Trump is not Christian, but God is using him to confound the self-appointed wisemen (1 Corinthians 1:27) and accomplish his sovereign will. Like the Jewish prophets who served under pagan but God-honoring kings, we Christians can show them the respect owed to kings, whose authority comes from God (Romans 13:1).
5.3 Trump as an analog of King Josiah
Yet another popular comparison to a Biblical king, this time a Jewish one, is that of King Josiah. This is popularized in Jonathan Cahn’s book, The Josiah Manifesto. 12 Cahn is well known in Christian charismatic circles as the author of the influential book The Harbinger, which predicted certain coming judgments on the US for our sins, interpreting prophecy and signs, a.k.a. “prophecy in the news.”
Parallels between the our times and those of the Biblical King Josiah, who discovered God’s law and forestalled God’s judgment by restoring Israel to God after an ungodly leader, abound. In this analogy, Trump is the righteous king following the wicked one (Obama). Other parallels include the restoration of Jerusalem (Trump officially recognized it as Israel’s capital), the end of killing the unborn (the defeat of Roe v. Wade), and others. 13
5.4 Christians only need to partially believe these things
Most conservative Christians realize that prophecy in the news is a dicey, if not fanatical pursuit. They also realize that news of Trump’s conversion remains to be seen. But just the possibility of these things is enough for many of us to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Conservatism has shifted towards a more pragmatic and outcomes-oriented approach, willing to accept personal shortcomings if a leader can be effective in advancing the policy agenda. The emphasis on morality and virtue has diminished compared to the 1990s. The gross bias and manipulation of the media by the government is now an open secret, the unfaithfulness of GOP promises, the constant drum beat of largely dismissible legal attacks on Donald Trump, and the possibility, perhaps certainty of God working through Trump, supported by various biblical narratives, make conservatives willing to support him.
- 7 Other Witch Hunts Against Donald Trump (pjmedia.com) ↩
- Consistent Signs of Erosion in Black and Hispanic Support for Biden (nyt.com) ↩
- Royce White | Blacks for Trump (rumble.com) ↩
- Emails Reveal Biden Administration Coordinated With Facebook, Twitter (dailysignal.com) ↩
- Facebook’s Secret Partners (Dinesh D’Souza) ↩
- Urban Dictionary turns Vox’s Aaron ‘Rupar’ into a verb: ‘To purposefully mislead,’ ‘mischaracterize’ video (foxnews.com) ↩
- A Bull in the China Shop (RealClearPolitics) ↩
- Trump, Christian ‘Values Voters,’ And The Nazi Comparison (huffingtonpost.com) ↩
- Trump changes religious affiliation from Presbyterian to nondenominational Christianity (wasingtonexaminer.com) ↩
- Why Trump Reigns as King Cyrus: The Christian right doesn’t like the president only for his judges. They like his style (nyt.com) ↩
- The Trump Prophecy (youtube.com) ↩
- Facebook’s secret partners, Part 3 (Dinesh D’Souza) ↩
- The Josiah Paradigm’ Provides Clues to Trump’s Fall and the Biden-Harris Destiny (charismamag.com) ↩