Republicans Are Starting to Regard Trump as an Actual God Now

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Oddsmakers have now given Donald Trump a less-than-50-percent chance of re-election less than a year from now — but for some Republicans, the president is approaching demigod status. 

Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who has already announced that he will depart at the end of 2019 after getting swept up in the Ukraine/impeachment imbroglio, told Fox & Friends on Sunday that his boss is the “chosen one” sent by God. He’s no longer an aberration whose election resulted from a quirk of U.S. electoral law, but a linchpin of the divine plan. Perry added that, “If you’re a believing Christian, you understand God’s plan for the people who rule and judge over us on this planet in our government.”

We’ve known for a while how the same evangelicals — 81 percent of them, anyway — who lectured us all about personal responsibility and the importance of Biblical morality have gone into contortions defending their main guy, but this messianic impulse is straight-up creepy. Perry wasn’t alone, either. Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley went on The 700 Club to tell Pat Robertson that she, too, thinks Trump was sent directly by God.

I think God sometimes places people for lessons and sometimes places people for change,” Haley said, using unfalsifiable, everything-happens-for-a-reason logic to prop up a claim that could easily be said about Obama’s presidency, or the Democrats retaking the House in the midterms, or literally anything at all. 

It gets weirder. Televangelist Jim Bakker — who used to be married to the eyes of Tammy Faye —went so far as to claim that Trump’s election coincided with a global drop in earthquakes. Obviously, Donald Trump is not one of the X-Men and he doesn’t control tectonic plates. Plus, as Right Wing Watch noted, Bakker just made it all up, anyway. 

It’s always earthquakes with them. Charlatans have always loved to read divine providence in natural disasters, but American hucksters particularly love earthquakes. It’s probably because they tend to strike godless California — whereas tornadoes and hurricanes that devastate comparatively devout regions of the country never seem to be indicators of God’s wrath.

Supernatural abilities are only part of this increasingly Armageddon-like equation. Mega-pastor Franklin Graham believes that impeachment supporters are possessed by demons. Lesser-known figure Stephen Strang echoed this, claiming that Satan is behind Trump’s political enemies. Preacher Rick Wiles, whose entire shtick seems to be ushering in the End Times as quickly as possible, has gone full anti-Semite, calling impeachment a “Jew coup.”

This is a coup led by Jews to overthrow the constitutionally elected president of the United States,” Wiles said, adding that “when Jews take over a country, they kill millions of Christians.”

Whoa. Aside from being absolutely false, that statement is remarkable for how brazenly irresponsible and dangerous it is (and how it overlooks that Trump’s daughter and son-in-law are observant modern Orthodox Jews). For decades, the Republican-evangelical axis has made noises about the GOP being blessed by God, and the party’s transformation into a cult of Trump has been pretty frictionless. But why has all this Trump-is-basically-Jesus-now chatter happened in the span of a week? 

In Haley’s case, it might just be shrewd calculation. Having left the administration a year ago, she’s been deliberately fortifying her position as a Trumper in good standing lately, sparring with the now-excommunicated former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. But as Trump’s political survival looks iffier and iffier, it might just be the inverse of the increasingly paranoid search for leakers and enemies. Impeachment now seems assured. So if Trump is to face an existential battle against Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi, everyone in this saga who isn’t 100 percent committed to the president’s ultimate triumph must be a Deep State Never-Trumper. There’s no better way to make it out alive than to offer his insatiable ego the ultimate compliment: You, sir, are of God, and I am with you.

Still, this feverish evangelical fealty is especially bizarre because Trump’s own admissions of guilt would seem to give Christian nationalists an opening. Removing the preternaturally dishonest, twice-divorced, serial sexual abuser from office would make room for true believer Mike Pence to ascend to the presidency, which is exactly what we might think they really wanted all along. God works in mysterious ways.

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Peter-Astrid Kane

Peter-Astrid Kane

Peter-Astrid Kane (they/them) is the Communications Manager for San Francisco Pride and a former editor of SF Weekly.