Over at Politico, Matthew Nussbaum asks “Has Trump found religion in the Oval Office?” Nussbaum has noticed that Trump has been mentioning God more in his public appearances. I have noticed the same thing.
Here is a taste of Nussbaum’s piece:
President Donald Trump has increasingly infused references to God into his prepared remarks — calling on God to bless all the world after launching strikes in Syria, asking God to bless the newest Supreme Court justice, invoking the Lord to argue in favor of a war on opioids.
He’s also taken other steps to further cultivate a Christian right that helped elect him, granting new levels of access to Christian media and pushing socially conservative positions that don’t appear to come naturally to him.
One of the first interviews Trump sat for as president was with the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody.
“I’ve always felt the need to pray,” Trump said in that late-January interview. “The office is so powerful that you need God even more because your decisions are no longer, ‘Gee I’m going to build a building in New York.’ … These are questions of massive, life-and-death.”
“There’s almost not a decision that you make when you’re sitting in this position that isn’t a really life-altering position,” Trump added. “So God comes into it even more so.”
Language like that has the Christian conservatives who helped lift Trump to the White House nodding their heads in approval.
Perhaps Trump is realizing that the sheer magnitude of his job as POTUS requires him to turn to God for strength. Or perhaps he just has some really good speech writers who understand his political debt to the evangelical community.
It is probably too early to assess the role that faith has played in the Trump administration. During the election evangelical leaders insisted that Trump was a “baby Christian“–a recent convert to the faith who needed time for spiritual growth.
Whatever the case, Trump has a long way to go to equal his predecessor on this front. This past weekend we posted on Trump’s decision not to continue Obama’s Easter Prayer Breakfast. He has yet to staff the Office of Faith-based & Neighborhood Partnerships. His references to God have consisted of little more than platitudes.
Actually, I don’t think it’s fair to compare Trump to Obama on this issue. Obama could often come across as a theologian-in-chief. Think about Charleston. Think about all those National Prayer Breakfasts. This past weekend we called your attention to his Easter Prayer Breakfast reflections. He may be the most explicitly Christian president in United States history.