Apocalyptic Picture Trump Paints For Evangelicals Shows Where Campaign Is Headed

Donald Trump’s late February speech to the annual National Religious Broadcasters’ convention received a short-lived spurt of media attention, largely for its menacing pledges to protect Christians from supposed persecution by a “wicked system” and the “radical” left. But it would be a mistake to consign this speech to one-day-on-the-campaign trail status. Despite some assessments of the speech as “rambling,” “wild,” and “incoherent,” it actually lays out a cogent, comprehensible narrative — for evangelicals. 

As the presidential campaign heats up, his seemingly bizarre oratory is a critical window into how the Trump campaign plans to maintain and mobilize his core base of white evangelicals, and potentially peel off more Black and Latino evangelicals along the way.

While much of the coverage of the speech focused on his promises to end supposed anti-Christian persecution, Trump had been sounding those themes for months before the NRB speech, ratcheting up his attacks on Biden and the “radical left” as his own legal perils accumulated. The full speech, with characteristic digressions, incomprehensible improvisations, and outrageous lies on matters of both great and minimal importance, reveals how what outsiders see as Trump’s deficits are seen by evangelicals as heroism and even divine inspiration. 

White evangelicals are Trump’s most reliable supporters. Prominent evangelicals and televangelists kept his presidency afloat through scandals and impeachment, stood by him on and after January 6, and persist in repeating his stolen election lies and conspiracy theories

In Trump’s twisted, false narrative, Christians are “hunted down by the Biden regime,” by “the same Biden DOJ that dropped charges against Antifa, where they kill people.” He then claimed that, in Portland, because of Antifa, “they don’t even have storefronts anymore,” and because of the “invasion” of immigrants, “cities are being inundated, they’re being overrun, they’re taking the parks from children, there are no more baseball fields, no more soccer fields.”

However macabre this sounds to outsiders, to evangelicals steeped in end-times prophecy, these nightmarish scenarios are real. 

Between now and November, mobilizing his spiritual warriors by continually divorcing them from reality will be the most potent get-out-the-vote tool he has. And if it turns out not to be enough, he always has this constant reminder, as he told the NRB: “They rigged the election.”