When a former U.S. president thinks he is the closest thing to Jesus, his followers must question what direction Christianity is going in. When Jesus and Pilate stood before a crowd, it wasn’t for a photo opportunity.
Recently, Donald Trump reshared a social media post on Truth Social (because he is banned from Twitter and Facebook), which claimed he is “the second greatest” in comparison to the man Christians believe to be the Son of God. For him and many of his followers, there’s Jesus and right after that, there’s Donald Trump.
Truth Social user @austinnegrete posted: “Jesus is the Greatest. President @realDonaldTrump is the second greatest.” Trump “re-truthed” or re-posted it.
This is not the first or the second time that comparisons between Jesus and Trump have been made.
Back in August, Republican representative for Illinois Adam Kinzinger said that some people “equate Donald Trump with the person of Jesus Christ.”
In September 2021, in the city of Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, Trump was declared the second coming of Jesus on a billboard that was later removed after widespread criticism. To be sure, unlike the scripture misquoted on the billboard, it is blasphemy, no matter the political party or candidate.
Trump is known for his use of superlatives, his exaggerations of ability, reality and wealth. But spouting that one is “second” only to Jesus? I’m going to need a Bible verse for that.
He’s not just being braggadocious or merely guilty of having an inflated sense of self. Something more insidious is happening. Consequently, we must schedule bullet point conversations about:
- Who is going to tell Trump and his supporters that the “kin-dom” of God re-orders our social and economic hierarchies?
- What does W.E.B. DuBois mean by “the religion of whiteness” in “The Souls of White Folk”?
- When exactly do Trump’s followers think Adrian Piper’s “Vanilla Nightmares” are expected to come true?
- Where did we learn to disguise speech that should be direct when confronting “the master narrative” as unapologetically written about in Toni Morrison’s Playing in the Dark?
- How can we put to rest the false binaries of race, starting with discussions “on being ‘white’… and other lies” as outlined by James Baldwin?
- Why does Langston Hughes spell white man “C-A-P-I-T-A-L-I-S-T” in his poem “White Man”?
Yes, we can offer Sunday school lessons on the ministry and message of Jesus. But, if we are going to get in between the two, that is Jesus and Donald Trump, then we will have to talk about Jesus— not in the latest terms, not based on four-year terms but on his own.
It is a conversation that will come with a stripping away — starting with race, capitalism and militarism, though this is the American way.
Right this way, “Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any wish to come after me, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me’” (Matthew 16:24, NRSV).
You know the story. When push came to shove by the Roman soldiers, Jesus’ disciples didn’t want to be caught dead or alive with him. None of them simply fell in line or wanted to be counted with him.
To be fair, the disciples all had their reasons for following Jesus and maybe they didn’t think it would go this far. And Jesus hand-picked them! I’ll take Peter and Judas too.
Trump is also not the first person who wanted to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. The first disciples beat him to it. But Trump will learn, as the first disciples did, to “stay in a child’s place,” as my elders would say, if he wants to pass through the “pearly gates” (Matthew 18:1-5).
Benjamin Cremer, the Amity campus pastor at the Cathedral of the Rockies, tweeted, “I’m not sure we, Christians, realize how fragile we make the gospel of Jesus Christ look when we act as though it is threatened by every cultural and political shift.”
He’s right. Christianity survived the death of its leader. Of course, it will survive Trump and Trumpism.
I don’t have to give that assumption a second thought because Trump doesn’t even come close to Jesus.