Maestro of Mammon
Donald Trump’s Biggest Vulnerability Is the Bible
His great hustle took him to the top of the GOP field. But his waffling on Bible passages and non-attendance at church aren’t going to please the base.
Donald Trump has no trouble commenting on his daughter’s hotness.
“Yeah, she’s really something, and what a beauty, that one. If I weren’t happily married and, you know, her father... ” he told one interviewer.
“She does have a very nice figure,” he told another. “I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”
“You know who’s one of the great beauties of the world, according to everybody? And I helped create her,” he told a third. “My daughter Ivanka. She’s 6 feet tall, she’s got the best body.”
But ask Trump to cite his favorite passages of what he calls his favorite book and he says it is too personal.
“The Bible means a lot to me, but I don’t want to get into specifics,” he told an interviewer with Bloomberg Television, adding, “I wouldn’t want to get into it because to me that’s very personal. You know, when I talk about the Bible, it’s very personal, so I don’t want to get into verses.”
The interviewer inquired if Trump preferred the Old Testament or the New.
“Probably equal,” he said. “The whole Bible is just incredible.”
A cynic might surmise that Trump does not know the difference between the two. A cynic might also suspect that Trump is reluctant to cite his favorite passages because he does not have any.
Here the great Trump hustle might unravel, and not only among evangelicals.
His supporters just shrug when it is pointed out that the site of Trump Tower, where he now makes his headquarters, was cleared by undocumented immigrants. And that it was constructed with the assistance of a union boss who had Mafia ties. And that much of the merchandise he now peddles in its lobby is made by Chinese firms in Lesotho.
Nobody seems to care much that his business partners in another tower, the Trump SoHo, included a Russian mobster’s son who was himself an immigrant with a violent felony conviction, as well as a conviction for perpetrating a multimillion-dollar stock fraud.
And the fact that Trump SoHo ended up in foreclosure amid charges of deceptive marketing does not stop The Donald from making it the first image to appear on his company’s website.
And so what if he flat-out lied during the second Republican debate about not having tried and failed to open a casino in Florida?
He has been Teflon Trump through it all.
Even so, you have to wonder if the Maestro of Mammon might be undone by the Good Book.
Yes, the Bible does tell us that we should pray in private. Matthew 6:5 says: “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men…But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”
But the Bible also tells us, in Mark 16:15, “Go ye into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”
Folks whose favorite book really is the Bible often feel an urge to share it and are given to quoting it as a source of guidance and wisdom.
In an effort to convince doubters that he truly is a man of faith, Trump posted on his Facebook page a photo of himself at his confirmation:
“Confirmation ClassJune 1959First Presbyterian ChurchJamaica, New York”
In case anybody fails to recognize him, there is a blow-up of the second boy in from the right on the top row.
The church in Jamaica, Queens, now teems with immigrants and makes a great effort to reach out to the needy in the surrounding community. There are even regular English as a Second Language classes.
When asked by reporters where he now worships, Trump replied, “I am Presbyterian Protestant. I go to Marble Collegiate Church.”
Marble Collegiate is two dozen blocks down Fifth Avenue from Trump Tower. It was the longtime base of Rev. Norman Vincent Peale of The Power of Positive Thinking. The funerals for Trump’s parents were held there.
But The Donald is not considered a member of the congregation.
“Donald Trump has had a longstanding history with Marble Collegiate Church, where his parents were for years active members and one of his children was baptized,” the Protestant church reported in a statement to the press. “However, as he indicates, he is a Presbyterian, and is not an active member of Marble.”
The Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church is just a minute’s stroll from Trump Tower, and he is listed in its database as having had involvement with it of some kind in the past.
Yet here, too, he is not an official member of the congregation.
“I can tell you he’s not listed as an active member,” spokesman Tim Palmer said. “We kind of expect to see you now and then.”
Palmer offered charitably, “He travels. He’s a busy man.”
Palmer added, “We would love to see him.”
Trump could do no better for a spiritual home, as the Fifth Avenue church has a working relationship with the one in Queens where he was confirmed.
“We kind of consider that a sister congregation of ours,” Palmer said.
Evangelicals might be alarmed that the Fifth Avenue church’s deacons include Brenda Berkman, a retired FDNY captain who was the initiator of the lawsuit that led to the first women becoming New York City firefighters.
Should Trump come by the Fifth Avenue church on Sunday, which happens to be All Saints’ Day, Rev. Kate Dunn will be preaching. The man who promises to Make America Great Again may take an interest in the bit of the Bible that will serve as the spiritual inspiration, though it is not likely to be a favorite passage.
Ecclesiastes 7:10—14: “Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such questions.”
Or, should Trump opt to stop by what he has called his church, Marble Collegiate is offering a Sunday Bible study group with Sister Perry.
“Come-as-you-are,” the website says. “No-experience-necessary.”
Meanwhile, you have to wonder if Trump’s slippage in the polls is a slowly growing realization among people who do love the Bible that his avowed love for his favorite book might not be so much personal as false.
A story comes to mind of a guy who went to meet with Trump’s father, Fred, years ago. Fred Trump yakked about the previous night’s baseball game, and the visitor afterward remarked to his younger son that he had not known the father was such a fan. Robert Trump is said to have replied that his father was not a fan at all. The father just knew that the visitor was.
At least the father knew enough baseball to pull it off.