Donald Trump's recent public embrace of Capitol insurrectionists — and his attempted martyrization of deceased rioter Ashli Babbitt — show that his only remaining political hope is to rebrand the MAGA movement as a full-fledged religious cult, according to Daily Beast columnist Molly Jong-Fast.
Pointing to Trump's glowing comments about the rioters and Babbitt, Jong-Fast argues that the former president is "determined to create a narrative that his idiot insurrectionists are in fact part of an army of holy MAGA warriors."
"The GOP is dead, and there's only the MAGA movement now, as the party's 'leaders' sojourn to his sacred golf clubs to confess their sins," Jong-Fast writes, pointing to House GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's visit to Bedminster on Friday.
"Now that he's a certified loser, a twice-impeached, one-term historical freak show of a president, his only hope as a political leader is to turn his movement into a cult, worshipping himself of course. It's the Trump Steaks of religion," she adds.
While the idea that MAGA is a cult is not new, Jong-Fast argues that it has only gained steam in the wake of the insurrection, when Trump recognized that his followers were showing new "religious fervor."
Jong-Fast also links the rise of Trump's MAGA cult — and the QAnon conspiracy theory movement — to a record dropoff in membership in organized religions. She suggests that his followers have found "a perverse sort of community in their crazed conspiracizing," that they might have once found in a house of worship. Case in point: One in five Americans say they agree with tenets of QAnon.
"The CPAC before Dallas had featured a gold Trump, since no religious movement would be complete without a false icon—in this case one that was made in Mexico," Jong fast writes. "So if he's got a martyr, a golden calf, and worshippers, does that make Trump a religious leader? Nah, in America religions have tax-exempt status and we all know that Trump doesn't have that. Then again, he didn't pay any federal taxes for 10 out of the last 15 years so maybe Trumpism really is a religion after all."