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Choosing Donald Trump: God, Anger, Hope, and Why Christian Conservatives Supported Him

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The 2016 election of Donald J. Trump exposed a deep divide in American politics and culture, one that pollsters and pundits didn't seem to realize was there. But Trump did, and he used it to his advantage in ways that surprised nearly everyone, even those who voted for him. Perhaps the biggest question on many people's minds is how, exactly, did a crass, unrepentant realit The 2016 election of Donald J. Trump exposed a deep divide in American politics and culture, one that pollsters and pundits didn't seem to realize was there. But Trump did, and he used it to his advantage in ways that surprised nearly everyone, even those who voted for him. Perhaps the biggest question on many people's minds is how, exactly, did a crass, unrepentant reality TV star and cutthroat business tycoon secure the majority of the religious conservative vote? Now the New York Times bestselling author of The Faith of George W. Bush and The Faith of Barack Obama turns his pen toward the Trump phenomenon. Through meticulous research and personal interviews, Stephen Mansfield uncovers who Trump's spiritual influences have been and explains why Christian conservatives were attracted to this unlikely candidate. The book ends with a reflection on the vital role of prophetic distance, both historically and now.


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The 2016 election of Donald J. Trump exposed a deep divide in American politics and culture, one that pollsters and pundits didn't seem to realize was there. But Trump did, and he used it to his advantage in ways that surprised nearly everyone, even those who voted for him. Perhaps the biggest question on many people's minds is how, exactly, did a crass, unrepentant realit The 2016 election of Donald J. Trump exposed a deep divide in American politics and culture, one that pollsters and pundits didn't seem to realize was there. But Trump did, and he used it to his advantage in ways that surprised nearly everyone, even those who voted for him. Perhaps the biggest question on many people's minds is how, exactly, did a crass, unrepentant reality TV star and cutthroat business tycoon secure the majority of the religious conservative vote? Now the New York Times bestselling author of The Faith of George W. Bush and The Faith of Barack Obama turns his pen toward the Trump phenomenon. Through meticulous research and personal interviews, Stephen Mansfield uncovers who Trump's spiritual influences have been and explains why Christian conservatives were attracted to this unlikely candidate. The book ends with a reflection on the vital role of prophetic distance, both historically and now.

30 review for Choosing Donald Trump: God, Anger, Hope, and Why Christian Conservatives Supported Him

  1. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    The polls didn't give Trump much of a chance to become president. Yet he is now what some describe as the most powerful man in the world. How did that happen? Having read a biography about Trump, I was well aware of his character. I was shocked when I found out that Trump won the votes of 81 percent of white evangelicalism. (Loc 1260/2679) How did that happen? Mansfield has done an excellent job of explaining how Trump was elected and the particular role of the conservative Christians in that acc The polls didn't give Trump much of a chance to become president. Yet he is now what some describe as the most powerful man in the world. How did that happen? Having read a biography about Trump, I was well aware of his character. I was shocked when I found out that Trump won the votes of 81 percent of white evangelicalism. (Loc 1260/2679) How did that happen? Mansfield has done an excellent job of explaining how Trump was elected and the particular role of the conservative Christians in that accomplishment. He identifies the anger of Christians, feeling that the country they knew was slipping away. They wanted change at almost any cost. Trump won them over by promising to give their country back to them. (Loc 1282/2679) He won over Christian leaders by promising to abolish the Johnson Amendment, the law restricting pastors from speaking openly on political issues or endorsing candidates from the pulpit. (Loc 1314/2679) Conservative Christians were so desperate for political power and change that they were willing to overlook Trump's lack of experience, his foul language, his bullying business practices, his disrespect and lack of compassion for the marginalized, his lack of familiarity with what it meant to be a Christian, his public boasts of marital infidelity, and his offensive behavior in general. (Loc 92/2679) Mansfield writes that Christian leaders were “interested in allying themselves to power at any moral cost.” (Loc 241/2679) Other Christians believed God had called and would use an immoral Trump much as God had used an immoral Cyrus in the Old Testament. (Loc 1944/2679) Mansfield explores the spirituality of Trump and covers the great influence of Norman Vincent Peale in the distant past and Paula White in the recent past. Mansfield is direct on criticizing Trump's claim to be a Christian, noting his lack of knowledge of Christians things and his lack of moral character. (Loc 337/2679) Mansfield also explains that conservative Christians have now wed themselves to Trump. They are responsible for putting Trump in the White House. They took a risk and now they must reconcile what the Trump administration becomes to what they believe about God and truth. (Loc 1490/2679) Mansfield also writes of the prophetic voice that must come from Christian leaders as Trump will need spiritual counsel. Those Christian who voted for Trump need to read this book to understand the ramifications of their choice. Those who did not vote for Trump need to read this book to understand how we got to this place in American history. I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    Summary: Written just after the election of Donald J. Trump to the presidency, this book explores his character and formative influences, what his appeal was to the voters who elected him, and a call for the church to exercise "prophetic distance" in its relationship with this and all presidents. I think it is safe to say that the United States has never seen a president like Donald J. Trump. That may be the one thing both those who support him and those who oppose him agree upon. When I came acr Summary: Written just after the election of Donald J. Trump to the presidency, this book explores his character and formative influences, what his appeal was to the voters who elected him, and a call for the church to exercise "prophetic distance" in its relationship with this and all presidents. I think it is safe to say that the United States has never seen a president like Donald J. Trump. That may be the one thing both those who support him and those who oppose him agree upon. When I came across Mansfield's book, I wasn't sure what I would encounter. However, I had read his fascinating narrative of the Guinness family and the beer that bears their name, and so I thought I would take a chance on this book. There are several reasons I'm glad I did. But first for an overview of the book. Mansfield begins with the unlikely rise of Trump, and the puzzling phenomenon of his defeat of a huge Republican field, with many candidates of accomplishment, character and religious faith, and then his defeat of a Democratic candidate who had probably spoken of her own religious faith more extensively and thoughtfully than most candidates. Though apparently religiously illiterate while claiming faith, known for sharp business practices, serial marriages, and sexually crude language about women and allegations of sexual impropriety, he managed to get elected with 81 percent of whites identifying as "evangelical" voting for him. Mansfield explores his background, and particularly the profound influence his father had upon his boy, who he nicknamed both "King" and "Killer," raising a young man who always believed he must win, and for whom ruthlessness toward that end was warranted. Both military academy and early business associations with lawyer Roy Cohn deepened the killer instinct of this man who thought he must be king. Oddly, this utterly secular, ruthless young man nevertheless had religious influences. The pastor who most influenced him was Norman Vincent Peale, with his theology of positive thought. For a young man relentlessly driven to pursue success to win the father approval he never knew, this was the ideal "theology," one that brooked no possibility of failure or defeat, but believed that you could eventually do what you dream. Peale's death left a religious vacuum in his life filled by evangelical prosperity televangelist Paula White, who Trump first met around 2000, who helped gather a group of pastors to pray for him in 2011, as he was grappling with a decision to run, counseling him that the time was not yet, and who now chairs his evangelical advisory council. She prayed at his inauguration, vigorously defends him as a born-again Christian, and has helped gather support of key evangelical leaders. In the third part of the book, Mansfield turns from the formative influences in Trump's life, past and present, to the factors, that propelled Trump into the White House. He speaks of the growing concern of evangelical leaders of Obama administration decisions that both violated moral convictions and policies that were encroaching on religious liberties. A pivotal point for Trump was when he realized the role the Johnson Amendment played in silencing evangelicals in the pulpit who wanted to speak out against these policies and support those who opposed them. He made overturning this amendment his rallying cry in support of religious liberty. He also offered an alternative to a candidate on one hand far more religious, and yet one whose statements about gay rights, in support of Planned Parenthood, and lack of engagement with evangelicals suggest to these evangelical leaders that things would only get worse in her administration. The result was support of Trump, likened to King Cyrus, a pagan king who yet accomplishes God's purposes in liberating the Jews from exile. Finally, Mansfield briefly discusses how Trump proclaimed himself the "voice" of white working-class people struggling in the Obama economy, saying things people only felt free to say at dinner tables and working class bars. The last part of the book discusses the relationship of religious leaders around the presidency and advocates a stance Mansfield calls "prophetic distance." He describes how in the early years Billy Graham was seduced by presidential access and the decisions he later made: "Graham's conclusion about his ministry was telling. After all of his years of friendships with presidents and being asked to comment on politics, he finally realized, 'I have one message" -- the gospel. He decided in his later years that he could have done more good by speaking his truth to presidents and politicians than by allowing himself to be pulled into their orbits, thus dissipating his message" (p. 137). He then highlights the example of Paul Marc Goulet's International Church of Las Vegas, and his Latino co-pastor Pasqual Urrabazo, who met Trump at a meeting at Trump Tower and told Trump of how offended he was about the things said of Hispanics and how wrong he was on immigration policy. Trump asked to meet his people and attend his church. Goulet did not give him the pulpit but allowed him to visit the church's school, where he met former Vegas gang members. Goulet later said, "I won't endorse candidates. But I will give them a chance to hear truth and see it in action. I will show them a picture of what, with God's help, they might be." This is what Mansfield believes the religious leaders who have gained access to Trump must do, or they will pay a great price. As I mentioned, I liked this book for several reasons. One was that it was neither a hagiography or a screed, but a nuanced treatment of Trump, although I would have appreciated a stronger treatment of the element of racism in Trump's appeal. The background of Trump's life helped me realize this is both an extraordinarily driven, and yet wounded individual, that even at his father's funeral had to talk about what his father would have thought of him. I also appreciated the chapters on the religious influences in his life. In particular, I had not appreciated the role Paula White has and continues to play in his life. Finally, his advocacy of a role of "prophetic distance" for religious leaders who have access to the president is one I think important. What the book doesn't answer is whether those around the president have the breadth of vision that addresses the prophetic concerns of the Old Testament prophets for the poor, the stranger, and the marginalized of all ethnicities, and warns against the idolatry and materialism of the rich as well as advocating for a pro-life ethic and other concerns most popular among conservative evangelicals, including concerns for sexual morality in word and action.  What those who do enjoy this access to the president must consider, as Mansfield notes, is that they will face a great reckoning for how they have used this access. For the rest of us, whatever we think of the evangelical advisers around the president, it suggests they are worthy of our prayers, and perhaps our own prophetic engagement as their brothers and sisters. ____________________________ Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

