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3 people who see God working through Trump

A woman prays in the room with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during a church service at the International Church of Las Vegas on Oct. 30, 2016. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Carlo Allegri

(Editor’s note: Since Donald Trump’s victory in last year’s election, many Christians became convinced he was chosen by God to be president even though he hardly fits their mold of a virtuous leader. In our “Hand of God” series, we take a closer look at the widespread belief that God intervenes in our nation’s political process. We profile three people who think that’s the case. And we analyze why they believe what they do, and look at the potential implications for American democracy.)



Anne Severance: God ‘heard the prayers of his people’

(RNS) Anne Severance believes God “heard the prayers of his people” in making Donald Trump the president-elect.

Anne Severance is a Christian living in Franklin, Tenn., where she works as a freelance editor and worships at the nondenominational New River Fellowship. Photo courtesy of Ann Severance

Anne Severance is a Christian living in Franklin, Tenn., where she works as a freelance editor and worships at the nondenominational New River Fellowship. Photo courtesy of Anne Severance

“I do believe that he (God) picked him. Because he puts people in office and he takes them out,” says Severance, 80, who lives in Franklin, Tenn., and worships at the nondenominational New River Fellowship, founded by her son-in-law, Christian music star Michael W. Smith.

There’s no doubt Christians helped Trump win: Majorities of Protestants, Catholics and Mormons voted for the Republican in November.

To Severance, it’s “a beautiful thought — that the God of the universe would lean over from heaven and hear the cries of his people and respond that way.”

But now, she feels, it’s up to them.

“We have this wonderful — we think, we consider it wonderful — opportunity to continue to live the Christian life as we’ve always lived it, but with the additional responsibility that God has placed on us now to love everybody, to draw everybody together in peace and harmony, to model him and his characteristics before a watching world — and, believe me, they’re watching.”


RELATED: Did God choose Trump? What it means to believe in divine intervention


Severance initially was thrilled with the conservative Christians in the Republican primaries, especially Sen. Ted Cruz and Dr. Ben Carson. Trump, she said, was “the most unlikely candidate on the stage.”

When all those candidates fell by the wayside, she reminded herself of the words of the prophet Jeremiah: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”

Severance believes God sometimes answers people’s prayers by giving them what they ask for. And sometimes he lets them make mistakes and learn from them.

“It’s little things,” she says, “as well as the big things — where he intersects our lives at just the most strange and unusual moments.”

In her life, God was just as involved in bringing a young roommate to her door to help her care for her husband and then her mother when they were dying. She says God was also there when a lost stone from her diamond ring turned up behind a hamper 18 months later ­— or when a favorite worship song came on the radio at just the right time.

“That happens every day if we look for it,” Severance says. “We get so busy that we fail to hear that still, small voice, but if we are genuine and if we seek him with all of our hearts, then he tells us we will find him. He’s there. He’s with us.”


Michael L. Brown: ‘The only way he could have made it is with divine intervention’

(RNS) It took a while for Michael L. Brown to warm to Donald Trump.

The radio talk show host from Concord, N.C., wasn’t sure the Republican presidential candidate had the character or the convictions to make him a good president.

Radio host Dr. Michael Brown. Photo courtesy of Dr. Michael Brown

Radio host Michael L. Brown. Photo courtesy of  Michael L. Brown

But as the race progressed, Brown began to wonder whether something more was happening.

Trump had galloped ahead of the 16 other Republican presidential hopefuls. The onslaught of negative media reports seemed to glide off of him.

And then there were Brown’s friends in the conservative Christian world who were saying he ought to give Trump another look.

“I began to think, ‘If he ends up being elected, especially in a strong way, I will have no doubt that God’s hand was in this,’” said Brown, whose weekday “Line of Fire” radio show, a mix of conservative religion and politics, airs on 32 stations nationwide and the American Family Radio.

Since Trump’s victory on Nov. 8, many prominent evangelicals have repeated the view that God intervened to give Trump a win.

Former U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann and WallBuilders founder David Barton even produced a chart showing the exact time (8:30 p.m.) when God flipped the outcome, causing Hillary Clinton’s fortunes to fall and Trump’s to rise.

“The Lord did this!” Bachmann said.

