Donald Trump’s Kryptonite

Donald Trump needs help on the religion front.  Many of you have seen this:



Unlike some of his opponents, including Scott Walker, John Kasich, Mike Huckabee and especially Ted Cruz, Trump sounds very awkward whenever he talks about religion.  

I think we have finally found his kryptonite.

If he wants to continue to be taken seriously he is going to need to learn to speak “evangelicalese.” But this language is not easy to learn for non-natives such as Trump. And it is hard to fake.

Take this interview with CBN’s David Brody,  for example:




In this interview Trump says that he always goes to church on Christmas and Easter.  I think Trump thinks that this answer is going to help him win votes among the viewers of Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network.  He couldn’t be more wrong.  Evangelicals, you see, are very good at distinguishing themselves from other Christians (mostly mainline Protestants) by pointing out that they are not the kind of people who only go to church on Christmas and Easter.  

Anyone who has listened to an evangelical testimony is familiar with this part of the conversion narrative.  It goes something like this: “As a young man or woman I went to church on Christmas and Easter, took communion, and tried to live good moral lives. I always thought I was a Christian. But then I found Jesus and realized that I was just ‘playing church.’  Being a follower of Jesus Christ is not about religion, it is about relationship.”  

Evangelicals have always identified the quality of this born-again experience–this new “relationship” with Jesus–by how often one attends Sunday church, mid-week Bible studies. “small groups,” and other congregational events.

Trump is a smart politician.  He is hoping to find an antidote to the negative effects that this form of kryptonite will have on his campaign.  As a result, he is turning to televangelist Paula White.

According to this article in The Wall Street Journal, Trump has made a previous appearance on the Paula White television show.  Warning: There is some heavy theology in this video. (That is sarcasm):

So who is Paula White?  She is the pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in the Orlando area. She was formerly the pastor of the Without Walls International Church in Tampa, a congregation she founded  with her ex-husband “Bishop” Randy White.  She has been married three times and just recently married the guy who wrote the the song “Don’t Stop Believing.” (Yes, you read that correctly).

Charity Carney has a nice piece on her theology at Religion in American History.  Here is a taste:

White’s prosperity gospel is saturated with gendered anecdotes and analogies, which she uses to make the message relevant to diverse or largely African American audiences. Men and women alike are attracted to the energetic blond, who at once plays into the stereotypes of southern femininity but breaks through traditional barriers of female leadership. She openly references her father’s suicide (often labeling this event as the source of her “daddy issues”), being sexually abused as a child, and former struggles with anorexia and bulimia, using past troubles to contrast current blessings. At the same time that White preachesabout spiritual empowerment and confronting the past to achieve present success, she impresses upon her followers the need to obey male authority within appropriate boundaries. “When I give honor I fill the terms of my commitment,” White teaches, “All of us have a father. So all of us have an obligation according to biblical standards and principals to honor our father. Now maybe you lost your father and he’s not living but you have a spiritual father (for me it’s Bishop Jakes). You have someone in your life that’s a figure of authority. If not, you have anarchy.” White presents an interesting blend of traditional evangelical motifs (the spiritual father is a figure revered since the revivals of the early 19th century) and modern consumer religion that promotes self-help and fulfillment.

Blessings are a constant thread that runs throughout White’s sermons, which rely on consumer culture as reference points. In one 2010 sermon, for instance, White compared God’s blessings to a shipping company, confiding in her audience that she “orders a lot through the mail.” When she wanted “cute shoes for a conference,” she was not there when the company tried to deliver them, much like God tries to send messages to his followers but they do not always receive them. As a result, her shoes, and God’s plans, can be delayed. “The enemy has been trying to discourage you,” she exclaims, “make you disbelieve by DELAY. BUT DELAY doesn’t mean denial.” By comparing God’s blessings to modern consumerism, White makes the prosperity gospel relevant to many women in her congregation but at the expense of playing into and promoting dominant gender stereotypes. At the same time that she admits to her shopping habits, she also presents her destination as that of a conference, indicating her professional status. 

It should be interesting to see the kind of evangelicals White assembles for this meeting with Trump. The Wall Street Journal article does not mention anyone who will be attending, but I am guessing that White will choose leaders from her own prosperity gospel circles who will baptize Trump’s business success and love of free-market capitalism.  Don’t be surprised if Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyers, Creflo Dollar, or Kenneth Copeland show up for this shindig. 

