University professors say more churchgoers believe Trump is ‘anointed by God’

More churchgoers now believe President Trump is anointed by God as he heads into the 2020 election, according to two professors who study religion and politics.

In a "Religion in Public" blog post on Monday titled "Trump The Anointed?" Ryan Burge, assistant professor of political science and graduate coordinator at Eastern Illinois University, and Paul Djupe, an associate professor of political science at Denison University in Ohio, called it a "phenomenon that is sweeping American religion."

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"We were quite surprised by the result that 49 percent of those frequently attending worship services believed that Trump was anointed by God to be president," Bruge and Djupe told Fox News in an email. "At least until we examined the evidence that suggested religious and secular elites continue to claim that Trump has a religiously significant role to play."

President Donald Trump bows his head in prayer during a White House National Day of Prayer Service in the Rose Garden of the White House, May 7, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Donald Trump bows his head in prayer during a White House National Day of Prayer Service in the Rose Garden of the White House, May 7, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

They added, "Mainly limited to Republicans, we find dramatic increases in belief in Trump’s anointment when their faith is linked to politics. As threats become larger, both real and imagined, the religious significance of the presidency appears to be growing among a wide portion of the population."

Djupe, an affiliated scholar with Public Religion Research Institute, tweeted about the results compared to a similar survey of white Protestants last year. "There's a big increase in believing Trump is anointed."

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He added the rise in the belief was among all regular church attendees over the last year, not just white evangelicals, a group Trump carried with overwhelming support in the 2016 election.

Burge, a pastor in the American Baptist Church, also tweeted that for Republicans, "the more their pastor talks about politics, [the] more likely they are to believe in anointing."

Faith leaders pray over President Donald Trump during an "Evangelicals for Trump Coalition Launch" at King Jesus International Ministry, Jan. 3, in Miami. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

Faith leaders pray over President Donald Trump during an "Evangelicals for Trump Coalition Launch" at King Jesus International Ministry, Jan. 3, in Miami. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

However, when the professors asked "if they had heard anyone making the claims that Democrats would strip them of their rights and liberties if they were to take power…belief in Trump's anointment climbs for both Democrats and Republicans with the more of these arguments heard."

The professors concluded, "There is at least a supportive set of argumentation behind the belief that Trump is anointed."

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Last year, during trade talks with China, Trump said, "I am the chosen one" before boarding Air Force One. He later slammed the media for taking the comment seriously.

“When I looked up to the sky and jokingly said ‘I am the chosen one,’ at a press conference two days ago, referring to taking on Trade with China, little did I realize that the media would claim that I had a ‘Messiah complex.’ They knew I was kidding, being sarcastic,” Trump tweeted.

“I was smiling as I looked up and around. The MANY reporters with me were smiling also. They knew the TRUTH…And yet when I saw the reporting, CNN, MSNBC and other Fake News outlets covered it as serious news & me thinking of myself as the Messiah. No more trust!”

Stephen Strang, the founder and CEO of Charisma News and author of "God, Trump, and the 2020 Election: Why He Must Win and What's at State for Christians if He Loses," told Fox News earlier this year that he predicts "his evangelical percentage is going to go up" from 2016 when Trump won white evangelicals with 81 percent.

"Who would've thought that a New York billionaire that is a TV celebrity would become a champion of religious rights or become president of the United States?" Strang said. "I think he's been a great leader, but he doesn't get much credit for it."

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The Trump 2020 campaign launched Evangelicals for Trump at a Latino megachurch in Miami, days after the now-retired Christianity Today editor-in-chief, Mark Galli, called for the removal of Trump from office at the end of 2019.