A news story last week raised many eyebrows: White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told TV preacher Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network Jan. 30 that God wanted Donald Trump to be president.

“I think God calls all of us to fill different roles at different times, and I think that he wanted Donald Trump to become president,” Sanders said during an interview with CBN’s David Brody and Jennifer Wishon. “That’s why he’s there, and I think he has done a tremendous job in supporting a lot of the things that people of faith really care about.”

Sanders’ comments aren’t really anything new. They merely echo statements made by several Religious Right figures since Trump’s election. Evangelist Franklin Graham, for example, told The Washington Post shortly after the election, “I could sense going across the country that God was going to do something this year. And I believe that at this election, God showed up.”

Pastor Robert Jeffress, a Texas Baptist and prominent Trump supporter, has also promoted the idea that Trump holds office due to divine intervention.

“Millions of Americans believe the election of President Trump represented God giving us another chance – perhaps our last chance to truly make America great again,” Jeffress said during a July 2017 rally.

Stephen Strang, editor of Charisma magazine, reflecting on watching Trump’s victory on election night, wrote in his book God And Donald Trump, “It was as if God had answered our prayers and the impossible had happened. We had a new president, one we believed God had raised up for a time such as this.”

Not long after the election, CBN issued a story headlined “Recognizing God’s Hand in Donald Trump's Election.”

But things really went around the bend last year after Liberty University’s film school collaborated with Mark Taylor, a former firefighter who claims he received a prophecy that Trump would be elected. Taylor says that in April 2011, he was watching television and came across an interview with Trump. At that point, he heard God, referring to Trump, say to him, “You are hearing the voice of the next president.”

Although Trump did not run for president in 2012, Taylor is convinced that the prophecy later came true. The film he made with Liberty, “The Trump Prophecy,” was screened in about 1,000 theaters shortly before the midterm elections last year.

Taylor’s other prophecies have proven to be less than accurate. The Guardian reported that he said a “red tsunami” would solidify Republicans’ hold on Congress in 2018 and that President Barack Obama would be arrested for treason. Taylor also says that big pharmaceutical companies are sitting on cures for cancer and Alzheimer’s disease but that God has assured him that Trump is going to force the firms to shake them loose.

Sanders was criticized for her comments, but the American Family Association leaped to her defense, pointing out that a passage in Romans 13 states that leaders are “established by God.” Funny thing, though, that passage seems to disappear whenever a Democrat is occupying the White House. The same passage also tells people to obey their governments and implies that leaders are to be treated with deference. I don’t recall that being the Religious Right’s line during the Obama years.

Claims that God put someone in office are scary. From the Christian emperors of the late Roman Empire and the “divine right” kings of the Middle Ages up to the theocrats of today, leaders who assert they’re God’s choice are usually just trying to squelch criticism. After all, if God put the ruler there, who are you to question his policies? To do that is to challenge the will of God.

The plain truth is, Trump got into office because he eked out narrow victories in a handful of swing states and managed to get more votes in the Electoral College than Hillary Clinton. There’s plenty of evidence that the Russians had something to do with it – but it’s safe to assume that God’s off the hook.    

(Photo: Screenshot from Christian Broadcasting Network)