Former United States president Donald Trump rarely attends church and revels in his reputation as a playboy tycoon. AFP PIC
Former United States president Donald Trump rarely attends church and revels in his reputation as a playboy tycoon. AFP PIC

PRESIDENT Joe Biden may be a regular churchgoer, but his challenger Donald Trump, who rarely appears in church and spent Easter raging at opponents, is the only candidate comparing himself with Jesus Christ.

Biden is a lifelong Catholic who attends Mass most Sundays and has talked often about the importance of religious faith in his personal life.

To mark Easter, he issued a proclamation on "the power of hope and the promise of Christ's Resurrection".

However, Trump — who before entering politics revelled in his image as a playboy tycoon — now talks loudest about God and, despite the obvious contradictions, reaps the political benefits.

The Republican's Easter message began with "HAPPY EASTER TO ALL".

The rest of the 168-word screed on the Truth Social app was rather less festive, tearing into what Trump called "CROOKED AND CORRUPT PROSECUTORS AND JUDGES" and the "MANY PEOPLE THAT I COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY DESPISE".

The United States, for Trump this Easter, was a "FAILING NATION".

Many of the 77 posts fired off by Trump that day attacked the court cases piling up around him as he seeks a return to the White House in November.

But the anger did not appear to put off Trump's Christian followers.

Trump reposted a news article titled, "The Crucifixion of Donald Trump" — only the latest in a series of references made or disseminated by Trump in which he is compared with Christ.

Another laudatory article posted by Trump claimed the coming of a "Trumpian miracle".

Supporters replied to Trump's posts with memes portraying him as a holy, heroic figure.

"One of God's finest warriors," said one.

Twice-divorced, found liable for sexual abuse and facing four criminal cases, Trump makes for an unusual Christian standard bearer. Yet there's no doubting his sway among the politically important white evangelical voter block.

Almost half (49 per cent) of Americans believe that religion's influence is declining in the US and that this is a bad thing, according to a Pew Research survey published last month.

And for white evangelical Christians — a conservative denomination that makes up about 14 per cent of US voters — it is crucial that religion stays relevant in public life.

They see Trump as the man for the job and have rewarded him for it in the polls.

Evangelicals were crucial for Trump in 2016. In his failed 2020 campaign, eight out of 10 voted for him.

Pew Research shows that despite 31 per cent of white evangelicals seeing Trump as not significantly religious, two-thirds (67 per cent) say he stands up for their religious beliefs.

Among the key issues is abortion. Many credit Trump with facilitating the conservative majority in the Supreme Court which overturned Roe v Wade, the federal law protecting abortion rights.

In addition to politically active Christians' votes, Trump wants their money. He marked Holy Week, ahead of Easter, by launching a marketing campaign for a US$59.99 Bible.

"We must make America pray again," Trump said in a video shared on Truth Social as he pitched the product — a nod to his campaign slogan "Make America Great Again".

The writer is from Agence France-Presse