One of the main constituencies that helped Donald Trump get elected president was Evangelical Christians, and now he's using his position in the Oval Office to advance causes close to that group's heart. On Monday, for example, Trump tweeted in support of "Bible literacy" classes at public schools — but not everyone responded favorably.
"Numerous states introducing Bible Literacy classes, giving students the option of studying the Bible," Trump wrote on Monday. "Starting to make a turn back? Great!"
Trump's tweet followed closely on the heels of a Fox and Friends discussion on the topic, as Business Insider noted. North Dakota Republican state Rep. Aaron McWilliams was a guest on the show, discussing the bill he's co-sponsoring to put Bible literacy classes into North Dakota public schools.
"The Bible is an integral part of our society and deserves a place in the classroom,” McWilliams told USA Today, about the push for the inclusion of Bible literacy courses. As USA Today noted, however, many critics see the proposal as a likely violation of the constitutional separation between church and state.
“State legislators should not be fooled that these bills are anything more than part of a scheme to impose Christian beliefs on public schoolchildren,” president and CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State Rachel Laster told USA Today.
The president's tweet garnered a lot of attention on Twitter, with numerous commentators noting what they saw as Trump's hypocrisy.
"Trump encouraging 'Bible literacy' is like Charlie Sheen advocating for more self-control," wrote Susie Meister, who holds a doctorate in Religious Studies.
"According to the Bible you should be put to death for adultery," lawyer and podcast host Rabia Chaudry tweeted on Monday.
Others noted the discrepancy between his comments on Bible literacy and his next tweet, which came only minutes afterwards. There, he attacked potential presidential election opponent and former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz as "not the 'smartest person.'"
"Trump viciously attacks a political enemy just minutes after posting a tweet touting 'Bible Literacy' classes," Vox journalist Aaron Rupar tweeted, along with a screenshot of the two tweets together.
Numerous commentators noted that many of Trump's policies don't appear to be based in Biblical theory.
"If Trump’s followers take his advice for gaining 'Bible literacy,' Jesus’s message of tolerance & inclusion is going to blow their minds," Meister tweeted.
Currently, there are Bible literacy bills on the table in six states, as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) told USA Today. A similar measure passed in Kentucky in 2017, according to Insider Louisville. As USA Today reported, these bills are the result of evangelical groups working in a coordinated fashion, and critics believe that the eventual goal is to put Christian values in the minds of as many young Americans as possible.
“They have put out a more than 100-page playbook that lays out very plainly their strategy into tiers of bills that they want to pass, and the last tier is promoting a particular religious point of view for legislation," executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty told USA Today.
When teaching a single religious text in a public school course, the ACLU wrote that there's a fine line between "preaching, not teaching,” as ACLU-KY attorney Heather Gatnarek put it. Trump's tweet would appear to suggest that he's in favor of the effort to explore that gray area.