Trump's New Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow Was Bar Mitzvahed – and Baptized

Although Larry Kudlow now sees himself as 100-percent Christian, white supremacists sure don't

President Donald Trump's new economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, March 14, 2018.
Richard Drew/AP

U.S. President Donald Trump’s new economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, was immediately labeled a “Jew” by white supremacists when he was named as Gary Cohn’s successor last week, even though Kudlow actually converted to Catholicism over 20 years ago.

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The leading U.S. economist was born to Jewish parents in Englewood, New Jersey, in 1947. But although he had a bar mitzvah at 13, that was pretty much as good as it got for his Judaism.

In 2000, Kudlow told Crisis Magazine he had attended a non-Jewish school for boys and that, by the mid-1990s, he hadn’t worshipped at a temple in “at least 25 years.”

It was in 1994 that, struggling with cocaine and alcohol addiction while juggling the pressures of being a “master of the universe” on Wall Street and building a promising media career as a TV pundit, Kudlow turned to a Catholic priest for help. Like Kudlow, Father C. John McCloskey III had also worked on Wall Street, though not at Kudlow’s stratospheric level.

In that 2000 interview, Kudlow credited the Lord’s Prayer (aka the “Our Father”) – something he had been forced to recite at his boys’ school – with giving him the strength to overcome his addictions.

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“I would not be surprised if, on average, I say it four or five times a day,” he recounted. “I could be anywhere, in the office even. When I was at my very worst in the mid-’90s, I was able to summon up the memory of the Lord’s Prayer.”

Kudlow, 70, also explained in that interview that one of Catholicism’s biggest attractions for him “is that I really like the traditions, the formality of it. It seems to me that in the early days, the Church had a lot of rituals, and I like that.”

Kudlow also talked about helping fund a new Catholic church in his Connecticut hometown, noting, “I am a regular churchgoer. ... It takes a lot to pull me away from that parish, except maybe if I am on a business trip. I hardly ever miss a Sunday.”

Some 18 years on, Kudlow remains a committed Catholic, although his references to God drew flak last Thursday when he talked about becoming Trump’s economic adviser.

Talking to former colleagues on CNBC, where he was a senior contributor, Kudlow said: “The last 25 years of my life has been tied up with CNBC, which changed my life, changed my profession and it’s been a family to me – and however this thing works out, it will be God’s will.” (He also added that “with God’s grace, I’ll have been 23 years clean and sober in the next couple of months.”)

The comment prompted MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle to say on air, “That’s an interesting way to talk about being the national economic adviser to the president. ‘God’s will?’”

Ruhle walked back her comments on Saturday, tweeting, “As a reporter, a mom & a Catholic, I know words matter & I want to clear something up. I meant no offense when discussing @larry_kudlow’s WH appointment. I apologize if my comments came off as dismissive of his faith. I would never question another person’s believe in God” – an apology Kudlow duly accepted.

Although Kudlow now sees himself as 100-percent Christian, the neo-Nazis at the Daily Stormer website do not. In a March 15 article headlined “Welp; Jew Gary Cohn is Replaced by Jew Larry Kudlow,” Adrian Sol wrote: “As Trump #Fired the filthy Jew Gary Cohn, the entire world rejoiced in unison. One less Jew in the White house is always something to celebrate.

“Unfortunately, the good times were short-lived. The old Jew is now replaced with a brand-new Jew.”

In other words, as far as the white supremacists are concerned, Kudlow will always be a “globalist,” even though he converted over 20 years ago.

As an economist, Kudlow has always been a strong advocate of free trade. The Economist wrote last week, “Trading on his experience in the Reagan White House, Kudlow has built a reputation as a cheerful advocate of tax cuts and deregulation, whatever the economic weather. He has never been a deficit hawk.”

There is another high-profile figure with strong links to the president who was born Jewish but is now Christian: Jay Sekulow. He is one of Trump’s personal lawyers, but achieved instant “fame” last June for his disastrous appearances while doing the rounds on the Sunday political talk shows. Sekulow categorically stated that Trump was not being investigated for firing FBI Director James Comey – before having to admit he didn’t actually know if that was true.

He is best known as the host of a daily national radio show covering the subjects of religion and law, called “Jay Sekulow Live.” He also often uses his Facebook page to warn his 4.1 million followers that Christians’ free speech is being restricted.

Although he was born Jewish, Sekulow became a Jew for Jesus in the 1970s. He later established his own nonprofit, Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism (which is being investigated by U.S. authorities over alleged payments of $60m to Sekulow and family members). And his blog seemingly makes abundantly clear where his allegiances lie. It’s called “Faith & Justice” and is tagged “Standing up for the rights of Christians.”