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Are You There, God? It's Me, Donald: A President on His Knees

Peter Laarman: One imagines that President Trump might actually have had a go at prayer on the eve of yesterday’s breakfast appearance.

President Trump breezed through yesterday’s National Prayer Breakfast in his own special way. He opened with a nasty dig at Arnold Schwarzenegger (“pray for his ratings”), bragged about his material success while maintaining that it’s less important than “spiritual success,” spoke of combating worldwide religious extremism “viciously, if we have to” (“it won’t be pretty for a while”), defended his immigrant ban by declaring “we will not allow a beachhead of intolerance to spread in our nation,” and even managed to associate the name of Thomas Jefferson with his pledge to “totally destroy” the so-called Johnson Amendment that currently bars tax-favored congregations (and other non-for-profit 501c3 organizations) from engaging in overt political activity. Trump appeared to be unaware of Mr. Jefferson’s insistence on a “wall of separation” between church and state.

trump prays

Are You There, God? It's Me, Donald: A President on His Knees—Peter Laarman

One imagines that President Trump might actually have had a go at prayer on the eve of yesterday’s breakfast appearance. What follows is an imaginative reconstruction.

Dear Father God.


I can call you Father, right? or maybe Jesus? And who’s the third guy? I forget. Whatever.

I’ll just say “God.” OK?

I’ll take that as a yes. Beautiful.

So, God, I’ve got this breakfast thing tomorrow, which is really more Mike Pence’s crowd than mine. They’ve been so good to me. But boy, they love Mike, this crowd.

I looked at the speech Steve gave me. I’m definitely gonna use this line: “I have met amazing people whose words of worship and encouragement have been a constant source of strength.”

That’s a good one. So smart. They do worship me. You saw those crowds at the inauguration? What a flock, right? You had a great view, I bet, the original Eye in the Sky. Back me up, it was over a billion people. Huge.

But I’m confused about this other line: “the quality of our lives is not defined by our material success but by our spiritual success.” I don’t get it. “Spiritual success”? Sounds like a dumb deal. Ewww…I don’t have money, I have my feeeelings…

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What do you think, Lord? What if I say that some of the rich are “very, very miserable, unhappy people?”

Will that fix it? It’s horseshit, but…oh, sorry, it’s manure. Of course I do know a few unhappy rich people, but they’re all lushes. Not my problem. Losers. Sad.

I gotta give these Christians some red meat. Steve is telling me to go after something called the Johnson Amendment? Something about how churches can’t do politics out in the open? Had no idea that was a thing. I should destroy it, big league. Lyndon Johnson was a Democrat, very bad man, weak, couldn’t do a deal with the Vietnamese. Sad.

I’m also gonna drop Thomas Jefferson’s name, because he started the religious liberty thing. Liberty is fabulous, the best. All Americans should be free to take religious liberties.

Oh, and that Turnbull guy, is he serious? I’m supposed to care about what Australia thinks? Gimme a break.

Gonna talk about that tomorrow. Gonna say that I know how to play rough, gonna tell them all that fighting the bad guys won’t be pretty for a while. Let’s see if the Sunday School types at the Hilton tomorrow are ready to face reality.

 OK, God, this has been a good conversation. You’ve been great. So great.

I’ve always been the best at praying. You know who told me that? Billy Graham himself. He told me, “Donald, you pray better than I do, and I am the most famous Christian in the world.” He told me that last week in a great, great phone call.

Oh, and Fred Douglass. I need to get his input, too. Just this morning I told them, the great African Americans who supported me completely, what an amazing job Fred is doing, being recognized more and more. They loved it. They love me. My speech was a the biggest success in the history of black people.

The media lied about it, of course. They said I didn’t know Douglass. They just can’t stop lying.


Oh, gotta go, that’s my man Douglass on the phone right now.

#amen #maga

Peter Laarman
Religion Dispatches