Where Things Stand: Political Prayers

This is your TPM early-afternoon briefing.
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 7: (AFP OUT) United States Senator James Lankford (Republican of Oklahoma), United States President Donald J. Trump and United States Senator Chris Coons (Democrat of Delaware) pray during ... WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 7: (AFP OUT) United States Senator James Lankford (Republican of Oklahoma), United States President Donald J. Trump and United States Senator Chris Coons (Democrat of Delaware) pray during the 2019 National Prayer Breakfast on February 7, 2019 in Washington, DC. In his speech Trump assured that his administration will protect religious liberties. (Photo by Chris Kleponis - Pool/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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May 7, 2020 12:20 p.m.
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President Trump plans to participate in the White House’s National Day of Prayer service in the Rose Garden this afternoon. While his focus will likely be different, there’s a slim chance it’ll feel less calculated than his political performance at the National Prayer Breakfast just a few short months ago.

If you can remember that far back, in February, President Trump used his time at the podium during the annual prayer affair to accuse Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), a Mormon, of using his faith to justify his vote in favor of conviction on one article of impeachment. Trump also went after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who, at the time, was regularly telling the press that she prays for the President when the two are at odds.

It wasn’t a particularly surprising move, at least to me. As a recovering evangelical, I’ve paid special attention to Trump’s appropriation of various aspects of the Christian faith to calm the fears of voters who may still be on the fence about his moral compass.

This administration regularly feigns spirituality, repurposes Biblical language and manipulates Christian exercises — that are rooted in depth, purpose and fellowship — to appeal to Trump’s base. While fascinating, it is also hits me as extremely icky. Trump’s performative prayers make me cringe in a way I haven’t felt since I witnessed carefully curated emotional hymns accompanying the handout of the offering basket just after the altar call on Sundays — necessary for survival, but nauseatingly crafty.

I don’t expect today’s prayer event at the White House will feel much different.

Here’s more on that and other stories we’re following today:

What The Investigations Team Is Watching

Josh Kovensky is looking into reports that COVID-19 survivors are being banned from serving in the military.

Tierney Sneed is working on a piece on how the administration’s coronavirus response would be implicated if the Supreme Court strikes down the Affordable Care Act.

What The Breaking News Team Is Watching

A day after a district judge in the Southern District of New York ordered the presidential primary back on, the New York Board of Elections appealed the decision. The presidential primary was cancelled in April. We will continue monitoring this back and forth.

Trump just appointed a top GOP fundraiser who regularly contributes to his campaign to lead the USPS, an independent agency that Trump loves to go after. Louis DeJoy will be the new U.S. postmaster general for the USPS. We’ll keep an eye on any reactions to this appointment.

If You Read Anything On COVID-19 Today, Read This

Kate Riga reports on a sheriff in Klickitat County in Washington who recently declared he won’t enforce the governor’s “unconstitutional” stay-at-home order. Sheriff Bob Songer isn’t the first in the state to make such a move. Franklin County Sheriff J.D. Raymond took a similar stand a couple of weeks ago.

Earlier coverage on local backlash to stay-at-home orders:

Today’s Rundown

2:00 p.m. ET: Trump will meet with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in the Oval Office.

4:00 p.m. ET: Trump and the first lady will deliver remarks at the White House National Day of Prayer service.

Yesterday’s Most Read Story

Where Things Stand: Breaking Their Own Rules — Nicole Lafond

What We Are Reading

Coronavirus Survivors Banned From Joining The Military — Meghann Myers

Stuck In 2020, Pretending It’s 2014 — Rebecca Jennings

‘It’s Black Friday In April’ As Closed Stores Get Desperate To Unload Spring Clothes — Suzanne Kapner

Key Coronavirus Crisis Links

TPM’s COVID-19 hub.
Josh Marshall’s Twitter List of Trusted Experts (Epidemiologists, Researchers, Clinicians, Journalists, Government Agencies) providing reliable real-time information on the COVID-19 Crisis.
COVID-19 Tracking Project (updated data on testing and infections in the U.S.).
Johns Hopkins Global COVID-19 Survey (most up to date numbers globally and for countries around the world).
Worldometers.info (extensive source of information and data visualizations on COVID-19 Crisis — discussion of data here).
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