Evangelicals Tout Trump’s New Executive Order
The headline in The Christian Post (CP): “Pastor Paula White Hails Trump's 'Most Important Executive Order' That Americans Haven't Heard About.” This new executive order is officially called, “Reducing Poverty in America by Promoting Opportunity and Economic Mobility (here).” It is vague, though clearly designed to cut welfare costs. It talks of additional work requirements and reduced bureaucratic expenses. Both of these are dubious, as VOX points out here. But this doesn’t explain why evangelicals rejoiced.
According to Pastor White, who is Donald Trump's “spiritual adviser,” and a member of his evangelical advisory board, this executive order is designed to “help those Americans who have fallen out of the workforce once again find gainful employment, as well as ensure those who really need assistance are able to receive it.” The idea is that imposing additional work requirements on top of the existing ones will somehow help those unable to find a job.
According to CP, Pastor White said that “the reason pastors care so much about this reform is because they are often ‘on the frontline of economic and financial hardship.’” Another aspect of this executive order is that the relevant federal organizations are instructed to look for “private solutions” when possible. I suspect we will discover that the Trump administration believes that funneling federal money for the poor into the hands of evangelical leaders will provide a “private solution” to the problem.
VOX notes that prior attempts to “streamline” welfare payments to the poor through similar techniques, like block grants to the poor, have resulted in large cuts to the poor, as states have used the funds for other purposes. Not only would funneling money through religious groups further damage the wall between church and state, it would almost certainly allow those pious folk to steal money intended for the poor. Along with the Gospel of Prosperity, this is a common evangelical answer to “what would Jesus do?”