Where is Kate Bowler when we need her?



14 thoughts on “Donald Trump’s Kryptonite

  1. Enjoy the day after the elections when you once again find yourself whining in disbelief ala Karl Rove in 2012 when the GOP loses yet again. As for facts, you didn't present any. You presented opinions. That is how you normally do things.

    Better to have no values atall, then, like the Democrats defending organizations that tear out babies' faces and sell them for spare parts.
    Yeah, how about those doctored videos? Don't try to ride the high horse. The GOP has none to get on with their bigotry and racism, including yours.

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  2. You are looking at percentages. I am looking at total numbers

    You presented no evidence to that effect. Further, the percentages are all that's relevant, and they have been holding steady.

    I find it very interesting how a group of people that purport to have high moral values will be able to willingly vote for a man who does not share those moral values.

    How tiresome and judgmental. Better to have no values atall, then, like the Democrats defending organizations that tear out babies' faces and sell them for spare parts. As they said of Roosevelt, if he “became convinced tomorrow that coming out for cannibalism would get him the votes he so sorely needs, he would begin fattening up a missionary in the White House backyard come Wednesday.”

    Don't even go there.

    Warren Throckmorton had a nice poll he put up on his board (you do still visit even though he kicked you off it for wasting everyone's time with your self-denial, don't you?) which showed evangelical leaders are not supporting Trump.

    Yes, I referenced the same poll. You are not listening, nor presenting anything resembling facts, only beating your Democrat chest. This is a waste of time. Goodbye.

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  3. You are looking at percentages. I am looking at total numbers. The demographics of the nation are changing as conservatives die off due to natural aging. The younger generation is not conservative.

    As for the rest of your blathering, John's most recent post puts paid to that. Your ability to enjoy your self-delusion is interesting. I am looking forward to the day after the election to see what excuse you come up with for the GOP's presidential loss.

    Warren Throckmorton had a nice poll he put up on his board (you do still visit even though he kicked you off it for wasting everyone's time with your self-denial, don't you?) which showed evangelical leaders are not supporting Trump. That is going to have some implications as the race moves from popularity to actual voting.

    As John pointed out, religion is going to be Trump's Achilles heel.

    I find it very interesting how a group of people that purport to have high moral values will be able to willingly vote for a man who does not share those moral values.

    I do not see how Trump can win the GOP nomination without the support of evangelicals. No GOP candidate can win the nomination without that support either. Yet, as proven by some recent elections, the Democratic candidate can win without that support. In a bad economy. With Obamacare. With Gay Marriage in the wings. With Birthright Citizenship. With illegal immigration.

    Let's face it, the Democrats have built a coalition that appeals to a wider cross section of America than the GOP has. Let's face it, when Joe Biden who is not even running as of yet beats the GOP frontrunner, that doesn't say much for the GOP's future with its current platform.

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  4. Blogger Jimmy Dick said…
    The number of conservative Christian voters declines every year while minorities and liberals increase.

    Well, your only attempt at fact

    Blogger Jimmy Dick said…
    The number of conservative Christian voters declines every year while minorities and liberals increase.

    was refudiated.

    The percentage of white Christian voters did not decline recently, FTR.

    http://blogs.rollcall.com/rothenblog/elections-2014-exit-polls-white-evangelical-vote/?dcz=

    In the recent midterm [2014] elections, white evangelicals or born-again Christians made up 26 percent of the electorate and voted for Republican candidates 78 percent to 20 percent, according to the National Exit Poll.

    Two years before in the 2012 presidential election, white evangelicals made up 26 percent of the electorate and voted for Republican Mitt Romney 78 percent to 21 percent over President Barack Obama. And in 2010, white evangelicals made up 25 percent of the electorate and voted for Republican candidates 77 percent to 19 percent.

    so this is a waste of time at this point.

