A listener called into my program yesterday and asked, “Is Donald Trump the Antichrist?”
I passed on drawing a conclusion, but then the lines lit up with a steady stream of people over the next few hours offering their “proofs” that Trump was, in fact, the Evil One come to ravage the Earth. That first caller clearly hit a nerve.
It’s a fascinating question, however, whether put literally or metaphorically.
Asking the question literally requires a belief in the actual reality of a Son-of-God Christ figure and of an Antichrist opponent of nearly equal but opposite power. This sort of thing fills the Bible, and I’ll get to that in a moment.
But first consider the question from the secular perspective, which argues these two terms represent, at their core, metaphors for the embodiment of good and evil.
In this context, then, a more accurate question is: “Is Donald Trump an Antichrist?”
In The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke in the plural when he predicted “false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves.”
After warning that grifters and con artists (in secular terms) would try to exploit His followers, He said, “by their fruits ye shall know them.”
Trump’s “fruits” are pretty obvious:
+ More than twenty women have accused him of rape and sexual assault.
+ Hundreds of contractors, customers and employees have accused him of stealing from them or refusing to pay them (or both), as have members of his own family
+ Throughout his presidency, he lied over 30,000 times
+ He pitted Americans against each other by race, religion and region in an effort to tear our country apart and thus weaken opposition to his authoritarian rule
+ He openly encouraged violence against unarmed people at multiple rallies and encourage state violence at a speech to chiefs of police
+ He tried to overthrow and end our democracy
+ He embraced murderers, kleptocrats and “strongman” rulers while ridiculing western democracies and their elected leaders
+ He tried to damage or dismantle political and military systems designed to keep peace in the world, including the UN, NATO and the Iran JCPOA
+ He reaches out to Jesus’s followers and then directs them toward bigotry, violence and hatred
+ As an object of admiration and a role model, he’s replaced Jesus in many white evangelical congregations
+ He delighted in tearing children from their parents and putting them in cages
+ He tried to end Americans’ access to lifesaving medical care by killing Obamacare and privatizing Medicare
+ He watched on TV, like a delighted child, as his followers killed a police officer, sent 140 others to the hospital, and tried to murder the Vice President and Speaker of the House
+ He lied about Covid (after disclosing the truth to Bob Woodward in February, 2020), causing more disease and deaths in America than any other nation in the world
The main reason many Christians freak out about an antichrist is that following him will get you banned from heaven or even cast into hell.
But what did Jesus — the guy Trump’s white evangelical followers claim as their savior — say was necessary to get into heaven?
Back in 1998 I had a private audience with Pope John Paul II at his invitation; a person close to him had read one of my books. Louise and I sat through an open-air concert with him and about 30 VIPs, including the leader of Germany’s Bundestag, for more than an hour, surrounded by the splendor of Castel Gandolfo, the Pope’s summer palace on the rim of an extinct volcano overlooking lake Albano.
When we spoke privately after the concert, His Holiness’s forceful comments reminded me of Jesus’ words in Matthew 25. It’s an amazing 2,000 year-old story that tells us everything we need to know about today’s “Christian” politics:
Jesus’ disciples had gathered around him in a private and intimate setting.
Finally, they thought, they could ask him, straight up, the question that had been haunting them, particularly now that the Roman authorities were starting to talk about punishing or even executing them: How they could be sure to hang out with him in the afterlife?
Jesus told them that at the end of days he’d be sitting on his throne separating the sheep from the goats “as a shepherd divideth.”
The nations of “sheep” would go with him to heaven, the “goats” to hell.
“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me food,” he told his disciples he would say to the sheep. “I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.”
At this point, his disciples — who had never, ever seen Jesus hungry, thirsty, homeless, sick or naked — freaked out. Whoa! they shouted. We’re screwed!
“When saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee?” they asked, panicked. “Or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? Or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?”
“Verily I say unto you,” Jesus replied, reassuring them, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
This is the only place in the Bible where Jesus explicitly tells his disciples what acts they must perform, in their entirety, to get into heaven.
Feed the hungry, care for refugees, house and clothe the homeless, heal the sick, have compassion on those in prison.
And it’s a list that is quite literally the opposite of everything that Donald Trump advocates, stands for, and has done in his career.
While biblical scholars are split about who the actual “Beast” was that John referenced in his Revelation, many consider it to have been a politically-necessary cloaking of the identity of Roman Emperor Nero.
It was clearly a political figure, who represented the antithesis of the values and works Jesus laid out in the Sermon on the Mount and in Matthew 25.
A leader whose actions unleashed “a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.”
Caller after caller yesterday offered their own proofs of Trump being the Beast or the Antichrist:
+ “MAGA” means “magic” or “sorcerer” in Latin and multiple other languages
+ His grandfather’s name when he emigrated to America to start a whorehouse in the Pacific Northwest was “Drumpf,” which he changed to Trump. John in German is “Johann.” Therefore, his “actual” name is Donald Johann Drumpf — each name having six letters. (Weirdly, the same is true of Ronald Wilson Reagan.)
+ His family owns 666 Fifth Avenue.
+ He fooled millions of evangelical followers of Jesus, just as the Beast was supposed to do.
+ He put his own red-hat MAGA mark on their foreheads.
+ He consorts with “whores” and criminals.
It was an interesting exercise and conversation, and I was surprised by how many people are actually religiously freaked out about Trump.
But for me, all the proof I need that Trump, if not the biblical Antichrist, is at least a political one, is what he says and does.
His “fruits” tell us all we need to know about who he really is.