Looking to the Bible to justify allegiance to a flawed leader – By Mohamed Hamaludin

By MOHAMED HAMALUDIN

President Donald Trump

The President of the United States of America, on Wednesday, August 21, this year, looked up at the sky and said, “I am the chosen one.” The Washington Post reported that he was talking about eliminating the trade balance with China but did not explain who did the choosing.

That answer, according to The Post, came three months later when Energy Secretary Rick Perry proclaimed that it was God who sent Donald Trump. Perry said on Fox News that, while in the Oval Office, he told his boss, “Mr. President … you said you were the chosen one. You were … you are here in this time because God ordained you.”   

Perry even disclosed that he gave the Chosen One a one-page note asserting that even though Trump is flawed, that does not matter. He elaborated in his Fox News interview: “God used imperfect people all through history. King David wasn’t perfect. Saul wasn’t perfect. Solomon wasn’t perfect.”

Perry did not start this blasphemy. Evangelical leaders have been doing it even before Trump was elected president, probably to justify their allegiance to a leader whose background and behavior are antithetical to Christian values: After all, it is to be assumed, if God chose him, who are we to deny him? In fact, Graham claims that the opposition to Trump is “almost a demonic power,” The Washington Examiner reported.

Evangelicals talk of Trump as Cyrus, the Biblical king who conquered Babylon in the year 539, freed the Jews from bondage and performed many good deeds, earning the title “the Great.” They ignore the fact that Cyrus, as The Guardian’s James S. Gordon wrote only months after Trump was inaugurated, was “an architect and steward of a well-run, stable government, a leader of great generosity as well as authority, and a champion of religious tolerance and freedom.”

Gordon continued, “If Donald Trump lives up to that precedent and his own promises to protect and support all our health and welfare, he will justify the allegiance of those who believe in a Cyrus prophesy or parallel – and likely win more converts. If he continues to exercise power with little of Cyrus’ wisdom, generosity, and compassion, it is likely that a core group, whose support was buttressed with Biblical precedent, will lose faith.”

But there Gordon was wrong. None of that has happened and yet Trump’s Evangelical base is as solid as ever. The Pew Research Center reported in March that seven in 10 white Evangelical Protestants “say they approve of the way Trump is handling his job as president.”

The portrayal of Trump as “the chosen one” reaches also into the African American community. Gordon told of his Uber driver in Indianapolis, “a decorous, middle-aged” African American woman, telling him, “Donald Trump is anointed by God,” as she explained why she had Trump/Pence bumper stickers on her car. “I’m a Christian and I’m very much against abortion and I don’t approve of same-sex marriage either,” the unnamed motorist said. “And Mr. Trump has said he’ll appoint Supreme Court justices who agree.”

Still, Gordon wondered, how could she “support someone so greedy and self-aggrandizing, so profane and offensive to women and minorities, someone who seemed so un-Christian?”

“You’re right,” she replied, “but he doesn’t have to be a Christian to be part of God’s plan. Our minister says he’s come to tear down the corrupt order just as Nebuchadnezzar did.” Nebuchadnezzar had the prophet Daniel to counsel him and, the woman said, “Mr. Trump has godly men around him. Governor Pence, Jerry Falwell Jr, Mike Huckabee.”

Asked whether her congregation believed as she did, she answered, “Oh yes. We all do. And we’re multicultural, too. Black and white and Hispanic. Although, there are also many who believe that Mr. Trump is not Nebuchadnezzar but a Cyrus.” That remark may suggest that the president has a lot of support among African Americans. He does not. Trump received eight percent of their vote in 2016, Gallup reported, not the 96 percent he had boasted he would win; that support is now at 10 percent.

The Uber driver’s remark that, contrary to what her minister had said, Trump was not really Nebuchadnezzar but Cyrus, is an interesting one. She may not have had it in mind but she hit upon what appears to be a new tactic by those who seek refuge in the Bible to justify their allegiance to a flawed leader. Some had indeed started to portray him as Nebuchadnezzar but they did so in the context that he had Vice President Mike Pence as his Daniel, the Israelite, who was able to intercede with the pagan king after becoming his top adviser.

The switch from Trump as Nebuchadnezzar, a brutal ruler, to Trump as Cyrus, described in the Bible as an “anointed” servant of God, is most likely due to the fact that Trump is running for re-election and the spotlight should be on him and not on his vice president. Regardless, though Trump is widely regarded as a deeply flawed man and president, Evangelicals don’t have a problem with that. It remains to be seen if the rest of the nation do.

