June 3, 2020

On Morning Joe, author and journalist Sarah Posner talked about the white evangelical reaction to Trump's photo op at St. John's Church this week.

"To them, he is heroic. To them, that was a sign of strength," she explained.

"So every time we have a -- you know, every day is a crisis in the Trump presidency, but every time we have a big crisis like impeachment or what's going on right now, everybody looks to some voices -- like Ben's, for example, or the Christianity Today editorial back in December that called for Trump's impeachment and they think, oh, this is the moment that's going to change how white evangelicals view Trump and they are going to turn on him, but that never comes to pass.

"So you might hear a few people speak out against what Trump did on Monday, but in reality the self-reinforcing bubble that white evangelicals exist on social media, in church, other organizations that they subscribe to or belong to, in these circles Trump is being portrayed as a strong figure who went over to the church to defend religious freedom."

"Sarah, I'm curious about Pat Robertson speaking out," Claire McCaskill said.

"I was struck by that. It is incredibly unusual that a strongly visible white evangelical leader is actually criticizing President Trump. will that cause any wobble in this community? I mean, obviously, the fact that Donald Trump has never opened a Bible, you would think that would have some impact. But we're obviously disappointed it doesn't appear to have had any impact on this religious community. Will a leader like Robertson speaking out have any impact?"

No, Posner said, and talked about Franklin Graham defending him, saying the Episcopal Diocese should be thanking him for protecting the church.

"And so I think that that is much more of the prevailing view right now because Trump, you know, in the social media and media that evangelicals absorb, the protesters are often depicted as leftist outsiders that Trump is trying to protect American streets from. And so Trump is, like I said, portrayed as the defender of America in this view. And then he'll also do something like he did yesterday, which was sign an executive order on international religious freedom, which bounces everything back to something that he did to protect religious freedom even though on Monday night he tear-gassed clergy on the patio of St. John's helping protesters, giving them water and snacks and so forth.

"So this is a very typical back and forth with Trump and his evangelical base to keep them in the supportive camp."

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