Media outlets and social media were buzzing this week about White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders’ Wednesday interview on the Christian Broadcasting Network, during which she said that God wanted Donald Trump to be president.
Here’s a new flash: Since the earliest days of his presidential campaign, Trump has been hearing from Religious Right leaders, including his personal “spiritual adviser” Paula White, that he was chosen and anointed by God to be president; they routinely portray his 2016 victory as miraculous—the direct result of divine intervention.
The Christian Broadcasting Network is every bit as much a pro-Trump propaganda outlet as Fox News, with the added bonus of promoting Trump as God’s anointed. The same can be said for the Pentecostal media platform, Charisma, and other conservative Christian media networks.
And if Trump is God’s chosen instrument, Religious Right leaders repeatedly tell their followers, it follows that Trump’s opponents—including his “deep state” enemies—are opposing God and are in league with Satan’s demonic forces of darkness.
During the 2016 campaign, Religious Right leaders worried that their supporters might have qualms about voting for a guy with such glaring character flaws concocted a huge array of religious justifications for voting for Trump. Trump had an “Elijah mantle.” He had a “Cyrus anointing.” He had a “breaker anointing” to demolish the evil spirits of “political correctness.” He was “God’s chaos candidate.” He was like King David. He was like Samson. And so on.
Trump campaign adviser Frank Amedia, with the help of the Charisma media operation, told Christians before the election that God was using Trump to prepare America for the return of Jesus Christ.
After Trump’s victory, his Religious Right backers were quick to declare it the result of divine intervention to give America a reprieve from God’s judgment. “The Lord did this!” exulted Michele Bachmann, the former congresswoman, on the night of the election. Televangelist and End Times prepper Jim Bakker called Trump’s victory “the greatest miracle I have ever seen.” Evangelical pollster George Barna told attendees at the 2017 Values Voter Summit that the explanation for Trump’s victory is that “God did a miracle for us.” The same message has been disseminated from other well-known preachers, not to mention YouTube personalities you may have never heard of, but who have hundreds of thousands of subscribers.
The night of Trump’s election, says former campaign adviser Frank Amedia, God told him to create the POTUS Shield network, a group of activists who consider themselves modern-day apostles and prophets. They mobilize prayer and activism on behalf of Trump and what they say is his divine mission to create a massive shift on the Supreme Court, bring about an end to abortion in America, and generally bring their biblical worldview into policy.
Two months after Trump was sworn in, Amedia told attendees at a POTUS Shield gathering that Trump personally acknowledged God’s hand in his victory, telling Amedia, “I know it was God.” A few month later, Amedia told televangelist Jim Bakker’s viewers that Trump had begun to receive “downloads” that “he’s beginning to understand come from God.”
As a result of the relentless “Trump was anointed” propagandizing on Christian media, millions of Americans do in fact believe that Trump’s election was the fulfillment of prophesy and the result of God’s supernatural intervention in the 2016 election. Which helps explain why conservative evangelicals remain Trump’s most intensely and stubbornly loyal supporters. And it explains why Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a conservative evangelical Christian herself, could comfortably say on camera that God wanted Trump to be president.
Trump has rewarded that loyalty by giving the Religious Right the kind of judicial nominees they have dreamed about, by filling influential administration positions with Religious Right activists, and by opening the White House to a steady stream of evangelical leaders for “listening sessions.”
It’s a two-way street. Trump gives the Religious Right what it wants—like moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem (in order to pave the way for Jesus’ return to earth) or backtracking on progress for LGBTQ Americans—and in return he counts on them to rally support for administration positions, such as Trump’s demands for border wall funding.
Having people constantly whispering in the supremely egotistical Trump’s ear that he is on a divine mission seems frighteningly akin to pouring gasoline on a fire, but there’s no sign that the Religious Right is backing off that rhetoric. In fact, some have predicted that Trump will have some kind of high-profile religious experience that will transform him into a modern-day John the Revelator and provide the world with a demonstration of God’s power.