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The Idolatry of the Donald

“I even brought my Bible—the evangelicals, OK?” Donald Trump whinged [1] at a campaign stop in the run-up to the Iowa caucuses. “We love the evangelicals and we’re polling so well.” For good measure, he waved his prop a little more and doubled down, “I really want to win Iowa—and again, the evangelicals, the Tea Party—we’re doing unbelievably, and I think I’m going to win Iowa.”

This sycophantic word vomit was about average as Trump’s public forays into religion go. His transparent attempts to cast himself as a churchgoer have been awkward at best [2], and more often approach the bizarre [3] if not the heretical [4]. Nevertheless, as the man himself would say, the professing evangelicals—and the “professing” is key here [5]—love him. They really, really do.

But for all the headlines the Trumpvangelicals [6] have snagged, their vehement support is ably matched by the strident opposition [7] to Trump found among millions of American Christians of all stripes, many of them (like me) appalled that such blatant pandering and brash prurience is, well, working on our fellow travelers in the faith. Nearly a year into this misadventure, it is still tempting to ask: How is this happening? How is the heir of the Moral Majority endorsing [8] a twice-divorced former strip club [9] owner? How is Trump so appealing to what is supposed to be a Christian nation?

And it is in precisely that last phrase—“Christian nation”—the answer may be found: America’s entrenched [10], pseudo-Christian civil religion [11] is the primary culprit here. President Trump is the due result of our theologically vacant imperial cult, which in the guise of orthodoxy worships only the power of the state.

Granted, the connection may not be immediately obvious, particularly in light of the harsh critiques Trump has received from many prominent Christians, as well as his own dime-store costume faith.

These surface obstacles obscure the deeper fit. Trump’s extravagant self-deification, his demands of personal allegiance, and his obsession with unique national and personal greatness all flow naturally out of a civil religion which co-opts Christianity to cast an aura of divine approval on Washington. Indeed, Trump fancies himself a modern Caesar [12], tinged with divinity and cloaked in gold [13]. Our civil religion gives him just the theological resource he needs.

Consider, first, Trump’s view of himself. As Frank Bruni persuasively argued [14] in the New York Times, the Republican frontrunner comes off not as “someone interested in serving God” so much as “someone interested in being God.” Trump so closely links himself and the divine that he drifts into [3] boasting of his own accomplishments in the very process of explaining why God is important. The candidate feels he is above [15] the need for God’s forgiveness (as it is written [16], “there is one who is righteous, yea, just one”) and recently named [17] “an eye for an eye” as his favorite Bible verse, an interesting selection given the New Testament’s assignment [18] of vengeance as God’s prerogative.

Of course, Americans might rightly protest that we don’t ascribe divinity to the presidency, but the office is undoubtedly sacralized. Its successes—notably in foreign policy—are attributed to divine blessing. Conventional politicians may be more politic than Trump, but most will happily harness God to tow their pet projects. A classic example is what theologian Michael J. Gorman labels [19] the “divine passive voice,” in which, often in the run-up to war, presidents say things [20] like “We are called…” to subtly invoke a holy authority for their plans. In a Trump White House, the voice would simply become slightly more active.


Beyond this there’s Trump’s demand (and receipt [21]) of intense personal loyalty. One gets the feeling that the provision of a bust of Trumpself for long-distance veneration [22] would not be taken amiss by many of his followers, but usually a simple pledge of allegiance will do.

“I do solemnly swear that I, no matter how I feel, no matter what the conditions, if there are hurricanes or whatever, will vote on or before the 12th for Donald J. Trump for President,” he asked [23] Floridian supporters to promise in advance of their state’s primary. This sort of ultimatum is right at home in a civil religion that facilitates unthinking Christian loyalty to the state by means of a clever syncretism: If America is “under God”—if the United States becomes the “city on a hill [24]”—we needn’t worry about obeying God rather than men. It’s all one and the same as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Joseph is idolatrously mutated into an American tribal deity.

But the most convincing link lies in Trump’s preoccupation with greatness. In the context of American civil religion, Gorman explains [19], “Greatness is defined especially as financial, political, and/or military strength, and this definition carries with it the conviction that both America and Americans should always enjoy and operate from a position of strength and security.”

