This week, after Donald Trump’s words at the White house christmas Tree lighting, Evangelist Franklin Graham posted on social media: “Never in my lifetime have we had a POTUS willing to take such a strong outspoken stand for the Christian faith like Donald Trump.”
(I’ll pause here to let the rational folks stop laughing.)
The Reverend may actually believe this, but I think he conveniently left out one rather critical detail: A dark-skinned, itinerant, refugee Jesus wouldn’t be allowed in Donald Trump’s America. And if he were already here, his life would be a living hell right now.
He’d be denied healthcare, detained at the airport, separated from his family, trolled relentlessly on Twitter, accosted by torch-bearing marchers, vilified by pulpit-pounding preachers, and branded a terrorist by the President himself in incendiary fake videos and fear-baiting Tweets.
A Jesus whose family fled in panic to avoid the local government’s deadly intentions in order to save his life—would be sent back immediately for not “doing it legally”—and we’d have a far shorter New Testament now with a very different ending.
A man of middle eastern descent traveling from town to town, preaching about the evils of materialism, the dangers of wealth; about the sickness of those who abuse power to neglect the poor and the hypocrisy of religious leaders getting fat off the backs of the needy—would be absolutely terrorized by MAGA men and women, both in person and online.
A subversive, homeless rabbi who lived with the street people and publicly condemned and challenged every move by the political power-holders perverting religion to line their pockets—wouldn’t get within 100 yards of a Trump rally. He’d receive the same treatment there that Jesus received as he was led to his crucifixion: mocked, spit on, beaten.
The Jesus of the Gospels, living alongside the marginalized and the poor, would be the most vulnerable to the Republican Tax Bill; pushed to periphery of sustainability and assailed on every front in these moments by those so public wielding their Christian faith.
To anyone with even a cursory understanding of the Bible (and not blinded by hatred for Barack Obama) this isn’t difficult to see:
Donald Trump isn’t a Christian by any reasonable metric.
He is the antithesis of Christlikeness.
He doesn’t give half a damn about Jesus.
He doesn’t emulate him in matters of personal behavior or policy.
He just understands that American Evangelicals are easy marks; that they don’t require anything resembling Jesus, as long as they get a little lip service now and again to pacify them and justify their allegience.
They don’t require actual Biblical knowledge of the Jesus of the Gospels (why should he have more than they do, anyway).
They don’t need a shred of mercy or generosity or purity or humility or compassion from him—they just need Jesus name-dropped annually and that will touch their God-spots and make them swoon.
Donald Trump knows how to play white Bible Belt Christians fluently, and he grabbed them by the privilege and told them he was down with Jesus—and they didn’t ask for receipts.
Not only is Trump not a Christian, but he is aggressively acting in direct opposition to the life and ministry of Jesus in any way one can objectively measure—if you actually open up the Gospels and take a gander. There is simply no sensible correlation to be drawn between these two entities. Trump Christians won’t even attempt to make sense of the non sequitar—as they really don’t care anymore. They will not allow Jesus to inconvenience their Christianity by reminding them that Donald Trump is actually Caesar; a malevolent figure appropriating the name of God to fleece the faithful—and that he was there to resist him.
Trump is willfully cultivating an America that is violently anti-poor, anti-foreigner, anti-middle eastern, anti-brown skin, anti-compassionate—and Jesus of Nazareth would fear for his life here every day, if he wasn’t soon rounded up in a hospital bed by ICE and deported, beaten with pipes at a White Lives Matter rally, or badgered by online trolls to “go back where he came from.”
So Trump can roll out a yearly dog and pony show photo-op meant to tickle the fancy of professional pharisees who’ve sold their souls and need to feel like they got a good deal out of the transaction.
He can toss off a few sentences to satisfy white folks, who don’t as much love the Biblical Jesus—as they do the white, upper middle class, gun-toting, anthem standing, gay hating Christ they’ve made in their own image.
The bar is so freakin’ low for these professed people of Jesus, that they can actually say with a straight face that Donald Trump (you know, “the grab-her by the p*ssy”, “2 Corinthians,” serial adulterer, professed predator, “my fingers are long,” guy) is actually a “man of God”—but Barack Obama somehow wasn’t.
Trump Christians like to say that as of 2017, “God has been invited back into America” (as if an entire nation allows or denies God access to begin with, but let’s just go with that fantasy.) Ironically though, Jesus of Nazareth; the poor, refugee, brown-skinned, itinerant community organizer and anti-establishment activist at the very heart of the Christian story—would have no place in Donald Trump’s America or the churches and homes of those who applaud the President.
If Jesus was living in Trump’s America right now—I’d be terrified for him.
He probably wouldn’t stay or last very long.