Mohamed Hamaludin is a Guyana-born journalist who  worked for several years at The Chronicle in the 1970s and on publications in the Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands before emigrating to the United States in 1984 where he worked at The Miami Times, the Miami Herald and the South Florida Times.  Though now retired, he writes a commentary every week or two for The South Florida Times (sfltimes.com) in which the above column first appeared. He may be reached at hamal1942@gmail.com.

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Comments

  • kamtanblog  On December 7, 2019 at 2:44 am

    Doubt it !
    Allow donkies to vote they elect jackasses.
    Allow jockeys to vote they elect racehorses.

    Trumpity dumpity will be re-elected until
    USA introduced “first past post” system
    with “compulsory” voting.
    Don’t vote fines used to pay for elections…

    Way forward

    Kamtan🇬🇧🇬🇾🇪🇸🇬🇧👽

  • Clyde Duncan  On December 7, 2019 at 6:45 am

    Funny You Should Mention VOTING, kamtanblog:

    Check Out THIS ONE on the VOTING RIGHTS ACT
    Just Passed the US House on Friday, 06 December 2019 …..

    There is NO CHANCE it is getting pass the Senate or Trump promise a VETO

    House Passes Voting Rights Bill to Restore Protections Struck Down by Supreme Court

    Colby Itkowitz | The Washington Post

    The House passed legislation Friday, 06 Dec 2019, restoring protections of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act that were undone when the Supreme Court struck down federal oversight of elections in states with a history of discriminating against minority communities.

    The bill passed 228 to 187, with unanimous Democratic support and the vote of ONE REPUBLICAN — Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.).

    “No longer will cynical politicians and states with dark histories of discrimination have the green light to freely continue their systemic suppression campaign,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on the floor.

    THE BILL FACES LONG ODDS OF BECOMING LAW, with opposition in the Republican-controlled Senate and the White House threatening a veto by President Trump.

    Half a century after President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act to protect the rights of all Americans to vote, the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder overturned some of those protections, asserting that they were no longer needed.

    The bill would allow federal oversight for state and local jurisdictions that enact stricter voters laws that disproportionately suppress the vote in communities of color.

    In her speech on the House floor, Pelosi said at least 23 states have enacted “VOTER SUPPRESSION LAWS, INCLUDING VOTER PURGES, STRICT ID REQUIREMENTS, POLL CLOSURES, VOTER INTIMIDATION, DENYING MILLIONS THEIR VOICE BY THEIR VOTE” since the Supreme Court ruling.

    “This bill restores the Voting Rights Act’s strength to combat the clear resurgence of voter discrimination unleashed by Shelby by updating the data determining which states and practices are covered by the law,” she said.

    The sponsor of the bill was Rep. Terri A. Sewell (D-Ala.) who represents Selma, where civil rights protesters, including Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), were beaten when crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965.

    “I dare say that SELMA IS STILL NOW. Since the Shelby decision, 25 states have put in stricter voter restriction laws. SELMA IS TILL NOW because since the Shelby decision, 12 states have laws making it harder for citizens to register and stay registered,” Sewell said on the House floor.

    Lewis presided over the vote and announced the measure’s passage to applause from his Democratic colleagues.

  • Clyde Duncan  On December 7, 2019 at 7:04 am

    Jake Johnson | Common Dreams – reported:

    Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for Public Citizen, said passage of the Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4) is a “critical step” in combating Republican voter suppression efforts that have proliferated in the six years since the Supreme Court’s infamous decision in Shelby County v. Holder.

    “Numerous state legislatures have undertaken targeted and deliberate steps to limit or impede the right to vote for communities of color, students, the elderly, and people with disabilities,” said Gilbert. “Americans who are eligible to vote but are denied that right due to fabricated or illegal barriers are being deprived of the full privilege of our democracy.”

    “If we want a true democracy, we must protect the right to vote for all,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “The Voting Rights Advancement Act [VRAA] is critical to getting there.”

    The legislation now heads to the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has refused to allow a vote on Democrats’ For the People Act (H.R. 1), to which the Voting Rights Advancement Act was previously attached.

    “To Majority Leader McConnell, we ask: Why are you afraid of all Americans having their full right to vote?” Sylvia Albert, director of voting and elections at Common Cause, said in a statement.

    As Ari Berman of Mother Jones reported, H.R. 4 — sponsored by Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) — would “initially cover 11 states: nine in the South, plus California and New York, which have more recently been found to discriminate against Latinos and Asian Americans.”

    Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said in a statement. “The VRAA is too important — and the right to vote is too fundamental — to end up buried in the McConnell legislative graveyard.”

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