In fighting back against impeachment, President Trump and his supporters like to point out that he was put into office by the votes of 63 million Americans. But according to some of his most ardent backers, the vote that counted was cast by God.
Energy Secretary Rick Perry restarted a debate over whether Trump’s presidency was ordained from heaven, telling Fox News that the former reality television star and businessman, despite his obvious moral shortcomings, was God’s choice for the Oval Office.
“God has used imperfect people all through history. King David wasn’t perfect. Saul wasn’t perfect. Solomon wasn’t perfect, and I actually gave the president a little one-pager on those Old Testament kings about a month ago and I shared it with him. I said, ‘Mr. President, I know there are people that say, “You know, you said you were the chosen one,” and I said you were. I said if you’re a believing Christian you understand God’s plan for the people who rule and judge over us on this planet in our government.’”
Perry, who plans to step down on Dec. 1 at a time when Democrats are looking into his involvement in Trump’s efforts to procure a Ukrainian investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden, added that God had selected Obama to serve as president too.
“Barack Obama didn’t get to be the president of the United States without being ordained by God. Neither did Donald Trump,” Perry asserted.
The view that an interventionist God plays a role in every single event on earth has had a notable resurgence in recent years, and harks back to a vision put forth in the Old Testament. Conservative evangelical commentator Erick Erickson explained that the belief that God picks U.S. presidents was rooted in the Bible and was therefore self-evidently true.
It isn't a controversial opinion to say God chose Trump. It's scriptural. God ultimately gives us our leaders. He also gives us plagues. But God put Obama into leadership and then Trump. He also sends locusts and turns rivers to blood.
— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) November 25, 2019
Nikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was asked in an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network host David Brody what, in effect, God was thinking by putting Trump into office.
“I think it goes to show that everything happens for a reason. And the way I see it is: Look at the results of Donald Trump as president,” Haley responded. “Look at, we have more friends and family with jobs than we have ever had before. We have the economy moving in a direction, it’s, you know, hasn’t been in a long time but is doing great. We are acknowledging real truths with a president that had the courage to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”
JUST RELEASED: @NikkiHaley on whether God put @realDonaldTrump in place as president for such a time as this? She Says, "everything happens for a reason... I think God sometimes places people for lessons and sometimes places people for change." Her @700club story Tuesday! @POTUS pic.twitter.com/8woXuAfAh1
— David Brody (@DavidBrodyCBN) November 25, 2019
Like Perry, Haley uses Trump’s election in 2016 as proof in and of itself of God’s plan.
“I think that God sometimes places people for lessons, and sometimes places people for change, and you can look at everything that’s happened and I think you’re seeing a lot of change and I think we’re gaining a lot of lessons from it all as well,” Haley said.
Evangelist Jim Bakker has taken this argument one step further, producing a chart purporting to show a drop in earthquakes that corresponded with Trump’s victory in November 2016.
Jim Bakker claims that Trump 's election corresponded to a global drop in earthquakes. pic.twitter.com/xjcw4lgf8y
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) November 25, 2019
Oddly, Bakker ignores the spike in earthquakes shown on the very same chart that followed the relatively brief pause, and which also occurred during Trump’s presidency.
Shortly after the 2016 election, Bakker warned that counties that voted for Hillary Clinton should brace for earthquakes. Brooklyn and the other boroughs of New York City that overwhelmingly voted Democratic have so far been spared.
This view that God is controlling who becomes president raises a number of questions: Why then do we bother voting? Why did some of these same Republicans resist the policy decisions of Obama if he was also divinely chosen? And are there any actions that can be viewed as not predetermined by God?
Many of the Founding Fathers were deists, meaning they held the belief that while God created the earth and moral law, God does not intervene in the course of human events. Adherence to God’s moral law was, to them, a test that would determine a person’s entry into heaven.
Some evangelicals, like CBN founder Pat Robertson, have blanched when they see Trump making decisions they regard as immoral.
“I believe ... the president of the United States is in danger of losing the mandate of heaven if he permits this to happen,” Robertson said of Trump’s decision to allow Turkey to advance on Kurdish positions in northern Syria.
“The president, who allowed [Jamal] Khashoggi to be cut into pieces without any repercussions whatsoever, is now allowing the Christians and the Kurds to be massacred by the Turks,” Robertson added.
Still, many evangelicals cite the King James Bible’s book of Romans, chapter 13, verse 1, to support the belief that attaining power is itself a sign of providence: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”
In his 2016 victory, Trump earned the support of 81 percent of evangelicals. During the campaign he said that his favorite book was the Bible, but, when pressed, couldn’t name a single passage or verse during an interview with Bloomberg News. Since becoming president, however, Trump has thrown his support behind bills in states that would allow public schools to teach the Bible in class, appointed a slew of conservative anti-abortion federal judges, and moved the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, which to many of the faithful is a way of hastening the Second Coming of Christ — and that matters, literally, more than anything in the world.
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