Recently, most of Donald Trump’s offensive rants have focused on race and ethnicity, but not religion. Any chance he can pick up the slack and start making faith-based insults, too?
As it turns out, yes, he can.
Donald Trump questioned Hillary Clinton’s commitment to her Christian faith on Tuesday, saying that little is known about her spiritual life even though she’s been in the public eye for decades.Speaking to a group of top social conservative evangelical Christian leaders at a gathering in New York City, Trump said, “we don’t know anything about Hillary in terms of religion.”
“Now, she’s been in the public eye for years and years, and yet there’s no – there’s nothing out there,” Trump said. “There’s like nothing out there. It’s going to be an extension of Obama but it’s going to be worse, because with Obama you had your guard up. With Hillary you don’t, and it’s going to be worse.”
As The Hill’s report noted, the behind-closed-doors meeting was not open to the public or to journalists, but one faith leader recorded Trump’s comments and posted them online.
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee added that the religious leaders in attendance should “pray for everyone, but what you really have to do is pray to get everybody out to vote for one specific person.”
Let’s unpack this a bit, because even by Trump standards, this is pretty amazing.
First, to suggest Americans “don’t know anything about” Hillary Clinton “in terms of religion” is absurd. The Democratic candidate has spoken about her Methodist faith many times, including lengthy comments about her views on Christianity and the Bible at an Iowa event earlier this year.
Second, I’d love to hear more about why, exactly, Trump and his like-minded friends had their “guard up” about President Obama’s faith. What is it, specifically, that led Trump and his allies to put their “guard up” about his religion?
Third, when Trump urged faith leaders to “pray to get everybody out to vote for one specific person,” he was approaching a potentially dangerous legal line. Under federal tax law, houses of worship and those responsible for tax-exempt ministries cannot legally intervene in political elections. Taking steps to have parishioners “vote for one specific person” is problematic.
And finally, of any political figure in America, Donald J. Trump is perhaps the last person who should be questioning others’ faith.
The GOP candidate’s clumsiness on matters of faith has been a point of concern for some conservative voters before, and last summer, the New York Republican refused to say which parts of Scripture are important to him, saying it was “private.” (Asked whether he’s drawn more to the New or Old Testaments, Trump said, “Both.”)
And now Mr. Two Corinthians wants to complain that “we don’t know anything about Hillary in terms of religion”? Seriously? I don’t expect much from Trump, but for him, there is no upside to picking this particular fight.