Donald Trump knows how to mangle even a speech prepared for him by his own professional speech writers, especially when he believes his ridiculous additions will win greater accolades from his audience.

As reported by Josh Voorhees at Slate ( Donald Trump, speaking yesterday to 2,200 Christian conservatives at the Values Voter Summit, addressed the issue of the so-called Johnson Amendment.

The Johnson Amendment is a change that was made to the U.S. tax code in 1954. It prohibits tax-exempt organizations from endorsing or opposing particular political candidates. The Johnson Amendment is good public policy. To remove the Johnson Amendment would mean that, in effect, Republicans would be forced to financially support , through their tax dollars, an organization that is using its platform to elect Democrats, just as Democrats would be forced to support an organization that was rallying support for Republicans, the Libertarian Party, or for that matter the KKK.

In his comments as prepared for his speech to the Values Voter Summit, Trump promised to repeal the Amendment because

The Johnson Amendment has blocked our pastors from speaking their minds from their own pulpit. If they do speak out, they are punished with the loss of their tax-exempt status. All religious leaders should be able to freely express their thoughts and feelings on religious matters, and I will repeal the Johnson Amendment if I am elected President.

Even this is only partly true. But in his off-the-cuff additions to his prepared remarks, Trump went much further and stretched the reach of the Johnson Amendment to ludicrous proportions.

The Johnson Amendment has blocked our pastors and ministers and others from speaking their minds from their own pulpits. If they want to talk about Christianity, if they want to preach, if they want to talk about politics, they are unable to do so. If they want to do it, they take a tremendous risk, that they lose their tax-exempt status. All religious leaders should be able to freely express their thoughts and feelings on religious matters. And I will repeal the Johnson Amendment if I am elected your president. I promise. So important. Thank you. So important.

Any religious person is in fact free to speak his or her mind on political issues in any forum they choose, except in an institutional gathering that is state supported through tax exemptions. The Johnson Amendment certainly does not in any way inhibit any preacher from talking “about Christianity, if they want to preach.”  And any religious leader is as free as any citizen to “express their thoughts and feelings on religious matters.”   The only place a preacher cannot endorse or disavow a particular political candidate is from the pulpit in church. But, facts and nuances do not seem to trouble Trump.

How was this deceptive dishonest inanity received by Trump’s Christian audience?

According to TPM,

Donald Trump’s speech Friday to evangelicals at the Values Voter Summit was greeted with hooting and hollering and a standing ovation

What could possibly explain these “Values Voter’s” appreciation for Trump’s vacuous, dishonest rhetoric?

I fear the answer lies in their church experience.

I expect most of Donald Trump’s audience at the Values Voter Summit was raised on Muzak Preaching. Muzak preaching aims to create a feeling; content is less relevant than the feeling conjured by the words spoken.  The audience for Muzak Preaching is listening for particular catch phrases; they want to hear familiar words uttered in a tone that generates a comfortable feeling regardless of what is being said. Complexity and nuance have no place in Muzak Preaching.

In Muzak Preaching the words are merely background noise. It is the tone and intonation that matter. Muzak Preaching depends upon energy transmission from speaker to listener. And, in order to receive this transmission, audience members are required to put their critical faculties in neutral. Reason is the enemy of Muzak Preaching.

Consumers of Muzak preaching do not come to be challenged. They are not interested in thinking more deeply. They do not want to have their worldview upset. They seek safe preachers who fit into a proscribed model of preaching and never stray from the formulas that lull the audience to sleep. Muzak Preaching is anesthetic.

According to Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, evangelicals will vote for Trump because

he’s speaking their language.

Donald Trump has mastered the art of Muzak Preaching. And Muzak Preaching may pave his path to the White House.


As Asawin Suebsaeng points out at the Daily Beast, Trumps Muzak Preaching seems to be working, despite the content of Donald Trump’s life:

This was only Team Trump’s latest exercise in (rather successfully) wooing Christian and evangelical leaders and voters into his camp. Given Trump’s boorish behavior, naughty language, womanizing, and past deep associations with liberal Hollywood and Democratic Party figures, it seemed only natural that evangelicals would grow to loathe Trump. Instead, over the course of the primary, the opposite happened.