While running in the Republican presidential primary, Donald Trump wooed evangelical and other Bible-minded Christians at a rally by referring to his book, The Art of the Deal, as “my second favorite book of all time. Do you know what my first is?,” he continued, then answered, “The Bible! Nothing beats The Bible” — his response eliciting applause. However, after winning the Republican nomination, in an interview, Trump was asked “to name his ‘two favorite books.’ ” He responded by citing his own books: The Art of the Deal and Surviving at the Top. (“Donald Trump No Longer Considers the Bible His Favorite Book?,” By Michael Gryboski, Christian Post, Nov. 3, 2016) Once Trump got his foot in the door of political power, the sky’s the limit. Move over God.
During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump attributed messianic qualities to himself. Like God, he loves, and is there for, everyone. “I cherish women . . . I’m going to do things for women that no other candidate will be able to do.” (“12 times Donald Trump declared his ‘respect’ for women,” By Gregory Krieg, CNN, Oct. 7, 2016) “And, you know, I have a great relationship with African Americans, as you possibly have heard. I just have great respect for them and you know they like me.” (“The Collected Quotes of Donald Trump on ‘the Blacks,’ “ By Jason Parham,gawker.com, July 24, 2015) “I love the Mexican people.” (“Trump: ‘I love the Mexican people,’ “By Melanie Eversley, usatoday.com, July 2, 2015) “I love the Muslims.” (“Trump to CNN: ‘I love the Muslims,’ “ By MJ Lee and Noah Gray, CNN,Sept. 20, 2015)
Voters who trust in God could also believe in Donald Trump. At a rally, he claimed to have “studied the Iran nuclear deal in great detail – ‘I would say, actually, greater by far than anyone else,’” adding “ ‘Oh, believe me. Oh, believe me. And it’s a bad deal.’” (“Donald Trump relies on a simple phrase: ‘Believe me,’ By Matt Viser, The Boston Globe, May 24, 2016) During his acceptance speech, he described an America “beset by ‘poverty and violence at home’ and ‘war and destruction abroad,’” and then made this savior-like declaration to all who felt left behind or unsafe, “I am your voice . . . I alone can fix it. I will restore law and order.” (“ ‘I Alone Can Fix It,’ “By Yoni Appelbaum, The Atlantic, July 21, 2016) He alone can “fix” the “war and destruction abroad” because, as he said, “I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me. I would bomb the sh**t out of them.” (“Trump: ‘I’d Bomb the Sh-*t Out of ISIS,’ “ Facebook, Nov. 13, 2015)) The problems at home: Trump asserted that he “understand]s] the tax laws ‘better than almost anyone, which is why I am one who can truly fix them. . . . I’m working for you now. Believe me.’” (“Trump boasts about’ brilliantly’ using the tax laws,” By Nolan D. McCaskill, POLITICO, Oct. 3, 2016) And those who voted for Trump could be sure he would keep his promises because, “gesturing to his head,” he said, “One of the greatest memories of all time.” (“Trump: Gold Star widow is wrong, I have “one of the greatest memories of all time,’ “ By Jeff Stein, Vox,Oct. 25, 2017)
The reality. President Trump may say that he “cherish[es] women,” but Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal, some 19 — and counting — other women, and that Hollywood Access tape of his compulsion to violate women’s bodies tell a different story. A story that he dismisses in accusing all of them of lying.
Donald Trump says that he has “a great relationship with African Americans . . .and you know they like me.” But a poll reveals that “more than half of Americans, including large majorities of blacks and Hispanics, think President Donald Trump is a racist.” (“AP-NORC Poll: Most Americans say Trump is racist,” By Emily Swanson and Russell Contreras, Associated Press, U.S. News & World Report, Feb. 28, 2018) We are to disregard Trump helping to railroad the conviction of the Central Park Five (black youths) falsely accused of rape, his discriminatory housing practices, his leadership of the racist birther movement against President Barack Obama, and the refusal of the NBA champion Golden State Warriors and NFL Philadelphia Eagles to have anything to do with visiting the White House. These realities cannot be hidden behind a lone black man, strategically placed behind Trump at his rallies, waving a “Blacks for Trump” sign.