“Weakness,” he adds, “is un-American; Americans want to be number one. For many, these kinds of secular strengths are seen as manifestations of power from God.” Gorman wrote that more than five years ago, but Trump couldn’t have said it better himself. His is a perverse patriotism [25] inextricably tied to the notion that God likes America (and the Donald) most. Trump is certainly more explicit in his promises of unparalleled personal [26] (“the greatest jobs president God ever created”) and national [27] (“we will have so much winning”) greatness, but his distinction from our standard-issue civil religion is one of degree, not kind.

We might ask why a Trumpian candidate is only now appearing—and with such success—on our political stage. The civil religion is hardly new, but surely Trump is. The tipping point, I suggest, is primarily about the expansion of power in the executive branch, a process which has been underway for decades but accelerated in recent times. The authority of the White House has expanded to match the sanctity we’ve assigned it. (Not for nothing is it called the imperial presidency.) The modern office [28] “looks nothing like the modest, businesslike, law-governed executive the Framers envisioned,” and if it did, Trump wouldn’t want it.

In The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis recounts [29] a conversation with an elderly clergyman sincerely convinced that his “own nation, in sober fact, has long been, and still is markedly superior to all others.” “To be sure,” Lewis muses, “this conviction had not made my friend (God rest his soul) a villain; only an extremely lovable old ass. It can however produce asses that kick and bite.” If mixed with assurance of unique divine favor, he continues, this dangerous nonsense “draws evil after it. If our country’s cause is the cause of God, wars must be wars of annihilation. A false transcendence is given to things which are very much of this world.”

In Trump we find such nonsense crystallized into an ass that kicks and bites, and gleefully plans to torture [30] and murder [31] because this is what will make America great again. His gilded self-aggrandizement is the organic fruit of a “Christian” nation that welcomed such theo-nationalism in drabber forms for years. We may not for a while see again so shameless an execution of the temple ceremonies of the American state, but the false transcendence of our civil religion will not die with the Trump campaign.

Bonnie Kristian is a writer who lives in the Twin Cities. She is a graduate student at Bethel Seminary, a contributor at The Week, a columnist at Rare, and a fellow at the American Security Initiative Foundation. Her writing has also appeared at Time, Relevant, and The American Conservative, among other outlets. Find her at bonniekristian.com [32] and @bonniekristian [33].

46 Comments (Open | Close)

46 Comments To "The Idolatry of the Donald"

#1 Comment By Robert On May 5, 2016 @ 4:22 am

A very fine article. Thank you TAC.

I was hoping that the quotes from His Trumpness were in fact parodies dreamed up by The Onion. But no such luck.

#2 Comment By Brendan On May 5, 2016 @ 7:00 am

Well, America has had a born again evangelical Christian in the Whitehouse in recent memory, and how did that work out?

I suspect most Presidents are a reflection of culture, rather than shapers and formers of it. In other words, the problem didn’t begin and end with Trump.

#3 Comment By Nick Valentine On May 5, 2016 @ 8:03 am

The opinion of the New York Times is not normally a reliable voice when one seems to determine what is and what is not properly Christian.

Nonetheless, as a Christian voter, I’ll gladly explain my support of Donald Trump despite his questionable Christian “creds”.

I don’t care.

I’ve given up on finding a true, virtuous, Conservative Christian to lead us in DC, because that’s never going to happen. This is NOT a devoutly Christian nation any longer. Sure, many people identify as Christians, but like Trump, few of them ever pick up a Bible.

Instead, I prefer the man who speaks his mind – however un-PC his mind may be – honestly and forthrightly, and who talks directly to the citizens about the real issues that concern us as a nation:

Illegal immigration, Islamic terrorism, corruption in government, jobs and the economy, crony-capitalists who are destroying the middle class by shipping jobs overseas, and unfair trade deals that also damage American jobs.

Based on Mr. Trump’s business success and extreme confidence, he strikes me as the man most likely to right this ship of state.

