Thou Art in a Deal: The Evolution of Religious Language in the Public Communications of Donald Trump

Ceri Hughes


When Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign, his candidacy was far from embraced by the Religious Right. Yet, on election night, many of that same constituency turned out in overwhelming support: Trump gained a higher percentage of the White Evangelical vote than any prior nominee. Two years into his presidency, they remained his most loyal supporters. Using content analysis of 175 Trump rally speeches during the 2016 campaign and since becoming president and an archive of 30,000 tweets from Trump, this research finds evidence to solve a part of this puzzle. Trump appears to use his public communications as opportunities to alleviate the likely cognitive dissonance felt by these supporters, using religious language and explicit mentions of (the Christian) God in both tweets and speeches, helping to afford a biblically consonant interpretation of his presidency. He also proximates Christian religious language with concepts of Americanness, while proximating Islam almost exclusively with terrorism, perhaps linguistically delivering on promises of a Christian nation(alism).


Trump, religion, U.S. presidential communication, speeches, tweets

Full Text: