Even worse than offending the Founding Fathers, you are offending Americans of faith by continually saying “I pray for the President,” when you know this statement is not true, unless it is meant in a negative sense. It is a terrible thing you are doing, but you will have to live with it, not I!
For Trump, whom prominent evangelical James Dobson called a “baby Christian” months before the 2016 election, challenging the sincerity of Pelosi’s faith — and perhaps the faith of others who believe and vote like her — is a testament to the idea that in Trump’s America, faithfulness to him and his worldview are the truest tests of morality.
Pelosi made her comment about praying for the president recently in an exchange with James Rosen, a reporter for Sinclair Broadcast Group. He asked her if she hated Trump, something many conservatives have suggested is the main motivation for the Democrats’ desire to impeach the president.
“I don’t hate anybody,” Pelosi replied. She continued:
This is about the Constitution of the United States and the facts that lead to the president’s violation of his oath of office. And as a Catholic I resent your using the word hate in a sentence that addresses me. I don’t hate anyone. I was raised in a way that is full, a heart full of love, and always pray for the president. And I still pray for the president. I pray for the president all the time. So don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that.
Pelosi’s response resonated with some people — Catholics and others. They explained that Pelosi’s posture toward the president was not rooted in hate, but disagreement on how he leads and the impact that his decisions have on Americans and people around the world — in part rooted in her faith.
Author Bill Press, who was an altar boy in the Catholic Church, sought to explain how Pelosi’s faith is shaping her response to the president.
“On political issues, Catholics are all over the map,” he wrote in the Hill earlier this month. “They could differ on the time of day. But there are two bedrock principles, central to the gospel, that unite them all: a commitment to the Social Gospel and a rejection of hate for love.”
Pelosi’s leading the impeachment inquiry, not because she hates Trump, but because she loves this country. And, yes, she prays for him every day — probably to St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes.
But many supporters of the president did not believe Pelosi when she said she prays for Trump.
Some dismissed the sincerity of her faith, given her support for abortion rights. To them — and Trump — Pelosi’s commitment to Catholic teachings is questionable at best.
“Pelosi does not practice what she preaches,” Micaiah Bilger wrote for Life News, a conservative media outlet that focuses on abortion, stem-cell research, euthanasia and related issues.
Against her faith and basic human rights, she consistently opposes pro-life legislation — even minimal protections for babies from abortion. More than 80 times this year, she blocked a House bill that would protect newborns who survive abortions from infanticide.
There are reasons Trump and his supporters may don’t believe Pelosi chooses prayer over hate when reflecting on Trump. For one, projection -- something Trump is accused of often -- could be a motivation. Multiple Trump supporters said they backed the president out of anger about — and perhaps even hate for — the direction of the country during the past administration. To them, if your support for Trump is somewhat connected to hate, perhaps it’s easy to believe that people’s criticism of Trump comes from the same place.
But another reason Trump possibly doesn’t believe — or says he does not believe — Pelosi’s claim that she prays for him is because her actions and words are so different from those of supporters who regularly pray for the president. The House speaker believes that Trump is unfit for the office of president. Trump’s faith — or at least the faith of many of his supporters — leads him to believe that not only is he fit for office, but that he was chosen by a higher power to be there.
I previously addressed the topic for The Fix:
It appears that Trump has embraced the belief himself, tweeting quotes from conservatives comparing him to the “second coming of God” and even proclaiming “I am the chosen one” and looking toward the heavens while defending his administration’s trade war with China.
It is understandable why Trump, despite being someone not known for having a deep religious faith, would question the religiosity of his critics. Many of the people surrounding him, who are much more familiar with the Bible and Christianity, believe he is doing God’s will. As do many of the white evangelicals who support him at record levels.
But one thing Trump’s letter appears to do is ignore the diversity of religion among the American people. Despite claiming that Pelosi offended Americans of faith, Trump does not speak for the country’s multiple religious communities. Some Americans of faith — like black Protestants, for example — are more politically aligned with Pelosi than the white evangelicals who support Trump most.
In his jab at Pelosi, the president is demonstrating a misunderstanding, or even ignorance, about the diversity of faith in America — and how many religious people like Pelosi, believe Trump is unfit for office yet continue to pray for him. Or he is doing something that his critics believe is worse, looking to erase, minimize or ignore religions and worldviews that don’t support him. And that is what many people of faith who support impeachment believe could be the lasting effect of the Trump presidency.