Donald Trump sat down with TV preacher Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network the other day, and looking ahead to Election Day, the president expressed confidence that Republican turnout among evangelical Christians will be high.
“Well they’re going to show up for me because nobody’s done more for Christians or evangelicals or frankly religion than I have. You’ve seen all the things that we’ve passed including the Johnson Amendment and so many things we’ve nullified. Nobody’s done more than we have.”
As a presidential candidate, religion was frequently a point of concern for the Republican. Trump claimed to go to a New York church that rarely saw him. Asked if he’s ever asked God for forgiveness, he said, “I don’t think so.” Asked whether he’s drawn more to the New or Old Testaments, Trump replied, “Both.”
And, of course, there was the whole “Two Corinthians” incident.
But two years later, Trump nevertheless believes “nobody” has done more for “religion” than him – a boast that’s even more audacious than the president’s usual whoppers. I’m glad he at least tried to back this up with some proof, pointing to the demise of the Johnson Amendment, but there’s a problem: the Johnson Amendment isn’t anti-religion and Trump hasn’t gotten rid of it.
To be sure, the president seems to think he’s scrapped the tax law prohibition on houses of worship intervening in political campaigns. As recently as August, Trump said in a closed-door meeting with evangelical he’d gotten “rid of” the law.
He hasn’t. The law remains intact. Houses of worship that intervene in partisan campaigns are putting their tax-exemption at risk because this part of federal tax law hasn’t been changed.
What’s far less clear is why Trump got this so wrong. Is he genuinely that confused about his own record? Does he hope the Christian Broadcasting Network and its viewers won’t know the difference between fact and fiction?
It’s entirely possible that the answer to both questions is, “Yes.”