In late January White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ statements occupied the headlines of both U.S. and international media. In an interview, as reported by Time, Sanders said that God “wanted” Donald Trump to be president.
“I think God calls all of us to fill different roles at different times and I think that he wanted Donald Trump to become president,” the press secretary said, adding that Trump has done a “tremendous” job in “supporting a lot of the things that people of faith really care about.”
But Sanders’ statement is not an atypical view for evangelical Christians, according to former Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) pollster Dan Cox. In an interview with The Hill published Friday, Cox said that many evangelicals feel like the press secretary.
“I think, particularly for evangelical Christians who believe intimately in human affairs, this is not an atypical view.”
According to Cox, evangelicals believe that God is involved in everything, so it is only natural that they believe he plays a vital role in elections, and generally in politics. The pollster explained that research, in fact, indicates that a large number of evangelical Christians believe God plays a role in determining who wins an election.
“When I was at PRRI, we asked whether God played a role in deciding sporting outcomes and a significant number and a larger number of evangelicals said yes, because again, God is involved in all things, and so obviously he would be involved in an election or sporting outcome,” he said.
Polls have shown that evangelicals are the only religious group to support Trump, according to Vox. Eighty-one percent of white evangelicals voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential elections, according to polls, and 75 percent of them view his presidency favorably.
Many have criticized the Trump administration’s perceived blurring of lines between church and state. In a 2018 column, New York Times writer Susan Jacoby opined that Donald Trump’s administration has treated the separation of church and state as “heresy,” instead of treating it as a “cherished” American value.
Jacoby listed a number of examples illustrating her point, arguing that Jeff Sessions’ citing of the Bible in justification of family separation, and the administration’s views on women’s and LGBTQ rights show how tied the Trump administration is to the Christian right.
The Guardian’s Nesrine Malik went a step further, arguing that the Trump administration is creating a “caliphate” in the United States and pointing out that quoting holy texts to justify reactionary policies is common in the Arab world.
Writing about “the American Taliban,” news and opinion website Common Dreams pointed out that Vice President Mike Pence — who denies climate change, opposes abortion, gay rights, and Planned Parenthood — is the driving force of Christian conservatism in the Trump administration, and in its effort to blur the lines between church and state.