Is it Trump’s god-complex or God’s Trump-complex? Either way Trump and Jehovah have an awful lot in common.
People have been scratching their heads about how so many “family values” American voters who claim to love Jesus can follow Donald Trump. What ever happened to love thy neighbor, and if you have two coats give one to the poor, and turn the other cheek, and feed my lambs, and the meek shall inherit the Earth? Some horrified Christian leaders have gone so far as to say a person can’t be a Christian and a Trump supporter.
Of course times are hard and, in fairness, fear and downward mobility do weird things to people, including Christians. And some folks, whether Christian or not, are congenitally horrid. But shouldn’t Bible belief inoculate earnest believers against someone who seems like the polar opposite of Jesus?
Perhaps the problem is that Trump is a lot like a different Bible character—one who also is the polar opposite of Jesus in many ways, but who young believers are nevertheless taught to worship and praise. I’m talking about the character of Jehovah; Yahweh as some people call him; The Great I Am; the LORD God of the Old Testament who makes it into the New Testament as both the father of Jesus and his alter-ego, and later into the Quran.
One way that biblical literalism screws with people’s heads is this: Children are taught from a young age that God is perfect—the essence of Love and Truth. But when you look a little closer at the stories in the Bible, it turns out that he’s an awful lot like Trump.
He is powerful, and He wants us all to know it. Isaiah 45 is just one of many egomaniacal diatribes about God’s unparalleled power and contempt for humanity, as if the force that created the DNA code and supernovas would need to brag and posture and lord it over lowly bipedal primates. It contains the word “I” 22 times, as in:
“I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides me there is no god. I arm you, though you do not know me, so that they may know—from the rising of the sun and from the west—that there is no one besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make weal and create woe; I the Lord do all these things . . . To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. . . ” (Isaiah 45:5-7 KJV).
Me, me, me, I, I, I, I, I.
He’s an insatiable attention seeker. From Genesis through Revelation, the Bible lays out precisely how people should grovel and sing God’s praises and otherwise kiss up. God wants his adoring followers to beg for things that he already knows they need. He loves the smell of burnt offerings and dictates just what should be burnt and when. He demands proof of loyalty, like cutting off the cover of your penis, or whacking relatives who don’t think he’s awesome, or being willing to turn your child into a human sacrifice.
And he doesn’t like it at all if anyone pays attention to competing deities. “Thou shalt worship no other god!” he roars, “For the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God!”
He issues two sets of 10 Commandments, one of which contains nothing but details of how to pay him homage. The other, better known, set includes some basic, universal ethical principles—but even there, four out of ten are about giving the Big Man the kind of exclusive adoration he wants. That’s why there was no room for Wash your hands after you go to the bathroom. Or Don’t have sex with anyone who doesn’t want to. Or Treat other living beings like they want to be treated. Or Thou shalt not own other human beings. Imagine our world if Jehovah had been a little less concerned with attention and a little more concerned with compassion and sanitation.
He’s mean. The internet abounds with articles, sermons and videos assuring us that the Bible-god isn’t really the embodiment of mean people suck. But what exactly would you call sending a bear to tear apart 42 boys who tease a prophet? Or how about slaughtering a son in each Egyptian peasant family then and blaming the mass murder on their unelected ruler who is actually your puppet: “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Pharaoh will not listen to you, in order that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.’ Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh; but the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the people of Israel go out of his land.” (Exodus 11:9).
Or let’s go back to the very first Bible story. What would you call putting a tantalizing fruit tree in front of two naïve and inexperienced creatures you’ve just made out of dirt and then punishing them brutally when they eat from it? (Genesis 2-3). Not long ago, an Alabama pastor wanted to teach a lesson about Christian obedience so he starved his chained-up dog for two days and then put food in reach but told the dog not to eat.
Yeah, sadistic. Sometimes Christians reveal a little more than intended about the deity they worship.
He’s racist and ablest. God may claim credit for making us all, but that doesn’t prevent him from picking favorites or finding some people repugnant simply by accident of birth. The Old Testament narratives are about favored blood lines of Hebrews—who get the right to claim land already occupied by other ethnic groups. According to God’s rules, even slaves must be treated better if they are Hebrew slaves.
