Fact Check: Is Photo of Faith Leaders with Trump Golden Statue at CPAC Real?

Among many examples of pro-Trump fervor at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) was a gold-painted statue of the former president, clothed in star-spangled shorts, holding a magic wand in one hand and a copy of the U.S. Constitution in the other.

The statue was heavily mocked on Twitter over the weekend, being compared to false idols made of gold in the Old Testament.

The Claim

Users on Twitter circulated an image of the statue surrounded by faith leaders, with some claiming the photo was taken at CPAC 2021.

User @Mocraig13 wrote, "Caption this photo taken today of CPAC's evangelical leaders. Yes, they are praying to a golden statue of their holy insurrectionist."

Caption this photo taken today of CPAC’s evangelical leaders. Yes, they are praying to a golden statue of their holy insurrectionist. pic.twitter.com/yrM7SclCB1

— Mo Bella🌊 🌊 🌊 🌊NEVER FORGET JANUARY 6, 2021 (@Mocraig13) February 28, 2021

Add "golden idol statue" to the list of un-Christian things about Trump that evangelicals ignore or enjoy about him. pic.twitter.com/AfBQxKPWIL

— Off Duty Tiger (@OffDutyTiger) March 1, 2021

The Facts

On January 3, 2020, then-President Donald Trump held a rally at a church in Miami, Florida, to launch an "Evangelicals for Trump" coalition. On that day, he was surrounded by evangelical leaders who prayed for him. NBC News posted a video of the moment on YouTube.

The leaders included Paula White, a televangelist; Michael Tait, lead singer of the Christian rock group Newsboys; Dr. Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King Jr.; and others.

Carl T. Bergstrom, a biologist and professor at University of Washington in Seattle, took responsibility for posting the altered photo. He has since removed the original post.

I posted a photoshop of the golden Trump statue (left) into the famous photo of evangelicals praying over Trump (right).

I thought the reference was clear, but it's causing confusion. I've deleted.

AFAIK, no one prayed over a golden Trump statue. In public, anyway. pic.twitter.com/lWlltCwQwb

— Carl T. Bergstrom (@CT_Bergstrom) March 1, 2021

Newsweek reported on February 28 that the fiberglass sculpture, designed by Tommy Zegan, was assembled in Mexico. The 6-foot sculpture is named "Trump and His Magic Wand."

"I know the biblical definition of an idol. This is not an idol. This is a sculpture," Zegan said in response to comparisons with Old Testament idolatry.

Exit polling from Edison Research revealed that 76 percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump in 2020. In 2016, that number was 81 percent according to Pew Research.

The Ruling


The photo of evangelical leaders surrounding the gold-painted Trump statue is not real. It is a mashup of a scene from January 2020 and the statue used at CPAC 2021.

The actual photo, showing Trump when he was president, was taken in January 2020 in Miami, Florida.

Golden statue of Donald Trump at CPAC
A golden statue of former President Donald Trump on display at the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty
False: The claim is demonstrably false. Primary source evidence proves the claim to be false.
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