Prosperity Gospel vs. Social Gospel: What Religion Means to Trump, Clinton

NPR delves into the faiths of the Republican and Democratic presidential tickets

Trump himself has never claimed to be transformed or “born again.” But that may not matter, if he outsources the responsibility for religious outreach to his running mate. As Indiana governor, Mike Pence bolstered his conservative credentials by signing a religious liberty law to protect business people — critics said it would allow them to discriminate against gays and lesbians.


In back-to-back features this week, NPR delves into the faiths of the Republican and Democratic presidential tickets.

It’s safe to say that these profiles — by Godbeat pro Tom Gjelten — are not definitive journalism on what Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton & Co. believe.

In fact, these reports are more like CliffsNotes study guides for those interested in a crash course on the candidates’ religious backgrounds. But taken as such, these accounts are really nicely done.

On the Republican side, NPR focuses on how positive thinking and the prosperity gospel define Trump’s faith outlook:

On the Democratic side, Gjelten explores how Clinton and running mate Tim Kaine are driven by their faith in a social gospel:

In each case, the author allows the candidates to describe their faith in their own words.


“I go to church, and I love God, and I love my church,” Trump told the Family Leadership Summit in Iowa last year. “Norman Vincent Peale, the great Norman Vincent Peale, was my pastor. … He was so great. And what he would do is, he’d bring real-life situations, modern-day situations, into the sermon. And you could listen to him all day long.”


“My study of the Bible,” she said, “my many conversations with people of faith, has led me to believe the most important commandment is to love the Lord with all your might and to love your neighbor as yourself, and that is what I think we are commanded by Christ to do. And there is so much more in the Bible about taking care of the poor, visiting the prisoner, taking in the stranger creating opportunities for others to be lifted up, to find faith themselves.”

Moreover, NPR quotes outside experts who provide insight into the candidates’ faith.

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