But being Hebrew won’t help if you’re handicapped. Jehovah, like Trump thinks that arthrogryposis is just gross. Stay away! “No one of your offspring throughout their generations who has a blemish may approach to offer the food of his God. For no one who has a blemish shall draw near, one who is blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long, or one who has a broken foot or a broken hand, or a hunchback, or a dwarf, or a man with a blemish in his eyes or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles.” (Leviticus 21:17-21)
He demeans women. If a guy with crushed balls might contaminate Jehovah’s inner sanctum, a menstruating woman would be far worse. Whatever you do, don’t let Megyn Kelly sit on the furniture! And by the way, a woman who gives birth to a girl baby is nasty for twice as long as one who gives birth to a boy. But don’t get too insulted. Women can be saved through childbearing.
Donald Trump may treat women like trophies, but Jehovah literally defines women as economic assets belonging to men—just like slaves, children, and cattle, which is where the word chattel comes from. He actually sets up formal guidelines for sexual slavery. As chattel, a female who voluntarily gives up her virginity (thus reducing her economic value) can be stoned, but a rapist must simply buy the damaged goods. If a man suspects his wife of infidelity (again reducing her ability to produce purebred offspring of known origin), he can forcibly give her an abortion potion. Never say Jehovah is anything less than a bro. (See also Fifteen Bible Texts Reveal Why God’s Own Party Keeps Degrading Women. Or, don’t take it from me, take it from Christian leaders themselves: Twenty Vile Quotes Against Women By Church Leaders from St. Augustine to Pat Robertson.)
He’s bellicose and vindictive. Lists of Jehovah’s enemies and stories about how he ruins their lives or plans to ruin their afterlife occupy much of the Bible. First there’s Satan and all of those uppity angels who have apparently gotten tired of acting like everlasting groupies. Then come giants and people who build the Tower of Babel, which threatens to break through to God’s home above the sky.
Then comes everybody but Noah and his ark-building sons, and then the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the Midianites and Amalekites and the Philistines (other Semitic tribes), and the Assyrians and Babylonians, and a long litany of foreign kings and queens like Nebuchadnezzar and Jezebel. And let’s not forget all of the traitors among his Chosen People, who—despite constant displays of divine temper and butchery—never seem to grasp how badly Jehovah will burn them if they fall down on sucking up. Unable to threaten lawsuits like Trump can now, Jehovah instead threatens all who displease him with eternal torture.
His statements contradict facts and each other. Unless the Bible writers got things garbled, Jehovah’s claims are wildly contradictory. Jehovah says he created evil, and also says he can’t look on it. He shows up, then says no-one has ever seen him (Exodus 33:11/John 1:18). He tempts people to do bad things, then denies having ever done so. (Genesis 22:1/James 1:13). He declares himself unchanging but changes his mind at will (Exodus 32:14/Psalm 105:25-27). He apparently can’t remember if he created animals before humans or vice versa so boldly tells the story both ways (Genesis 1 & 2).
Add to the contradictions a surreal layer of ignorance.
Jehovah’s official biography is full of scientific hogwash. He creates day and night before the sun. He makes the sun stand still as a favor to some Iron Age fans—meaning he somehow stops the earth’s rotation without everything flying off the planet. He covers Mt. Everest in a flood that then dries up. He assumes that pi equals three. He predicts that a star will fall to earth. He warns against eating four-legged insects (which don’t exist). In sum, despite his claim to have created the world, he doesn’t have a freaking clue how it works.
But that’s ok, because all that really matters is . . .
He’s wildly rich, and he promises to make you rich too if you follow him. Jehovah’s version of heaven, which sounds rather hellish if you actually think about it for more than five seconds, perfectly sums up Jehovah as the protagonist of his own story. It’s a place of conspicuous opulence with streets of gold and gem encrusted walls where everyone gets their own mansion. But these trappings of wealth are on offer only to those who are willing to spend a literal eternity standing around singing about what an awesome god he is. This, according to many Christians, is the pinnacle of human existence. And if you don’t find that appealing—it’s outer darkness for you, Baby. Wailing and gnashing of teeth.
