It should probably come as no surprise given Donald Trump’s reputation as a man who worships wealth, that there will be prosperity gospel preachers among the six faith leaders present at the inauguration of Donald Trump will.
There are two of them: Paula White, a friend of Trump’s who was investigated by the Senate Finance Committee in 2011 for her shady fundraising practices – and like Trump refused to cooperate with investigators; and Detroit Bishop Wayne T. Jackson. This is a first for the United States. But then this is Donald Trump, the man with a golden toilet.
And Jesus so loved the rich he gave his life for them. Or so you’d think. Jesus’ evolution into a plutocratic champion of the ultra-wealthy beggars belief. That is certainly the outlook of the prosperity gospel, the idea that Jesus will make you rich.
The other four are Billy Graham’s son, Rev. Franklin Graham, who thinks secular government is new to the United States (maybe he missed God’s absence from the Constitution); the nation’s highest-ranking Catholic, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the United States Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB); Evangelical Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; and the Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Jewish human rights center, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, named for Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal.
Trump told CNN in 2007 that, “Paula White is not only a beautiful person, both inside and out, she has a significant message to offer anyone who will tune in and pay attention. She has amazing insight, the ability to deliver that message clearly, as well as powerfully.” You can be pretty sure he meant to say “anyone who will tune in and pay.”
Franklin Graham’s bigotry is well known. He said the 2012 Election was this nation’s last call. We survived and prospered and ended up with Trump, who somehow isn’t our nation’s last call. Graham also said ISIS would bow down to Jesus but Trump thinks they’ll bow down to him, so that might get interesting.
Dolan is no better and his USCCB lobbied vociferously against the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8. In one controversial incident in 2013, he was alleged to have used the NYPD to bar gay Catholics from St. Patrick’s Cathedral. He did, however, pen an op-ed to attack Trump over his views on immigration last year.
Bishop Jackson, who owns Impact Network, a TV station, is the pastor whose church Trump visited in a blatant propaganda opportunity this summer. Jackson sells blessed water and the Detroit Free Press relates that “He owns one of Detroit’s biggest mansions, a 39,000-square-foot home in Palmer Woods with 10 marble fireplaces,” so he should be a comfortable fit for the money-worshiping and profane Trump.
Rodriguez, though he criticized Trump’s plan to deport immigrants, wrote in July of this year that Democrats had failed Hispanics, blaming Obama and party rather than an obstructionist Congress for failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
Rodriguez says he will ask God to “inspire and guide our new president.” It might be better to ask God to inform him. It turns out Trump, who can’t think past 140-characters, doesn’t know what Israeli settlements are, or what to call the West Bank. Or just about anything else.
Except for supporting Trump’s position on Israel, Democrats will have nothing to complain of in Rabbi Hier. He was named by Newsweek in 2007 and 2008 as the “Most Influential Rabbi in America” and is also the recipient of two Academy Awards. His inclusion among these others is interesting, however, given his center’s earlier criticism of Trump’s attacks on Muslims, and his statement that,
“The greatest threat to mankind comes not from secularists and atheists, but from religious fanatics and zealots.”
He will be sharing the stage with some of them, at the inauguration of a man who encourages religious fanatics, and indeed, let himself by anointed by them as a sanctification of his bigotry.
Inaugural Committee Chairman Tom Barrack called this “a diverse set of faith leaders,” though there is really not much diversity as they are three Christians and one Jew, with no Mormon and not a Muslim among them, let alone a faith leader of any other religion. But then, of course, there are no women in Trump’s cabinet either. He has never shown that he needs their blessing in anything.
Barrack insists these men will “honor the vital role religious faith plays in our multicultural, vibrant nation.”
How Donald Trump has organized the cast around him says a great deal about him. He did not invite a mainline Protestant pastor of the sort Rick Santorum assures us are “lost to Satan.” He did not invite a Muslim or a representative of a minority religion, which would have been a meaningful step toward inclusion if multiculturalism was what he truly planned to embrace.
Except for Rabbi Hier, there is nothing normative about this group. These are the outliers, the fringe being mainstreamed, the same extreme right-wing elements Kerry warned of in Israel, their unholy, un-American quest publicly sanctified by God.