“I think evangelical efforts would be far better spent critiquing their own shortcomings than sanctifying a president,” said Matthew Rowley, a research associate with the Cambridge Institute on Religion and International Studies at Clare College.
For his part, Trump has inspired loyalty among his white evangelical base by positioning himself as a warrior against the secular culture they fear. He’s frequently appeared at conferences hosted by conservative Christian groups, including the “Road to Majority” summit put on by Reed’s organization each summer; strengthened conscience protections for religious Americans in the labor force; nominated dozens of socially conservative judges for lifetime federal appointments; and fervently supported Israel.
“Part of the reason why many religious leaders support Trump is because he is great on life, religious freedom, judges, Israel, taxes, conscience protections, fetal issue and also because Hillary Clinton and his would-be opponents next year are so awful on all of the above,” a senior administration official said.
But the same official said there‘s a difference between the president’s alliance with influential evangelical leaders and his private reaction to those who publicly fawn over his administration. Asked about Reed’s book, in particular, this person responded, “Oh, for crying out loud.”
“It shows how little they understand Donald Trump. He actually abhors obsequiousness,” the official said.
Indeed, the president has been known to mock right-wing television personalities and former aides who have showered him with praise on their shows and in books. After an on-air interview with Sean Hannity in which the pro-Trump Fox News host admitted to warning Trump on Election Day that he was likely to lose, the president reportedly complained to aides about Hannity’s “dumb” softball questions. Trump also teased former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who now serves as one of his personal attorneys, after he unabashedly defended him in the wake of the “Access Hollywood” tape scandal, The Wall Street Journal reported last week.
Reed, however, hasn’t always heaped praise on the president. At the height of the Trump administration’s family separation scandal at the U.S.-Mexico border, the former Georgia Republican Party chairman penned a letter to lawmakers encouraging them to pass an immigration bill that would “strengthen the nuclear family” by ending the “heartbreaking and tragic” practice of placing migrant children and their parents in different detention facilities. And a person close to Reed said he has at times taken issue with the president’s obscene tweets and profanity-laced speeches.