    But we will see, true. I do not misunderestimate the ability of the left wing to ignore facts and argument and try to demagogue their way through, as we see here. However, perhaps this time around, with unlikable and less able candidates such as Hillary and Bernie, the press will not carry their water as they did with Obama, and allow them to lose like they let the equally unappealing Gore and Kerry.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/01/04/430715/-The-Press-Hated-Gore-and-They-Hate-Hillary-Too-UPDATED

    The Gore-ing of John Kerry
    They've already made fact-free charges that he's a “phony” with deep “identity” problems. Will a toxic press corps eager for a takedown poison the senator's presidential chances the way it did Al Gore's?

    http://www.salon.com/2003/05/07/kerry_9/

    From your side of the aisle, not mine. Good luck.

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  5. We will just have to wait for the 2016 election and Democrat victory. I find the conservative ability to generate incredible self-denial to be a part of their psychological makeup.

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  6. It's not certain that the Democrats have reached their floor on the white vote, esp the religious white vote. It might get worse.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/12/opinion/thomas-edsall-the-demise-of-the-white-democratic-voter.html

    The percentage of white Christian voters did not decline recently, FTR.

    http://blogs.rollcall.com/rothenblog/elections-2014-exit-polls-white-evangelical-vote/?dcz=

    In the recent midterm [2014] elections, white evangelicals or born-again Christians made up 26 percent of the electorate and voted for Republican candidates 78 percent to 20 percent, according to the National Exit Poll.

    Two years before in the 2012 presidential election, white evangelicals made up 26 percent of the electorate and voted for Republican Mitt Romney 78 percent to 21 percent over President Barack Obama. And in 2010, white evangelicals made up 25 percent of the electorate and voted for Republican candidates 77 percent to 19 percent.

    Further, that the Democrats can match their record black turnout of the Obama Era is not self-evident.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/06/11/how-black-voters-could-determine-the-2016-election/

    Democrats cannot choose between a vote-share or turnout drop, and these factors might both trend downwards in 2016. The question is how much.

    see also

    http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/washington-whispers/2015/08/14/will-obamas-african-american-voters-turn-out-in-2016

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  7. The number of conservative Christian voters declines every year while minorities and liberals increase.

    Here's the bottom line: Romney could not beat Obama in 2012. A white man with the evangelical backing in a bad economy using Obamacare and conservatism as a weapon could not defeat a sitting black president in a bad economy who just happened to be the focus of conservative outrage.

    If the GOP can't figure out that they need to change then they are going to collapse as a party.

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  8. Any significant evangelical Trump vote is not in evidence at this time. However, if he were somehow able to win the nomination, it's not yet evident they would stay home. Contra some predictions, they turned out for Romney, a Mormon.

    http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/an-evangelical-disaster-what-happened-to-the-religious-vote-20121113

    As a result, 79 percent of white evangelicals voted for Romney on Tuesday. That's the same percentage that Bush received in 2004, and more than Sen. John McCain received in 2008. The evangelical vote was 27 percent of the overall electorate — the highest it's ever been for an election.

    The Democratic Party has badly lost the majority of the white vote religious vote

    Catholics 60-40
    Protestants 70-30
    Evangelical Protestants 80-20

    and in 2016, the black vote will likely will fall off without Obama on the ballot.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/05/election-2014-religion-evangelicals_n_6107842.html

    Election Day 2014 was no different, with exit polls showing that Protestants and other non-Catholic Christians made up about half of the electorate and tended to cast their votes in favor of the GOP by about 60 percent.

    More specifically, 26 percent of voters self-identified as white evangelical or born-again Christian. Of that group, 78 percent voted for Republican candidates.

    “Conservative voters of faith were the largest constituency in the electorate in 2014,” Ralph Reed, founder and chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, said in a statement. “Their share of the electorate exceeded that of the African-American vote, Hispanic vote, and union vote combined. Religious conservative voters and the issues they care about are here to stay. They will be equally vital in 2016. Politicians of both parties ignore this constituency at their peril.”

    The religious landscape of Tuesday's elections was largely similar to the last midterm election in 2010 and to the 2012 presidential election, according to Religion News Service blogger Mark Silk.

    About 71 percent of white Protestants and 59 percent of white Catholics voted Republican, according to exit polls. Individuals who attended religious services regularly were also more likely to vote Republican.

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  9. If pro-life is the only thing on your political radar, then you need to be voting for someone else besides Trump. Talk is one thing. Action is quite another. So far the only thing Trump has done has said what one group of people want to hear. John rightly pointed out that Trump is an E&C Christian. He will say whatever the evangelicals want to hear, but do his actions bear out what he says?

    Right now, the whole thing is about polls. When votes begin to count that's when this changes. Again, I think it is kind of silly to even be concerned with Trump. I just do not see any GOP candidate winning the 2016 election. He has thoroughly angered the Hispanics and the latest poll from Quinnipac shows he has next to no support from blacks despite what Trump wants to say and believe.

    It kind of reminds me of a joke I saw on a Dungeons & Dragons meme of Trump. “My gnome wizard has a charisma score in the hundreds. He is loved by everyone. Just ask them. They'll tell you.”

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  10. http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/412977/extinction-pro-life-democrats-congress-john-fund

    The Extinction of Pro-Life Democrats in Congress

    As the nation marked the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade this month, polls show the country is more pro-life than ever. A Gallup poll finds that even among Democratic voters, about a third are “pro-life.” But in Congress, the party that celebrates “diversity” and “tolerance” is more monolithic than ever.

    According to Democrats for Life, the number of pro-life Democrats with voting privileges in Congress can now be counted on the fingers of one hand.

    This week, Democratic congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio dropped his pro-life position. “My faith is important to me, and like many Catholics I strive to adhere to its principles, especially one of the essential and highest teachings of ‘judge not, lest ye be judged,’” Ryan wrote in the Akron Beacon Journal.

    The reality is that the Democratic party is clearly now more one-sided on the abortion issue than the Republican party. Senate minority leader Harry Reid gave lip service to a pro-life position until recently but has abandoned that view.

    Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Jesse Jackson, and Dick Gephardt all opposed abortion funding or denounced abortion early in their careers but have now said goodbye to all that. It was only five years ago that 20 House Democrats voted to defund Planned Parenthood. Today, only three of those 20 remain in Congress — Collin Peterson of Minnesota, Dan Lipinski of Illinois, and 81-year-old non-voting delegate Madeleine Bordallo from Guam. The rest have retired and been replaced by pro-choice Democrats or been defeated by Republicans.

    It’s been just over 20 years since pro-choice Democrats blocked the late Pennsylvania governor Bob Casey from speaking at the Democratic convention, simply because he was pro-life. Now it would be difficult to even find a pro-life Democrat to give a speech.

    http://www.democratsforlife.org/index.php/elected-pro-life-dems/pro-life-democrats

    Pro-Life Democratic Senators

    Senator Joe Manchin, WV
    Senator Joe Donnelly, IN

    http://www.lifenews.com/2015/08/26/donald-trump-planned-parenthood-is-an-abortion-factory-that-sells-baby-parts-like-automobiles/

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/donald-trump-abortion-evolution

    http://thefederalist.com/2015/08/10/donald-trumps-abortion-pivot/

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  11. I would say that says a lot about desperation. If Christian evangelicals are willing to vote for a man who does not share their beliefs, are they not desperate for anyone who is not a Democrat? That seems to belie what they say about only supporting people who share their beliefs.

    I personally think Trump is going to crash and burn long before the GOP convention so arguing over will they or won't they vote for him is kind of pointless at this time.

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  12. Most of what shows up on Google on “Trump” and “evangelicals” is the left using the non-existent nexus as cover to snark at each. At best he enjoys ~20% support, and an informal canvass of leading evangelicals by World magazine shows 80% saying they definitely WON'T vote for him.

    http://www.worldmag.com/2015/08/rubio_surges_among_evangelical_insiders

    But if he's going to support a 20-week limit on abortion and defend religious freedom, he'll still be preferable to almost any imaginable Democrat.

    WORLD’s survey of evangelical leaders and insiders
    The complete results from the Aug. 27 survey

    5. Who will you absolutely not vote for in the primaries? (Check as many as apply.)

    Bernie Sanders, 86.4%, 76
    Hillary Clinton, 85.2%, 75
    Martin O’Malley, 83.0%, 73
    Donald Trump, 80.7%, 71
    Lindsey Graham, 60.2%, 53
    Chris Christie, 55.7%, 49
    Rand Paul, 48.9%, 43

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