Many evangelical Christians believe that President Donald Trump was chosen by God to lead the United States, despite the fact that he has a long history of marital infidelity and financial fraud.
Leah Payne, an assistant professor of theological studies at George Fox University, and Brian Doak, an associate professor of Biblical studies at George Fox University, write in the Washington Post about the conspiratorial mindset that has been part of mainstream Christian thinking for centuries — and that’s led many Christians to conclude that Trump’s election was divine intervention.
The first major Christian conspiracy theory that mixed religion and politics, they write, dates all the way back to the Roman Empire. The “Nero redivivus” conspiracy theory posited that Roman Emperor Nero, who was notorious for persecuting Christians, would one day rise from the dead and lead a Satanic army to slaughter his foes.
Looking more toward recent American history, the scholars write that “whether the theories involve Salem ‘witches,’ Freemasons, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Skull and Bones or even rock music played in reverse, there seems to be an endless supply of creators and perpetuators of stories about small groups that, through some engagement with the spiritual world, shape the nation.”
But where does Trump fit in? According to Payne and Doak, many evangelicals believed they were at an inflection point after former President Barack Obama’s reelection that showed they had lost control of the country to secularism.
The fact that Trump won, despite being a heavy underdog and despite receiving fewer votes than his Democratic rival, was seen as a divine sign that God was not forsaking Christian America.
“Trump’s surprising win — despite his overt rejection of traditional Christian morals — offers proof of the president’s status as God’s chosen leader,” they write.