Donald Trump is Time magazine's Person of the Year — but not much religion to see here

The gods make an early appearance in Time's cover story on President-elect Donald Trump's selection — no surprise here! — as the magazine's 2016 Person of the Year.

"Gym-rat greek gods," that is.

Yes, you'll need to read that reference in context:

Even for Donald Trump, the distance is still fun to think about, up here in his penthouse 600 ft. in the sky, where it’s hard to make out the regular people below. The ice skaters swarming Central Park’s Wollman Rink look like old-television static, and the Fifth Avenue holiday shoppers could be mites in a gutter. To even see this view, elevator operators, who spend their days standing in place, must push a button marked 66–68, announcing all three floors of Trump’s princely pad. Inside, staff members wear cloth slipcovers on their shoes, so as not to scuff the shiny marble or stain the plush cream carpets.
This is, in short, not a natural place to refine the common touch. It’s gilded and gaudy, a dreamscape of faded tapestry, antique clocks and fresco-style ceiling murals of gym-rat Greek gods. The throw pillows carry the Trump shield, and the paper napkins are monogrammed with the family name. His closest neighbors, at least at this altitude, are an international set of billionaire moguls who have decided to stash their money at One57 and 432 Park, the two newest skyscrapers to remake midtown Manhattan. There is no tight-knit community in the sky, no paperboy or postman, no bowling over brews after work.
And yet here Trump resides, under dripping crystal, with diamond cuff links, as the President-elect of the United States of America. 

The only other mention of god — again the lowercase version — comes near the end of the lengthy piece. The second time the term is used as part of a vulgar quote attributed to a Trump supporter.

God with a capital "G" figures not at all in this profile of Trump — which in many ways is not all that surprising since Trump "doesn't wear his religion on his sleeve."

There is an obligatory mention of evangelicals:

Trump found a way to woo white evangelicals by historic margins, even winning those who attend religious services every week. 

And yes, the profile rehashes Trump's comments on Muslims:

Last year, Trump boasted about the great instincts that led him to support forced deportation for all undocumented immigrants and a ban on Muslims from entering the country. He has since backed off both positions. 

So religion remains on the periphery of Time's cover story. Is that good? Bad? I'm still digesting the piece, which I read quickly on deadline. I previously have praised Time religion writer Elizabeth Dias' excellent, behind-the-scenes coverage of Trump's "inner circle of evangelical advisors."

Generally speaking, I'm not sure the Time cover story plows much new ground — about Trump or religion or otherwise. It mostly rehashes what readers probably already know. The piece seems both curious about the Trump phenomenon and — as many major news outlets' reports tend to be — dismissive of it, as illustrated by the ending:

It’s a country where many who felt powerless have a new champion, where much frustration has given way to excitement and where politics has become the greatest show on earth. Here men in combat helmets and military assault rifles now patrol the streets outside a golden residential tower in midtown Manhattan. And almost every day at about the same time they let pass a street performer who wears no pants, tight white underwear and cowboy boots, so he can sing a song in the lobby for the television cameras with Trump’s name written in red and blue on his butt. It’s an America of renewed hope and paralyzing fear, a country few expected less than a year ago. Because of Donald John Trump, whatever happens next, it will never be like it was before.

Are there holy ghosts in the Person of the Year piece? I'm still contemplating that question. I'd urge you, kind reader, and my fellow GetReligionistas to check out the article and weigh in.

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