There’s Nothing Wrong With Trump Calling Prosperity Gospel Peddlers ‘Hustlers’

There’s Nothing Wrong With Trump Calling Prosperity Gospel Peddlers ‘Hustlers’

How out of touch with actual conservative Christians does the media have to be to think mocking televangelists is a bad thing?
Mollie Hemingway
By

Anti-Trump criticisms fail in part because his opponents don’t understand what actually motivates his supporters.

A couple weeks ago, for example, former Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), tweeted out a picture of what she claimed was the inside of one of Donald Trump’s homes. “Attention Trump supporters: Trump is an elite. This is how he chose to decorate his home. Gilt, gold, mirrors. He doesn’t see you, he uses you,” the tweet read.

It was completely unclear why she thought that Donald Trump having fantastic wealth and decorating his home the way he chose to meant that he “uses” his voters. Nevertheless, it received nearly 100,000 retweets and likes. Meanwhile, actual Trump supporters think how he decorates his home, which looked particularly nice in the McCaskill tweet, is his own business and instead focus on how his policies benefit them.

I thought of that while reading McKay Coppins’s piece in The Atlantic claiming that anonymous sources report Donald Trump thinks “prosperity gospel” peddlers are hustlers.

It was pitched as something horrific, but that would be a good thing in the mind of most Christians, who also think “prosperity gospel” peddlers are hustlers. The headline falsely asserted that anonymously sourced criticism of said hucksters meant that “Trump Secretly Mocks His Christian Supporters: Former aides say that in private, the president has spoken with cynicism and contempt about believers.”

Someone needs to alert the political reporters at The Atlantic that there is a difference between Christians and “prosperity gospel” charlatans such as Creflo Dollar. The story does not substantiate the headline. The headline was all that was read by many people who mock Christians for supporting one of the few politicians who support them and their policies.

Trump allegedly told Michael Cohen, his longtime personal attorney who pleaded guilty to lying to Congress, about Dollar’s quest for a Gulfstream G650. He reportedly said that Dollar was a “hustler.” Of Benny Hinn’s purported faith healings, he reportedly said, “Man, that’s some racket.” And he supposedly commented neutrally about Joel Osteen’s television empire.

The only thing disappointing to most Christians about these reported comments is that he wasn’t more harsh toward Osteen. A publication that has a far better handle on the views of average Christians is The Babylon Bee, a Christian satire site. Here are some of their satirical headlines about Creflo Dollar:

Here are some Babylon Bee headlines on Benny Hinn:

Unlike what is attributed to Trump regarding Osteen, the Bee’s attacks on the Houston megachurch leader are legendary. For example, “Joel Osteen Tests Negative For Christianity” and “Joel Osteen Installs Security Checkpoints At All Church Entrances To Ensure No One Brings A Bible.”

No one would say that these attacks by the Bee are mockeries of Christians, and one would have to be very foolish to believe The Atlantic’s spin that a critique of Benny Hinn is a critique of Christians.

The latest Atlantic report is part of a series of anonymously sourced articles being run by The Atlantic as part of its overt campaign assistance on behalf of Joe Biden against Donald Trump. It looks like the series of anonymously-sourced articles will detail Trump insulting every conceivable constituency in his coalition: so far we have the military and religious leaders, next up are blue-collar workers, suburban women, white men, the elderly, married people, midwesterners, and everyone in America without a college degree.

The anonymously sourced story about Trump not visiting a World War I cemetery because he secretly hates the military was immediately debunked by contemporaneous weather reports, official government documents, and something like 17 on-the-record sources. But not before it dominated the news cycle.

If anti-Trump activists in journalism and politics want to put out stories that actually change Trump supporters’ opinions, they will have to begin to understand what Trump supporters’ opinions are. Yes, Trump has the support of many Christians, but it’s not because they think he loves Benny Hinn or Creflo Dollar. How out of touch do you have to be with actual conservative Christians to think such a thing? It’s not even that they are thinking about calling him to be their next pastor. It’s because they think Trump is good at implementing their policy goals. Yes, the fact that he doesn’t join politicians and journalists on the left in the vicious attacks on their faith is a bonus, but the policies — whether judicial nominations, religious liberty protections, pro-life orders, or assorted other policies — are huge.

And for many Christians, the anonymous reports that Trump looks askance at prosperity gospel peddlers and other hucksters aren’t negatives, but positives. Anti-Trump activists would be wise to understand that.

Mollie Ziegler Hemingway is a senior editor at The Federalist. She is Senior Journalism Fellow at Hillsdale College and a Fox News contributor. She is the co-author of Justice on Trial: The Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Future of the Supreme Court. Follow her on Twitter at @mzhemingway

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