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.


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?



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.)

Dear Reader, has long been engaged in the battle against misinformation, an effort we could not sustain without support from our audience. Producing reliable fact-checking and thorough investigative reporting requires significant resources. We pay writers, editors, web developers, and other staff who work tirelessly to provide you with an invaluable service: evidence-based, contextualized analysis of facts. Help us keep strong. Make a direct contribution today. Learn More.

Donate with PayPal