You can see why someone primed on Jehovah might admire a bully with an almost limitless sense of his own importance, one who demands constant admiration, has an enemy list a mile long, and shows a perverse lack of empathy for those he perceives as lesser beings. These classic characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder, are the reason we often refer to a narcissist as someone with a god-complex. Most of humanity’s gods are assholes, and the Bible-god is no exception.
Biologist Richard Dawkins once summed up Jehovah in a sentence: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”
Christianity may make the head-spinning claim that Jehovah is a stand-up guy, goodness incarnate, and worthy to be worshiped by all of humanity, but he makes Donald Trump look morally intact. To the best of my knowledge Trump has no history of infanticide, genocide, filicide, or ethnic cleansing. Despite his God complex, Trump is a pale shadow of the Great I Am.
Even so, from an electoral standpoint, Trump’s likeness to Jehovah may be as valuable as his celebrity name. If Trump manages to get himself elected by Evangelicals looking for streets of gold and by old white males who think they are the Chosen People, we may all be grateful that the worst he can do is build a big wall or nuke the Middle East rather than drowning the entire planet in a flood that covers Everest.
Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington. She is the author of Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light and Deas and Other Imaginings, and the founder of www.WisdomCommons.org. Her articles about religion, reproductive health, and the role of women in society have been featured at sites including AlterNet, Salon, the Huffington Post, Grist, and Jezebel. Subscribe at ValerieTarico.com.
Great article. Thank goodness I ditched this whacko god years ago.
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Positively fantastico! I know a few JDumbs who are in for an excellect edgeekation today.
If you knew the Bible as well as you claim to you might see that the overarching theme of the OT as well as the NT is, in the end, love. There’s plenty pericopes pointing that way in the prophets; even old infamous Lev. 18:22 is in the midst of a lot of prohibitions which, today, most of us consider common sense! Over the millennia, humanity actually has made a tad of moral progress; will you spit gall and wormwood because it didn’t come all at once?!
And ask yourself this: would such moral progress come AT ALL without the revelations, staticky as they are, which actually does come through the Scriptures? And who has the problem? God? (in this case, the transmitter tower) Or us? (all them staticky Atwater-Kents) I don’t need an answer; just mull the question over for a while.
Oh yea, there’s lots of love in the Dribble all right. Yahweh was a real peacenick.
Your avatar says that you luv education The link below could be a great start in your journey.
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God has had, and continues to have to, deal with war-loving bozos like us. We have much more orangutan than bonobo in us, along with internal self-deceivers that rarely seem to run out of gas. He has chosen not to use the ‘override’ button, which means God limits himself. Not to mention God doing something can well just be the scribes’ way of putting it. Thought of that, or is it too inconvenient?
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I would hate to think what my life would be like if I relied on the Bible for morality. Basically, you have a group of priests, both Aaronid and Levite, who believe that they know how people should live, who then proceed to do a puppet show with their god perched on one knee and pretend he is speaking their thoughts. The time of Charley McArthy and Howdy Doody are over, let them, and YWHW, rest in peace.
As I thought: too inconvenient. Obviously you’d rather think we’re all born with an Inner Moral Barometer or some such. Well, at least some of us are (and I make NO claim to be among them!) Maybe even most of us; I certainly don’t know nor lay any claim to such knowledge, either. I don’t hold much brief for morality being ‘commonly arrived at, through discussion and consensus’ or however. If peradventure you manage to either do that or find a group that has done so successfully, please share it with us. Don’t forget to include the size of such a group either. And btw–have I claimed, at any time, in any way, shape or form, to speak for the Invisible Spook? Or is that YOU reading in something I never intended to do? Kindly reread my posts and tell me.
You’re confusing my comment with Carmen’s – she mention an invisible Spook, not I.
