Donald Trump has won the Iowa Republican caucus in a landslide, with white evangelicals, many of them sympathetic to white Christian nationalism, ensuring his victory.
This is despite Trump facing 91 felony charges (four related to his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection). He has vowed “on day one” of his presidency to free the defendants who attacked the Capitol. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, with the Baptist Joint Committee, released a report definitively documenting the Christian nationalist underpinnings of the putsch.
A controversial video portraying Trump as a messiah, which the former president posted on his Social Truth account, went viral before the Iowa caucus. The video is a bizarre parody of Paul Harvey’s “So God Made a Farmer” video, which is an over-the-top panegyric to the hardworking farmer.
The interpolation of “Trump” for “farmer” results in some laughable statements: “On June 14, 1946, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, ‘I need a caretaker,’ so God gave us Trump. … God said, I need somebody willing to get up before dawn. Fix this country. Work all day. Fight the Marxists. Eat supper. Then go to the Oval Office and stay past midnight.” (As the Washington Post reported during his presidency, “Trump’s not exactly a 9-to-5 president — especially on Fridays.”)
But the absurd video becomes less funny as it proceeds: “God had to have somebody willing to go into the den of vipers. Call out the fake news for their tongues as sharp as serpents. The poison of vipers is on their lips. … God said, I need somebody who will be strong and courageous, who will not be afraid or terrified of the wolves when they attack a man who cares for the flock. A shepherd to mankind who will never leave nor forsake them. I need the most diligent worker to follow the path and remain strong in faith and know the belief of God and country. … So God made Trump.”
Born-again Christians have been estimated to make up about two-thirds of all Republican caucus-goers, and evangelical support, including endorsement by the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, was crucial to Trump’s Iowa win. More than 80 percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump in 2020. Six in 10 white evangelical Protestants have bought Trump’s lie that the election was stolen.
Trump has promised “full pardons with an apology — to many an apology” to Jan. 6 rioters. He has reposted a message that “the cops should be charged, and the protesters should be freed.” While campaigning on the third anniversary of the assault on the U.S. Capitol by his supporters, Trump labeled as “hostages” those who’ve been jailed or imprisoned for their roles.” He added, “They ought to release the J6 hostages. They’ve suffered enough.” He distastefully claimed the migrant surge on the southern border is the “real” insurrection and described the Jan. 6 rioters as “patriotic and peaceful.”
Trump’s words call to mind his previous infamous description of the assault — in connection with which at least seven people died, with 150 officers injured — as a “beautiful day” and those taking part in it deemed “great, great patriots.”
More than 1,230 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Jan. 6 violence, according to Associated Press. Approximately 730 have pleaded guilty, another 170 or so have been convicted of at least one charge at trial. About 750 have been sentenced, with almost two-thirds receiving some jail time. Sentences have ranged from a few days to 22 years in prison. The longest sentence to date was given to former Proud Boys national chair Enrique Tarrio, convicted of seditious conspiracy, whom Trump has said he may pardon. Only two defendants have been acquitted of all charges to date.
AP reports that many rioters are already out of prison, having completed their sentences. The Supreme Court has accepted a case that could affect hundreds of the Jan. 6 defendants, namely, to hear one rioter’s challenge of the charge of obstruction of an official proceeding, referring to the certification process in Congress. More than 300 Jan. 6 defendants have been charged with that obstruction offense, as well as Trump — in the federal case brought by special counsel Jack Smith.
In contrast, President Biden delivered a speech on the anniversary of the insurrection warning that “on that day we nearly lost America.” He added, “Whether democracy is still America’s sacred cause is the most urgent question of our time, and it’s what the 2024 election is all about.”
“Biden is right that democracy is at stake,” says Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president, “but FFRF Action Fund would amend that to say: Our secular democracy is at stake. Those who value our country’s secular principles — the 30 percent of ‘Nones’ and many secular-minded Democrats of all religions — must do everything we can to get out the vote to defeat Trump’s white Christian nationalist base.”
FFRF Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) organization that develops and advocates for legislation, regulations and government programs to preserve the constitutional principle of separation between state and church. It also advocates for the rights and views of nonbelievers, endorses candidates for political office, and publicizes the views of elected officials concerning religious liberty issues.