So as a Christian, I’m confident that if Trump is President, I’ll do just fine.

In all honesty, any Christians who are looking for devout Christianity at the polls should probably stay home.

#4 Comment By TB On May 5, 2016 @ 8:44 am

“Trump is the natural product of American civil religion.”

The term ‘civil religion’ has been an oxymoron, when applied to American politics, since the Mayflower Age gave way to our Founding Fathers Enlightenment period.

#5 Comment By Daniel (not Larison ) On May 5, 2016 @ 8:59 am

Nick wrote:

Instead, I prefer the man who speaks his mind – however un-PC his mind may be – honestly and forthrightly, and who talks directly to the citizens about the real issues that concern us as a nation:

Does “speaking his mind” and being “un-PC” include shameless, ham-fisted pandering to Evangelicals, as posted in the article?

Trump is as deceptive as the rest of them, perhaps more so. You just get a kick out of him offending certain people, the people that you don’t like either. If anyone–including Trump–said something to hurt your precious feelings, you wouldn’t say “I love how he speaks his mind!” You’d call him an @sshole.

That doesn’t make you weak, it makes you human. But to support it when others are the victims is just sad.

#6 Comment By JLF On May 5, 2016 @ 9:30 am

The most frightening thing will not come in the immediate wake of Trump’s inauguration. It will not be brought by Democrats and Republicans-in-exile. It will come from the Trump faithful when they see that their idol has feet of clay and cannot perform the miracles he says he will. Even with a compliant Congress (and Court), Trump will not build a wall. Mexico will not pay for it. He will not deport 11 million illegal aliens. Europe will not contribute more to its defense, and Trump will not abandon NATO. China will continue on as before, indifferent to the blustering of the American president because it realizes Trump needs Chinese workers to manufacture the things Americans will not (at Chinese wages), the same things (at low prices) that maintain the lifestyle of the Trump supporters.

The scales fallen from their eyes, Trump’s followers will act in the same way any mob acts and turn on the one that has betrayed them. Only two questions remain: how long after inauguration will it take for their enlightenment, and how will The Donald react to being cast down from his pedestal?

#7 Comment By Kurt Gayle On May 5, 2016 @ 9:30 am

What Nick Valentine said.

#8 Comment By Nelson On May 5, 2016 @ 9:48 am

You can’t be a Christian and hate thy neighbor.

#9 Comment By Rancor On May 5, 2016 @ 9:49 am

So civil religion is now a name for national megalomania?

The British saw themselves as the lost tribe of Israel

The French as Galls and descendants of the Roman Empire

The Germans as Germanics who are supposed to destroy the Rome

The Russians as Katechons who must conquer Europe, as the last and true Rome

All of this is civil religion?

If you think the Americans sacralize the presidency, then I don’t think you know what it actually means to sacralize a state authority. Look at Putin, Stalin and the tsars in Russia. American presidents are nowhere near them in sacralization

#10 Comment By John Gruskos On May 5, 2016 @ 10:02 am

Trump muses about the possibility of using torture and assassination against a small number of terrorists who have American blood on their hands.

Clinton, on the other hand, presents us with a deadly serious plan (“no fly zone”)to start an unnecessary unjustified war against Syria, Russia and Iran, the only beneficiaries of which would be Al-Qaida and ISIS, the inevitable results of which would be the destruction of Middle Eastern Christianity and an intensification of the migrant invasion of Europe, and the obvious risk of which is a catastrophic nuclear exchange.

Please remove the plank from your own eye before trying to remove the speck from mine.

Trump will be the first president since Eisenhower who can be trusted to enforce the immigration laws, reduce the trade deficit, and avoid unnecessary wars. He is receiving enthusiastic support because of his *platform*, not his alleged cult of personality. The clown act was a necessary tactic to circumvent the media gatekeepers who prevented previous outsiders such as Buchanan, Tancredo and Paul from presenting their ideas to the public. See Scott Adams’ blog for a full explanation. Bravo Trump! You weren’t too proud to fight for the interests of the American people.

#11 Comment By Fred Bowman On May 5, 2016 @ 10:17 am

What JLF said.

