During a campaign rally in Baltimore, Maryland on Monday, Donald Trump made an unsettling statement which has many wondering if he plans to persecute non-Christian religions if he becomes president.
Trump was making what might appear to be a banal unity speech, but the degree of unity to which he was reaching for should make everyone deeply uncomfortable.
Trump told the crowd of supporters that under his leadership,
“We will be one people, under one God, saluting one American flag.”
The first part of his statement is safely centered around unity, despite the possible interpretation of “one people,” meaning a fully assimilated, uni-racial ethnic group. Likely, Trump meant that we will be united as one – fair enough.
But then the nominee said something a bit out of character for the usual unity statement; according to Trump, under his leadership, all Americans will be “under one God.” Of course, Trump, who claims to be a conservative Christian, must certainly mean the Christian god.
Considering his attacks on Islam, it would not be at all surprising to hear that Trump would be in favor of some official ban on other religions. Considering how strong evangelicals consider any other religion to be the enemy, and considering how strong Islamophobia and Antisemitism have become in 2016 America, it’s likely a great number of Trump supporters would support a forced assimilation “under one God.”
Even if Trump weren’t dog-whistling about Americans with “other” religious beliefs, it is clear that he is not speaking to those who don’t categorize themselves as Christian at all. That’s a full third of the nation he is neglecting while pandering to Evangelical voters.
Finally, the decree that Americans will be “Saluting one American flag,” is a bit ominous considering the recent social view of NFL player Colin Kaepernick’s stance on refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. Therein seems to be a veiled threat to those who would defy the American flag: in Trump’s America, you wouldn’t dare.
Sure, Trump will pretend that this short comment was simply a “rah rah” statement of patriotism, but for those of us who have seen the rumblings of discrimination and hatred in his campaign, these coded words mean so much more.