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Donald Trump Eats, Prays, Hates

Donald Trump at the National Prayer Breakfast (PBS NewsHour)

I was traveling all day back from Rome, and missed President Trump’s disgusting performance at the National Prayer Breakfast. Well, I’m home now, and … Michael Gerson is right. Excerpts:

First, the president again displayed a remarkable ability to corrupt, distort and discredit every institution he touches. The prayer breakfast was intended to foster personal connections across party differences. Trump turned it into a performative platform to express his rage and pride — the negation of a Christian ethic. Democrats have every right and reason to avoid this politicized event next year. And religious people of every background should no longer give credence to this parody of a prayer meeting.

And:

If this is what the National Prayer Breakfast has become, it has ceased to be religious, ceased to be useful and ceased to be necessary.

Read it all. 

Trump is a small, ugly, godless and graceless man. This is not news — but don’t you start with the whiny “but you’re still going to vote for him” stuff again. Maybe I will, but that’s because I would rather have a president who is all those things, but who in the end does what he can to protect the lives of the unborn than a president who is personally decent, but whose policies and judicial appointments permit that slaughter. But that is no excuse for what Trump said, and the disgraceful way he behaved towards the Democrats present in the room, towards everyone in that room, and, I mean it, towards Almighty God.

There’s no reason for anyone with the fear of God and the barest minimum of self-respect to go to sit among a bunch of pious waffle-nibblers and listen to the president insult people and aggrandize himself. The organizers of that event owe the others present a public apology.

UPDATE: From a reader who was there:

I was there, as a volunteer, and can say I was truly disturbed by a number of things. The only saving grace is that the event reminded me I definitely need to be praying more and thinking about politics less.

First, I must say it was an honor to help all kinds of people there, many of whom have done great things in the face of persecution – a Coptic nun, Buddhist monks, Jewish leaders, the pastor of one of the churches burned in the attacks in Louisiana. There were also politicians and ambassadors from places that don’t get along well, sitting near each other, and hopefully humanizing and moving to reconciliation. Afterwards I saw priests, rabbis, imams, people of all types, chatting, hugging, taking pictures together and thanking each other. That is the true point of the event.

However, my first indication something was off came upon the President’s entry – between waving around not one but two newspaper covers and shunning half of the head table (which happened to be the side where Nancy Pelosi, Cece Winans, and others sat) we weren’t off to a great start.

What I found more disturbing though, was the large amount of pure adulation I could feel running through a noticeable portion of the crowd. Folks who’d introduced themselves as Pastors earlier were clearly enthralled with their earthly ruler, between the whoops, cheers, and joy on their faces. What mainly got me though was the uncomfortably long applause. Many stopped clapping, but others did not, and as a result we all stood there a long time, waiting for it to end. I was reminded of accounts of the Soviets, when nobody wanted to stop clapping first. We were well past the bringing down folks on thrones and exalting the humble, that is for sure.

Second, to follow up Arthur Brooks’ entertaining yet thoughtful speech about loving your enemies with a speech taking direct aim at the faith of Mitt Romney, Nancy Pelosi, and whoever else he’s thinking of came off downright unhinged to this traditionalist, Orthodox Christian. We pray every service for our leaders, but for their wisdom and understanding, not that they crush their enemies and air their petty grievances.

It was disturbing, and I was equally disappointed by the applause lines, campaign rally atmosphere, and lack of concern by many of my fellow Christian’s at the event. I’m not from or much familiar with the evangelical world so I admit that, but responding with “yeahs”, “amens”, and other affirmations when an obviously angry and contemptuous man is lashing out at his enemies during a PRAYER BREAKFAST WHERE WE JUST TALKED ABOUT LOVING OUR ENEMIES was crazy. I can’t think of another word to describe it. The speech came as close to possible to saying Jesus was wrong about loving our enemies without going there.

Look, its silly it needs to be said but:I’m no Nancy Pelosi fan, and horrified of the Democratic party on many issues particularly abortion (but also economics, liberty, etc) , so this doesn’t mean they are good either- I’m also very worried about the expanding imperialistic Presidency without any checks or balances. David French’s recent piece about how “If we are to have a King, he must be a good King” is must-read.

If you thought there was any chance the internal, preexisting faith of the President might have some small hope of being a moderating influence I think this should disabuse you of that notion entirely.

In the spirit of the event though, I think I’ll pray that some miraculous change occurs because that’s what it will take for a different course. As for next year, I can’t imagine that the President is invited to speak. That might be the perfect new tradition for the event – invite the President, pray for him and others, but have them simply attend without remarks.

It would be very interesting to have the event apologize on behalf of the President – we’d get to see if he lashed out at the National Prayer Breakfast of all things like he did Mitt Romney, plus make a large part of the mostly southern evangelical support for the event come to terms with “what side to pick”.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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