George H.W. Bush’s funeral was held today in Washington, D.C.’s National Cathedral and all the living former presidents were in attendance. President Trump also showed up, seated beside his predecessor, and things got pretty awkward. Michelle Obama gave Trump a terse smile and went about her business and the Clintons—who Trump is still threatening to investigate and jail—didn’t even offer him a courtesy nod.
Throughout the service, Trump sat and glowered like a cranky toddler in time out. When it came time to participate in the service by reciting the Apostles’ Creed, the nominally “Christian” Trump couldn’t be bothered to even fake it:
This is your “Christian” evangelical president. pic.twitter.com/u0478FoSyR
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) December 5, 2018
For those who might not have years of church services under their belts, the Apostles’ Creed is sort of like the pledge of allegiance for Christians (or maybe that’s the Lord’s Prayer, who knows). It’s an affirmation of faith that most Christian denominations recite during worship, and even though it comes in a few variations, you’d be hard pressed to find even an infrequent churchgoer who wasn’t at least familiar with the broad strokes (God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, etc.). Regardless, it’s usually printed in the bulletin, as it was for Bush’s funeral.
Trump—who still enjoys near-record support among American Evangelicals—got scorched on Twitter for his refusal to pay lip service (literally) to Christians.
Striking that all the former Presidents and First Ladies recited the Apostles Creed, but Trump and Melania stood silently and did not. The creeds are at the heart of historic orthodox Christianity
— Jon Ward (@jonward11) December 5, 2018
— David Corn (@DavidCornDC) December 5, 2018
This is a strange moment. It’s not about Trump not having memorized the creed, which is printed in the program. He’s opting not to participate in the service. https://t.co/SHPj9I01TD
— Ruth Graham (@publicroad) December 5, 2018
I’m a godless Hollywood liberal and even I can stumble through the Apostles Creed. https://t.co/hf49UK8qek
— John Ross Bowie (@JohnRossBowie) December 5, 2018
The mistake we make everyday is pretending he will behave differently. He’s not a good person and there are a million examples of this fact. https://t.co/cZKIxiGtic
— Zerlina Maxwell (@ZerlinaMaxwell) December 5, 2018
And…. scene. Congrats to the Christian Right for completely and thoroughly debasing yourselves. https://t.co/6L8t4tLQOY
— Scott Tobias (@scott_tobias) December 5, 2018
That’s not to say Trump should profess his faith in a Christian God, he definitely shouldn’t if he doesn’t sincerely believe it (which, lol, of course he doesn’t). Rather it’s that Trump should just own his atheism instead of awkwardly trying to pretend to be a Christian. He could be our first openly atheist president and that guy loves “historic” achievements! (I’m mostly kidding, atheists aren’t morally bankrupt enough to have him.)
Plenty of people dunked on Trump for his sullen silence:
I’m pretty sure the dude who brags he “brought back Christmas” thinks the holiday is Santa’s birthday. https://t.co/zzanyVvEW0
— David Futrelle (@DavidFutrelle) December 5, 2018
— Tara Dublin #ImWithNancy (@taradublinrocks) December 5, 2018
If Trump read from The Good Book, the pages would burst into flames. https://t.co/5u5kPs0frl
— Nell Scovell (@NellSco) December 5, 2018
I think we should just be impressed that he’s not tweeting during the funeral. https://t.co/Wqbk8ncTcU
— Molly Jong-Fast (@MollyJongFast) December 5, 2018
And the incident raised that age-old question once again—can Donald Trump read?
It is hard to tell which is going on here: The president lied about being Christian and a believer. Or the president can’t really read. Or both. https://t.co/fQwVdh8yyn
— Anand Giridharadas (@AnandWrites) December 5, 2018
Can Trump read? Serious question. There’s no shame in being dyslexic, but it would be nice if this White House was honest about… well, anything. https://t.co/2ey6PGsB0K
— Steve Silberman (@stevesilberman) December 5, 2018
Just want to aggressively remind everyone that it is STILL UNCLEAR whether or not the President of the United States is functionally illiterate, AND THAT’S NOT A JOKE. https://t.co/hVbomKVEN9
— Jules Suzdaltsev (@jules_su) December 5, 2018
Obviously, Trump can read because we’ve seen him read, but that doesn’t mean he’s not functionally illiterate. Plenty of people have basic reading skills that aren’t developed well enough to operate in everyday life (let alone serve as president). Others have learning disabilities that hinder their literacy, like dyslexia.
Take a look at this pathetic attempt from when he embarrassingly tried (and failed) to walk back his comments at the Helsinki press conference with Putin when he sided with Russia over his own intelligence agencies:
I still absolutely can’t believe that the President of the United States of America is clearly and visibly not good at READING OUT LOUD and has to ad-lib every few seconds to try and cover up for it. pic.twitter.com/HTA3PVKFDf
— Jules Suzdaltsev (@jules_su) July 17, 2018
We know he likes his daily presidential briefing to be as chock-full of pictures (and brief) as possible and that he has difficulty paying attention. We also know he rarely reads from a teleprompter and that when he does, he frequently ad-libs and veers off-script. Plus, his tweets are usually littered with typos, so much so that aides who tweet for him toss in a few errors for authenticity’s sake. And speaking of other people writing for him, he didn’t write any of his books himself.
Samantha Bee was one of the first to raise the issue of Trump’s apparent functional illiteracy, and her segment on it is still worth a watch today: