Eric Trump claimed that his father, Donald Trump, “literally saved Christianity” during a radio show interview in North Dakota last week.
He made the comment while giving a list of the achievements he attributes to his father.
“He literally saved Christianity, there’s a war on faith in this country by the other side. I mean, the Democratic Party, the far left, has become the party of the quote-unquote atheist, they want to attack Christianity, they want to close churches, they want to – they’re totally fine keeping liquor stores open, but they want to close churches all over the country,” he said, before continuing his list of accomplishments.
Even with Eric Trump’s clarification, it was not immediately clear what he meant when he said his father “literally saved Christianity.”
While it was clear that Eric Trump’s gripe seemed rooted in coronavirus-related church closures, the decision to re-open places of worship was largely in the hands of state and local officials, not the president.
Eric Trump’s reference to liquor stores is likely based on the conservative complaint that churches were forced to remain closed while businesses like grocery stores and liquor stores were allowed to re-open.
Religious gatherings – particularly those that occur indoors – often last for an hour or more and often emphasise community, whereas purchases made at a liquor store often involve person-to-person interaction that lasts less than a minute.
New research also suggests that the overwhelming number of coronavirus infections are driven by “super spreader” events in which a disproportionate number of infected people spread the virus to a much larger number of individuals.
Recent studies suggest that 10 to 20 per cent of infected people are responsible for nearly 80 per cent of infections.
An article in Scientific American laid out the earmarks of “super spreader” events.
“Scientists have identified factors that catalyse such events, including large crowd sizes, close contact between people and confined spaces with poor ventilation. Current evidence suggests that it is mostly circumstances such as these, rather than the biology of specific individuals, that sets the stage for extreme spreading of the novel coronavirus.”
Even without debunking Eric Trump’s assertion that his father was preventing leftists from shutting down churches, the claim that the president “saved Christianity” is questionable.
Christianity in the US does not appear at risk of being extinguished. In 2014, nearly 70 per cent of American adults identified as Christians, and every single American president has identified as a Christian since the founding of the country. The US has the largest population of Christians on the planet, though it is not the largest of Christians per capita.
While Eric Trump may view his father as a saviour of the faith, some Christians – even amoung evangelical denominations that overwhelmingly gave their support to him in 2016 – are peeling away from the Church of Trump.
Last December, Mark Galli, the editor in chief of Christianity Today, penned an op-ed calling for Mr Trump’s removal from office following the revelation that he tried to withhold funding for Ukraine in exchange for that country digging up dirt on Democratic challenger Joe Biden and his family for use in the 2020 US election.
“Faith 2020”, a group of 500 prominent faith leaders – including Christians – endorsed Mr Biden over Mr Trump, and, more recently, a group of evangelical Christians called the “Pro-life Evangelicals for Biden” formed to throw Christian support behind the Democratic challenger.
Even with the recent defectors, however, white, evangelical Christians are still far more likely to vote for Mr Trump than Mr Biden. The president took 80 per cent of the white, evangelical Christian vote in 2016.
Mr Trump – who once claimed his favorite book of the Bible was “two Corinthians”, has often played to the Christians in his base, particularly on matters of abortion rights.
Twenty years ago Mr Trump said he was “very pro-choice”, although he campaigned on anti-abortion policies, and admitted that his recent US Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett could – if confirmed – rule in a case that could transform Americans’ reproductive rights.
Source: The independent