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What Is Donald Trump's Religion?

Updated on July 4, 2017
CatherineGiordano profile image

Catherine Giordano is a writer and public speaker who often writes and speaks on topics related to science, philosophy, and religion.

The Constitution Forbids Religious Tests

The Constitution states that there “shall be no religious test for office” (Article 6, section 2). Nonetheless, political candidates and office-holders bring up their religious beliefs often and loudly. Consequently, it is useful to look at their religious beliefs. We should especially consider the beliefs of Donald Trump because he is the current president of the United States.

What Is Donald Trump's Religion?

Donald Trump's background, words, and deeds can help us discover his true religious beliefs.
Donald Trump's background, words, and deeds can help us discover his true religious beliefs. | Source

Is Trump A Christian, the Anti-Christ, an Atheist or What?

I put a blog post about Donald Trump and religion on facebook several months ago. The comments generated by this post were startling. While a few said Trump was a Christian, as he claimed to be, most had many other descriptions of his religious views.

[Note: My post was usually posted on the pages of anti-Trump groups. The response might have been different if I had posted to pro-Trump sites.]

Here is a summary of those comments.

A large majority denied that he was a Christian. Or else they said he was not a “true Christian.” I think what they meant was that he was not a “good Christian” as they defined the term. The comments suggested that they meant that a good Christian was someone who did one or more of these things (preferably all three):

  • Attends church regularly,
  • Lives according to godly morality
  • Does “good works”

Many referenced his well-known narcissism. They said he worshiped himself and/or considered himself to be God. They said he wants others to worship him. They described his religion as...

  • He is a Me-ist
  • He is a Trumpist. He is the center of his creation.
  • He's a devout Narcissist.

Some said he worshiped money. Mammon was his god. They said...

  • His religion is the Almighty Dollar.
  • His God and the God of his entire family is money.
  • He's a Money-ist.

He was often called the anti-Christ. In Christianity, the Anti-Christ is a figure of evil who will falsely claim to be the Christ (Messiah) and who will appear shortly before the Second Coming. I don’t think they meant that Trump was literally the Anti-Christ. I think they meant that Trump’s behavior and thinking were antithetical to “Christian values.” Or perhaps they meant something similar to what others meant when they called Trump the devil and Satan, or sometimes a devil-worshipper.

And finally, there were many who said he was an atheist. They made it clear that they said this because they thought Trump was “evil.”

Obviously, this group used the term atheism as an insult. This indicated a total misunderstanding of atheism which simply means lacking a belief in God. It infers nothing about a person’s character. Atheists are no less moral than anyone else; they may even be more moral because when they act ethically and when they refrain from “evil” acts, they do so without the expectation of reward or punishment from God or in the afterlife.

Donald Trump Talks About God and Forgiveness

What is Trump’s Religious Background?

For the record, Trump claims to be a Christian, a Presbyterian. It is the religion he was brought up in as a child. He was baptized and confirmed (at the age of 13) at the First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, Queens, in New York City. This church practiced an evangelical form of Protestantism.

In his late twenties, Trump began attending Marble Collegiate Church on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. The church was then headed by Norman Vincent Peale, a pastor best known for his book The Power of Positive Thinking. Trump quickly adopted the philosophy of Peale. Trump, with his usual flair for superlatives said that Peale thought “I was his greatest student of all time.”

Peale preached individualism, optimism, and self-sufficiency. He taught that “winners” in life are people who have overcome human weaknesses and discarded the idea of sinfulness. Trump remained friends with Rev. Peale into his adult years. He was strongly influenced by the prosperity gospel message he received at this church.

Trump’s philosophy takes Peale’s teaching to an extreme. Peale was a decent man of faith who wanted to uplift people and free them from the fear of hellfire. Trump has transformed this message into one that provides license for cruelty to life’s “losers.”

Trump believes that he does not need to ask for forgiveness. At a campaign stop in Iowa, he was asked if he had ever asked God for forgiveness. His response, after several attempts to evade the question, was that he had not--a statement that must have shocked most Christians.

"I am not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don't think so. I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don't bring God into that picture. I don't." (See the You Tube video above)

He mocks and reviles every sign of weakness in others. Even a physical disability does not escape his disdain. Early in the presidential campaign, he mocked a reporter who had a medical condition that caused his arms to flail.