#12 Comment By Robert Thomas On May 5, 2016 @ 10:20 am

Not that I am particularly religious nor does religion play a part in my politics.
However I don’t need to be a bible thumper to see how over my life Christianity has been slowly systematically and successfully attacked and wiped clean from our culture but the left and their orahanizatuons like the ACLU. Trump is the first guy who actually acknowlages this and addresses it by simply saying ” we will say Merry Christmas again”

When B.J.B. And Michael Sheuer both support Trump That’s a great indicator that My support for Trump is well founded.

I was surprised to see an article like this written in TAC

It would be more fitting and we’ll received in the national review or huffington post!

#13 Comment By Johann On May 5, 2016 @ 10:35 am

So, Trump asking his supporters to take a pledge to vote means he is equating himself with God? Oh, I get it, the way to fight Trump is to be just as ridiculous as him. That didn’t work for little Marco. I doubt it will work for you either. The quality of TAC articles are starting to slip, what with this one and the Donald Devine one.

#14 Comment By Clint On May 5, 2016 @ 10:54 am

“I will be the greatest representative of the Christians they’ve had in a long time.”

It appears Trump will be a better advocate for Christians than Obama or Hillary Clinton.

#15 Comment By SteveM On May 5, 2016 @ 11:16 am

These days the ONLY thing we get from a president are NEGATIVE impacts. I.e., too much war, too much immigration, too much regulation, a pathologically busted health care solution, tolerance of a pathological tax code, tolerance of Beltway Swamp corruption, supplicant to the Security State. All of it – just too much…

If Trump us just gives a small respite, let alone some actual relief from the massive parasitic hammer of the Leviathan, I’ll settle for that.

“Business as usual” just can’t continue. It can’t…

#16 Comment By KD On May 5, 2016 @ 11:23 am

Uh, “modern expansion of executive power”–you mean like suspending habeas corpus, jailing newspaper editors for criticizing the President, and sending General Sherman to rape, pillage and execute civilians throughout half the country?

Yes, that sort of thing must never happen in America. . . and any President who did such a thing would be remembered as a disgrace, they would never get their face on Mt. Rushmore and the $5 bill or get their own memorial in DC for example.

#17 Comment By RickV On May 5, 2016 @ 11:25 am

I believe that the author should study “The Apotheosis of Washington” before attempting to speak on the subject of the American civil religion. There truly is one and its roots are here.

#18 Comment By D1ll On May 5, 2016 @ 11:51 am

Mr. Gruskos said:

“Trump will be the first president since Eisenhower who can be trusted to enforce the immigration laws, reduce the trade deficit, and avoid unnecessary wars.”

Mr. Trump’s positions can and sometimes do change in a matter (e.g.: that women ought to be punished for getting abortions). He also has a history of using the bankruptcy system to avoid paying debts that he agreed to repay. He also twice voided his marital vows and obtained divorce decrees. And lastly, Mr. Trump literally has no record of service as an elected official which we could reference.

Given all of this, I sincerely ask: what reasonable basis does anyone have to believe that he will keep his word about anything that he promises to do? Why should we believe anything the man says?

#19 Comment By D1ll On May 5, 2016 @ 11:52 am

Edited to add:

That comment was supposed to read “Mr. Trump’s positions can and sometimes do change in a matter of hours.”

#20 Comment By Kurt Gayle On May 5, 2016 @ 11:57 am

@ JLF, who wrote: “The most frightening thing…will come from the Trump faithful when they see that their idol has feet of clay and cannot perform the miracles he says he will.”

With all due respect, JLF, I think you hold those of us who are “the Trump faithful” in an unusual level of contempt.

Look, here’s the deal: Trump is the only candidate who has identified the problems of Middle America and who has identified ways to begin to fix those problems. Trump is not a “miracle” worker, but he does have the will and the courage to lead the country back in the right direction. And as his supporters he has our backing all the way.

As President Trump will no doubt run into problems in implementing some aspects of his broad, multi-faceted program to make America great again. For sure there will be setbacks and delays, because (1) there is so much wrong with the country that has to be set right again, and because (2) there are so many powerful, wealthy, vested interests who will oppose doing what the country needs.