President Trump may say, “I love the Mexican people.” But he also says that families at the Mexican border — fleeing violence and hardship in their own countries and seeking asylum in the United States — “could be murderers and thieves and so much else.” (“Trump Resisting a Growing Wrath for Separating Immigrant Families,” By Katie Rogers and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, The New York Times, June 19, 2018) Trump demonizes immigrants to justify his “zero-tolerance policy” that, in a six weeks period, led to the reported forced separation of over 2300 children from their parents, which includes “babies, toddlers and children under 13“ held in “what the administration has referred to as ‘tender age’ shelters.” (“ ‘It’s Haunting’: Officials Describe ‘Tender Age’ Facilities For The Youngest Immigrants Separated From Their Families,”By Tasneem Nashrulla and Lissandra Villa, www.buzzfeed.com, June 20, 2018)
Older immigrant children are being warehoused in cage-like prisons. And the Trump administration is reported to ask the Pentagon “to make room for as many as 20,000 migrants” – a move similar to the horrifically unjust mass internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. (“Reuniting and Detaining Migrant Families Pose New Mental Health Risks,” By Benedict Carey, The New York Times, June 22, 2018) The aim of Trump’s inhuman “zero-tolerance” policy is to discourage oppressed Central American and Mexican families from seeking asylum in the United States.
President Trump continued to falsely blame Democrats for the forced separation of children. At any time, however, he could have ended the policy by an executive order with a stroke of his pen. But he held the Mexican and other children as hostages to force the Democrats to agree to a merit immigration system bill that would greatly restrict the entrance of immigrants and give him his wall – which would please his white nationalist base. Thus he tweeted: “Democrats are the problem. They don’t care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our Country, like MS-13.” (“G.O.P. Moves to End Trump’s Family Separation Policy, but Can’t Agree How,” By Michael D. Shear, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Thomas Kaplan,kkjk The New York Times, June 19, 2018) An echo of Nazi Germany’s dehumanizing of Jews.
And the Nazi-like internment of immigrant children is justified by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who wrote in an Op Ed USA Todaypiece that the children forcibly taken from their mothers and fathers “are well cared for. In fact, they get better care than a lot of American kids do.” (“Jeff Sessions: We don’t want to separate parents from kids,” www.usatoday.com, June 19, 2018) These words reveal that Sessions has no understanding of the emotional violence and damage forced separation in itself does to children – and their parents.
To justify his fascist-like treatment of asylum-seeking families, Attorney General Sessions quoted The Bible. In a speech in Fort Wayne, he defended the Trump administration’s forced separation of children from parents at the Mexican border with, “I would cite to you the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order.” (“Sessions cites Romans 13 to defend Trump’s immigration policy, raises Christians’ ire,” By Dakota Crawford, Indianapolis Star, June 16, 2018) Move over God.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14) Move over Jesus.
Along with The Bible, the Trump administration sought to mitigate its “zero-tolerance” immigration policy with an unexpected — and choreographed – visit, by President Trump’s wife Melania, to children separated from their parents at a Lutheran-run “shelter” in McAllen, Texas. As reported, she greeted the staff with, “I want to thank you for your hard work, your kindness and your compassion you’re giving them in these hard times.” She said, “I’m looking forward to seeing the immigrant children.” Upon seeing them, she shook “hands with groups of children in classrooms telling them to ‘be nice to each other.’” And “as she left the facility she wished the detained children ‘good luck.’” (“Melania Trump visits with immigrant children at Texas border,” By Jordan Fabian,TheHill, June 21, 2018)
Both Melania Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions seek to deify and dignify a policy that says about children and their families seeking safety, “I really don’t care. Do U?”
Attorney General Sessions, a member of The United Methodist Church, is now reported to be “facing a formal complaint from more than 600 fellow Methodists,” including clergy. He is charged with “child abuse under church law,” for “the Trump administration’s practice of separating families at the border.”
