Investigators have determined that Donald J. Trump was baptized at the First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, Queens. But at some point between then and now he appears to have been radicalized. Expert child psychologists are not prepared at this time to blame his parents, siblings, teachers, wives, or children.
The answer is actually right in front of us. Trump himself has said that he does not ask God for forgiveness: “if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into the picture. I don’t…. When I drink my little wine–which is about the only wine I drink–and have my little cracker, I guess that is a form of asking for forgiveness, and I do that as often as possible because I feel cleansed.”
Trump’s utter indifference to John Calvin’s God and his literally belittling references to the sacramental elements are perhaps not so shocking in themselves these days, but his really radical step is to combine his own lackadaisical (at best) adherence to his childhood Protestant Presbyterianism with ever-more-shrill abuse of Islam. The Republican Party, in spite of some notable counterexamples such as George W. Bush, has been headed down the path of inwardness and suspicion toward outright baiting of non-white and non-Christian Americans for some years. Trump, with his call for banning all Muslims from entry into the U.S., has crossed over a line into religious tests that one can only hope his Republican opponents in particular denounce as the hatred of freedom that it is. We may well have a right-wing, anti-immigrant, fear-mongering President in 2017, but I hope (selfishly, I know) if it happens it is in France, not here.