“The Church of The Donald” isn’t my phrasing — it’s from the Politico story by Ruth Graham about Trump and Christian TV.
I thought Christian TV had gone the way of Jim and Tammy Faye Baker: disgraced and lagging in public view. But Christian TV has been reborn over the last two years in the person of Mike Huckabee — father of the White House press secretary — and a cohort of prosperity gospel preachers, Trump fanatics, conspiracy theorists, and other formerly fringe players. Christian TV isn’t entirely white: black prosperity gospel preachers like the aptly named Creflo Dollar also find a home there.
If you’re not familiar with the prosperity gospel — popular megachurch TV preacher Joel Osteen is a big proponent — it’s the message that God rewards the faithful by making them prosperous, and they are entitled to their prosperity as a gift from God. If you’re not prosperous, you’re not in God’s good favor. And if you are, the more you give back to God’s church, the more prosperity you will get.
Trump fits right into the hucksterism, self-aggrandizement, and snake oil flavor of Christian TV:
“Whether or not that was true, Trump seemed to sense early on that the Christian television audience would be receptive to his campaign theme of a kind of resentful nostalgia for an imagined idyllic past. When I interviewed Brody last year for a profile, he said Trump shared with older evangelicals a longing for “1950s America,” characterized by patriotism, prayer in school and an absence of political correctness (though he took pains to clarify that the ’50s were not a good era for “race relations”). As Huckabee puts it on one of his promos on TBN, “If you like baseball, apple pie and you love your mom, I’ve got just the show for you.”
This weirdly fringe element of the Christian evangelical movement has always been with us. They’ve just never been so powerful in putting a grifter president into office before, and helping keep him there. Read the article if you have a chance — it’s fascinating.