Trump married his first wife, Ivana In the Marble Collegiate Church (Norman Vincent Peale officiated); he married his second wife Marla in the ballroom of the Plaza Hotel (a minister from the Marble Collegiate Church officiated); he married his third wife in the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, Florida.

Trump Talks About His Favorite Bible Verse

Do you see the three errors in his response?
Do you see the three errors in his response? | Source

How Much of an Issue Was Religion During the 2016 Campaign?

Religion was a major issue for Trump during the election campaign. From the beginning Trump campaigned hard among evangelicals. It paid off for him—he won 81% of the white Evangelical vote. (Pew Research Survey: How the Faithful Voted)

At campaign stops he would bring two props, his book “The Art of the Deal” and a Bible. He claimed the Bible was his favorite book. “I love the Bible,” he would proclaim to the crowds as his rallies. (He called his own book, The Art of the Deal, was second greatest book of all time.)

There was one problem with this. He apparently did not know the first thing about the Bible. He called communion wafers, “those little crackers.” He referred to “Second Corinthians, a book in the Bible, as “Two Corinthians.” When he was asked to name a favorite Bible verse, he couldn’t come up with any. He covered up his ignorance by saying the “whole Bible is incredible.”

Finally, reporters pinned him down in an interview. He told them his favorite Bible verse was "Proverbs, the chapter 'never bend to envy’…I’ve had that thing all of my life where people are bending to envy." Only one problem—that phrase is not in the Bible. Well two problems--he made it all about him saying people envy him. Okay, maybe three problems—if he was referring to Proverbs 24:1-2 where it says “Be not thou envious of evil men…” he was casting himself as an evil man.

His ignorance of the Bible and religious traditions left him unfazed. He continued to campaign citing his love for the Bible.

How Did Trump Behave at Ceremonial Religious Occasions after His Election?

Trump continued to demonstrate his ignorance of, and lack of respect for, religion after his election.

The United States has no royal family, so the First Family is often called upon to perform ceremonial duties, and these ceremonies often involve religion. On these occasions, Trump usually behaves inappropriately.

Two occasions stand out. One occasion was the Inaugural Prayer Service which took place on January 21, 2017, the day after the inauguration, at the National Washington Cathedral (an Episcopal Church). The other was the National Prayer Breakfast on February 2, 2017.

National Prayer Service

Towards the beginning of the service, the “Entrance Rite,” or “Entrance Processional,” a sacred ritual of the Catholic and Episcopal mass, took place. The deacon, acolytes, and the priest, clad in sacred vestments, solemnly walked down the center aisle of the church towards the altar. Trump seemed to be under the impression that they were marching down the aisle to greet and honor him. There was no audio, but it was not hard to lip-read the words. He was saying, “Thank you.” Most of the members of the processional ignored him and looked straight ahead as ceremony required. One or two turned towards Trump and perhaps uttered a word or two to him. How uncomfortable these celebrants must have felt—their choice was to either ignore the president or ignore their solemn duty to God.

National Day of Prayer: Prayer Breakfast

When Trump was called upon to make a few remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast, as all U.S. presidents do every year, Trump decided to roast and boast.

He talked about how The Apprentice had much better ratings when he hosted the reality television show compared to the ratings with Arnold Schwarzenegger as host. Then he asked the attendees to pray for Schwarzenegger to get better ratings. He also insulted the show’s producer, Mark Burnett—and not for the first time. His comments were just a rehash of things he had been saying since the new season of the Apprentice began. His comments were disgraceful and utterly inappropriate. He just had to make the prayer breakfast all about him.

Trump eventually uttered a few platitudes about the role of religion in the life of America as presidents are supposed to do on this occasion. But he couldn’t resist throwing in some politics. Then, making things worse, he used the phrase “the hell with it,” a phrase which many of the religious leaders in the room find offensive.

Trump Talks About Easter

Trump is asked about the meaning of Easter and he forgets to mention Jesus.
Trump is asked about the meaning of Easter and he forgets to mention Jesus. | Source

Does Donald Trump Attend Church?

Donald Trump appears to be one of those Christians who only attends church on Easter and Christmas, and maybe for the occasional wedding.

Although he may attend church on the holiest days of the Christian calendar, he appears to have no idea of the religious significance of the holidays. Read what he aid about Easter on Easter Sunday in 2015 on ABC’s This Week in the picture above and judge for yourself how deep his feelings go.