While Sessions’ membership could be terminated, “the complaint seeks a ‘reconciling process’ that would prompt Mr. Sessions to ‘step back from his harmful actions and work to repair the damage he is currently causing to immigrants, particularly children and families.’” In a signed letter, the Methodists, state, “As a denomination, we have an ethical obligation to speak boldly when one of our members is engaged in causing significant harm in matters contrary to the Discipline on the global stage.” (“Jeff Sessions Faces Complaint From Fellow United Methodists Over Border Separations,” By Mihir Zaveri, The New York Times, June 20, 2018; see also, “Clergy laity file complaint against Sessions,” By.Sam Hodges, The United Methodist Church, June 18, 2018)
The United Methodists who brought the complaint of “child abuse” against one of their own are to be congratulated. Hopefully their number will greatly increase. They will likely have push back from other, more conservative-minded United Methodists.
The United Methodist Church professes a Social Principle that “calls us to take responsibility for meeting the needs of children, including education and protection . . . not just our children but all children.” (“Book of Resolutions: Childcare and the Church,”www.umc.org) ” Thus the Church’s whole Council of Bishops should join these other members’ complaint against their own child abuser member, Attorney General Sessions. It is one thing to condemn the obviously immoral policy of separating children from their parents at the Mexican border, and quite another to confront one’s own politically prominent member’s involvement in that policy.
Concerning the United Methodists, they still need to bring charges against another of their own. Regarding child abuse and much more, George W. Bush launched an unnecessary, falsely-based war against Iraq that resulted in the deaths of over a million Iraqi civilians, creating one to two million widows, five million orphans, and four-and-a-half million displaced. (“Bush’s War Totals: 1 million dead. 4.5 million displaced. 5 million orphans,” By John Tirman, The Nation, Jan. 28, 2209)
In rewarding the worst war criminal of the 21stCentury with a library and museum at Southern Methodist University, the Council of Bishops and other Church executives violated their own Book of Discipline’s Social Principle that states, “We believe war is incompatible with the teachings and example of Christ.” (“Social Principles: The World Community,” www.umc.org). Any morality inspired by a just God should apply equally to the families at the border and those in Iraq and beyond. Donald Trump did not become president in a vacuum.
Under intense pressure from political leaders and faith and human rights groups — and the weight of public opinion after television networks repeatedly showed separated children crying for their mothers and fathers — President Trump relented and issued an executive order on keeping the immigrant families together. But he was reported to remain defiant, “saying that those who cross into the United States illegally should be sent back immediately without due process or an appearance before a judge.” He tweeted, “while on his way to his golf course in Virginia, ‘we cannot allow all of these people to invade our country.’” Trump‘s executive order supposedly ends the forced separations of children from their parents, but “the sudden shifts” are said to “have led to confusion along the border about how children and parents will be reunited.” (“Trump Calls for Depriving Immigrants Who Illegally Cross Border of Due Process Rights,” By Katie Rogers and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, TheNew York Times, June 24, 2018)
Harvard constitutional law professor Lawrence H. Tribe responded to the self-acclaimed “law and order” president: “The due process requirement of the Fifth and 14thAmendments apply to all persons, including those in the U.S. unlawfully.” Tribe continued, “Trump is making the tyrannical claim that he has the right to serve as prosecutor, judge and jury with respect to all those who enter our country. . . . That is a breathtaking assertion of unbounded power – power without any plausible limits.”(Ibid) Move over God.