But as tough and steadfast a group as we Trump supporters have shown ourselves to be, why would you think that we would see setbacks and delays as signs of some sort of “betrayal”? Why? That doesn’t make any sense. Haven’t you learned yet, JFL, that of all the groups of Americans supporting all the candidates of both parties, those of us who are Trump supporters are by far the most loyal, the most unshakeable, and the toughest.

So, don’t try to hang some kind of prissy faint-of-heart label on us. As Trump supporters we’re in this for the long haul. We’re ready to fight against the setbacks. We’ll be fighting this out for as long as it takes to get the job done.

#21 Comment By max skinner On May 5, 2016 @ 12:53 pm

Sometimes religious people see religion where there is none. It is the lens through which the world is viewed. I see no religion in the circumstances surrounding Trump. He is a bright shiny object that says things that people think but don’t often say. He gets away with it. People enjoy that and they are entertained by it. That’s all there is to it. No deep meaning; nothing but a visceral, emotional response is present in this situation. It’s just human nature in its most reactive state.

#22 Comment By William Springer On May 5, 2016 @ 1:04 pm

Question for the Evangelicals:

Are you the same people who pushed for impeachment of a sitting president due to lies about marital infidelity? Are you the people protesting in front of abortion clinics to save innocent lives? Because there really isn’t a similarity between other politician’s faux christianity and Trump — other politicians might not ban abortion or pursue other social conservative agenda, but they don’t actually purposefully insult, injure or commit immoral acts and then rejoice over it in any way like Trump does.

Trump has (falsely) stated that the Mexican illegal aliens are rapists and murderers (there are many stats showing him wrong). He has decided to ban 1 billion+ immigrants and discussed having Muslims be registered and monitored solely based on their religion (as a sidenote, I ask those Christians to consider if they like that precedent, particularly when there are many Dylan Roof’s committing/interested in committing horrendous crimes in the names of Christianity). He has advocated torture not only of suspected terrorists but also their families (all of which are war crimes and, more importantly for an evangelical, as immoral and unChristian as any acts). Trump calls women a bimbo and other names and speaks down to them regularly (including, as the author stated, bragging about sleeping with top women and being twice divorced).

Was all that furor over Clinton nothing but a lie? Was your support for GWB solely because you liked his tax plans? Hillary Clinton is not a social conservative and doesn’t play the God card nearly as much as many politicians. But she surely has not advocated the war crimes, discrimination, punishment due to religion, race or gender or other immoral acts Trump is. No major candidate ever has so blatantly insulted Americans generally and Evangelicals in particular.

Those who support him for “telling it like it is”….check the facts on his statements, most of which are false. His trade deficit arguments are incorrect (and actually evidence of poor knowledge of the global economy), his protectionism is merely another form of welfare paid by all citizens, his tax plan is estimated to lead to a $10 trillion federal debt increase and his wall-building and other ridiculousness is really just meaningless talk of things that will not happen and using language more commonplace in a rally for an extremist group than from mainstream politician.

If you fail to research these points raised by Trump, your supporting arguments may be weak but you are unfortunately not much different than many citizens.

If you fail, however, to look at Trump’s actions (both objectively and relatively to other politicians) for their moral shortcomings, your evangelical arguments in support of any politician in the future have no credibility as you are demonstrating that your evangelical faith is meaningless to you as a guide for choosing a president.

#23 Comment By todd On May 5, 2016 @ 1:14 pm

Great article.

I don’t really know if the term “trust” applies to Mr. Trump. truly believe he wants to be remembered as the Winner President That Made America Great Again (in giant golden letters).

He is the one candidate who could get away with changing every stated position on every policy he has addressed to date and still remain true to himself. The stigma of flip-flopping simple does not apply to Trump. Even if cornered, all he has to do is say he changed his mind, or that whatever he said was what he needed to say to WIN the primary.

His core message is so simple, he will resolve the specifics later, anything off-message is irrelevant, and his goal is to be President.

