Donald Trump was raised as a Presbyterian, but does not seem to be overtly religious himself. However, his family has connections to several Christian denominations. This has led to speculation about the religious affiliation of Donald Trump’s five children – Donald Jr., Ivanka, Eric, Tiffany, and Barron.
Were they raised as Catholics?
Let’s analyze the religious backgrounds, practices and statements of Trump’s children to determine if they identify as Catholic.
Donald Trump Jr.
Donald Trump Jr., the eldest child of Donald Trump, was born in 1977 to Ivana Trump. He was raised primarily by his mother, since his parents divorced when he was still a young child.
Ivana Trump was born in Czechoslovakia and initially raised as an atheist by her communist parents. Later in life, she converted to Roman Catholicism. She even claimed to have received a personal blessing from Pope John Paul II.
So there is a high probability that Ivana raised Donald Jr. as a Catholic when he was a child. However, his current religious affiliation is unclear. Donald Trump Jr. tends to avoid discussing religion publicly. He identifies as a Christian, but has not specifically stated he is a practicing Catholic.
Donald Jr. married Vanessa Trump in 2005, and they had five children together before divorcing in 2018. Vanessa was raised Catholic and married Donald Jr. in the Catholic church. She once again married in the Catholic church after divorcing Donald Jr. So it’s likely that Vanessa and Donald Jr. agreed to raise their children with some exposure to Catholic traditions and teachings.
In summary, while Donald Trump Jr.’s mother converted to Catholicism, he himself does not prominently identify with Catholicism. He seems to live as a Christian with some Catholic influences, but is not a strictly practicing member of the Catholic church.
Ivanka Trump, born in 1981, is Donald Trump’s eldest daughter. Her mother Ivana again raised Ivanka in the Catholic faith. Ivanka even attended the Catholic Chapin School in Manhattan as a teenager.
As part of her wedding to Jared Kushner in 2009, Ivanka decided to convert to Jared’s Jewish religion. She took the Hebrew name “Yael” and has since raised her children in the Jewish faith. Ivanka and her family observe Shabbat, celebrate Jewish holidays, and eat kosher foods.
However, Ivanka still retains fond memories of celebrating Catholic Christmas traditions and attending Mass as a child with her mother. She has stated that her conversion to Judaism was not a rejection of Catholicism. Ivanka appreciates the traditions and values she learned from her mother’s religion.
Although she no longer practices Catholicism after converting to Judaism, Ivanka Trump deeply respects Catholic tenets and incorporates aspects of her childhood faith into her spiritual life.
Donald Trump’s third child and second son, Eric Trump, followed a similar religious trajectory as Donald Jr. They both had Ivana as their Catholic mother but do not fervently practice that faith themselves as adults.
Eric was born in 1984 and experienced his parents’ divorce at a young age. He was likely raised celebrating Catholic sacraments and holidays due to his mother’s influence. However, later in life Eric did not retain a strong affiliation to Catholicism.
When Eric Trump married Lara Yunaska in 2014, they held the wedding ceremony at the Episcopal Church Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Florida. His wife Lara was raised Christian but not specifically Catholic. Together they share a loosely Christian orientation and raise their two children as general Protestants.
Based on available evidence, Eric Trump was loosely exposed to Catholicism as a child through his mother but currently identifies as Christian without a particular attachment to the Catholic denomination.
Donald Trump’s only child with second wife Marla Maples, Tiffany Trump, was born in 1993 and named after the famous jewelry company Tiffany & Co. Her parents divorced in 1999 when Tiffany was only six years old. She was primarily raised by her mother in California.
Marla Maples has stated she “dabbled” in Kabbalah, Scientology, and Christianity over the years but did not raise Tiffany under any specific organized religion. Maples tried to impart general spiritual beliefs focused on positive thinking and love.
As a result, Tiffany Trump does not identify herself as belonging to any particular faith. She seems to have vague spiritual leanings but no affiliation with the Catholic church. Of all Donald Trump’s children, she is the least connected to any religious denomination, including Catholicism.
Barron Trump, born in 2006 to Donald and Melania Trump, is the only one of Donald Trump’s five children to be raised in a two-parent household from birth until adulthood. He is being raised exclusively by his parents in New York and Florida.
Melania grew up in communist Yugoslavia which officially discouraged religion. She was secretly baptized as a child in Slovenia and has stated she is a practicing Catholic as an adult.
Based on his mother’s strong Catholic faith, Barron Trump is very likely being raised Catholic under her direction. At a young age, Barron has already met Pope Francis at the Vatican alongside his parents. This indicates that Donald and Melania are fostering a connection between Barron and the Catholic church.
Of all of Donald Trump’s children, Barron Trump has the highest probability of being raised in the Catholic faith and retaining that religious identity as an adult.
Donald Trump’s Opinion on Catholicism
Donald Trump himself was raised Presbyterian by his Scottish mother Mary Anne. His paternal grandparents were German Lutherans. Surrounded by Protestants, Donald never had any affiliation with Catholicism.
Over the years, Donald Trump has made occasional positive references to Catholics and the Catholic church, especially during his presidential campaign. He received a high proportion of votes from older Catholic demographic groups in the 2016 election.
However, his knowledge of Catholic doctrine and traditions seems sparse. Donald allows his various wives to make independent religious decisions about childrearing. While open to Catholicism, he doesn’t appear to hold strong Catholic beliefs himself or argue against his children converting to other faiths like Judaism.
Donald Trump’s attitude towards Catholicism could be described as respectful non-interference. He recognizes it as an influential denomination and allows family members leeway to incorporate Catholic practices if they wish, but does not personally identify as Catholic himself.
While Donald Trump’s children were exposed to Catholicism to varying degrees based on their mothers’ affiliations, as adults they do not stringently identify as Catholics.
Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. were raised observant Catholics by Ivana but later converted to Judaism and non-denomination Christianity respectively. Eric does not actively practice Catholicism anymore. Tiffany was not brought up Catholic. Barron has the most direct Catholic influence from Melania.
Ultimately, Donald Trump gave his children flexibility regarding religion and did not demand they adhere to any particular faith. His children appreciate Catholic traditions instilled during childhood but have branched out to find their own spiritual identities. They recognize Catholicism’s role in their upbringing but do not closely identify as Catholics today.
Bryant, Kenzie. “A Look at the Religious Beliefs of Donald Trump and His Family.” FOX 4 Kansas City, August 26, 2020.
Goodstein, Laurie. “Donald Trump Revealed His Heart in This Exchange with Catholics.” The New York Times, October 3, 2016.
Oppenheim, Maya. “What religion are Donald Trump’s children and how were they raised?” The Independent, October 9, 2020.
Pramuk, Jacob. “Here are some of the biggest factors behind Donald Trump’s 2016 win.” CNBC, November 9, 2016.
“Religion in Donald Trump’s Childhood Home.” Hollowverse, February 27, 2017.
Shellnutt, Kate. “From Her Faith to His Own, What Donald, Melania, and Barron Trump Believe.” Christianity Today, January 19, 2017.
Timm, Jane C. “Fact check: Here’s how the Trumps have talked about their faith.” NBC News, August 28, 2020.
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