Bill Maher On Donald Trump's Religion

Bill Maher states why Trrump is not an atheist.
Bill Maher states why Trrump is not an atheist. | Source

So, Is Donald Trump an Atheist?

Donald Trump seems to have no religious feeling or understanding. The Bible is nothing more than a prop to him, he doesn’t attend church, he knows nothing about the religion he professes to love, and he is disrespectful to religion. So, is it correct to say he is an atheist?

This question was put to Bill Maher, a comedian and out-spoken atheist. Bill Maher was quite firm in his answer—Trump is not an atheist. Maher said:

“Donald Trump is his own God…. You can’t really be a person of faith if you think you are the most important person in the universe. I don’t think he gives it any thought.”

Almost all the atheists that I know and those who commented on my post agreed--Atheism must be chosen.

No one should confuse atheism with ignorance and disregard. Most atheists know a lot about religion, and after a lot of study and thought, they are ready to declare they do not believe in God. If they were brought up in a religious household, as Donald Trump was, they renounce their religious beliefs.

Donald Trump was raised as a Christian and has repeatedly affirmed his belief in the religion his family brought him up in. At the National Prayer Breakfast when he finally got around to talking about religion, he affirmed his Christianity:

I was blessed to be raised in a churched home. My mother and father taught me that to whom much is given much is expected. I was sworn in on the very bible from which my mother would teach us as young children. And that faith lives on in my heart every single day.

I cannot know what is in Trump’s heart, so I will take him at his word. He is a Christian.

Trump Talks About His Faith

Trump says he still practices the faith he was raised in.
Trump says he still practices the faith he was raised in. | Source

What do you think?

Which statement best fits your beliefs about Donald Trump and religion?

See results

© 2017 Catherine Giordano

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    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 5 days ago from Orlando Florida

      Bill Walker: Thanks for your comment. It made me laugh. With Trump everything is incredible or tremendous. I saw a linguist interviewed on TV who said that Trump uses these "intensifiers" as filler because he ha nothing to say.

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      bill walker 6 days ago

      Trump 's statement that the whole bible is incredible'' was very accurate. It IS litterly incredible.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 weeks ago from Orlando Florida

      Harriet Wagner: Thanks for your comment. You are right bout Trump. H was brought up Christian and he has attended Christian churches, but he has no real belief (or non-belief) because he has never given even two minute thought to figure out what he believes. He is a very unhappy person--I could almost feel sorry for him if he weren't also such an evil person.

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      Harriette Wagner 2 weeks ago

      Another great piece, Catherine. My opinion is that Trump is not, by any measurement, a Christian. He has no religion; he uses the trappings to get votes and for that only. If any other religion would suit his purpose, he would profess, in his halfhearted, ignorant way, that it was his religion, too. He is never out of his own head and certainly cannot conceive of any personage, human or supernatural, who could be as interesting and important as himself. He is most definitely not an atheist or an agnostic, either. Both these perspectives require some thoughtful consideration of the issue and I'll wager he's never done that and has no intention to. I see him as an empty suit, no intellectual depth, operating on a primal level involving retribution, bullying and sadistically enjoying the pain and humiliation he can administer. He is not a happy man but constantly driven by his fear of being discovered as inadequate. He is in way over his head but dare not admit it and destroy the image he concocts of perfection. I think his father really did a number on him.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 4 weeks ago from Orlando Florida

      Charles Miller: So many people have responded to this essay saying that Trump is not a Christian when what they actually mean is that he is not a "good Christian" according to their definition of good Christian. As you point out, this is an example of the "No True Scotsman" fallacy.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 4 weeks ago from Orlando Florida

      Nazarene: Some people say newborn babies are atheists because they don't yet have the reasoning ability to believe anything. Once we get older, we do chose our beliefs. A young child tends to believe what his parents tell him, but as the child grows older and especially as an adult, he sometimes chooses to question and reject what he was taught. Sometimes what he rejects is what his parents taught him about religion. He may become an atheist or he may switch to another religion. He has made a decision about religion. If he does not question what he was taught, he has made a de facto decision to continue to believe.

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      Nazarene 4 weeks ago

      One thing to consider. Atheism is not really "chosen". It is merely the lack of belief in any gods. Belief isn't "chosen" either. If you are convinced something is real you will naturally believe it, and if you're not convinced, you just don't.

      We can't choose to believe anything.

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      Charles Miller 4 weeks ago

      The President's behavior mirrors that a religious narcissist. He says, he is a Christian, a Protestant, a Presbyterian so I have to take him at his word. To try to identify him as anything else is to employ the Nae a True Scotsman fallacy.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 6 weeks ago from Orlando Florida

      Thanks JoeMartin80527: You can follow me here on HubPages and see my profile for my social media handles.

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      JoeMartin80527 6 weeks ago

      Loud and proud atheist here. After reading this article, I think I have to follow you on whatever social media you are on. Keep up the good work!

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      Catherine Giordano 7 weeks ago from Orlando Florida

      Karen: Many people have called Trump the Anti-Christ. I can understand why they say that.

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      Karen 7 weeks ago

      Trump is anti-Christian and displays many of the qualities of the anti-Christ.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 8 weeks ago from Orlando Florida

      Thomas: Well said. Thanks for the comment.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 8 weeks ago from Orlando Florida

      Kate: I'm so sorry that Donald Trump stiffed you. Now he's doing it to the whole country. He doesn't care who he hurts as long as its good for him.

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      Kate 8 weeks ago

      I worked for Trump at the casino in Gary Indiana. I couldn't cash 2 pay checks right away. One was when my husband had open heart surgery. The other was when I was hit by a semi truck after work. TRUMP filed bankruptsy against 2 payroll checks he wrote. WHAT KIND OF A HUMAN BEING DOES THAT TO OTHER PEOPLE?

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      Thomas 8 weeks ago

      He is a high priest in the Cult of Self-Worship.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Jim Wrubel: Trump has all the negative character traits that you mention. However, you only show that Trump is not what you consider a "good Christian." There are many Christians that do not live according to the teachings of their faith. Trump has said repeatedly that he is a Christian; he has never claimed any other belief or non-belief.

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      Jim Wrubel 2 months ago

      Trump is NOT a Christian. He cares about nobody but himself. He believes he's above the rest of humanity. Pope Francis demonstrates what being christian is all about, he lives his beliefs. Donnie tRump is a narcisistic, self centered insecure, heartless individual with nothing but his money propping up his loud mouthed persona.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 months ago from Orlando Florida

      grand old lady: Thanks for letting me know you liked this article. Trump did indeed win most of the votes of Evangelicals. I think they saw through his false claims about his love for the Bible, but they voted for him anyway. They hoped that he would sign their religion-based agenda into law.

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      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 2 months ago from Philippines

      This is a very informative and soberly written article. It is most helpful as well. Trump got most of the Christian votes, especially the evangelicals. But to him, faith is something of convenience but in his life, it has no role for him.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Kim: Thank you for your comment. You have summed it up nicely the truth about Donald Trump and religion. He believes in profit and will pay lip-service to religion if he thinks it is to his advantage to do so. You might say, he is a Christian in name only.

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      kim 2 months ago

      Atheists are not amoral, and simply choose not to bow to another person's perception of God. It's integrity to be honest about one's beliefs, and he has no integrity, so he will profess to believe whatever religion that he can profit from.

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      Yolanda 2 months ago

      Money!

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez : Thanks for letting me know you liked it. The Norman Vincent Peale stuff really explains a lot. Trump totally perverted Peale's message.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 months ago from Orlando Florida

      talksallaboutedu: I never thought of the effect Trump is having on the religious views of young people. It really is sad. Thanks for your very insightful comment.

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      Catherine Giordano 2 months ago from Orlando Florida

      peoplepower73. I think you have hit the nail on the head. If I were a religious person, "I would say he has no soul." I'll have to be satisfied saying he has no conscience and he has no heart. Thanks for your comment.

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 2 months ago from Philippines

      I think an article like this has been needed for a long time:)

    • peoplepower73 profile image

      Mike Russo 2 months ago from Placentia California

      Catherine: As always a great article. I love your writing style. Trump's religious behaviors are so hard to summarize because he operates on so many different levels, but I think you have a done a great job with all your examples and delving into his background.

      I believe what drives Trump's behavior is his need to protect his image whether real or false. He does this by pushing the envelope on ethics. The part of his brain that deals with having a moral conscience is missing. When he pushes that envelope, he feels no remorse for lying, name calling or bullying because that part of his brain is non-functional.

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      McKenna Meyers 2 months ago from Bend, OR

      Trump is not a religious person by my standards; he's the opposite. I don't understand why so many evangelicals voted for him. Was it because he would appoint a justice to the Supreme Court who could reverse Roe v. Wade? Is it just that singular issue? I think Trump's election has long-term implications for religion and politics/religion and society. Young people look at the hypocrisy and become intensely wary of religious people. They see them as the bad guys. (I know because I volunteer at a middle school). Thought-provoking article as usual, Catherine.

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      Paula 2 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Pun intended, Catherine, when I say, "Amen!" :)

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 months ago from Orlando Florida

      fpherj48: A very interesting an thoughtful comment and we are in total agreement with respect to the points you made. Religion is not supposed to be intermingled with politics so I quoted the Constitution in the very first paragraph to get that out of the way. But as you say, religion does enter into politics. I say a person's religion is whatever they say it is. YOU may think aq Christian has to "act accordingly", but that leaves it up to each person to say what "accordingly" is. Some Christian faiths say you are Christian if you are baptized, some if you accept Jesus Christ as your savior, etc. I concluded the essay by saying, I can't know what is in someone's heart, so I will take them at their word.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Thanks FlourishAnyway. I'm watching the news now about Trumps latest tweets, and I'm stating to think the people who call him the Anti-Christ and devil are right.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 2 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Hi Catherine...An individual claiming to BE of a particular religion~ or claiming, "I am a Christian, I'm a Mormon," means absolutely nothing to me. I have no idea how this statement is construed by others, nor does it matter. Any one of us can claim whatever we so choose. The question may be....."OK, and that means, WHAT?"

      If we don't happen to be familiar with numerous and various religions, what can a statement claiming one's religion tell us? Allegedly, saying, "I'm a Christian," infers one follows the teachings of Christ, the God of the bible, believes in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, AND LIVES ACCORDINGLY. In terms of what we may know Christ teaches.....decide for yourself, but for myself, 9 of 10 people who state, "I'm a Christian," must have Jesus Christ in fits of laughter......perhaps he may even think, "Yeah, you're a Christian ( one of my followers) and I'm Kanye West." (Hope I've clarified my point!)

      Perhaps Trump's family identified as Presbyterian, as he has said but I've not researched this because once again, I don't care. We can't know if Donald believes or doesn't or whether he prays or does not or even adheres to any specific doctrine.

      His words, actions, behaviors, life choices, business dealings, public persona & numerous acts of charity, are a conglomeration of every possible religion and/or none at all. The things a person portrays can tell us a lot about anyone. Furthermore, it tells each person whatever and however they perceive it. Right? Right!

      I've no doubt that you, just as I do, know self-declared "Christians," who are the nastiest, most deceitful & dishonest people around and perhaps atheists who are respectful, loving and generous to others. Again, a label in terms of one's religion, is nothing more than a label. Take a serious, thoughtful & intelligent look, add some common sense, decency and morality and figure it out. Not difficult.

      Furthermore, when it involves politics, people in government office, religion should not, in fact according to our forefathers, MUST not intermingle with one another. It does though, doesn't it? So....back to square one.

      Back to my original comment too...I do not care if he's a Christian. I need for our President to be: Intelligent, well-educated, HONEST, transparent, fair, just, courageous, sober, serious and sincere. He/She must at all times have the interests, health, safety and success of all Americans, at foremost importance as to his duties and responsibilities.

      What we've had since George Washington is quite the long, interesting, controversial, questionable, frightening, colorful list of every kind of human being possible. Note the term, "Human." America will never be led by the All-Perfect President, of course. Each one has done his share of good, bad, helpful or harmful things while in office and made their mark & left their legacy, whether wonderful or just plain awful.

      When it comes to Trump's "religion," he states whatever he feels the American people want or need to hear, just like any other issue presented at any time for any reason...JUST LIKE EACH AND EVERY POLITICIAN DOES, HAS DONE AND WILL ALWAYS DO...FOREVER. Try, try try if you wish, to prove OTHER than this bold, blatant, unadulterated true fact.

      Count me as sick & tired of the bullshit. Thanks. Catherine you always....always write fabulous articles. Peace girlfriend! Paula

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      FlourishAnyway 2 months ago from USA

      As all of your articles are, this was very well reasoned and well written. He is a terrible leader and a worse human being.