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Trump Uses Christian Nationalist Dog Whistles in Nashville Campaign Speech

Trump said he is “very proud” of his purported religious beliefs and claimed he was “taking bullets” for Christians.

Former President Donald Trump addresses Christian broadcasters at the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) International Christian Media Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, on February 22, 2024.

Former President Donald Trump appeared in Nashville on Thursday night to give a speech to a group of evangelical Christian broadcasters, employing numerous Christian nationalist dog whistles throughout his remarks.

During his speech, Trump repeatedly returned to a refrain often used by the far right: that Christians are somehow being punished for their beliefs under President Joe Biden, a claim that is in no way based in reality.

The former president spoke to a crowd of around 1,500 people at the annual conference of National Religious Broadcasters. The organization solely promotes evangelical Christian viewpoints, describing itself on its website as the “world’s largest association of Christian communicators.”

The room for Trump’s speech was noticeably not full, according to an account from The Tennessean, with hundreds of chairs removed from the floor before Trump was scheduled to appear and around 200 empty spots observed during his time on stage. The low attendance could perhaps be attributed to Trump’s tardiness, as he didn’t address the crowd until almost two hours after he was scheduled to speak.

When he did speak, Trump attacked President Joe Biden and “the left,” falsely claiming that their actions were detrimental to Christians in the U.S. — even though policies passed by the administration have in no way restricted the private, free exercise of religion that is afforded to every person in the country.

“The left is trying to shame Christians, they try to shame us,” Trump said at one point, adding that he’s a “very proud Christian” himself. He also asserted that he was “taking bullets, taking the arrows” for Christians, claiming that his 91 indictment counts across four different criminal cases were somehow connected to the far right’s belief that they are being persecuted for their views.

Trump then vowed to protect Christians. “I will not allow the media or left-wing groups silence you, censor you, discriminate against you, or in any way tell you what you have to say,” Trump promised.

“No one will be touching the cross of Christ under the Trump administration,” Trump went on. “I swear to you, that will never happen.”

The former president, who is the frontrunner for the Republican Party nomination for president in the 2024 election, also promoted false claims about Democrats’ views on abortion, spewing outlandish lies about the party supporting the killing of newborns “after birth.”

Trump also purported that Christians were somehow being prosecuted in the U.S. “We have to bring back our religion. We have to bring back Christianity,” Trump said, accusing the Biden administration of “targeting Christian believers” and likening the current president to a “communist” who has “tried to stamp out the churches.”

The left wants to “tear down crosses where they can, and cover them up with social justice flags,” Trump also stated.

It’s widely believed that Trump, who has made questionable remarks about his supposed faith in the past — for example, failing to cite a single passage as his favorite during interviews, before later choosing one from the Old Testament that Jesus soundly rejected — will implement a series of Christian nationalist policies to placate his far right base should he win the presidency this fall.

Earlier this week, The New Republic’s Ellie Quinlan Houghtaling outlined a number of disturbing proposals that Trump will likely push for should he win the 2024 election, including ending numerous reproductive protections, disallowing sex education in schools, and restricting no-fault divorce, in addition to the extremist attacks on marginalized groups that Christian nationalists regularly prioritize.

The late William Rivers Pitt, who was Truthout’s lead columnist and senior editor for several years, warned about Trump’s plan to employ Christian nationalism in this election cycle in a column he wrote in July 2022.

“Donald Trump has mastered the art of speaking to the core beliefs of this growing segment of extremist Christianity,” Pitt said in his missive, adding, “if Trump wins in 2024, there could be big government job opportunities for people who believe Jesus signed the Declaration of Independence and the swastika is a Christian symbol.”

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