You can see some of these tensions in this Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons — author of “Just Faith: Reclaiming Progressive Christianity” — commentary at (naturally) MSNBC. The headline: “There’s a seed of truth in the ‘God Made Trump’ ad. But his acolytes don’t see it.” Here’s a key part of that sermon:
It’s a bizarre video — even by Trumpian social media standards. …
This new “God Made Trump” video is eerily messianic, calling Trump “a shepherd to mankind.” It’s also laughable, claiming Trump “finish[es] a hard week’s work by attending church on Sunday.” Trump never joined a church in Washington, D.C., and was only observed attending services a handful of times as president.
Out of context, I would have thought the ad was satire. … The core message of the “God Made Trump” video is true, at least as far as Christian theology is concerned. God made Trump. What’s missing from the video is some key theological context: God made everyone.
God made every political opponent, journalist, American who died in war, and former presidential aide whom Trump has disparaged. God made the Christian supporters of Trump he mocked behind their backs.
That’s true, of course. The content of “God Made Trump” is ridiculous. I lean toward the belief that it is wink-wink satire of some kind. Yes, I am still that #NeverTrump #NeverBiden guy.
Are there people who “worship” Trump and blur important lines in religious faith? Of course there are.
Were there Democrats who “worshipped” candidate Barack Obama and, yes, still “worship” him to one degree or another? You bet. Let’s flash back to this important Politico piece from 2007: “Messianic rhetoric infuses Obama rallies.” A much-quoted sample:
The crowd filled nearly half of the 80,000-seat Williams-Brice Stadium to hear the Illinois senator and talk show host Oprah Winfrey, who campaigned with him over the weekend. …
Obama and Winfrey touched on many of the same themes of change that they had dwelt on in Iowa Saturday. But Sunday’s gathering was sprinkled with women in the hats they’d worn to church, and had a distinctly Christian feel.
“I give all praise and honor to God,” Obama began. “Look at the day the Lord has made.”
Obama’s wife, Michelle, opened the rally with a description of her husband that could, at moments, have been a description of Jesus Christ.
“We need a leader who’s going to touch our souls. Who’s going to make us feel differently about one another. Who’s going to remind us that we are one another’s keepers. …”
Yes, conservative Christians mocked — with good cause — much of the Obama-worship rhetoric.
I’ll end with this point: There are now Christians who are very troubled by the Trump-worship memes, even if there is an element of humor there. See this Christian Broadcasting Network report: “’God Made Trump’ Video Rubs Some Iowa Evangelicals the Wrong Way.”
Once again, it’s crucial for journalists to understand the degree to which Trump divides cultural and religious conservatives — as opposed to uniting them into a political monolith.
Yes, many of those troubled religious conservatives will vote for Trump with some degree of Own The Libs satisfaction.
Yes, many will vote for him with their teeth clenched, knowing that they have no option on the other side.
Yes, many will vote for third-party candidates, because that is a way to vote with a clear conscience.
There are important news stories in this hall of mirrors. In this case, reporters really need to ask factual questions about the people who made this video and those who chose to use it. Will those people talk to the mainstream press? Alas, the answer is probably “no.” Why not? Click here.
Enjoy the podcast and, please, share it with others. And don’t forget that you can SUBSCRIBE to “Crossroads” at the Apple podcast site. And here is some relevant music (from previous Trump campaign rallies) to take us out.
FIRST IMAGE: Charlie Chaplin house of mirrors .gif at the Tenor.com website