Written by Hannah Dunleavy

In The News

Donkeys and Elephants

That’s Hannah Dunleavy in the corner, that’s her in the spotlight, losing her religion. But there’s a metric shit-tonne of God to go round in the US Presidential race. Praise be! Or, y’know, not.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

Darwin vs elephant illustration by Louise Boulter.

Religion and politics is a funny mix. Here, we like our leaders to keep the Baby Jesus – or whatever collection of male-centric myths and stick figures they believe in – out of the business of government. In the US, they like their leaders steeped in faith. And in the Republican Party, the more God-bothering the better. With 17 avowed Christians in the Republican Primary, he must be bothered out of his mind.

While here Tony Blair felt the need to hide his conversion to Catholicism until after he left office, in America, Donald Trump is currently doing a not very good job of persuading everyone his favourite book is The Bible. (His second favourite, in a statement worthy of Garth Marenghi, is The Art of The Deal. By Donald Trump.)

So, why do I not believe him? Well, in a recent TV interview Trump, a Presbyterian, declined to answer any questions on The Bible.

Not really answering questions has become a Trump speciality. Statements like “I don’t want to get into that”, “I don’t want to give away my game plan” and “I have a brilliant answer, but I don’t want someone else to steal it” are common. In fact, his interviews are so riddled with half-baked ideas and seat-of-the-pants avoidance I sometimes wonder if he was watching Freaky Friday in a thunderstorm and the real Donald’s currently being woken to do his paper round.

When asked if he’d like to share a few of his favourite Bible verses, he declined “to get into specifics” as the Bible is too personal a subject. (I feel the same about The Art of the Deal, which I’ve completely, definitely read.) In a bid to get any information, John Heilemann asked, rather wonderfully, “Are you an Old Testament guy or a New Testament guy?”

“I’m pretty sure ISIS don’t want to ‘take over’ the Vatican. There’s nothing will bog down plans for global domination as much as the administration of a worldwide religion, a priceless art collection and five million tourists.”

Trump’s answer? “The whole Bible is just incredible.” It must be if it’s better than The Art of The Deal, which is so brilliant, I’m going to read it again. Honestly.

It’s Trump’s second foray into the world of religion in recent weeks, after saying he plans to stop the Pope making anti-capitalist statements by scaring him. How? (Other than showing him the latest polls.) By telling him: “You know ISIS wants to go in and take over the Vatican.”

Now, I’m not an expert, but I’m pretty sure they don’t want to ‘take over’ the Vatican. Destroy it, certainly, take it over, not so much. There’s nothing will bog down plans for global domination as much as the administration of a worldwide religion, a priceless art collection and five million tourists. No one signs up for Holy War to end up selling The Creation of Adam fridge magnets. Aside from which, a simple Google search will tell you the Catholic Church is keenly aware of the threat posed by ISIS.

The Pontiff’s soon to visit the US, which presents awkwardness for all the Catholics in the race for President, save for Martin O’Malley, a Democrat. But for the other six, Pope Francis’s pesky views on things like capitalism, global warming and the forgiveness of women who have had an abortion, have them singing from a very different hymn sheet.

It’s unusual to have so many Catholics in the Republican race, as it’s a faith that traditionally leans to the Democrats. (This time Democrats aren’t big on religion at all; Bernie Sanders was Jewish but no longer holds with organised religion and Lincoln Chafee hasn’t discussed faith other than to say he believes in the separation of church and state.)

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is a Catholic – well obvs – as is George Pataki. Rick Santorum is so Catholic his sons went to a school affiliated with Opus Dei and Jeb Bush converted 25 years ago. Marco Rubio was baptised a Catholic, then baptised a Mormon, then became a Catholic again, then joined the Southern Baptists and is now back with the Catholics. (Correct at time of going to press.)

Last of the Catholics is Bobby Jindal, who converted from Hinduism, prompted when a high-school friend gave him a Bible as a Christmas present. “I cannot begin to describe my feelings,” he said. I know Bobby, I’d have been livid too.

“Scott Walker was a Baptist and a deacon until 2005, when he switched to a non-denominational evangelical church as he felt the Baptists had moved in a more liberal direction. Maybe they let a woman pick a hymn.”

Not to be outdone by the Catholics, the Southern Baptists are also putting in a strong showing, with four candidates.

Ted Cruz is one. His father, Pastor Rafael Cruz, is director of Purifying Fire Ministries – which sounds one step away from protesting soldiers’ funerals with signs saying “GOD HATES F**S”. Also Southern Baptist are Mike Huckabee and Lindsey Graham. Then there’s Rick Perry, who was rebaptised in a Texas river last year. Old school.

Scott Walker was a Baptist and a deacon until 2005, when he switched to a non-denominational evangelical church as he felt the Baptists had moved in a more liberal direction. Maybe they let a woman pick a hymn.

Elsewhere, Hillary’s a Methodist and Rand Paul was an Episcopalian, but is now Presbyterian. Carly Fiorina is Episcopal, John Kasich is an Anglican and Jim Webb is a “non-denominational Christian”.

At this point, I should hold my hand up and say, I’m not entirely sure what a lot of this means. I’m technically a Catholic. Really, I’m an atheist, or as my Nan called it, a fecking heathen, but a bit like leaving Sky, it’s not as easy as just saying, “I want to leave.” I studied Martin Luther at university so I understand the basic tenets of Protestantism, but I lost interest when it came to all those spin-offs. I always do. Never going to watch Fear the Walking Dead, never going to learn what an Episcopalian is.

Speaking of which, Ben Carson has been baptised twice into the Seventh Day Adventist Church, which I had to look up on Wikipedia. And I’m glad I did, because I learned about the wonderfully euphemistic ‘Great Disappointment’, which happened after preacher William Miller’s fiery prediction that Jesus would come back in 1844 – causing many followers to give away all their possessions – turned out to be incorrect.

Donald Trump remains ahead in the polls: I feel a second Great Disappointment coming on.

@funnypunts

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Written by Hannah Dunleavy

Hannah Dunleavy is the deputy editor of Standard Issue. She likes whisky and not having to run anywhere.