To know Donald Trump’s faith is to understand his politics

By Martyn Percy

The only surprising feature of Donald Trump’s first year in office is that it has been entirely predictable. So when I mention to colleagues that I have been researching Trump’s religious faith, reactions vary from mild scoffing (“I thought he was his own religion”) to bafflement and surprise. But Trump has a faith. And if you want to know how the next few years of his presidency will pan out, understanding Trump’s religion is an important key.

Start with his inauguration ceremony. Pastor Paula White was one of the clergy nominated to pray for Trump on the day. A televangelist and exponent of the “health, wealth and prosperity” movement, she preaches the “prosperity gospel”, an unorthodox approach to Christianity that says God wants people to be rich, and that he makes them wealthy as a sign of his blessing. So the richer you are, the more obvious it is that God loves you, and the stronger your faith is.

White teaches that God rewards “faithful” people who invest in His promised providence. You invest by making deposits – faith, prayers and gifts of money – to God (the church, naturally, is the “steward” of your financial gifts). So if you want to be healthy and wealthy, all you need to do is give, and then believe, and all your heart’s desires will be realised. The more you invest, the greater the likely rewards.

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