Brown, who describes himself as a Jewish follower of Jesus, ended up voting for Trump, whose election Brown now says looks providential.

“The odds of him becoming president were so overwhelming the only way he could have made it is with divine intervention,” said Brown, 61.

Among some evangelical supporters of Trump, many of whom recognize that the thrice-married reality TV star is not a Christian in the mold of some of his predecessors, there is a growing sense that Trump is a different kind of leader.

They have high hopes that Trump will appoint conservative Supreme Court judges, and/or reverse the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that made abortion legal, but they also understand he is not one of theirs.

“We’re not looking for Donald Trump to be a savior,” said Brown. “We understand that if he’s a Christian, he’s a new Christian.”

Instead, Brown hopes Trump will provide what he called a “divine respite” on issues such as religious liberty.

‘The feeling is that he’ll listen and surround himself with good people,” said Brown. “He wants to be a friend to conservative Christians and the Christian community.”

It’s not up to the president, he said, to restore biblical values.

“When it comes to changing the hearts and minds of Americans, that’s up to the church to do,” he said. “It’s very easy for us to put expectations in an elected official beyond their capacity. It would be a real mistake to do that with Donald Trump.”


Corie Wilkins: ‘God’s way of giving us a chance to repent’

(RNS) The 2016 election was Corie Wilkins‘ first chance to cast a vote in a national election.

He did not vote for Donald Trump. But as a lifelong Christian — Wilkins, 22, was raised a Baptist but now considers himself nondenominational — he sees the purpose and promise of God in its outcome.

Corie Wilkins. Photo courtesy of the Pullman Foundation

Master of Divinity student Corie Wilkins. Photo courtesy of the Pullman Foundation

“I know that God is in control,” he said. “As Christians, we acknowledge that as part of our faith, as part of our walk.”

But that comes with a caveat.

“I think it is grossly irresponsible,” he said, “to use that to justify the election of Donald Trump from a theological perspective,” as some notable Christians such as Franklin Graham, Ken Ham and Michele Bachmann have done. “God doesn’t cause hardship to befall people at the hands of others,” including the president.

Wilkins is originally from Chicago. He went to the University of Missouri, where he studied journalism, but is now pursuing a Master of Divinity degree at Duke Divinity School, which was founded by Methodists. He thinks he’d like to become a hospital chaplain.

Divinity school, he is finding, is “a challenge,” putting him in contact with people with different worldviews, different faith backgrounds and very different ways of thinking.

“Take Hitler,” Wilkins said. “Do we believe we worship a God that was for the oppression and extermination of the Jews? I don’t believe so. I don’t believe God ordained the slavery of African-Americans and I don’t believe God ordained the election of Donald Trump.”

Rather, Wilkins, who is African-American, believes God works with what he has. Human beings have free will. They make choices — like a president who has promised to register Muslims, build a border wall and repeal a health care bill that benefits many lower-income Americans — and those choices have consequences.

And that is where Wilkins sees evidence of God’s plan. He cites Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Then — sounding much like the preacher he may one day become — he gives an example: the crucifixion of Jesus.

Christians believe Jesus was God’s only son. Yet if God is in control, why would he allow a crowd of people to persuade Pontius Pilate to torture and murder Jesus? How could he?

“It is never God’s will for us to do wrong, but we are flawed people so we do wrong,” he said. “But God is still able to have his end goal achieved” — in the case of Jesus’ death, the redeeming of humanity and its sins. “That is why he is God and we are not.”

Where, then, does Wilkins understand God to be at work through Donald Trump?

“I believe that is a question that Christians, as a whole, are not asking,” he said. Again, he sounds almost like a preacher:

Americans have long thought their country was somehow “special,” blessed or even anointed by God above all other nations. But Wilkins — who took a course called Christianity, Race, and the American Nation last fall — said America’s sense of its own exalted status has come at the misfortune of others — such as African slaves and Native Americans. Perhaps, he said, it is God’s plan to “turn the tide” for Americans.

“I believe that maybe this was in God’s divine plan,” he said. “This is potentially God’s way of giving us a chance to repent for all the wrong we have done in the world. Maybe God is giving us a chance to draw closer to him because in my life fewer things have brought me closer to God than hardship.”

