At many points during his presidential campaign, President Donald Trump, a self-described Presbyterian, desperately tried to use the religion card to get votes — and to some extent, the strategy seemed to work out for him.
However, now that he holds the highest office in the country, the cards laid out by him don’t seem to be playing out in his favor.
Even though the former reality TV star wasn’t really keen on developing a religious understanding, he has always touted himself as being a “great Christian” to his supporters.
“I did very, very well with evangelicals in the polls,” the president reportedly told the pastors of First Presbyterian Church — his childhood church in Jamaica, Queens — and Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, who visited Trump Tower two days before his inauguration.
The pastors, who had arrived to pray with the next president, gently reminded Trump that neither of them was an evangelical.
Trump was close to Manhattan’s Marble Collegiate Church’s former priest, and the late pastor’s son, Norman Vincent Peale. But prior to the elections, Peale denounced the president. He mentioned that he “cringes” when Trump called upon his father’s name in the 2016 election campaign.
“I don’t respect Mr. Trump very much. I don’t take him very seriously. I regret the publicity of the connection,” he told The Washington Post. “This is a problem for the Peale family.”
The real estate mogul’s childhood church also allegedly doesn’t want to be associated with him anymore. Though the church had an affluent all-white congregation when Trump attended the house of worship, now most of the congregants are people of color.
Many of these people object Trump’s policies, especially the xenophobic travel ban.
“The policies he’s promoting go against our biblical teaching,” Philip Malebranche, a first-generation Haitian immigrant and First Presbyterian parishioner, told CNN. “Our president should be representing us and not a minority of people.”
Atsu Ocloo, an immigrant from Tokyo who recently became U.S. citizen, said he faced many problems while applying for his green card. It was the church’s pastor who helped him financially to apply for a new one.
"The whole world is in this church," Ocloo said.
"Every day I pray for (Trump), so that the Holy Ghost should enlighten him."
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters