Amid accusations about his private life, he’s reaching out to Church leaders
On May 3, President Donald Trump signed an executive order establishing the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative. According to the order, the Initiative will “consult with and seek information from experts and various faith and community leaders” and “design new policies that recognise the vital role of faith” in American life. “This office will also help ensure that faith-based organisations have equal access to government funding and the equal right to exercise their deeply held beliefs,” it said.
Among those in attendance for the signing were Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, and Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington DC. And it is not surprising that two of the most powerful prelates in the country would support such a pro-faith organisation. According to the Catechism, religion is integral to a just, healthy social order. “Every society’s judgments and conduct reflect a vision of man and his destiny,” it reads.
What is surprising is that this initiative comes from Trump, whose inner life has been the subject of much robust, less-than-charitable debate since long before the 2016 election. The most recent – and least edifying – controversy involves Stormy Daniels, the adult film actress whom Trump allegedly paid to keep quiet about an affair.
Then again, Trump knows his base. Roughly 80 per cent of white Evangelicals voted for him. Today, almost 70 per cent say they would support Trump even if a more traditionally conservative Republican were to challenge him in the 2020 primaries.
But even if the President’s aims are cynical, that does not diminish the Initiative’s value. After all, Trump was radically pro-choice before he decided to run for office as a Republican – yet, thanks to his nominee in the Supreme Court, America has never been closer to challenging Roe v Wade.
And that leaves us with a paradox that many Christians will struggle to come to terms with: one of the country’s least outwardly spiritual presidents may end up becoming one of the greatest champions of religion in recent American history.