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The faith factor — Trump’s team, so far, a band of believers

First Published      Last Updated Dec 01 2016 07:51 am

President-elect Donald Trump will spend much of the time until his Jan. 20 inauguration building his new administration. That means naming Cabinet appointees and government department or agency heads, as well as selecting advisers.

Many of Trump's appointments so far are people of faith; some are supported or opposed by different faith groups; others have made public statements or taken actions regarding different faith groups.

Here is a list of Trump's picks to date and a description of their relationship to religion.

Reince Priebus

One of Trump's first appointments was Reince Priebus as his chief of staff.

Priebus, a Wisconsin lawyer and Republican Party chairman, is a lifelong member of the Greek Orthodox Church. In a CNN segment titled "A Day in the Life of Reince Priebus," he said the three things that get him through the day include the Greek Orthodox liturgy (the other two are the Republican Party platform and the Milwaukee Brewers schedule).

He reportedly has maintained dual participation at two Racine, Wis., churches: Kimissis Greek Orthodox Church and Grace Church, where he started a Bible study and prayer group for young married couples, according to The Journal Times.

Steve Bannon

After Trump named Steve Bannon his chief White House strategist and senior counselor, Religion News Service columnist Mark Silk described Bannon's strategy this way: "There is a certain affinity between the white nationalism of the alt-right and the Jewish nationalism of the Zionist right. Steve Bannon's strategy is to use it to foster an anti-Muslim presidency."

In an interview with Mother Jones, Bannon called Breitbart Media, which he previously headed, "the platform for the alt-right," a white nationalist movement. He also called its ideology "nationalist," though he did not specifically identify it as "white nationalist." His ex-wife has accused him of anti-Semitism — a charge his representative has denied — and both the Anti-Defamation League and Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism protested his appointment because of Breitbart's anti-Semitic ideology.

Bannon told Bloomberg News, "I come from a blue-collar, Irish Catholic, pro-Kennedy, pro-union family of Democrats." He delivered a 2014 speech via Skype to a conference held inside the Vatican, the seat of Catholicism, describing a "crisis both of capitalism but really of the underpinnings of the Judeo-Christian West in our beliefs."

Michael T. Flynn

Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn has been tapped as the assistant to the president for national security affairs.

Flynn is a retired intelligence officer and member of the board of advisers for ACT For America, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has called the "largest grass-roots anti-Muslim group in America." He has referred to Islam as a political ideology hiding behind a religion, according to The Dallas Morning News, and tweeted that it is rational to be afraid of Muslims.

Like Bannon, Flynn was born and raised in an "Irish-Catholic family of blue-collar Democrats."

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