Donald Trump had some things to say about Christianity and “faith” during his GOP convention acceptance speech on Thursday night. Emily McFarland Miller and Jack Jenkins have it covered at Religion News Service. Here is a taste:
Nearing the end of his speech, Trump returned to the theme of the “great American story.”
That story began with “our American ancestors” sailing across the ocean to “build a new life on a new continent,” the president said.
“They loved their families, they loved their country, and they loved their God,” he said. When opportunity beckoned, they picked up their Bibles, packed up their belongings, climbed into their covered wagons, and set out West for the next adventure.”
What Trump’s version leaves out is the Native American ancestors already living on the continent when European explorers and settlers arrived. It was the Doctrine of Discovery, a series of papal edicts, that gave Christian explorers the right to claim lands they “discovered.”
It also leaves out slavery, pointed out John Fea, a professor of American history at evangelical Messiah College.
The story of American progress is more complicated than Trump made it out to be, Fea told RNS.
“Manifest Destiny was deeply informed by the long-standing evangelical idea that white Protestant ‘civilization’ must advance Westward. God gave the continent to Christians and it was their ‘destiny’ to conquer and tame it,” he said.
“This entire project was drenched in the unholy mix of evangelical Protestantism and white supremacy.”
But the emphasis on the role of Christian faith specifically in America’s founding was well-received by some Christians.
“I believe for those Americans who want a country that’s founded on faith and freedom and on law and order, they were excited by what they heard the president say tonight,” Pastor Robert Jeffress, one of Trump’s most vocal evangelical supporters, told Fox News afterward.
Read the entire piece here.