President Trump says, “I love the Muslims.” The feeling is not mutual. A poll released by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding “found that only 27 percent of American Muslims approved of the country’s direction,” and “only 13 percent say they approve . . . of Trump‘s performance.” A report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations “show[ed] a spike in anti-Muslim bias in the U.S. in 2017.” Trump’s travel ban, barring the entry of individuals from several Muslim-majority countries,” is assumed to have contributed to the “anti-Muslim bias incidents.” Rather than Muslims feeling accepted, the CAIR report states: “Trump’s behavior has provided an opaque veneer of legitimacy to bigotry, racism, and xenophobia in the public sphere.” (“Muslims disapprove of country’s direction but are proud to call themselves Americans,” By Yonat Shimron, Religion News Service, May 1, 2018)
The contradictions between President Trump’s claims to greatness and reality continue. He withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear agreement after saying he “studied it in great detail, even greater than anyone else.” But his assumed intellectual superiority is betrayed by his reported “notoriously short attention span,” which led NATO to become “freak[ed] out” in preparing for its first meeting with Trump. “The heads of state” were told “to limit talks to two to four minutes at a time during the discussion,” as they are dealing with “someone who has a short memory span and mood.” (“NATO Frantically Tries to Trump-Proof President’s First Visit,” By Robbie Gramer, Foreign Policy, May 15, 2017)
President Trump’s own advisors are reported to put his name in “intelligence reports” and “keep all reports to a single page . . . to keep Mr. Trump’s infamously short attention span focused on important information.” (“Officials put Trump’s name in ‘as many memo paragraphs as we can because he keeps reading if he is mentioned,’ “By Andrew Griffin, www.independent.co.uk, May 17. 2017)
Thus a successful anti-nuclear weapons agreement involving six countries and two years in the making, was falsely condemned by President Trump: “it didn’t bring calm, it didn’t bring peace, and it never will.” (“Trump Abandons Iran Nuclear Deal He Long Scorned,” By Mark Landler, The New York Times, May 8, 2018) An agreement Iran was verified to be keeping, condemned by a president with the attention span of a goldfish. A president driven by power and toughness, who may well have in mind a war against Iran – for the sake of America’s endless war economy and his need of a distraction to keep at bay the reality and truth about his destructive authoritarian tendencies.
President Trump’s messiah complex is seen in him saying about “violence at home” and “war and destruction abroad . . . I alone can fix it. I will restore law and order.” “Law and order” are code words for promising white persons that he will continue to keep people of color in their place, at the bottom of America’s, nowthreatened,white-controlled hierarchy of access to political economic, legal and religious power. Code words that are believed to have influenced a dramatic increase in white police officers killing unarmed black men and needlessly assaulting others.
Concerning “war and destruction abroad” that only Donald Trump can “fix.” Nine days into his administration, over dinner with his military advisors, he ordered a Navy SEALS attack against Al Qaeda in Yemen. His national security advisor, Michael Flynn was reported to have told him that “a tip from the UAE indicated that one of the most wanted terrorists in the world, Qasim al-Rimi, the leader of AQAP [Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] might be at the Yemen target.” According to these sources, Flynn also told Trump “that capturing or killing al-Rimi would distinguish the president from Obama right out of the box. . . . Trump would be a risk taker where Obama was a hesitant and endless deliberator.” And “multiple sources say that Flynn labeled the first week raid a ‘game changer.’”(“How the Trump Team’s First Military Raid in Yemen Went Wrong,” by Cynthia McFadden, William M. Arkin and Tim Uehlinger, www.nbcnews.com, Oct. 2, 2017)
The Navy SEALS raid was not “a game changer.” After the White House’s claim of a “great success” succumbed to reality, Navy SEAL “Ryan Owen was dead. At least five additional American servicemen were injured,” and no substantive intelligence on AQAP was gained. Also, “at least 16 civilians were killed,” and “ten of those civilians were children under the age of 13 [including the 8-year-old daughter of American Imam, Anwar al-Awlaki].” (Ibid)
On the home front, evidently President Trump does “understand the tax laws better than almost anyone,” because the new Republican-passed tax law favors the rich at the expense of the middle class and poor Americans. The latter get small temporary tax cuts, but the wealthy and corporations receive massive cuts that go on and on. The result will be a deficit of around $1.5 trillion, which economist Richard V. Reeves says “Republicans will then use to justify cutting spending, especially on pensions and health care.” Reeves writes that “this bill offers the working class and middle class little or nothing . . . [and] provides a huge boon, however, to corporations and to the wealthy.” He adds, “This is not a populist tax bill (but] a plutocrat one.” He concludes: “The voters who put Trump into the White House will fail to notice that they are not among the beneficiaries of the first major piece of legislation to bear his signature. Trump is not draining the swamp. He is watering it.” (“The new tax plan is the worst Christmas present for the middle class,”BROOKINGS, Dec. 19, 2017, article first published Dec. 18 in The Guardian newspaper).
