No, Donald Trump Didn’t Tell Phil Donahue He Was an Atheist in 1989

A meme that Trump told Phil Donahue that his high IQ makes it impossible for him to believe in God is based on a fake quote.

  • Published 2 March 2016

Claim

Donald Trump told Phil Donahue that he was an atheist in 1989.

Did Donald Trump admit to being a atheist on Phil Donahue's show back in 1989?

Collected via Email, February 2016

Rating

Origin

In February 2016, a meme featuring a photo of Donald Trump along with a purported quote of his from a 1989 episode of The Phil Donahue Show started making the social media rounds. According to this particular meme, Trump told Donahue at the time that his “high IQ” made it “impossible” for him not to be an atheist:

phil donahue quote

We found no evidence that Trump uttered this phrase, and no evidence that he even appeared on The Phil Donahue Show in 1989. The media mogul was a guest on the show in 1987, but there is no record of him discussing his religious views (or, more accurately, his lack thereof) during that appearance.

This photo wasn’t taken during an episode of The Phil Donahue Show, either. It was taken during an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show in 1988:

This is just one of the many fake quotes currently being falsely attributed to the Republican presidential candidate.  (Lest any other presidential candidates feel left out, there are plenty of fake quotes about them circulating around the internet as well.)

Snopes.com
Since 1994
A Word to Our Loyal Readers

Support Snopes and make a difference for readers everywhere.

Editorial
  • David Mikkelson
  • Doreen Marchionni
  • David Emery
  • Bond Huberman
  • Jordan Liles
  • Alex Kasprak
  • Dan Evon
  • Dan MacGuill
  • Bethania Palma
  • Liz Donaldson
Operations
  • Vinny Green
  • Ryan Miller
  • Chris Reilly
  • Chad Ort
  • Elyssa Young

Most Snopes assignments begin when readers ask us, “Is this true?” Those tips launch our fact-checkers on sprints across a vast range of political, scientific, legal, historical, and visual information. We investigate as thoroughly and quickly as possible and relay what we learn. Then another question arrives, and the race starts again.

We do this work every day at no cost to you, but it is far from free to produce, and we cannot afford to slow down. To ensure Snopes endures — and grows to serve more readers — we need a different kind of tip: We need your financial support.

Support Snopes so we continue to pursue the facts — for you and anyone searching for answers.

Team Snopes