US President Donald Trump reportedly has called evangelical Christian leaders “hustlers” and their fundraising operations “a racket.” However, his alleged remarks earned him an unlikely nod of respect from his liberal opponents.

When Creflo Dollar, an Atlanta-based megachurch pastor, attempted to crowdfund a $60-million private jet from his flock in 2015, then-candidate Trump reportedly called his attorney, Michael Cohen, into his New York office to tell Cohen about the “scam.” 

Dollar, Trump told Cohen, was “full of sh*t,” and his fellow rich evangelical leaders were “all hustlers.”

That’s according to an article published in The Atlantic on Tuesday, which describes Trump as secretly contemptuous of the Christian right, despite courting their support at prayer meetings and church rallies. 

A host of former Trump aides supposedly told the magazine that they’ve heard him “ridicule conservative religious leaders, dismiss various faith groups with cartoonish stereotypes, and deride certain rites and doctrines held sacred by many.”

He apparently lavished some choice words on Israeli televangelist Benny Hinn and his faith healings, performed for paying customers in stadiums and arenas. “Man,” he reportedly said to a former adviser, “that’s some racket.” He’s also allegedly said that Jews are “only in it for themselves,” and, according to Cohen, remarked after a prayer meeting with evangelical Christians “can you believe people believe that bulls**t?”

The article angered some Christians online, as well as a few Trump supporters, who deemed it ‘fake news.’ However, it earned the president some unlikely respect from liberals, who shared his supposed views on the pastor/businessman hybrids of the evangelical fold.

“Trump is correct,” tweeted Kyle Kulinski, host of atheist, progressive podcast ‘Secular Talk.’ “Please stop trying to own Trump by highlighting his most reasonable takes!” Kulinski added.

I get that he definitely said all of this stuff & I get that this is an attempt to drive down evangelical support for Trump and help Biden. But 1) they’re still gonna vote for him, & 2) Trump is correct. Please stop trying to own Trump by highlighting his most reasonable takes!

He’s not wrong on this one. 🤷🏻‍♀️

In a way, @realDonaldTrump mocking of @robertjeffress, @JerryFalwellJr and the lot of them might be the most prophetic words he’s ever spoken.

Despite the timing of The Atlantic’s article, it is unlikely to move votes toward Biden from Trump’s Christian base. The president’s nomination of a pro-life Christian, Amy Coney Barrett, to the Supreme Court, as well as his outspoken opposition to abortion, will likely please this base more than some nasty words allegedly said in private.

The article noted this too, with author McKay Coppins writing that these Christian leaders have reached a sort of “bargain” with the president. They turn a blind eye to his “lack of religiosity,” and he rewards them with more favorable policies than the Democrats would.

Some pundits on Twitter pointed this “Faustian” deal out as well, with writer Zaid Jilani saying “if a politician gives you what you want on policy, you don’t care about their personality.”

As far as I can tell, there is basically no group of people Trump does not do this to in private, it seems like part of the misanthrope/shock jock personality. But if a politician gives you what you want on policy, you don’t care about their personality.

Might be controversial, but:Maybe Evangelicals don’t care Trump is supposedly using them because they’re using him, too. Maybe they don’t mind what he allegedly says about them behind closed doors because they see policy fights he engages on their behalf as existential.

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