#24 Comment By Paul On May 5, 2016 @ 1:50 pm

Great article overall, but I couldn’t help snorting at the phrase “in what is supposed to be a Christian nation.”

Wouldn’t it have been more apt to at least phrase that in the past tense? Something like: ‘in a country that, as late as 1900, still associated itself mostly with the Christian faith … ‘

That ship has sailed. Long time ago. I am very sorry about it, but it has.

#25 Comment By todd On May 5, 2016 @ 3:11 pm

I was reading this Politico article, [34]

This verse from an old Rush song came to mind-

“Truth is after all a moving target
Hairs to split,
And pieces that don’t fit
How can anybody be enlightened?
Truth is after all so poorly lit.”
~RUSH, Neil Peart, Turn the Page

BTW – My favorite Trump quote is:
“Publicity gradually dehumanizes you.” (Trump: Surviving at the Top, 1990)

#26 Comment By Charles Cosimano On May 5, 2016 @ 3:57 pm

Hey, anything is better than a candidate whose lunatic father called him, “God’s annointed king.” This is America, we threw the king out. Remember?

#27 Comment By Jon On May 5, 2016 @ 4:59 pm

I believe its Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob…

#28 Comment By EliteCommInc. On May 5, 2016 @ 5:43 pm

Sadly, I will have a much longer response later (sad I know).

I think the following will suffice for the moment. Unless there is something that Mr. Trump is promoting/advocating today in the here and now, that clearly violates God’s word no christian has any cause to reject him on the basis of faith and practice.

I will address some specifics in a future post.

#29 Comment By Grumpy Realist On May 5, 2016 @ 6:37 pm

I suggest that those evangelicals who are trusting that Trump will carry out any of those big promises he’s been making to take a look at Trump University.

The individuals who signed up for that believed in Trump’s promises as well.

You are only the latest marks in Trump’s history of selling to the rubes.

#30 Comment By TB On May 5, 2016 @ 6:40 pm

Nelson said: You can’t be a Christian and hate thy neighbor.

… all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

#31 Comment By Lee On May 5, 2016 @ 6:42 pm

Well, let’s see what John Adams had to say about the Christian nation concept. ““The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”
—John Adams

Or what of Thomas Jefferson’s letter to John Adams on April 11 of 1823?

“The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus by the Supreme Being in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. … But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with all this artificial scaffolding….”

There’s a whole lot more I could point to that further illustrates the erroneous nature of the Christian nation myth. But people love their myths, just as the term Christian is quite a bit problematic in that historically it most accurately describes Orthodox Jews.

#32 Comment By LouisM On May 5, 2016 @ 6:55 pm

Bush2/Cheney fancied themselves caesars invading multiple Mideast nations.

Obama fancies himself as god. He has gone beyond any president in usurping the congress and the states for his personal beliefs in Islam, global warming, drugs, immigration, unions, sexual identity, Title IX, Healthcare, etc.

Is Trump a surprise? Only in that he is unapologetic and doesn’t hide it. More than likely future presidents will not be as overt and obvious but that does not make them any less psychopathic in seeing the Presidency as a throne rather than a orchestra leader.

#33 Comment By Russell On May 5, 2016 @ 7:01 pm

The Evangelicals the author idolizes did much to create the cultural vacuum that the left has rushed to fill.

Making the world safe for vacuuity invites the rise not just of televangelists, but authentic populist demogogues like Huey Long and his even more sophisticated successor.

The author might benefit from watching Network, a film that seems more visionary with every passing news cycle.

#34 Comment By tz On May 5, 2016 @ 7:27 pm

Bush and Obama have both tortured and murdered and garnered only a few peeps – aside from the few low level personnel who were all but ordered to do so, who is in prison, much less been tried?

Trump is the epitome of our last two decades of compromise, of the end justifies the means, the “24” “Jack Bauer” that will save the day at any cost, and is somehow the amoral savior.

The most rabidly righteous evangelicals who hate even the mild “damn” love “24”. For some reason they originally preferred Cruz.

This is the one thing – Trump may be many other forms of evil, but is not a hypocrite. He doesn’t equivocate on torture (listen to Cruz’s debate response). He doesn’t pull punches. He doesn’t triangulate or check the polls.

