- The Washington Times - Monday, April 10, 2017

A professor who specializes in religious studies at University of California, Los Angeles says President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence represent “troubling trends in American Christianity.”

Professor Carla Pestana of UCLA published “Arrogant Christians In The White House” over the weekend for The Huffington Post, which warns of a future America shaped by the “fundamentalist Christian” views of Mr. Pence and Mr. Trump’s “self-indulgence.”

“Pence adheres to biblical literalism. Put simply, this view asserts that the Bible is a transparent document, one that prescribes specific behavioral guidelines,” Ms. Pestana wrote Saturday. “Its arrogance lies in the hubris of those who believe that only their chosen answers are correct. Its potential to harm others comes when adherents gain political power and force their mandates on nonbelievers. One of the many dangers emanating out of the Trump White House is the power of Pence to impose not his religion but the behaviors his religion dictates onto the rest of us.”

The professor, who currently teaches History of Religion in U.S., then analyzed Mr. Trump’s faith as something akin to the “prosperity theology” adopted by some Christians.

“Trump’s religion, although very different, is similarly alarming,”  she wrote. “Unsurprisingly Trump accepts a religious viewpoint that tells him he is uniquely awesome. Whatever he has — however he acquired it — God wants him to enjoy to the fullest. Although traditional Christian social practice mandates that believers exercise humility, charity and other virtues that put others before self, Trump’s faith rejects all curbs on self-indulgence and self-aggrandizement.”

Quotes by the president and vice president to buttress the professor’s claims were not provided.

Mr. Pence, a lawyer and Indiana’s former governor, has a long track record of stating his respect for the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law.

“The presidency must adhere to its definition as expressed in the Constitution, and to conduct defined over time and by tradition,” Mr. Pence said while addressing Hillsdale College students on Sept. 20, 2010. “While the powers of the office have enlarged, along with those of the legislature and the judiciary, the framework of the government was intended to restrict abuses common to classical empires and to the regal states of the 18th century.”

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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