It’s been suggested that white evangelical Christians don’t really support Donald Trump as a person; they just voted for him to get the “pro-life” judges he promised. But according to writer Katherine Stewart in the New York Times, despite the multiple marriages and the adultery and the paying off of his mistresses (not to mention his knee-jerk policies-by-tweet), plenty of evangelicals really do like him for his “style.”
In fact, some have likened Trump to the biblical King Cyrus.
The month before the 2018 midterms, a thousand theaters screened “The Trump Prophecy,” a film that tells the story of Mark Taylor, a former firefighter who claims that God told him in 2011 that Donald Trump would be elected president.
At a critical moment in the film, just after the actor representing Mr. Taylor collapses in the flashing light of an epiphany, he picks up a Bible and turns to the 45th chapter of the book of Isaiah, which describes the anointment of King Cyrus by God. In the next scene, we hear Mr. Trump being interviewed on “The 700 Club,” a popular Christian television show.
As Lance Wallnau, an evangelical author and speaker who appears in the film, once said, “I believe the 45th president is meant to be an Isaiah 45 Cyrus,” who will “restore the crumbling walls that separate us from cultural collapse.”
Cyrus, in case you’ve forgotten, was born in the sixth century B.C.E. and became the first emperor of Persia. Isaiah 45 celebrates Cyrus for freeing a population of Jews who were held captive in Babylon. Cyrus is the model for a nonbeliever appointed by God as a vessel for the purposes of the faithful.
That’s only slightly better than comparing Trump to King David, the “man after God’s own heart” who was also an adulterer, among other heinous things.
But unlike King David, Trump has never even come close to repenting of his reprehensible behavior, both past and present. I’ll grant that Trump is like King Cyrus in that he loves to carry himself as if the laws of the land can’t touch him. Trump is the law in his own eyes, which has only increased his appeal among Christian nationalists.
Stewart remains unconvinced that most of Trump’s evangelical base supports him while holding their noses, so to speak:
I have attended dozens of Christian nationalist conferences and events over the past two years. And while I have heard plenty of comments casting doubt on the more questionable aspects of Mr. Trump’s character, the gist of the proceedings almost always comes down to the belief that he is a miracle sent straight from heaven to bring the nation back to the Lord. I have also learned that resistance to Mr. Trump is tantamount to resistance to God.
This isn’t the religious right we thought we knew. The Christian nationalist movement today is authoritarian, paranoid and patriarchal at its core. They aren’t fighting a culture war. They’re making a direct attack on democracy itself.
They want it all. And in Mr. Trump, they have found a man who does not merely serve their cause, but also satisfies their craving for a certain kind of political leadership.
Oddly enough, the late preacher Billy Graham issued a warning to Christians about the dangers of mixing faith with politics. Whether you agree or disagree with his religious messages, you have to admit: that warning has proven somewhat prophetic.
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