President Trump may have “one of the greatest memories of all time,” but one could not prove it by Mrs. Myeshia Johnson. Her husband, “Sgt. La David Johnson was one of the four soldiers who died during an ambush in the African country of Niger” in October of 2017. Trump called Mrs. Johnson to express his condolences. She was reported to be “‘very angry’ that the president had struggled to ‘remember my husband’s name.’” She explained: “ ‘I heard[Trump] stumbling on trying to remember my husband’s name, and that’s what hurt me the most, because if my husband is out there fighting for our country and he risked his life for our country, why can’t you remember his name?’ Johnson said.” Disputing Mrs. Johnson’s “version of events,” Trump said, “‘So I go right from the beginning. One of the greatest memories of all time. There was no hesitation.’ “ (“Trump: Gold Star widow is wrong, I have ‘one of the greatest memories of all time,’ “Ibid)
President Trump can’t even remember the words to “God Bless America.” Even standing and singing with a U.S. Army chorus . (“ ‘God Bless Uh …..: It Once Again Looks Like Trump Doesn’t Know Words to Song All Truly Great American Patriots Know By Heart,” Jon Queally, Common Dreams, June 5, 2018)
President Trump’s messianic tendencies characterize his behavior toward North Korea. At one point he is ready to “totally Destroy” North Korea with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” (“Trump Threatens ‘Fire and Fury’ Against North Korea if It Endangers U.S.,”By Peter Baker and Choe Sang-Hun, The New York Times, Aug. 8, 2017) Then he does a diplomatic about face and agrees to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
“Who else could do it?” President Trump said at a campaign rally. He continued, “Well they say, well Obama could have done that. Trust me, he wouldn’t have done it. By the way,” Trump went on, “neither would Bush or Clinton. And they had their shot and all they did was nothing.” (“Trump on Meeting With Kim Jong Un: ‘Who Else Could Do It?,’ “Posted by Tim Hains, Real Clear Politics, Mar. 10, 2018)
President Trump said he did it! He and Kim Jong-un met in Singapore to negotiate the denuclearization of North Korea, the lifting of U.S. “maximum pressure” sanctions, and the development of peaceful relations. There was much posing for photo ops. Afterwards Trump was reported to declare “that North Korea is ‘no longer a nuclear threat’ to the United States even though the two sides had yet to forge a concrete disarmament plan and offered incomplete accounts of what they agreed to during this week’s summit meeting in Singapore.” Nevertheless, Trump tweeted, “Just landed – a long trip, but everybody can feel much safer than the day I took office . . . There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea. . . . Sleep well tonight!” (“Trump Seen End to North Korea Threat Despite Unclear Path,”By Peter Baker and Choe Sang-Hun, The New York Times, June 14, 2018)
Never mind that North Korea’s nuclear weapons were developed to protect the country from what happened to Iraq and Libya, and that Trump was the one threatening a nuclear holocaust with his “bigger and more powerful” nuclear button.
President Trump’s newfound appreciation of Kim Jong-un reveals much about Trump’s omnipotent aspirations. After dismissing reporters’ question about “how North Korea would dismantle its nuclear weapons . . . Trump praised Mr. Kim, brushing aside questions about the repressive government and gulags in North Korea.” What Trump likes about Kim: “He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same,’ he joked.” (“Trump Has a Few Things He’d Like to Get Odd His Chest,”By Peter Baker and Eileen Sullivan, The New York Times, June 16, 2018) Move over God.
