Today, during his remarks to commemorate the National Day of Prayer, President Trump departed from the prepared text to insert a boast that had presumably not been cleared by fact-checkers. Prayer “unites us all as one nation under God. So important,” he said. (“So important” being a common Trump tic to indicate he is encountering his own words for the first time and finds them important.) Then came the riff about “one nation under God”:
And we say it here, ya know? Lot of people, they don’t say it. But, you know what, they’re starting to say it more, just like we’re starting to say ‘Merry Christmas’ when that day comes around. You notice the big difference between now and two or three years ago, it was, all, it was going in the other direction rapidly, right? Now it’s [thrusting his hand vertically in the air] straight up.
Saying “under God,” like saying “Merry Christmas,” is an expression of majority cultural prerogative. It is extremely odd to assert the phrase is being stated more now than under Barack Obama. The pledge of allegiance originally omitted those two words until Congress, in an absurd response to godless communism, added them to the pledge in 1954. If that law had passed under Trump’s presidency, he would definitely have signed it. The act of sticking it to the secularists probably would have been one of the highlights of his presidency. But he can’t really take credit for it.
My casual observation suggests that people are using “under God” in the pledge with the exact same frequency now as they did before Trump. On the other hand, the normalization of presidential payments is a social phenomenon that barely existed a few years ago, and now people are finding new examples of it every day. So there is at least one way in which Trump can genuinely claim to be a cultural pioneer.