Donald Trump and Religion

On January 20, 2017 in his Inauguration Speech, Donald Trump quoted a biblical verse in part of his speech. The quote is as follows:

“The Bible tells us, ‘How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.’ We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity. When America is united, America is totally unstoppable.”

While this may seem like a cry to rally Americans together, he shuts out other religions in the process. Directly quoting the Bible as well as referring to a singular God may leave many people on the outside. While 70 percent of Americans are Christians, there is still another 30 percent that does not worship the same deity as Donald Trump. As we have learned in POS470, it is important to analyze closely why things are said and done. Words can be up for all kinds of interpretation. This post will look at possible reasons for why Donald Trump quoted what he quoted.

A major part of Trump’s campaign ran on a fear of Muslim terrorists entering the United States. He spoke out many times regarding sending refugees back to the Middle East as to protect Americans on their home soil. Whether this statement was accurate or not, he still used it many times throughout his campaign. This part of his Inauguration Speech could have been a rally cry for Christians to stand together. While this is extremely religiously motivated, he could have left out other religions because a big part of his campaign involved denouncing Muslims. Making a statement about all religions coming together as one would have gone against what he has been preaching for years. His scare tactics would be void and he may lose followers if he comes out with a statement such as that.

Another reason for Donald Trump using that particular quote could be the fact that Presidents before him have continually quoted the Bible in their speeches. It has become a norm over the decades. For example, past Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Harry Truman, and George W. Bush have quoted the Bible numerous times throughout their presidencies, as well as many others. Due to the fact that 70 percent of Americans are Christian they could see the Bible as a way to bring most Americans together. It also could simply be tradition that allows them to make such quotations.

While quoting the Bible may seem harmless and a silly aspect to debate, we live in an extremely polarized world. Especially in the United States, fear of Muslims has escalated dramatically. We have a President who seeks to divide the American people, even if he does not state it explicitly. In this day and age, it is important to be inclusive. Religious differences should not be a means of insult and violence. People are people, regardless of who they worship. Not all Muslims are terrorists. Not all Christians hate Muslims. Especially as President, Donald Trump needs to be wary of the fact that immigrants created this country, and that religious differences are not a means for putting other people down.


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3 Responses to Donald Trump and Religion

  1. azwoodland says:

    I think my ears perked up when I first heard President Trump say “One Nation, Under One God.” You heard the dog whistle too, right? This phrase, said numerous times by Trump on the campaign trail, and implied in the inaugural address, rung in my ears.

    What a strange way to bring about unity – to discount the deities of every religion besides Christianity? I agree with you, it might seem trivial to get hung up on a phrase. But, as someone who is not religious, I couldn’t help feel a bit well, left out.

    I mean, I’m used to all of the “God Bless America”s that are sprinkled into politicians’ speeches. I hardly pay attention to those. But, this is different. NPR ran a story a while ago that echoes my sentiment. They quote Barry Lynn, the director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, who states:

    “This is very different because this makes it seem like he, as the president of the United States, could somehow bring us together by converting us all and making sure we salute the same flag… It adds to this overall ominous tone that America is going to become about certain types of people first, and everybody else maybe not so much part of the American pie anymore” (McCammon 2016).

    But what about the melting pot? What about valuing our diversity and the opinions of others?

    Maybe, our politicians have lost sight of this. At least some of them. It’s easy to do when in a homogenous environment. And the other branches of government? Well, they’re not that diverse, at least when it comes to religion.

    In 2015, the 114th Congress was overwhelmingly Christian. 92% identified as Christian, according to the Pew Research Center (Pew Research Center, 2015). The Supreme Court is not much different, all the Justices are either Roman Catholic or Jewish (Weigant 2014).

    I am hopeful for the future. While I believe that religion should be celebrated and embraced, politics is not the place to do so. Perhaps, as we millennials age, the rhetoric will shift away from religion. We are, after all, much less religious than our parents’ or grandparents’ generations. (Masci, 2016). “One Nation, under One God” might simply become “One Nation.” I think that statement is powerful enough.

  2. MasonC says:

    I think one of the most surprising things listening to Trumps speech live was just HOW much religion he referenced within his speech. I think that it’s fair to say that we expect our Republican presidents to be a little more openly religious than their Democrat counterparts, but it was the fact that he probably referenced the bible more his inauguration speech during than he did during the entirety of the campaign. I know I wasn’t the only one to notice this as the commentators on CNN brought up this fact as well.
    What I’m curious to see over the next couple of months (and years) will be exactly what role religion will truly play in Trumps administration. While it’s easy to point to this Muslim ban and go “oh yeah, he’s banning Muslims because he’s a Christian”, I think that it’s fair to note that Trump would not be considered a great example of a Christian by the far right. Based on his past alone (multiple divorces, a plethora of gay friends) one could easily propose that Trumps newly found religion isn’t as genuine as he claims it to be, that it is in fact a facade that Trump is and will use to achieve a political goal. Honestly to me that thought is more terrifying. If Trump is truly a born again Christian then you could at least assume that his policy would use that as some sort of guide for his administration. However, if religion is just a means to an end for President Trump, then I think the unpredictability of his future actions would be cause for great concern. Either way, more time will have to go by before we can say with any certainty.

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