It might seem a little absurd to ask what seems to be wrong with Donald Trump these days. The question is pretty open-ended, and he doesn’t even need to be sitting in the Oval Office for his demented antics to make the news, as his last two state visits are quickly proving.
One of the weirder things I’ve noticed lately is his preoccupation with prayer – his urging the nation to pray for the nation via Twitter, something echoed by Franklin Graham and others in the Religious Right – who Donald Trump regularly panders to by forcing Bible classes into public schools and cramming all the anti-choicers he can into government. On the surface, it seems to echo the typical, thoughtless Republican politician offering the hollow promise of #thoughtsandprayers every time there’s a public mass shooting they choose to do nothing about.
Things came to a head on Sunday when Donald Trump showed up unexpectedly to a church in Virginia, appearing just after he played a round of golf on one of his properties. When I first heard the story, I thought it might be an effort to show solidarity with the survivors of the Virginia Beach shooting, even though empathizing with people who went through tragedy hasn’t exactly been a strong point of his presidency. Of course, his surprise visit, as they often are, turned out to be entirely about himself.
Pastor David Platt of McLean Bible Church was informed by phone of the visit just minutes before Trump arrived, according to the Washington Post, with a request that the congregation pray for him. Despite the White House’s attempt to spin the incident as something Trump was doing for the 12 victims of the massacre, Platt confirmed this wasn’t the case when he apologized to his congregation on Tuesday, to any congregants hurt by Trump’s blatant attempt to feed his own ego, assuring them that by agreeing to pray alongside Donald Trump, Platt’s actions were in no way an endorsement of Donald Trump or the Republican Party.
It would be reprehensible enough that Trump were going to churches for the sole purpose of ginning up his friends in the Religious Right, but he had to do it in the state where a gun massacre took place, which he did nothing to prevent, and didn’t give a thought to any of the victims. One thing interesting about Trump’s request, however, is that they’re not too far from the plea Nancy Pelosi delivered publicly several weeks ago, urging the nation to pray for a man who is clearly unfit for office and is in way in over his head. Perhaps this is yet another sign that Pelosi has really gotten under his skin.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making