Nothing — not even the revelation that his campaign is virtually broke, and that the top House Republican is refusing to fundraise for him — can stop Donald Trump from telling flagrant lies. He just can’t help himself.
I’ll share his latest. Trump met behind closed doors yesterday with a roomful of evangelical Christian leaders, hoping to demonstrate what a man of morals he truly is. At one point, he offered this critique of Hillary Clinton (captured on video by a pro-Trump attendee):
“We don’t know anything about Hillary in terms of religion. Now, she’s been in the public eye for years and years, and yet there’s no — there’s nothing out there. There’s like nothing out there. It’s going to be an extension of Obama, but it’s going to be worse, because with Obama you had your guard up. With Hillary you don’t, and it’s going to be worse.”
A thrice-married poster child for lust and greed plays the God card … that’s priceless. But let’s try to parse his remark. He insinuated that Hillary might be a secret foe of Christianity — worse than Obama, the secret Muslim — because “we don’t know anything about Hillary in terms of religion …. There’s nothing out there.”
Really? There’s nothing out there? It appears that Trump’s crack campaign staffers, all two of them, failed to brief him on what’s already out there. Clinton has spoken and written repeatedly about faith. For instance, here’s what she said, in detail, at an Iowa town hall meeting; her remarks have been online for the last five months:
“I am a person of faith. I am a Christian. I am a Methodist. I have been raised Methodist.
“I feel very grateful for the instructions and support I received starting in my family but through my church, and I think that any of us who are Christian have a constantly, constant, conversation in our own heads about what we are called to do and how we are asked to do it, and I think it is absolutely appropriate for people to have very strong convictions and also, though, to discuss those with other people of faith. Because different experiences can lead to different conclusions about what is consonant with our faith and how best to exercise it.
“The idea you heard on the radio of looking at individuals, I think, is absolutely fair. My study of the Bible, my many conversations with people of faith, has led me to believe the most important commandment is to love the Lord with all your might and to love your neighbor as yourself, and that is what I think we are commanded by Christ to do, and there is so much more in the Bible about taking care of the poor, visiting the prisoners, taking in the stranger, creating opportunities for others to be lifted up, to find faith themselves that I think there are many different ways of exercising your faith. But I do believe that in many areas judgment should be left to God, that being more open, tolerant and respectful is part of what makes me humble about my faith, and I am in awe of people who truly turn the other cheek all the time, who can go that extra mile that we are called to go, who keep finding ways to forgive and move on. Those are really hard things for human beings to do, and there is a lot, certainly in the New Testament, that calls us to do that.
“The famous discussion on the Sermon on the Mount should be something that you really pay attention to. There’s a lot of great Bible studies: What does the Sermon on the Mount really mean? What is it calling us to do and to understand? Because it sure does seem to favor the poor and the merciful and those who in worldly terms don’t have a lot but who have the spirit that God recognizes as being at the core of love and salvation.
“So there is much to be learned and I have been very disappointed and sorry that Christianity, which has such great love at its core, is sometimes used to condemn so quickly and judge so harshly. When I think part of the message that I certainly have tried to understand and live with is to look at yourself first, to make sure you are being the kind of person you should be in how you are treating others, and I am by no means a perfect person, I will certainly confess that to one and all, but I feel the continuing urge to try to do better, to try to be kinder, to try to be more loving, even with people who are quite harsh.
“So, I think you have to keep asking yourself, if you are a person of faith, what is expected of me and am I actually acting the way that I should? And that starts in small ways and goes out in very large ones, but it’s something that I take very seriously.”
And here’s what she said this winter on CNN:
“I’m grateful that I was both raised with a faith and that the faith has sustained me. I am very committed to what I believe is the discipline and the mandates that you should be responding to as a Christian and for me that has a lot to do with, you know, lifting up those who are the last, the lost and the least among us and trying to give more people a chance to chart a more positive for themselves. That’s what I’ve always cared about and that’s what I’ll do as president.”
And here’s Cathy Lynn Grossman, a reporter for the Religion News Service, writing about Clinton 14 months ago:
“She was, is, and likely always will be a social-justice-focused Methodist …. As a girl, she was part of the guild that cleaned the altar at First United Methodist Church in Park Ridge, Ill. As a teen, she visited inner-city Chicago churches with the youth pastor, Don Jones, her spiritual mentor until his death in 2009. During her husband’s presidency, the first family worshipped at Washington’s Foundry United Methodist Church, and Time magazine described her membership in a bipartisan women’s prayer group organized by evangelicals.”
And yet, on TV this morning, Trump still insisted that Clinton’s faith is a secret mystery: “I don’t know much about it, nothing. I just don’t know.” Maybe he should try Googling it.
By the way, a salient item about Trump surfaced today in a news story: “He has sought to hire a communications director, but has been rebuffed by at least two seasoned operatives who were concerned that working for Mr. Trump could harm their careers, according to Republicans briefed on the hiring efforts.” True that. Nobody with decent creds wants to mop up daily for a serial liar.