WYSIWYG. The problem is he is a mirror, and the problem is it is your image staring back even if you find it horrible.

#35 Comment By Connecticut Farmer On May 5, 2016 @ 7:42 pm

True…true. But the same can be said about Hillary Clinton. They are both equally, in their respective ways, the product of the Cult of Celebrity which has overtaken American society. There are better people who could serve as POTUS but–this is what we get in a society that worships at the foot of glitz and glam. Regardless of which one of the two is elected, we will get what we deserve.

#36 Comment By EliteCommInc. On May 5, 2016 @ 10:49 pm

“Nelson said: You can’t be a Christian and hate thy neighbor.”

I can address this. I and I do so without any great claim to being a christian. One certainly is called to love they neighbor. But a person can have all manner f ills as it pertains to living in Christ and still have an embrace of Christ and be embraced in kind.

My own bitterness aside.

A person can wrestle with their feelings of hate and still rest in Christ. What one cannot do is embrace that which God calls verboten and claim that it is justified. Trying to wed out who is and is not a christian is a very tricky business, best left alone according to Christ.

It is certainly possible to be a christian and have hateful feelings . . .

One can even be ignorant of what one is called to do and be a christian to a certain extent. What one cannot do is openly defend that which God condemns.

I say this as a person at hells door because of my own bitterness. An I take no discussion of scripture lightly.

#37 Comment By Jay L On May 6, 2016 @ 12:09 pm

Trump is what you get when a party becomes bankrupt of any real ideas other than personal greed. The party of NO wing of the Republican Party has reached its logical conclusion. The Party has paid only lip service to Evangelicals for a generation. Look at all the shirt sleeve pols that end up in sex and/or money scandals all the while thumping the bible and being born again. Look how every problem can be solved and every issue addressed if only you support us is giving the corporate and wealthy class another round of tax cuts and hand outs. The Party has over and over said to the Evangelicals if you support us we will get around to your agenda right after we address the lobbyists who fund our greed. I have wondered for years when the Evangelicals would see that the ends don’t justify the means philosophy of the Republican Party isn’t really interested in what they have to say. One doesn’t achieve a Christian state through the seven deadly sins.

My greatest fear is that Trumps rise and the rise of a civil religion/cult is but a step on the path to chaos. History has shown many times that when people don’t see religion as an answer to their problems that they next turn to civil god champions and when their champions ultimately fail there is nothing left to turn to except the social chaos of tearing the whole structure down. Many of Trumps and Bernie’s supporters won’t listen to or care about what dangers, even to themselves, are on the path they are supporting as long as it hurts the current ruling class that refuses to share the benefits of the system.

#38 Comment By A. G. Phillbin On May 6, 2016 @ 3:36 pm

Why is the author, and some commenters here, acting as if the label “Evangelical” means any more to those Evangelicals than the label “Catholic” means to most Catholics, or the label “Jewish” means to most Jews, etc. People are asked in a survey to identify by religion. People saying, for example, “Catholic,” would include both liberal and traditionalist Catholics, practicing Catholics and lapsed Catholics and perhaps even ex-Catholics who haven’t converted to anything. But the poll would only reflect the number of people who checked the “Catholic” box, not the depth of their faith. Similarly, would not people checking “Evangelical” include people who were born into an Evangelical Christian household, but don’t practice much themselves and have given little thought as to what being an Evangelical means, as well as the very devout?

Without knowing which Evangelicals or which Catholics or which Jews are supporting a candidate or political position, how useful is the information?

#39 Comment By EliteCommInc. On May 6, 2016 @ 4:06 pm

two responses here:

1. Your first paragraph is why r. Trump is the position he is in. large swaths of the party are tired of being ignored and betrayed by the party leadership. So including Mr. Trump in the ethic you describe doesn’t advance the case you are making.

2. I am curious what ends and means you are talking about. Because, thus far most of the goals of the party have not been addressed via any means of the Republican Party.

The idea that people of faith are supposed to abandon participation in the country in which they are citizens remains some kind of unhinged idea that everything a candidate does or says must at the door of believers.

