Out of Trump’s frying pan and into an evangelical fire

Donald Trump has to be one of the most unpopular US presidents ever from a global perspective. On his watch, confidence in US leadership has plummeted to a mere 30 percent around the world, according to a recent Gallup Poll that ranks America lower than its competitor, China.

Never has a US leader been beset by so much scandal or succeeded in making so many enemies at home and abroad as this businessman-turned-politician. And now that he has undermined the FBI and the Justice Department by declassifying a controversial GOP intelligence memo against all advice, he may have exposed his back.

For now, Republicans in Congress are sticking with him, willing to turn a blind eye to Trump’s bulldozing of traditional US values to achieve their laundry list of policy goals and most in his party are basking in the glow of a booming economy.

However, fears of a stock market correction fueled by concerns about inflation and burgeoning debt combined could see this happy state of affairs turn on a dime, especially if the president dares to obstruct Robert Muller’s probe into potential collusion between his campaign team and Russia to rig the 2017 election.

If for some reason Donald Trump is impeached or removed under the 25th Amendment—albeit an unlikely scenario requiring not only persuasive grounds but also either a congressional vote or a cabinet decision—there will undoubtedly be more cheers than tears, but those of us who are anything but fans should be careful what we wish for.

This authoritarian figure would be succeeded by the Vice-President Mike Pence, a religiously-driven evangelical extremist like numerous others forming the backbone of Trump’s devoted base. Thanks to his running mate and his sudden verbal embrace of Christianity, Trump won 81 percent of the evangelical vote.

“Many evangelicals believe that Trump was chosen by God to . . . usher in End Times,” writes Christine Maza in Newsweek, which is why they choose to overlook his character and behavioural flaws. “When you oppose Trump, you are fighting against the hand of God,” said Paula White, Trump’s spiritual advisor.

Pence was snubbed by Christian leaders in Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian territories during his recent visit to the region ironically to highlight the plight of Christians due to his boss’s declaration that occupied Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish State. The custodians of holy sites, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, made it clear he was unwelcome.

Undeterred, he donned a yarmulke to pray at the Wailing Wall and reaffirmed America’s position on occupied Jerusalem’s status eliciting obsequious praise from Benjamin Netanyahu.

Pence keeps his cards close to his chest on the apocalyptical end times which evangelicals believe will ignite the Rapture (the resurrection of the Christian dead and the Second Coming).

The partnership between evangelicals and Israelis is a pure marriage of convenience.

“Israel’s enemies are our enemies, Israel’s cause is our cause; if this world knows nothing else, let it know this: America stands with Israel,” Pence told a Republican Jewish Coalition some years ago.

A Pence White House would not only alienate the Muslim world, it would encounter massive opposition from women’s groups as well as liberal and secular Americans.

He once wrote about his aversion to women serving in the military and promoted ‘conversion therapy’ to change sexual orientation. Trump once joked that Pence would like to hang members of the LGBT community.

He has made frequent attempts to defund Planned Parenthood. He signed a bill allowing business owners in Indiana to discriminate against individuals who offend their religious beliefs.

Worse, he has repudiated the theory of evolution and is a climate change denier who blames the left for hyping the dangers to our planet.

Trump is unpredictable, but should he be succeeded by a president who prostrates himself before Israel because of his religious beliefs and may harbour a longing to bring on Armageddon, history may judge him the lesser of two evils.

Linda S. Heard is an award-winning British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email at heardonthegrapevines@yahoo.co.uk.

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