  3. 5 out of 5

    James

    Since November 8, 2016, one question has dominated media ad nauseam: how did this happen? How did Donald J. Trump—a man full of narcissistic bravado, who publicly mocked a disabled reporter, failed to unequivocally denounce white nationalism and the KKK, insulted political opponents and women with unparalleled crassness,  bragged about sexual assault, passing it off as locker room talk, and also bragged about his sexual exploits in public forms—become president? Why did 81% of evangelicals suppo Since November 8, 2016, one question has dominated media ad nauseam: how did this happen? How did Donald J. Trump—a man full of narcissistic bravado, who publicly mocked a disabled reporter, failed to unequivocally denounce white nationalism and the KKK, insulted political opponents and women with unparalleled crassness,  bragged about sexual assault, passing it off as locker room talk, and also bragged about his sexual exploits in public forms—become president? Why did 81% of evangelicals support him, a higher percentage of support than either George W. Bush or Mitt Romney received? In one night, white evangelicals swung from the demographic most likely to say that personal character matters in assessing a leader's public ethics, to the group that said it mattered the least. A lot of ink has been spilled, attempting to answer the question of why Donald Trump. Stephen Mansfield tackles this question directly in  Choosing Donald Trump: God, Anger, Hope and Why Christian Conservatives Supported Him. Mansfield is a historian, conservative Christian and cultural critic. He boasts strong evangelical credentials and of all the people who have endeavored to tackle the Trump phenomenon, he may be the whitest (I can't actually back that up). His previous books include a Christian book about manly men doing manly things, The Mansfield Book of Manly Men (Thomas Nelson, 2013), as well as books about the faiths of presidents and world leaders: The Faith of George W. Bush (Tarcher, 2003), The Faith of Barak Obama (Thomas Nelson, 2008), Lincoln's Battle with God (Thomas Nelson, 2012), and The Character and Greatness of Winston Churchill (Cumberland House, 2004). Notably, Mansfield does not attempt to write a book on the faith of Donald Trump, as he did with Bush and Obama.  He attempts instead to answer how Donald Trump became evangelicals' champion, though he does address the the possible religious content of Trump's faith. He repeatedly points out the incongruities between Trump's Christian claims and the evidence from Trump's life and writing: [F]or at least the first five decades of [his] life, there was little evidence  of a defining Christian Faith. Instead, his religion was power, vengeance, and, notably himself. He seemed not to know that the ideal of revenge to which he devoted so much time and an entire chapter of a book was contrary to the teaching of the religion he served. He did not know or did not care that truth mattered in his faith, that his preference for "truthful hyperbole"—an"innocent form of exaggeration . . . and a very effective form of promotion"—was little more than lying and forbidden by his religion. It was the same with his sexual mores, with his language, and business ethics, and with his lack of evident concern for the will of an all-knowing God. (70). Mansfield explains the Trump phenomena in the four sections of his book. Part one names the incongruity between evangelicalism and their "unlikely champion." Part 2, provides the backstory, and the voices that shaped Trump: his emotionally distant and cut-throat real estate tycoon father, military school, the positive thinking gospel of Norman Vincent Peale, and his decade-long friendship with prosperity preacher, Paula White, the pastor that translated Trump's faith to his would-be evangelical allies. In part 3, Mansfield describes Trump's appeal for evangelicals, namely, his commitment to overturning the Johnson Act, his opposition to Obama's legacy, Hillary Clinton and the way Trump gave voice to their anger. Obama was adept at speaking Christian language, but evangelicals disagreed vehemently with his Pro-Choice platform, the ways in which the Affordable Care Act was biased against pro-life positions and Obama's evolving stance on Marriage Equality. Clinton, a lifelong Methodist, was also more adept at speaking about faith matters than Trump, but her progressive politics, pro-abortion stances and her failure to even engage with evangelicals during her campaign hurt her standing with them. Mansfield focuses his assessment of Clinton's lack of appeal among evangelicals on her policy, not on scandals like her private email server or Benghazi. In part 4, Mansfield makes the case for prophetic distance between evangelicals and their would-be champion. He begins by assessing Billy Graham's legacy as 'pastor to the presidency,' and how Graham came to see how he was used by presidents (he felt particularly seduced by his friendship with Nixon). Mansfield quotes Graham as saying in 1981, "The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it" (137). This strikes me as words his son Franklin ought to heed. Surveying our cultural landscape, and the story of  Jesus driving the money changers out of the Court of the Gentiles (the part of the temple where the nations came to seek Yahweh), Mansfield observes that Jesus was objecting to a racist policy that hurt the Gentiles. He concludes: In an America battling new waves of racial tension, what might come from a bold, unapologetic declaration of the meaning of this episdode in the life of Christ—that racism is sin, that it is un-Christian and that any president who claims to be a follower of Christ must fight this evil with every weapon possible? That is what is required of ministers who step into the lives of presidents. They are not there merely to affirm. They are not there simply to sanction. They are there to confront and speak truth that brings change. They are there to maintain prophetic distance and to be guardians of a moral vision for life and government. (141). Mansfield's concluding chapter gives several examples of Christian leaders who maintained this sort of prophetic distance and were, therefore, able to speak prophetically into the life of leaders. Mansfield is evenhanded. He gives a strong critique of Trump and Trumpism without demonizing the man or the movement. I don't know from reading this book how he voted last November. I am sure I wouldn't always be on the same page as him politically or theologically but I appreciate his conviction, fairness and the thrust of his argument In the interest of disclosure, I am one of the 19% of white evangelicals who did not vote for Trump. I have a lot of friends who have disavowed the term evangelical in the wake of the last election because they want to dissociate from the evangelical support of a president who winks at injustice, sexism, racial bigotry, and xenophobia. I still call myself an evangelical because I believe in the reality of new birth in Christ, salvation through the cross, a Bible-centered spirituality and a commitment to mission, but I am sensitive to the way evangelicalism and evangelical language has been co-opted.  I appreciate Mansfield's argument for prophetic distance, though as he notes throughout, the evangelical movement, for better or for worse, has hitched their cart to the Trump train. Whether or not prophetic distance is now possible remains to be seen, though certainly there are examples of evangelicals who have dared to speak truth-to-power. I certainly want to see an evangelicalism guided more by conviction than political pragmatism, but it is 2017 and I'm cynical. Still, if you want a white, evangelical assessment of why Trump and where we go from here, this is a good place to start. I give this four stars. ★★★★ Notice of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book from Baker Books in exchange for my honest review  