About the author

Emily McFarlan Miller

Emily McFarlan Miller is a national reporter for RNS based in Chicago. She covers evangelical and mainline Protestant Christianity.

About the author

Yonat Shimron

Yonat Shimron is an RNS National Reporter and Senior Editor.

About the author

Kimberly Winston

Kimberly Winston is a freelance religion reporter based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

15 Comments

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  • Well he got the religious right to renounce their pretense of “values voting” and “moral platforms”. Trump didn’t even pretend to give a damn about their agenda. Just went through the motions for a group which was going to vote Republican if Satan himself ran for president.

    At this point we can pretty much declare the anti-abortion, anti-gay, and anti-first amendment platforms in terminal condition. The politicians who actually ran on such positions were resoundingly rejected by their own party in favor of a lecherous cretin who only looks to make the rich even richer.

  • I think a more appropriate title for this article would have been . . .

    3 [delusional] people who see God working through Trump

  • Oxfam report in recent days: “Just 8 people now hold the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of world’s population . . . The same challenges Americans face are part of a global phenomenon where the wealthy profit from a rigged economic and political system that leaves
    everyone else behind.” I’ll add the Planet is under assault from pollution, overpopulation, and consumerism. It hardly seems fair to blame God for all the misery that is and is yet to come.

  • Mr Wilkins is closer to compassion, righteousness and clear headed than the other two imo. But in someways Ms Severance is right too – God does give to people what they want – even when it’s a horrible choice as a way to teach them a lesson. Hopefully they get it.

  • Of the three, Mr. Wilkins makes the soundest case from the bible. In descending order, Mr. Brown, then Mrs. Severance.

  • Perhaps that is why Hillary and her minions lost. People wanted Obama, people got Obama for 8 years, and finally the people “got it” and therefore voted against Hillary.

  • Unfortunately, Mr. Brown likes to be always right so his comments are not a surprise. He was a big Ted Cruz supporter writing this in the Stream May 2016. (Actually there’s more, just a highlight of his initial reaction to Trump’ win) .

    “I see the Trump
    candidacy in the same way. Tens of millions of Americans
    are not put off by his blatant, well-documented lying. Tens of millions
    of Americans are not put off by his consistent practice of vile
    character assassination for the purpose of political gain. Tens of
    millions of Americans are not put off by his vulgarity and profanity.
    Tens of millions of Americans are not put off by his ignorance of
    critical issues and his complete flip-flopping on major positions. And
    among these tens of millions of Americans is a significant
    percentage of professing evangelical Christians, despite Trump saying he
    has never asked God for forgiveness, despite his failure to renounce
    his previous adulteries or to acknowledge the wrongness of making money
    off casinos and strip clubs, despite his taking offense at the
    distribution of the near nude photo of his wife Melania — not because he
    thought it was a bad picture but because it was made out to be
    bad….Instead, we find ourselves with the increasingly likely
    possibility that
    either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be our next president, and
    to me, there is only one satisfactory explanation for this: God is
    giving us what we deserve and handing us over to judgment.”

  • No one gave Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg a thing. They had an idea and put in more hours than you or I ever would or could to see it though. They are worth every penny they earned.

    Why do you suppose it is they still drive cars in Cuba from the days prior to Castro? Socialism creates nothing and gov’t only takes and destroys.

  • But where are Gates or Zuckerberg mentioned in this article?

    For my money Warren Buffet is my all time fave example of a self made man. A pretty stand up guy by all accounts. The guy has no desire to keep his children in ridiculous wealth and plans to donate the majority of his fortune to charity upon his death.

    “Socialism creates nothing and gov’t only takes and destroys.”

    Canada and many Western European States would gladly disagree with you. Japan, South Korea and Taiwan all have fairly successful socialized medical systems.

    “Why do you suppose it is they still drive cars in Cuba from the days prior to Castro?”
    The whole Caribbean region is some of the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere. In Haiti you would be hard pressed to find cars or gas on most days. Do you realize that Cuba has one of the highest literacy rates in the Caribbean? 🙂

    That being said, not all wealth is earned. To assume so is to be naive.

  • The rest of the world never embargoed them. Fact is they produce nothing of value to buy them with as is always the case with gov’t control.

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