And if he is wrong about trusting Kim Jong-un, President Trump says, “I may be wrong. I mean I may stand before you in six months and say, ‘ Hey I was wrong’” He then added, “I don’t know that I will ever admit that, but I’ll find some kind of an excuse.” (“Trump jokes he may say he was wrong about Kim but don’t think he’ll ever admit that,”By Veronica Rocha, Brian Ries, Ben Westcott, Meg Wagner and Amanda Wills, CNN, June 12, 2018)
Rather than “in six months,” just days after saying that “North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat,” the White House reported that “it would extend a decade-old executive order declaring a national emergency over the nuclear threat from North Korea.” (“Is North Korea a Nuclear Threat or Not? The President Now Says It Is,”By Katie Rogers, The New York Times, June 22, 2018) Trump can posture as a Nobel Peace Prize-like diplomat, while maintaining the same imperialistic policy toward North Korea as Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton.
The greatest threat to President Trump’s dangerous delusions of grandeur is the media, whose mission, in a democracy, is to inform the people so that they can engage in making informed decisions in the interest of the common good. The last thing Trump wants is for citizens to hear or read about forcibly separated children at the Mexican border crying for their mothers and fathers. The death knell of his delusions of grandeur is the media continuing to expose his constant lying, the latest being his statement that “North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat.” The media’s scrutiny of what really was not accomplished between Trump and Kim Jong-un in Singapore, led a manipulate Trump to again call the press, “America’s biggest enemy.” (“After meeting with North Korean dictator, Trump calls press America’s ‘biggest enemy.’ “by Brian Stelter, CNN, June 13, 2018)
President Trump’s constant lying — in repeatedly calling the media “fake news” — is a tactic the Nazis used to prevent the German people from becoming informed of the Third Reich’s destructive political and military policies. As with the Nazis, truth is Trump’s greatest enemy.
While the press’s mission is to be a source of liberating truth, journalist Jonathan Cook writes that the corporate media can also reinforce “the gross imbalance of power . . . dividing the world into a hierarchy of ‘peoples.’” He addresses “the Great Western Narrative,” that “tells us” that “some humans – westerners – are more rational, more caring, more sensitive, more fully human,” whereas, “other humans – the rest – are more primitive, more emotional, more violent.” (“How the Corporate Media Enslave Us to a World of Illusions,”Counterpunch, June 15, 2018)
Jonathan Cook states that “the king and the baron had their courtiers, the clergy and a wide circle of hangers-on who most of the time benefited enough from the system not to disrupt it.” The role of the clergy in particular, Cook points out, “was to sanction the gross imbalance of power, to argue that it was God’s will.” Today, he says, “The media function like the clergy of old . . . We are told who should rule and who should be ruled, who are the Good Guys and who the Bad.” (Ibid)
Mr. Cook challenges people of faith to question how big their god is. He calls for a “new narrative . . . it reveals a truth understood by all figures of spiritual and intellectual enlightenment throughout human history: that human beings are equally human, whether they are Americans, Europeans, Israelis, Palestinians, Syrians, Russians, Venezuelans or Iranians, whether they are North or South Koreans.” He transcends political and religious beliefs that divide people with, “The truth is that we are all essentially the same. The same things upset us . . . amuse us . . . inspire us . . . outrage us. We want dignity, freedom, safety for us and our loved ones.” He concludes: “Our planet and our children depend on us liberating ourselves,” and “rebuilding our societies on the basis that we share a common humanity. That other humans are not our enemies, only those who wish to enslave us to their power.” (Ibid)
Sadly, many Christian faith leaders and their members still sanction the “gross imbalance of power” because of the benefits they and their institutions derive from it and the risk of sacrificing those benefits if they speak truth to, and challenge power. Thus Jonathan Cook’s insightful words are most instructive.
A major challenge of people of faith is not to let their faith lead them to divide people into hierarchies with themselves at the top. Rather than transforming the world into their likeness, the challenge of people of faith is to transform themselves into the likeness of all other human beings. Such a faith refuses to allow tyrants like President Trump to dehumanize and marginalize people. Such a faith affirms the common humanity everyone shares. As one of the prophets taught, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for thissums up the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7: 12) The Golden Rule can lead people of faith to a god who is big enough to make room for everyone –equally. That truth is the greatest enemy of authoritarians like President Donald Trump.