  4. 4 out of 5

    David Rush

    It’s an odd book. I appreciate Mansfield’s honesty about what Trump is, and how he accurately portrays his fellow conservative Christians. He pulls no punches, well maybe a few, but overall he doesn’t shy away from Trump’s character flaws, moral failings, and general horrible behavior. It is odd because with no explanation he implies Trump is a good thing. Oh wait, this may take a while so let me give a condensation of his accurate presentation... Trump is a horrible, horrible, person and the rel It’s an odd book. I appreciate Mansfield’s honesty about what Trump is, and how he accurately portrays his fellow conservative Christians. He pulls no punches, well maybe a few, but overall he doesn’t shy away from Trump’s character flaws, moral failings, and general horrible behavior. It is odd because with no explanation he implies Trump is a good thing. Oh wait, this may take a while so let me give a condensation of his accurate presentation... Trump is a horrible, horrible, person and the religious leaders are hypocritical horrible, horrible people too. And the one ring that binds them all is the fiery ring of anger. Everybody is really pissed and conservatives Christians revel is their anger and scream to drink in Trumps venomous rantings Really not that complicated and he convinced me. Although Mansfield might phrase it somewhat differently. But first. THINGS I WANT TO GET OFF MY CHEST… The guy is a little irritating in that he writes as if he is being even handed, but he ain’t. He HATES Hillary Clinton... With virtually no evidence, after acknowledging her religious bone fides he rates how real her Christian faith is (amazing insight he has into another human’s soul). He makes some weak arguments about a supposed seance she participated in while first lady (we have to forget about Nancy Reagan and bringing an Astrologer in regularly) . Pretty bad huh? Except the author has never hear about snopes.com. Yeah there some screwy imaginative therapy, but no communing with the dead. Anyway he parlays into “The truths of her Methodist upbringing were no longer enough”. Pg 120. What does that even mean? He never says, but he implies it is pretty bad. “Her advocacy for abortion knows no bounds….the most outspoken about her faith and the least clear about the meaning of that faith. It is possible to wonder if her religion was nothing more than mystical justification for whatever she wanted to do. Did she have any ethical content? Pg 122 Jiminy Cricket, knowing what he knows about Trump, how can he criticize Hilary's religious commitment with a straight face? I haven’t even come to his accurate demonstration of Trump’s lack of religious knowledge and how he contradicts almost every conventional Christian traditions. The old ones that I remember like humility, compassion, patience, forgiveness, and even love of neighbors. Of course most Christians don’t follow these models, but the point is Trump does the exact opposite! He should have just laid the pro-choice label on Hilary and say it is a Christian deal breaker even though otherwise the evidence shows that she is pretty damn good Christian by any objective standard. And that is really what rubs Mansfield and the rest of Conservative Christian world the wrong way, Abortion (and he gets some digs in about gay marriage). If you are pro-choice you are a relentless, leftist, socialist, and that cannot be allowed at all. Later he makes a big deal about Hilary/Obama having a litmus test for Abortion and if you are against abortion you are somehow a "target" of Obama. But he doesn’t see that he and his world are the ones with the litmus test with the difference that if we use his test he gets to tell me how to live, but if we use my litmus test, I don’t tell anybody what to do. So who is the one imposing their will on whom? And if you are pro choice you are one big evil target. MANSFIELD’S PROOF OF HOW TRUMP IS A HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE PERSON “I realized then and there,” he later recalled, “ that if you let people treat you how they want, you’ll be made a fool. I realized then and there something I would never forget: I don’t want to be made anybody’s sucker.” Pg 52. TRUMP speaking... “man is the most vicious of all animals, and life is a series of battles ending in victory or defeat. You just can’t let people make a sucker out of you” Pg 63 In 2005...He told the audience that he “loved losers because they make me feel so good about my self” He also insisted that good business leaders should trust no one, good employees in particular. “ Be parnoid,” he advised “because they are gonna try to fleece you.” Finally, he counseled, “Get even. If somebody screws you, screw ‘em back ten times over. At least you can feel good about it. Boy, do I feel good.” Pg 69 [F]or at least the first five decades of [his] life, there was little evidence  of a defining Christian Faith. Instead, his religion was power, vengeance, and, notably himself. He seemed not to know that the ideal of revenge to which he devoted so much time and an entire chapter of a book was contrary to the teaching of the religion he served. He did not know or did not care that truth mattered in his faith, that his preference for "truthful hyperbole"—an"innocent form of exaggeration . . . and a very effective form of promotion"—was little more than lying and forbidden by his religion. It was the same with his sexual mores, with his language, and business ethics, and with his lack of evident concern for the will of an all-knowing God. (70). Colonel Theodore Dobias..spoke words he thought would ignite character and passions in Trump’s soul....Dobias also made him an unofficial basketball coach. ….[Trump] ..recalls mainly that he learned how to manipulate Dobias to get what he wanted. Pg. 52 All in all a ton of stories and they are pretty much all bad. There was more stuff with straw men arguments about cake decorators and Hobby lobby dictating their religion on their employees (you probably know he can’t see a contradiction that he thinks it is Obama who is persecuting all of them and not the employer persecuting the employees and customers). I could buckle down and dissect his sentences to show how it is fallacious, or point out how half of his listing of Trump’s successes went on to be failures...but what is the point. Still...he comes up with a pretty good insight... The truth is that much of the appeal of Donald Trump is the way he speaks publicly in the same way millions of Americans do ...Crass, insulting, bullying, sometimes ill informed, always opinionated, usually prejudiced, Donald Trump is the private voice of millions of Americans. Pg 126 The evangelicals are really angry and are drawn to the Sith Lord rage of Donald Trump. So he again correctly sees that Trump is horrible person and the people who like him are just like him And somehow he inexplicably comes to this conclusion... To the extent that the Trump presidency is built upon eternal principles and timeworn truth, it may accomplish noble things. Pg. 161 But right after that he includes this H.L. Menken quote The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. HL Mencken. Pg 162 I guess it boils down to Mansfield is a conservative Christian so he has to accept Trump as the savior of the country....Go figure. Oh yeah, he really hates Obama also, so I would be kind of scared to see his book on Obama's faith.

  5. 4 out of 5

    John Boyne

    Mansfield sets out in this book to try to explain what the appeal of Donald Trump was to Christians and particularly evangelical Christians that propelled him to the White House in 2016. After reading through the book, I had mixed feelings. The book started off great. Mansfield writes very well about Trump's upbringing and the effect the charismatic movement and prosperity gospel had on his own views of Christianity and life. I found that section fascinating. My concerns crept in later in the bo Mansfield sets out in this book to try to explain what the appeal of Donald Trump was to Christians and particularly evangelical Christians that propelled him to the White House in 2016. After reading through the book, I had mixed feelings. The book started off great. Mansfield writes very well about Trump's upbringing and the effect the charismatic movement and prosperity gospel had on his own views of Christianity and life. I found that section fascinating. My concerns crept in later in the book when he turned to his evidence on why evangelicals today support Trump despite all of his sins. First, Mansfield, like so many other commentators who have written about this, paints with a very broad brush by placing all evangelicals into one basket where the evidence he finds in support or lack of support for Trump from certain evangelical sources get inferred on all evangelicals. This is just another form of identity politics where group think dominates our analysis instead of understanding that a Methodist thinks differently than a Baptist, than a Presbyterian, than a Pentecostal. The range of sources that Mansfield draws on seemed limited to one particular branch of evangelicalism. Second, it seemed at times that Mansfield was using this book to let out some of his own personal frustrations against Trump when he was suppose to be writing about others. At one point he even inserts his own personal interpretation of a passage of Scripture and applies it as truth, not interpretation, and applies it poorly to Trump. My own opinion is that a lot of evangelicals chose Trump when the primaries came to a close and the general election took place because they saw no better option. He promised policies that agreed with the teachings of Scripture in the form of his pro-life stances and to the Constitution with his promise to appoint judges who would defend religious rights. Now, while a Rubio, Cruz, or Carson would have done this as well, what they weren't able to accomplish was to create a coalition capable of winning the election. Trump fought for and related to non-Christians as well as Christians in very powerful ways, particularly in his economic arguments, and that was what propelled him to the top of every race he has entered in the last few years. We also suffer from short term memory lose so much when we discuss Trump. Remember who the other option was. Evangelicals failed to fully support Romney in 2012 and it cost him the election. The thought of 4-8 more years of that carried considerable weight in many evangelical's minds that allowed them to overcome Trump's many shortcomings. Trump has made his wrong choices in the past. His present has been marked with tremendous growth and evangelicals need to continue to be involved in order to provide that voice that he can listen too as he continues to fight for their support. This book does provide a good basis for a more in depth analysis into why evangelicals chose and continue to choose Trump. It is a short read and think it is worth checking out.

  6. 4 out of 5

    J.K. Turner

    My Rating - Must read Level - Quick and easy, short book Summary The subtitle of the the book pretty much sums up what it is about. Conservative Christians were angry and put there hope a man Mansfield calls 'an unlikely champion'. If fact that is the first section of the four sections of the book. This first section has two short chapters about the (then) current political situation and how Trump fit into it. The second section, called 'the backstory', is basically a 65 page biography of Trump. The My Rating - Must read Level - Quick and easy, short book Summary The subtitle of the the book pretty much sums up what it is about. Conservative Christians were angry and put there hope a man Mansfield calls 'an unlikely champion'. If fact that is the first section of the four sections of the book. This first section has two short chapters about the (then) current political situation and how Trump fit into it. The second section, called 'the backstory', is basically a 65 page biography of Trump. The third section, 'the appeal', get to why Christians would even be interested in someone like Trump. This is probably the most informative section, with chapters on the Johnson Amendment, Obama, Hilary Clinton, and voters who felt like the found a political voice only in him. The final section, 'Prophets and Presidents', where Mansfield dives into the interaction of prophets with kings in the Old Testament and then contrast that with the pastors around Trump today. The book also includes a short intro and epilogue and an interesting 'Trump in his own words' section which is a collection of a few of Trump's speeches about religion. My Thoughts I wasn't sure what his book was going to be when I saw it on the list from Baker*. I don't know who Mansfield is or whether he is a supporter or not, and I thought the book might be a bit apologetic for Evangelicals. Instead, it really is just a straight look at the situation. He doesn't try to paint Trump as the terrible person, nor does he try to portray him in this great light that would explain why Evangelicals could vote for him. One of the more interesting aspects of the book was the detailing of Trump's admiration of Evangelicals, or at least preachers. He is somewhat famous now for staying up late and watching cable news, but apparently 20 years ago he stayed up late watching TV preachers. He seems infatuated with their charisma and influence on people. You get the impression that his outreach to Evangelicals maybe wasn't just a political move, but him actually trying to 'do good' so to speak. It was almost like his pushes for 'religious liberty' and repeal of the Johnson Amendment are his good works, his attempt to earn some salvation. Honestly, I felt like had Trump met a different strain of American Christianity first, he could just as easily gone a completely different way. That is actually a really disappointing idea, as this particular charismatic/Pentecostal/fundamentalist strain doesn't necessarily line up with what he personally believes, but they are on the TV the most, so he sought them. He asked them what he needed to do, and they laid out, at least, the religious wing of his agenda. I really believe that had it been the liberal side, he'd be pushing refugee resettlement and environmentalism, or the reformed side, maybe sex-trafficking and racial reconciliation. He might not have even run as a republican. Anyway, for now that is just an interesting exercise in alternative history. The biographical part of the book was fascinating. Mansfield did a great job distilling 70 years of this man's life into just why/how he reacted to the religious vote the way he did and how he doesn't really fit. The early chapter about Trump's speech at Liberty University and his commentary on that are great insights. Finally, I enjoyed the last part of the book where he delves into the famous pastors who supported Trump, their hypocrisy as it came to his morality versus their previous statements about Bill Clinton, and then how the tripped all over themselves to either excuse his behavior or explain why it didn't matter. There was an interesting survey of all the Old Testament and historical figures different pastors have compare with Trump. If you are a huge Trump supporter and think he was chosen by God to be the perfect leader of the United States, this book may not be for you; unless you want to be challenged in your thinking. However, if you are opposed to Trump, or politically left, or maybe not opposed but just confused, like me, as to how he garnered so much Evangelical support, this book is a must read. *I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. More reviews at https://MondayMorningTheologian.com/

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alice

    The author outlines the upbringing and religious background of Trump, the political history behind the motivation that drove white evangelicals to vote for him, Clinton's fatal mistake in not engaging the evangelical voter base, and ends with a sobering call to Christian leaders, especially those advising Trump, to speak from a "prophetic distance." "Once again, Donald Trump is a product of his time and his nation's culture. None of this is a defense of Trump. Instead, it raises searing questio The author outlines the upbringing and religious background of Trump, the political history behind the motivation that drove white evangelicals to vote for him, Clinton's fatal mistake in not engaging the evangelical voter base, and ends with a sobering call to Christian leaders, especially those advising Trump, to speak from a "prophetic distance." "Once again, Donald Trump is a product of his time and his nation's culture. None of this is a defense of Trump. Instead, it raises searing questions for those who supported him, pro-Trump clergy in particular. To support Donald Trump without caveat, to extol him as chosen by God without identifying what is morally objectionable in his politics and behavior, is much the same as extolling American culture without expressing any moral reservation. Donald Trump is merely a man. He cannot be held responsible for the immoral drift of American society. Yet for those who are the guardians of morality and whose role it is to call for stronger character and deeper souls, to support Trump publicly without distinguishing between the virtues and the vices is nearly an act of idolatry."

  8. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    Interesting read. Mansfield's description of the religious background (such as it is) of Trump, especially his interaction with Norman Vincent Peale and Paula White, was educational; I hadn't known that before. Yet do you remember how in Harry Potter, Ollivander, without saying anything, conveys an implicit admiration for the power of Voldemort? I got that impression here as well; Manfield talks about a Trump I didn't really recognize, one who brawls, yes, but who likes to be challenged, one who Interesting read. Mansfield's description of the religious background (such as it is) of Trump, especially his interaction with Norman Vincent Peale and Paula White, was educational; I hadn't known that before. Yet do you remember how in Harry Potter, Ollivander, without saying anything, conveys an implicit admiration for the power of Voldemort? I got that impression here as well; Manfield talks about a Trump I didn't really recognize, one who brawls, yes, but who likes to be challenged, one who listens to conservatives, and is perhaps genuinely concerned about the difficulties facing religious people, one who sees himself as a king and a victor, one who is competent. And I got the impression from the way that Mansfield talked, that he found in Trump not someone hungry for power but someone who wanted to win but to do real good in winning. And I don't buy it. I'm all the more eager for John Fea's book now.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Oak

    I was intrigued by Stephen Mansfield’s book Choosing Donald Trump: God, Anger, Hope, and Why Christian Conservatives Supported Him, because what led to Donald Trump’s win is a much-discussed topic. Earlier this year, I read J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, which has been described by the Times as one of “6 books to help understand Trump’s win.” As I started to read Choosing Donald Trump, I was hoping that Stephen Mansfield would offer good insight into th I was intrigued by Stephen Mansfield’s book Choosing Donald Trump: God, Anger, Hope, and Why Christian Conservatives Supported Him, because what led to Donald Trump’s win is a much-discussed topic. Earlier this year, I read J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, which has been described by the Times as one of “6 books to help understand Trump’s win.” As I started to read Choosing Donald Trump, I was hoping that Stephen Mansfield would offer good insight into the election – and he did. Mansfield is skilled at writing biographies and nonfiction; he has written about Lincoln and Churchill and Arthur Guiness. In Choosing Donald Trump, Mansfield delves into research, delivering chapters that shed light onto why Trump won. *I received this book for review*

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ellison

    Shares that he was raised by an overbearing father which caused him to end up at a MILITARY SCHOOL! Shares his first pastor and his thoughts/feelings/beliefs. Mentions other people with spiritual background he had contact with. Mentions Obama and Hillary Clinton and aspires to explain why people claiming to follow a Conservative God would support a man who does not display ANY good qualities. Explains the Johnson Act. Mentions how Billy Graham may have gotten played for political spin. Insightful Shares that he was raised by an overbearing father which caused him to end up at a MILITARY SCHOOL! Shares his first pastor and his thoughts/feelings/beliefs. Mentions other people with spiritual background he had contact with. Mentions Obama and Hillary Clinton and aspires to explain why people claiming to follow a Conservative God would support a man who does not display ANY good qualities. Explains the Johnson Act. Mentions how Billy Graham may have gotten played for political spin. Insightful.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tucker

    I learned about Norman Vincent Peale's relationship with Donald Trump. Otherwise I found this to be an indictment of Donald Trump with kid gloves. I mostly agreed, or would have, but major subjects and issues were danced around to such an extent that I disagreed with the way it was handled and presented. I'm not sure what it was trying to convince me of or if I was convinced. To be very brief, with links to the TL;DR, I see this book as bridging my other two recent reads about our political situa I learned about Norman Vincent Peale's relationship with Donald Trump. Otherwise I found this to be an indictment of Donald Trump with kid gloves. I mostly agreed, or would have, but major subjects and issues were danced around to such an extent that I disagreed with the way it was handled and presented. I'm not sure what it was trying to convince me of or if I was convinced. To be very brief, with links to the TL;DR, I see this book as bridging my other two recent reads about our political situation. The End of White Christian America Published July 2016. Argues that white Christian political influence is permanently dying. Suggests that white Christians handle this fact gracefully, please. (my Goodreads review) Choosing Donald Trump: God, Anger, Hope, and Why Christian Conservatives Supported Him Published October 2017 but only covers events through early 2017 shortly after the inauguration. Claims that people voted for Trump because he successfully embodies their secret internal angry voice. Doesn't explain why white Christians, the people who actually voted for Trump, should be especially susceptible to the seduction of anger. Trump is white and he made a campaign promise to evangelical clergy to ax an IRS law they hate. OK, but doesn't there have to be something more? (more on Dead Men Blogging) The Despot's Apprentice: Donald Trump's Attack on Democracy Published November 2017. Identifies ways in which Trump, as president, operates as if he's a despot-in-training. Expresses the political urgency of stopping that train before somebody, or some millions, get hurt. (more on Dead Men Blogging)

  12. 4 out of 5

    Joanne Viola

    The 2016 election took hold of the news and social media more than any previous election due to its candidates. The presidency continues to do so each day, now due to the man holding office - Donald Trump. In his book, Choosing Donald Trump, Stephen Mansfield seeks to explain how this occurred. What led to the turn of events which then gave us the unexpected outcome? The author has written books about the faith of other leaders including George W. Bush, Barak Obama, Winston Churchill and Abraham The 2016 election took hold of the news and social media more than any previous election due to its candidates. The presidency continues to do so each day, now due to the man holding office - Donald Trump. In his book, Choosing Donald Trump, Stephen Mansfield seeks to explain how this occurred. What led to the turn of events which then gave us the unexpected outcome? The author has written books about the faith of other leaders including George W. Bush, Barak Obama, Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln. The book is broken down into four parts: An Unlikely Champion - takes a look at the surprising appeal Trump gained with religious conservatives. The Backstory - tells the intriguing story of his upbringing and the voices which shaped him throughout the course of his life to date. The Appeal - explains the promises and verbiage which strengthened his appeal among particularly, evangelicals. Of Prophets and Presidents - raises the important question, Will religious conservatives speak the truth of faith to the president? The book is well written and held my attention with every page. Mansfield does a wonderful job at presenting the facts without leaning in any direction. His commentary is presented fairly, in my opinion. It was difficult to put the book down. One of the most sobering thoughts the book left on me is from a quote shared in the closing chapter by H.L. Mencken, nearly a century ago: "As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folk of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron." If this quote is true, we all are in need of change, and not just politically. We are in need of a heart change which produces deeper character, wisdom and humility in us all. Mansfield heightened my awareness of our need to be informed and stay informed. We all have a responsibility to vote, recognizing each vote helps to guide the formation of our country and our culture. May we be wise and on our knees for our country so that we leave this country better than it has been before. *** I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell/ a division of Baker Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Hank Pharis

    This is the best Evangelical assessment of Trump that I have read. It is much more fair than most of the books that I have read on Trump. It views him neither as the Messiah nor the Anti-Christ but deals honestly with his strengths and weaknesses. It also specifically chronicles the viewpoints of the Evangelicals who do or don't support Trump. Some quotes from the first chapter: He was the most unusual party nominee in American history. He had never held public office. He made his wealth and his r This is the best Evangelical assessment of Trump that I have read. It is much more fair than most of the books that I have read on Trump. It views him neither as the Messiah nor the Anti-Christ but deals honestly with his strengths and weaknesses. It also specifically chronicles the viewpoints of the Evangelicals who do or don't support Trump. Some quotes from the first chapter: He was the most unusual party nominee in American history. He had never held public office. He made his wealth and his reputation in cutthroat real estate deals and as an owner of gambling casinos. He specialized in breaking the rules. His campaign was one of the least orthodox, least disciplined, and least focused in US political history—and still he won his party’s nomination handily. The immorality of his prior life alone set him apart as an American presidential candidate. He had been married three times and publicly boasted of his marital infidelities. He had often been a guest of adult talk shows During his campaign, he swore, he mocked the handicapped, he insulted nearly every ethnicity in the United States, and he was eager to expose the sins of his political rivals. None of it did him harm. He seemed coated in invisible Teflon. ... He was bulletproof. He was untouchable. Yet none of this was as surprising as the support from religious Americans that Donald Trump commanded. At his side stood some of the most visible faith leaders in the nation. So they stood with Donald Trump, and in so doing they took responsibility for the Trump presidency before the nation and the world. They “own” him now. They are wed to him, whatever he does. They will be made to answer for the mores, the methods, and the machinations of the Trump administration. If he fails, if he gives in to his lesser nature and betrays their vision, the banner of religious conservatives may be forced from the field of cultural battle for a generation or more. These are the stakes at risk, and this is how much Americans of traditional religious values have invested in Donald Trump. (Note: I'm stingy with stars. For me 2 stars means a good book. 3 = Very good; 4 = Outstanding {only about 5% of the books I read merit this}; 5 = All time favorites {one of these may come along every 400-500 books})

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Neuschwander

    This was an interesting book. I appreciated that the author encourages evangelical leaders to "do what they did not do during his campaign for office: speak the truth of faith to their President..." This book is a fair summary of Trump's views on faith and the reasons why he was supported by Christian conservatives who ought to have been more critical of him. It is neither supportive nor critical of the President, and it pulls no punches in discussing his sordid past, his arrogance, and his lack This was an interesting book. I appreciated that the author encourages evangelical leaders to "do what they did not do during his campaign for office: speak the truth of faith to their President..." This book is a fair summary of Trump's views on faith and the reasons why he was supported by Christian conservatives who ought to have been more critical of him. It is neither supportive nor critical of the President, and it pulls no punches in discussing his sordid past, his arrogance, and his lack of self-discipline.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Trevor Durham

    While the title threw me off at first, I realized Mansfield has written works analyzing the biographical and anecdotal lives of every president for the past three regimes, an analysis of Pope Benedict XVI, helped Oliver Stone in writing W., Kurdish troops, Churchill, Lincoln, and more. So, altogether, a well-read and well-written man on the topics. In this blazingly brief examination of the orange-tinted autocrat, Mansfield removes as much bias as one reasonably can, and paints a vast portrait o While the title threw me off at first, I realized Mansfield has written works analyzing the biographical and anecdotal lives of every president for the past three regimes, an analysis of Pope Benedict XVI, helped Oliver Stone in writing W., Kurdish troops, Churchill, Lincoln, and more. So, altogether, a well-read and well-written man on the topics. In this blazingly brief examination of the orange-tinted autocrat, Mansfield removes as much bias as one reasonably can, and paints a vast portrait of Trump's life, his father's life, his grandfather's life, and the lives of those who have most influenced him. Learning about Paula White and Fred Trump, Donald's time in military school, and the philosophies that shaped his youth, all bring a higher understanding not only of his religious (or possibly faux religious) philosophies, but also of an understanding on his general behavior patterns. The book finds pacing issues in the middle third, but ends on a powerful note that left me contemplating what hides behind the scenes. Definitely a read for political analysts, historians, and character studies, not only the religious conservatives or their opponents.

  16. 4 out of 5

    victoria

    This book was a greatest writing and compelling to read with had a currently up to date for all of the political new that we hearing about the result of the election 2016. This book is about to explain of the faith that has shaped Donald Trump, about the religious conservatives have risked in supporting Donald Trump, and about what religion may mean in a Trump administration and what will effect to our nation and a young generation on the rise after Trump Administration years or the embarrassment This book was a greatest writing and compelling to read with had a currently up to date for all of the political new that we hearing about the result of the election 2016. This book is about to explain of the faith that has shaped Donald Trump, about the religious conservatives have risked in supporting Donald Trump, and about what religion may mean in a Trump administration and what will effect to our nation and a young generation on the rise after Trump Administration years or the embarrassment of failures and betrayals to the cause of religion. Either way, that could become a war to tear the nation and among the most religiously decisive in American history. I highly recommend to everyone must to read this book. “ I received complimentary a copy of this book from Baker Books Bloggers for this review”.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Clara Kress

    I won this book in a giveaway and I was a little skeptical about whether or not I would enjoy it. I really wanted to gain some insight on how and why Christians would support a presidential candidate who had publicly said sexist and racist things, made fun of people with disabilities, publicly boasted about his infidelities, etc. This book did a great job of explaining why Christians (mainly Christian conservatives) supported Trump during his campaign and I thought that Mansfield did a good job I won this book in a giveaway and I was a little skeptical about whether or not I would enjoy it. I really wanted to gain some insight on how and why Christians would support a presidential candidate who had publicly said sexist and racist things, made fun of people with disabilities, publicly boasted about his infidelities, etc. This book did a great job of explaining why Christians (mainly Christian conservatives) supported Trump during his campaign and I thought that Mansfield did a good job of being unbiased. This is a great book for religious millennials and generation X and Y to read in order to understand where we will be heading with religion and politics in the future.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    Written for those who espouse traditional Christian doctrine, this book nevertheless provides the reader with a broad understanding of the religious factors which have permeated Trump's worldview. Between the lines, this book critiques religion that holds up the virtues of winning, success, and happiness. Instead, the author discusses authentic Christianity as a faith which has bias towards the poor and marginalised - and the Nicene creed for good measure as well. Overall it is insightful, relev Written for those who espouse traditional Christian doctrine, this book nevertheless provides the reader with a broad understanding of the religious factors which have permeated Trump's worldview. Between the lines, this book critiques religion that holds up the virtues of winning, success, and happiness. Instead, the author discusses authentic Christianity as a faith which has bias towards the poor and marginalised - and the Nicene creed for good measure as well. Overall it is insightful, relevant, and timely.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sam Stephens

    This book is a must read. How the heck did Trump become president? Why would Christians choose to endorse someone whose behavior is in such opposition to their values? This book explains the perfect storm of how it all happened. I recommend it highly. Enjoy a few hours in the mind of one of my most favorite authors talking about one of my least favorite people.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jody

    Great book! I really enjoyed reading about Donnie's childhood, early school experiences, as well as his spiritual influences. Great book! I really enjoyed reading about Donnie's childhood, early school experiences, as well as his spiritual influences.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Brent

    If you are wondering how white evangelicals can support someone like Donald Trump, this is the book to read. Stephen Mansfield weaves a passionate defense of Donald Trump's life, ambition, religion and those who believe that he is here to restore their vision of America. If you are wondering how white evangelicals can support someone like Donald Trump, this is the book to read. Stephen Mansfield weaves a passionate defense of Donald Trump's life, ambition, religion and those who believe that he is here to restore their vision of America.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Andrea D

    I was relieved to see that this was written as an explanation instead of an excuse. I feel it’s better to let others rad this for themselves and make their own decisions and opinions. I will definitely read more from Stephen Mansfield.

  23. 5 out of 5

    jedioffsidetrap

    Written in 2017, the author still comes off as extremely generous (naive) in his assessment of Trump’s “spirituality.” There is literally no evidence that Trump is, or ever has been, reflective, seeking or in any way attuned to a greater “Truth.” And Mansfield doesn’t provide any here, yet he gives Trump the benefit of the doubt. There is no doubt that Trump is a broken and hollow man. Clearly, he was emotionally abused, and combined with a delinquent disposition as a kid (he punched his second Written in 2017, the author still comes off as extremely generous (naive) in his assessment of Trump’s “spirituality.” There is literally no evidence that Trump is, or ever has been, reflective, seeking or in any way attuned to a greater “Truth.” And Mansfield doesn’t provide any here, yet he gives Trump the benefit of the doubt. There is no doubt that Trump is a broken and hollow man. Clearly, he was emotionally abused, and combined with a delinquent disposition as a kid (he punched his second grade teacher in the face) he seems to have been doomed. He watched his brother Fred Jr get picked apart by their father and then as he died an alcoholic at age 43. All this is truly sad & horrible. Trump was made to be how he is, and there was no one in his life to change that tragedy. So yes—Trump does have a gaping God-sized wound in his soul. That makes him pitiable but it doesn’t excuse his behavior. And it doesn’t make him “a man of keen spiritual hunger”. He is just hungry—for power, acceptance, praise... and purpose. He would watch tv preachers for hours, “drawn to their power.” Trump has been trying to fill that hole in himself with everything but God, as many of us do. He himself has no faith, but he could put his talents to use for the faithful. This was the deal he was trying to strike for his own salvation: he told his evangelical advisory council in 2016, “The only way I’m going to get to heaven is by repealing the Johnson Amendment.” Does Trump believe in heaven? Seems uncharacteristic. But crystal clear, here in his own words—as he sometimes slips and tells his actual truth in the oh-did-I-just-say-that-out-loud way—is the transaction laid out. The religious right “wanted a candidate who was as fierce & angry as they were” after the assault on their reactionary values during the Obama administration. It just so happened the enemies of the religious right were his too—especially Obama. Rage was what bound them. If Trump co-opted their grievances to serve his own ends, then the religious right very obligingly (cynically) anointed him a king like Cyrus the Great to further their Christian nationalist agenda. If Trump completely misses the point of religion, it is because he earned his faith in the manner of Norman Vincent Peale. Peale gave Trump “a religion of empowerment, not of transformation” and Trump took this to mean “it is God’s will to carry him further in the direction he was already going.” This isn’t faith in God. It’s worship of self. And the appeal of Paula White was her similar “prosperity gospel” message. It was White’s outreach on Trump’s behalf to Christians across the spectrum, Mansfield writes, that “helped deliver the Oval Office into Donald Trump’s hands.” At its best, the book is a biography and view into how the marriage of convenience between Trump & conservative Christianity came to be. It does effectively explain some of Trump’s worst quirks & demented belief system. His belief in Peale’s “power of positive thinking” could explain his COVID denialism—just speak positive and it will come true. And his bitter disdain for education or experts seems to stem from his experience at Wharton where he “knew more than the professors” about the real estate sector, due to having grown up in it. So who needs a degree? That’s right: only suckers & losers. And suckers and losers too are those religious folks who surround him. But this book was written before those comments became public. But was it really such a surprise? And what Mansfield calls Trump’s “heartfelt, gently delivered...reach across the divide to Black America” delivered in Detroit in September 2016 has been proven a lie in Trump’s attacks on anti-racist protests & his son-in-law’s recent remarks that Black people should just try harder. The author notes repeatedly that Trump was “visibly moved” by something or other. And he reportedly gets misty talking about the Bible his mom gave him. Mere sentimentality is the sum total Mansfield can offer as proof of Trump’s spiritual side. And that argument is obliterated by the actions & words of this same man since the book was written. The truest thing Mansfield says is that Trump is “very typical of what America has become.” He is profane, glib, adulterous, racist, lying, selfish & religious in name only. He is the culmination of what America has fallen to, and the President we earned. Despite Mansfield’s galling insistence that there is a spiritual side to Trump—all based on the testimony of his spiritual enablers & supported by obscure anecdotes of being “moved”—the book is a powerful & valuable look into the appalling exploitation of Trump & religious conservatives of each other. In the end, Mansfield doesn’t condone this transaction. And he definitely calls out the Christian enablers, saying in effect, “you own him now.” But he won’t give ground on the question of faith. Mansfield insists in the last sentence he writes that the genuine Donald Trump is “raw but open hearted, ever contentious but with an eye towards the will of God as he perceives it.” Such a belief is dangerous when it enables a man as awful as Trump, and dangerously naive.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    Stephen Mansfield, who has authored a number of other works pertaining to the faith of political leaders, published Choosing Donald Trump: God, Anger, Hope, and Why Christian Conservatives Supported Him in order to unpack Trump’s religious and spiritual heritage; Mansfield hopes further to tease out the larger place of faith in the culture during the years of Trump’s presidency (15). Importantly, Mansfield opens the work with a bit of an apologetic that gets at “the eighty-one percent’s” respons Stephen Mansfield, who has authored a number of other works pertaining to the faith of political leaders, published Choosing Donald Trump: God, Anger, Hope, and Why Christian Conservatives Supported Him in order to unpack Trump’s religious and spiritual heritage; Mansfield hopes further to tease out the larger place of faith in the culture during the years of Trump’s presidency (15). Importantly, Mansfield opens the work with a bit of an apologetic that gets at “the eighty-one percent’s” responsibility (or, stronger, culpability) for the Trump presidency. Mansfield describes Trump as “a man churched if not yet converted,” (23) and in large measure this summarizes the president well. He fumbles through an inchoate theology, no doubt suffering malnutrition after Trump’s few Sundays in church over the past decades (89). Yet, he recognized the power of the Religious Right as a political institution; Trump’s recollection of a mentor (of sorts) is illustrative: “he recalls mainly that he learned how to manipulate Dobias to get what he wanted.” (52) In terms of structure, the book has four parts: An Unlikely Champion, The Backstory, The Appeal, and Of Prophets and Presidents. Mansfield opens the book in 2012 with Trump’s convocation speech at Liberty University. The two opening chapters walk us through the years immediately preceding the 2016 campaign. Mansfield characterizes him as “a mixture, then: a maddening, unrepentant, ill-mannered, ever-bragging, ever-warring jumble of bad boy, billionaire, and aspiring saint.” (33) Nevertheless, he knew that it would be important to sidle up to “the court evangelicals.” Mansfield proceeds to take note of those religious influences that shaped Trump’s convictions, as well as those that honed his message when the hour of his candidacy had come. Specifically, in “the Appeal,” Mansfield explores the place of Obama’s and Clinton’s faiths, neither of which are particularly interesting chapters. He does, however, hit rightly on the point that Trump embodies the American spirit. He is the Id: “Trump has not tainted American culture by his crass talk. He has merely reflected it.” (128) In “The Backstory,” the chapters on Norman Vincent Peale’s and Paula White’s formative influences on Trump were the most helpful pieces. Peale, who functioned as Trump’s pastor, instilled in him the “power of positive thinking,” and White connected Trump to a variety of spiritual-political leaders. These two chapters were easily the strongest in the work. However, the closing appeal to “maintain prophetic distance” fell flat for lack of specificity in addition to its triteness. He rightly admonishes those who view Trump as a “man chosen by God” along the lines of Cyrus the Great. But, as far as sketching out how somebody without the means to reach Trump directly would “maintain prophetic distance,” Mansfield fails to offer anything of substance. This part would have served better as a coda than its own extended section. Altogether, Choosing Donald Trump gives an interesting backstory to Trump’s religious position–but little else. --- Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Eric Parsons

    I had to slog through this one. This is a typical never-Trump, leftist smear in the guise of asking an honest question. It does not actually ask that question, but seems to join in with the name-calling--essentially calling all those who supported Donald Trump, regardless of their faith (the alleged point of this book), bigoted barbarians. I am an evangelical. I supported President Trump, and still do, for several reasons, none of which are addressed by this short, hardly readable insult. Carryin I had to slog through this one. This is a typical never-Trump, leftist smear in the guise of asking an honest question. It does not actually ask that question, but seems to join in with the name-calling--essentially calling all those who supported Donald Trump, regardless of their faith (the alleged point of this book), bigoted barbarians. I am an evangelical. I supported President Trump, and still do, for several reasons, none of which are addressed by this short, hardly readable insult. Carrying on with the widest of traditions, Mansfield argues that Trump did not really win, that Clinton lost and once again overlooks WHY so many were motivated to make a change. It is likely to continue in 2020. We get it. Not everybody likes the president. Most of the attacks are simply unfounded--but this is all the more true when we read the attacks on those who have supported him. We are not uneducated dullards en masse voting simply out of anger. I voted out of concern. Oh...and I laughed heartily at the "great faith" of Obama and Clinton, while Mansfield would argue that we would know faith by their fruit. I'm still waiting to see the fruit. Don't waste time with this one.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lady Brainsample

    I'm glad I read this, but it was definitely more about Trump and less about why Christians supported him. The analysis wasn't much beyond various internet articles I'd already read. One thing that was fascinating, however, was all the information on Norman Vincent Peale, and how Peale was a major early religious influence in Trump's life. Anyone looking for a deeper historical dive more on the people side rather than the Trump side should read The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America. I'm glad I read this, but it was definitely more about Trump and less about why Christians supported him. The analysis wasn't much beyond various internet articles I'd already read. One thing that was fascinating, however, was all the information on Norman Vincent Peale, and how Peale was a major early religious influence in Trump's life. Anyone looking for a deeper historical dive more on the people side rather than the Trump side should read The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Pattyh

    Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to preview Choosing Donald Trump by Stephen Mansfield. Not my typical choice for reading so for me this was a bit of a struggle, not because of the writing but because I find books like this do not fit my reading enjoyment. But this book surprised me. I got a very good perspective on Trump and how he integrated himself into the conservative political arena. Well written and thought provoking. Even if you are not a Trump supporter, you will get a good view of Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to preview Choosing Donald Trump by Stephen Mansfield. Not my typical choice for reading so for me this was a bit of a struggle, not because of the writing but because I find books like this do not fit my reading enjoyment. But this book surprised me. I got a very good perspective on Trump and how he integrated himself into the conservative political arena. Well written and thought provoking. Even if you are not a Trump supporter, you will get a good view of him and why some people supported him, voted him in, and made him the President. 3 Stars.

  28. 5 out of 5

    James Rutledge

    Mansfield provides a comprehensive and interesting look into the mindset of Trump and his take on religion, as well as the evangelicals who took to courting him. Whatever your opinions on Trump are, as well as the reasoning for those who elected him, this book is worth a read. It is a masterful examination of how Trump came to be the man he is, his views on religion, and the desperation the religious right felt in electing him.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Myles Heck

    Interesting book and a quick read. Gives an explanation for why "evangelicals" have supported Trump. The author seemed balanced in his criticisms of Trump, while still humanizing him with various anecdotes during the 2016 campaign and election. The author closes the book with the point that Trump needs religious leaders around him that will stand up to him, instead of blindly supporting him, in order to make him a better man and president. Interesting book and a quick read. Gives an explanation for why "evangelicals" have supported Trump. The author seemed balanced in his criticisms of Trump, while still humanizing him with various anecdotes during the 2016 campaign and election. The author closes the book with the point that Trump needs religious leaders around him that will stand up to him, instead of blindly supporting him, in order to make him a better man and president.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    I chose this book because of the subtitle: Why Christian Conservatives Supported [Trump]. Unfortunately that was only described in Part 3 of a 4 part book. The other sections included a brief biography & sections about the role that spiritual leaders & advisors should play in politics. I did find the one short section about Trump versus Obama and Clinton as viewed from Christian Conservatives' standpoint to be quite informative. The rest I could've done without. I chose this book because of the subtitle: Why Christian Conservatives Supported [Trump]. Unfortunately that was only described in Part 3 of a 4 part book. The other sections included a brief biography & sections about the role that spiritual leaders & advisors should play in politics. I did find the one short section about Trump versus Obama and Clinton as viewed from Christian Conservatives' standpoint to be quite informative. The rest I could've done without.

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