One of Donald Trump’s strengths in the eyes of his supporters is that they think that he is genuine and is willing to say what he believes even if it offends the elites. In fact, he has tapped into the fact that his willingness to be ‘politically incorrect’ is a large part of his attraction. But when it comes to religion, he seems to want to be ‘politically correct’ in paying lip-service to the Bible.
He recently gave an interview where he seemed to be obviously trying to say things that he does not believe in. This arose as a result of the fact that evangelicals form a considerable part of his support (they support him more than any of the other candidates) and it clear he is actively seeking their support, as evidenced by his calling a meeting with some leaders in that movement. He has also started saying that his own book The Art of the Deal is only his second favorite book, after the Bible.
Of course, pretty much all the Republican candidates can be expected to favor the Bible but it sounds particularly disingenuous coming from Trump since there is no evidence that Trump has been particularly religious in the past.
So it was interesting to see his response in an interview where he was asked some explicit questions about the Bible and he was clearly bluffing to cover his ignorance, unlike the other questions where he answers confidently even when it looks like he is making stuff up (like whom he voted for in past elections). The Bible portion begins at the 7:09 mark where he is asked what his favorite verses in the Bible are (he declines to specify) and whether he is a Ne Testament guy or an Old Testament guy (an unusual question, to be sure) and he says ‘both’. No doubt some staffer is quickly finding some bland verses that he can quote the next time he is asked.
Sarah Posner says that for Republicans, piety is a means to an end.
Give Trump credit for one thing: exposing, in plain view, that much of the religious right is driven more by politics than by religion; that is, more by mythology than theology. The usual demands that candidates pledge their fealty to the Bible, to the Christian nation, to the idea that America is in decline because of secularism have been suspended for Trump. That’s befuddling many observers. But the Trump phenomenon exposes how the piety test is often a proxy for other, irreligious motives.
Trump knows that as long he gives generic praise to the Bible, people wont care that he has no clue about what it actually contains.
You have to hand it to Trump, he is clarifying what the Republican party truly stands for, however much they may dislike it being made so explicit.