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Comparing and contrasting Donald Trump, Abraham Lincoln, Elmer Gantry and Buzz Windrip

By Curt Anderson
January 4, 2020 7:20 pm
Category: Religion

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America has produced its share of memorable characters, both real and fictional. Historians will endlessly write about Abraham Lincoln, Donald Trump and the characters of Sinclair Lewis. There are striking similarities and contrasts between the aforementioned. Let's compare, shall we?

Trump: I believe we have God on our side.
"I really do believe we have God on our side ... or there would have been no way that we could have won," President Donald Trump told supporters at the King Jesus International Ministry (El Rey Jesús) in Miami, Florida. "People say, ‘How do you win?' You don't have the media. You have so many things against you' — and we win. So there has to be something."

"Look at the record. We've done things that nobody thought was possible. We're not only defending our constitutional rights, we're also defending religion itself, which is under siege. In America, we don't worship government. We worship God. Very soon, I'll be taking action to safeguard students' and teachers' First Amendment rights to pray in our schools."



Lincoln: I hope the Lord is on our side.
The religious views of Abraham Lincoln are a matter of interest among scholars and the public. Lincoln grew up in a highly religious Baptist family. He never joined any Church, and was a skeptic as a young man and sometimes ridiculed revivalists. He frequently referred to God and had a deep knowledge of the Bible, often quoting it.

Lincoln attended Protestant church services with his wife and children, and after two of them died he became more intensely concerned with religion. Some argue that Lincoln was neither a Christian believer nor a secular freethinker.

Although Lincoln never made an unambiguous public profession of Christian belief, several people who knew him personally, such as Chaplain of the Senate Phineas Gurley and Mary Todd Lincoln, claimed that he believed in Christ in the religious sense. However, close friends who had known Lincoln for years, such as Ward Hill Lamon and William Herndon, rejected the idea that he was a believing Christian.

The following is from Page 282 of Six Months in the White House with Abraham Lincoln by Francis B. Carpenter and published in 1867:

"No nobler reply ever fell from the lips of a ruler, than that uttered by President Lincoln in response to the clergyman who ventured to say, in his presence, that he hoped 'the Lord was on our side.'

"'I am not at all concerned about that,' replied Mr. Lincoln, 'for I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord's side.


Sinclair Lewis characters: piety and pretense
Sinclair Lewis, the Nobel Prize winning author, recognized and wrote about phonies. The personalities of his characters may seem familiar to you.

Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here a semi-satirical 1935 novel imagines presidential candidate Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, appealing to nativists in order to successfully secure the party nomination over Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Windrip then wins the 1936 presidential election by railing against immigrants, the poor and the liberal media.

Lewis also wrote Elmer Gantry, the story of a narcissistic, womanizer who becomes a preacher. Gantry is a successful minister despite his hypocrisy and serial sexual indiscretions. He electrifies the pious rubes attending his his revival tent sermons with his theatrics and xenophobia. Burt Lancaster starred in the film version.

"I have here in my pocket - and thank heaven you can't see them - lewd, dirty, obscene, and I'm ashamed to say this: French postcards. They were sold to me in front of your own innocent high school by a man with a black beard... a foreigner." --Elmer Gantry.

Sinclair Lewis' character Buzz Windrip sells himself as the champion of “Forgotten Men,” determined to bring dignity and prosperity back to America’s white working class. Windrip loves big, passionate rallies and rails against the “lies” of the mainstream press. His supporters embrace this message, lashing out against the “highbrow intellectuality” of editors and professors and policy elites.




Cited and related links:

  1. disrn.com
  2. politifact.com
  3. en.wikipedia.org
  4. en.wikipedia.org

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