Reza Aslan, a religion scholar and former CNN host who has written extensively about Islamic fundamentalism, is featured in a new Big Think video in which he asks the question of whether the followers of President Donald Trump constitute a “religious cult.”
Aslan begins by noting that Trump received unprecedented support from American evangelicals during the 2016 presidential election — even more than former President George W. Bush, who identified specifically as an evangelical.
“This makes no sense,” Aslan said. “Especially when you consider that Trump is not just the most irreligious president in modern history — that his entire worldview makes a mockery of core Christian values, such as humility and empathy and care for the poor.”
To examine why this could be, Aslan pointed in part to the rise of the so-called “Prosperity Gospel” that was once seen as completely heretical by most Christians, but that now has garnered a significant following.
“The essential gist of [Prosperity Gospel] is, ‘God wants you to drive a Bentley,'” Aslan explained. “That what Jesus really wants for you is material prosperity… Many white evangelicals looked at Donald Trump and what they saw was a wealthy man, and that wealth, as far as they were concerned, was just a sign of God’s blessings.”
However, Aslan said this alone does not explain why evangelicals, who once were the most likely people to say that a politician’s personal morality matters, now say that they aren’t at all interested in the president’s morality.
“Atheists in America think a politician’s morality is more important than white evangelicals,” Aslan said.
“The only explanation I have for it,” he continued. “Is that Donald Trump has turned a large swathe of white evangelical Christianity into a cult — a religious cult.”
Watch the whole video below.