Even since before he was elected, many right-wing Christian leaders and many of their followers proclaimed god had chosen Donald Trump to be the 45th president of the United States.
When Barack Obama was president, these same right-wing Christians weren’t exactly making headlines declaring Obama’s presidency was the hand of god. In fact, they were declaring the opposite. In 2014, televangelist Pat Robertson said, “We need to do something to pray to be delivered from this president. He is a disaster. An absolute disaster.”
But here’s the thing: If you follow the logical thinking that comes up with the idea that an all-powerful god is responsible for Trump’s election, you also have to treat Obama’s presidency as god’s will. You can’t have it both ways. Anyone who does try to have it both ways, who tries to basically state that Obama is not part of god’s plan, is essentially saying that Obama is more powerful than god.
Obama, of course, is not more powerful than god. Which is why it’s both silly and dangerous to credit him with the outcome of an election. But that hasn’t stopped Christian leaders from claiming to divine the choice of divinity. To be fair, at least one of those leaders, Paula White, is consistent on the matter.
“And with that said, do I believe that God raises up authority? Do I believe that he sets one up and he pulls one down? When I read from Genesis to Revelation, I do believe that. So I don’t believe that just for President Trump. I would believe that for President Obama, I would believe that had Hillary [Clinton] been in [office],” she said in an article by Newsweek.
But she seems to be the only one.
Franklin Graham, the son of the late Billy Graham, has emerged as one of Trump’s leading worshippers. In an interview regarding his new book about his father, Graham said of Trump, “I think somehow god put him in this position.”
He also said, “I think some of these things, that’s for him and his wife to deal with. I think when the country went after President Bill Clinton, that was a great mistake. That should have never of happened. I think this thing with Stormy Daniels and so forth is nobody’s business.”
In a 1998 op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, Graham was one of the people in this country who did go after Clinton for his personal conduct and sexual activity outside his marriage. “If he will lie to or mislead his wife and daughter, those with whom he is most intimate, what will prevent him from doing the same to the American public?” asked Graham. To those who like Graham, this probably looks like a sincere change of heart. To people who dislike him or are a little more cynical, it looks more like Graham changing his position to give rhetorical cover to Trump.
America’s first black president is much like America’s first black baseball player, Jackie Robinson. Robinson knew he had to be impeachable when it came to his personal behavior, on and off the field. He had to be better than the white ballplayers because people were looking for any excuse to kick him out of baseball and keep other black players out. It’s the same with Obama. There are things America’s first black president could never have gotten away with. Meanwhile, Trump can commit every sin in the book and people like Graham won’t ever speak against him.