Donald Trump with thumbs up in front of elderly white congregation in church Drew Angerer/Getty Images/Salon
Michael Cohen's book about his years as Donald Trump's fixer is a clarion call to Christians to wake up; recognize the man many of them revere as a heavenly agent is a religious fraud; and act.
Trump loathes Christians and mocks their faith, but pretends to believe if it suits his purposes.
In Disloyal, published today, Cohen shows how Trump is a master deceiver. He quotes Trump calling Christianity and its religious practices "bullshit," then soon after masterfully posing as a fervent believer. In truth, Cohen writes, Trump's religion is unbridled lust for money and power at any cost to others.
Cohen's insider stories add significant depth to my own documentation of Trump's repeated and public denouncements of Christians as "fools," "idiots" and "schmucks."
In extensive writing and speeches, Trump has declared his life philosophy is "revenge." That stance is aggressively anti-Christian. So are Trump's often publicly expressed desires to violently attack others, mostly women, and his many remarks that he derives pleasure from ruining the lives of people over such minor matters as declining to do him a favor.
Cohen describes himself as an "active participant" with Trump in activities ranging from "golden showers in a sex club in Vegas" to corrupt deals with Russian officials.
The author offers new anecdotes about Trump's utter disregard for other people and his contempt for religious belief. Cohen's words should shock the believers who were crucial to his becoming president, provided they ever read them.
By denouncing the book Trump has ensured that many of those he has tricked into believing he is a deeply religious man will never fulfill their Christian duty to be on the lookout for deceivers.
None of the evangelicals I have interviewed in the past five years knew Trump has denounced in writing their beliefs and written of the communion host as "my little cracker."
Trump detests Christianity
Despite the irrefutable evidence that Trump detests Christianity and ridicules such core beliefs as the Golden Rule and turning the other cheek, America is filled with pastors who praise him to their flocks as a man of God. Trump himself has looked heavenward outside the White House to imply he was chosen by God.
Pastors who support Trump were scolded two years ago by Christianity Today, a magazine founded by Billy Graham, for not denouncing Trump as "profoundly immoral." Many evangelical pastors then attacked the magazine rather than following the Biblical exhortation to examine their own souls.
Cohen writes that as a young man who grew up encountering Mafioso and other crooks at a country club he fell into the "trance-like spell" of Trump, whom he describes as an utterly immoral, patriarchal mob boss and con man.
Trump is "consumed by the worldly lust for wealth and rewards," Cohen writes, which puts him at odds with the teaching of Jesus Christ about what constitutes a good life.
"Places of religious worship held absolutely no interest to him, and he possessed precisely zero personal piety in his life," Cohen writes.
Prosperity gospel embraced
Cohen explains that the only version of Christianity that could possibly interest Trump is the "prosperity gospel." That is a perverse belief that financial wealth is a sign of heavenly approval rooted in 19th Century occult beliefs that is anathema to Christian scripture.
Many actual Christians regard the prosperity gospel as evil. Christianity Today, calls it "an aberrant theology" promoted by disgraced televangelists including Jimmy Swaggart and Jim and Tammy Baker.
Early in Trump's aborted 2012 presidential campaign, Cohen writes, he was ordered to reach out to faith communities. Soon Paula White, now the White House adviser on faith, proposed a meeting at Trump Tower with evangelical leaders. Cohen writes that Trump liked White because she was blonde and beautiful.
Cohen said that among those attending were Jerry Falwell Jr., who recently resigned in disgrace over sex and greed allegations as head of Liberty University, and Creflo Dollar, who solicited donations for a $65 million corporate jet and who was criminally charged that year with choking his daughter. Dollar said those charges were the work of the devil.
Once the evangelical leaders took their seats, Cohen writes, Trump quickly and slickly portrayed himself as a man of deep faith. Cohen writes that this was nonsense.
Laying on hands
After soaking in Trump's deceptions, the leaders proposed laying hands on Trump. One purpose of laying on hands is to call on the Holy Spirit for divine approval.
Cohen was astounded when Trump, a germaphobe, eagerly accepted.
"If you knew Trump as I did, the vulgarian salivating over beauty contestants or mocking Roger Stone's" sexual proclivities "you would have a hard time keeping a straight face at the sight of him affecting the serious and pious mien of a man of faith. I knew I could hardly believe the performance or the fact that these folks were buying it.
"Watching Trump I could see that he knew exactly how to appeal to the evangelicals' desires and vanities – who they wanted him to be, not who he really was. Everything he was telling them about himself was absolutely untrue."
To deceive the evangelicals, Cohen writes, Trump would "say whatever they wanted to hear."
A perverse epiphany
Trump's ease at deception became for Cohen an epiphany, though a perverse one.
In that moment, Cohen writes, he realized the boss would someday become president because Trump "could lie directly to the faces of some of the most powerful religious leaders in the country and they believed him."
Later that day, Cohen writes, he met up with Trump in his office.
"Can you believe that bullshit," Trump said of the laying on of hands. "Can you believe that people believe that bullshit."
Cohen also writes about Trump's desire, expressed behind closed doors, to destroy those who offend him. Trump has said the same, though less vividly, in public.
"I love getting even," Trump declared in his book Think Big, espousing his anti-Christian philosophy: "Go for the jugular. Attack them in spades!"
He reiterated that philosophy this year at the National Prayer Breakfast. Holding up two newspapers with banner headlines reporting his Senate acquittal on impeachment charges, Trump said, "I don't like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong. Nor do I like people who say, 'I pray for you,' when they know that that's not so."
Trump spoke after Arthur Brooks, a prominent conservative, told the breakfast meeting that "contempt is ripping our country apart."
Brooks went on: "We're like a couple on the rocks in this country…Ask God to take political contempt from your heart. And sometimes, when it's too hard, ask God to help you fake it."
Everyone in the room rose to applaud Brooks except Trump, though he finally stood up as the applause died down.
Taking the microphone, Trump said, "Arthur, I don't know if I agree with you… I don't know if Arthur is going to like what I'm going to say."
Trump then said he didn't believe in forgiveness. That is just as Cohen wrote: "Trump is not a forgiving person." Trump's words at the prayer breakfast made clear that he rejects the teaching of Jesus at Luke 6:27: "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you."
The question pastors should raise in their Sunday sermons, the question Cohen's book lays before them, is how can any Christian support a man who mocks Christianity, embraces revenge as his only life philosophy and rejects that most basic Biblical teaching—forgiveness.