Donald Trump made an appearance at the annual National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday to deliver a typically wooden, TelePrompted speech (video below). Most notable from a style perspective was his awkward, overly coached pauses for applause after nearly every sentence. But just his presence is peculiar. As a thrice-married, confessed sexual abuser, who doesn’t think he needs to ask God for forgiveness, he becomes emblematic of this evangelical organization’s hypocrisy.
The President’s speech was a basket of pseudo-spiritual cliches that represent the whole of what he has learned about religion. But if he can’t read a ten page document from the Intelligence Committee, he surely has never read through the bible. So he mechanically recites platitudes about “the Lord’s grace,” about faith being “central to American life,” and about how “blessed we are to be Americans” then he unloads one of the oldest tropes about what our Founding Fathers intended for this nation at its birth:
“Our founders invoked our Creator four times in the Declaration of Independence. Our currency declares ‘IN GOD WE TRUST.’ And we place our hands on our hearts as we recite the Pledge of Allegiance and proclaim that we are ‘One Nation Under God.'”
Whoever wrote this tripe for Trump was as ill-informed as he is about both religion and history. First of all, the Founders very deliberately referenced a “Creator” to avoid any appearance of favoritism. That’s something our Muslim-banning president couldn’t care less about. Secondly, the references to God on currency and in the pledge of allegiance are relatively recent additions that have little significance in our nation’s traditions.
However, the most annoying rhetorical rubbish in this simpleton sermonette is the hoary affirmation that “our rights are granted to us by God.” Sure. And storks bring babies, and fairies shell out cash for used teeth. These childish notions can only be believed by the sort of incurious and dependent minds that populate cults. Which explains why Trump’s followers applauded this line so enthusiastically.
If our rights were actually granted by God, there would be no use for the Constitution at all. Why bother to write down protections for free speech or privacy or speedy trials if those rights were already assured by an omnipotent power? And did God actually ordain from on high the bearing of arms by well-regulated militias? He must really be a stickler for detail.
It’s a sad testament to human progress that so many people still rely on such intellectually thin concepts. This is not an indictment of religion per se. There are plenty of deep thinkers among the faithful of all flavors. But those who fall for dimwitted drivel like this are not in that group. It is obvious to any thinking person that if we value our rights we must make certain that we grant them to ourselves and document it with specificity. Otherwise, they do actually exist, no matter what any particular God says.
Trump’s Prayer Breakfast speech was just his latest performance art, pretending to be pious before an audience of blind worshipers. And on a side note, that audience also welcomed some of Trump’s Russian pals. In fact, as CNN reported, “As many as 60 representatives from Russia” attended the affair. That’s more than three times the number who attended last year. Now why do you suppose that was?
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— Fox News (@FoxNews) February 8, 2018