“Charitable” Conservatives

Conservative Christians love to talk about how the evil, godless secularists rarely do anything for charity. However, so many Christian charities are riddled with their own issues (an alarming number are featured on CharityWatch’s Hall of Shame), it seems odd that Christians mount a high horse and hurl abuse at the secular community. Since Donald Trump’s emergence on the political scene, the members of the religious right have pinned their hopes on him to “restore” Christian ethics back to the United States, despite his three marriages, his insidious boasts of sexual assault,  and his racist, anti-Semitic remarks. It’s the “God sends saviors in mysterious ways” chorus they sing.

Donald Trump’s charity, the Donald J.Trump Foundation, has faced legal and ethical controversies ranging from a failure to fulfill a 9/11 donation pledge, to renting out Trump Organization facilities to charities while pocketing the income, to using foundation money to settle legal disputes. Most notably and recently, however, was the use of foundation funds to purchase a $20,000 painting of Trump himself that now hangs at one of his golf clubs.

After several complaints filed by the House Judiciary Committee to the US attorney general and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Donald J. Trump foundation subsequently admitted to self-dealing and thus sparked an investigation into his dealings. The president made a public attempt to “dissolve” his charity before the investigation was completed, but was told by the New York State Attorney General’s office that he was unable to do so. So, this great Christian man, the Cyrus of our times, and God’s “handpicked” savior Donald Trump has taken money from charitable causes and remains under investigation for using them in a potentially fraudulent way. Surely Christians couldn’t acquiesce to this!

Okay, so maybe Trump’s charity wasn’t perfectly legal, “but he’s an imperfect man,” you hear Trump’s sirens sing. “We knew he was imperfect when we elected him—no man is perfect, after all.” So, what about Trump’s true triumph, one that even Hillary Clinton complimented: his children. Surely the president instilled Christian values into his respectable children. Not quite.—Eric Trump has hosted charity events for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital at Trump Organization venues and in 2014 he inaccurately claimed that the events were free. However, according to filings, $1.8 million was raised, and of that, $1.2 million went to St. Jude’s, with $240,000 covering expenses and $200,000 instead going to programs with “strong ties to Trump family members and interests,” as reported in a recent Forbes article. “The Lord works in mysterious ways, do not question him,” you can hear the chorus chime.

This seemingly trumped-up ethical code extends beyond just the Trump family itself. It goes all the way to their lawyer, Jay Sekulow, a man of God and chief counsel for the American Center for Law & Justice. It turns out that Sekulow has used his Christian nonprofit to funnel over $60 million to himself, his family, and his related businesses since 2000.

President Trump has had repeated run-ins with federal agencies and watchdog groups for his heinous mishandling of charitable funds and fraudulent redirection of funds to enrich himself and his family, his son has funneled money from children’s cancer charities to benefit Trump businesses, and his lawyer has embezzled nearly sixty-million dollars from Christian charities. How are these men considered charitable men of God by the religious right?

I can almost hear a murmur of an answer rising up: “fake news.”