Though sane and decent people everywhere were left aghast by Trump’s appalling photo-op last evening, his base was elated.
A few hours after the dystopian spectacle, I spoke on the phone with Robert Jeffress, a Dallas megachurch pastor and indefatigable Trump ally. He sounded almost gleeful.
“I thought it was completely appropriate for the president to stand in front of that church,” Jeffress told me. “And by holding up the Bible, he was showing us that it teaches that, yes, God hates racism, it’s despicable—but God also hates lawlessness …”
“I will never forget seeing [Trump] slowly & in-total-command walk … across Lafayette Square to St. John’s Church defying those who aim to derail our national healing by spreading fear, hate & anarchy,” wrote Johnnie Moore, the president of the Congress of Christian Leaders.
In an email to me, Ralph Reed, the chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, heaped praise on Trump for his visit: “His presence sent the twin message that our streets and cities do not belong to rioters and domestic terrorists, and that the ultimate answer to what ails our country can be found in the repentance, redemption, and forgiveness of the Christian faith.”
The sad truth is that the squalor that is Donald Trump is who the Evangelical Right really are; he can’t speak Jesus — but his barely-hidden malice, his automatic recourse to force, his conviction that science needlessly complicates matters, his disdain for expertise, that’s who they are, too.