People of faith can only hold their politicians accountable in the same way as all other politicians are held accountable. It is ludicrous that every person of faith is going be perfect, such that people of faith should abandon the process or stop running for office.

Good grief,

Christians are supporting sin to get some end. I would love to see that agenda. First even u could get some mythical monolithic people of faith on the same page on every policy, all aligned on the issues of importance an agenda that advances the following:

Proverbs 6

16 These six [things] doth the LORD hate: yea, seven [are] an abomination unto him:

17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,

19 A false witness [that] speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

The seven deadly sins are taken from a numerous set of scriptural passages about behaviors and ethics that a christian should not endorse r engage, the above reference is just one example. I would love to this imaginary platform you claim by any Bible thumping band of voters.

This attempt to guilt christians out of the process or cause strife among them by division of who is really a christian is interesting.

#40 Comment By Sean Scallon On May 6, 2016 @ 7:18 pm

“If Trump us just gives a small respite, let alone some actual relief from the massive parasitic hammer of the Leviathan, I’ll settle for that.”

If that’s true then you’ve bet on the wrong horse my friend. The Donald’s first try for public office isn’t for New York City Council, it’s for the Presidency of the United States. Why do you think that is? So he can as unabstrusive as possible? Powerful men run for powerful offices to enhance their power not reduce it. You’ll find this out when someone’s home is seized for a new expressway is built to replace the interstate highway system.

#41 Comment By PM On May 6, 2016 @ 9:20 pm

Or maybe it is simply a continuation of the centuries-long American tradition of being Christian and virulently racist at the same time. Nah, it couldn’t be that simple!

#42 Comment By EliteCommInc. On May 7, 2016 @ 6:30 pm

“Or maybe it is simply a continuation of the centuries-long American tradition of being Christian and virulently racist at the same time. Nah, it couldn’t be that simple!”

Certainly there are christians who have peculiar notions that run counter to Christ. But as I recall the atheists and Diests,Buhdists, Agnostics, Muslims and other sundry people who were none to happy to abolish slavery or maintain troops to enforce the law throughout the country.

Mighty shrift exercise to lay slavery, and bigotry at the feet of Christianity, when it’s tentacles are irrespective of faith and practice.

#43 Comment By EliteCommInc. On May 7, 2016 @ 6:39 pm

“So he can as unabstrusive as possible? Powerful men run for powerful offices to enhance their power not reduce it. You’ll find this out when someone’s home is seized for a new expressway is built to replace the interstate highway system.”

I am not a fan of the practice referenced as “imminent domain”. People’s homes are not taken, as one would steal another’s car. The compensation is usually higher than the value.


And this as Leviathan hardly reflects the one in question. And whether Mr. Trump gets individual aggrandizement doesn’t effect the point of the comment referenced.

#44 Comment By Connecticut Farmer On May 9, 2016 @ 8:48 am

Excellent piece. And I would include Obama, the Clintons and, yes, Ronald Reagan, among the pantheon of gods lionized by people who evidently require a hero or, in the case of H.Clinton a heroine, who will somehow fill that void in their lives. I suspect that George Washington (who never wanted the job in the first place) would not recognize the fruit of his creation.

#45 Comment By Ed On May 9, 2016 @ 6:50 pm

As Frank Bruni persuasively argued in the New York Times, the Republican frontrunner comes off not as “someone interested in serving God” so much as “someone interested in being God.”

It’s true that there are good reasons to worry about a Trump presidency, but Bruni doesn’t persuasively argue this point. It’s a throw-away one-liner that he simply asserts expecting a laugh at the end of a rambling column.

“Unchristian” civil religion has been part of American life and politics for generations, even for centuries. Is there really any indication that it’s stronger with Trump than with other US political figures, past or present? You can demean American civil religion, but it’s what the country has fallen back on to get through the crises of its history. That a purer Christianity could have functioned any better is questionable.

#46 Comment By Sema M. On May 12, 2016 @ 4:37 pm

Every other candidate except Trump takes orders from the Neocons and will let in millions of more illegal immigrants.