I believe we evolved a moral imperative in the early days of our species, an imperative that has allowed us to survive as a species – it was only later that our witch-doctors, who eventually became our priests, decided to add nonsense to what we found works for us, such as ‘don’t kill,’ don’t steal,’ etc. “Don’t boil a kid in its mother’s milk“? Who does that anyway –?
Hey godfrey, after some thought, I think you might be on to something. Here’s a Texas pastor (xtian paisano of yours perhaps?) who claims the same love theme as he reflects on the Orlando love fest:
“These 50 sodomites are all perverts and pedophiles, and they are the scum of the earth, and the earth is a little bit better place now,” Romero said in the Sunday sermon. “And I’ll take it a step further, because I heard on the news today, that there are still several dozen of these queers in ICU and intensive care. And I will pray to God like I did this morning, I will do it tonight, I’ll pray that God will finish the job that that man started, and he will end their life, and by tomorrow morning they will all be burning in hell, just like the rest of them, so that they don’t get any more opportunity to go out and hurt little children.”
Yes indeedy, doody, daddy, the Dribble sure does encourage the luv.
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I am wondering, Rev, if godfrey had tears in his eyes when he read this. This old heathen does. How absolutely, gut-wrenchingly awful. Just sick.
“And who has the problem? God? (in this case, the transmitter tower) Or us?”
Ah…so God was transmitting clearly but the “static” warped what we heard. Is that what you’re saying? The mental gymnastics of “splaining” all those yucky bits in the bible must be exhausting!
Right on, SNM! And eoland: that’s pretty much what I do mean! Or haven’t you noticed how ‘staticky’ we can be as transmitters form one human to another, let alone from God to us?
Maybe if the old boy would upgrade from ram’s horns and string to a new iPhone, he could improve that communication problem of his —
Valerie, Outstanding! Thank you for laying bare the hypocrisy, contradictions and ignorance that are the bible. I have one question though. As a psychologist, please tell me why people swallow that crap. Is it because they were indoctrinated by their parents or others? Are they so intimidated by their mortality they need a big buddy in a fantasy afterlife? Is it a combination of the two? I’m at a loss to explain why people would give up their independent thought to be in a school of minnows or a herd of lemmings. Tribalism? Insecurity?
It is so obviously the flawed construct of many human minds. What causes it?
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I recommend Andy Thompson’s book (or youtube lecture) “Why We Believe in Gods.”
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Thank you. I will.
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Putney, if I could venture a suggestion. You’ve got indoctrination on your list – definitely (especially if it’s been done since birth); fear of mortality – yes, that’s a powerful one. Also, many of us seem to be quite gullible (until cognitive dissonance sets in), when it comes right down to it. But there is a fellow who’s done a video to address the psychological reasons for believing in the supernatural, and they are compelling. Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iMmvu9eMrg
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Excellent presentation. Thanks for posting the link.
But way too difficult for the godfreydebouillons of the world to grasp. I wish Andy included the “gawd limiting his intervention” theory to explain everything. Then maybe godfrey… would understand.
Thank you very much. I will check that out.
Actually Putney, it’s the same video that Dr. Tarico suggested. .. :)
Thanks again for the direction. It was well worth the hour. Dr. Thompson went beyond my suspicions and tied the biology and psychology to the manifestations we see today. I guess some of us are a little further evolved than others. ;-) .
Well Rev., there are the willfully blind. . . :) As Dr. Phil used to say, “It must be workin’ for him!”
I predict that, one of these days, godfrey will begin to see that Yahweh is every bit the bully the tRump is. I really have to shake my head at those who claim to speak for the invisible ‘spook’ – it really is the height of arrogance. (or is it hubris?)
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“(He) has chosen not to use the ‘override’ button, which means God limits himself.” and “God has had, and continues to have to, deal with war-loving bozos like us.” Direct quotes, godfrey. Now, if those aren’t assumptions about the ‘him’ you are referring to, I’d like to know what are. You’re not going to launch into that tired old diatribe about ‘no god, no morality’ are you? I’ll just give it to you straight – it’s a bullshit proposition.
Now, your initial point was that Dr. Tarico has misunderstood the OT and NT and it’s really all about love – you mean ‘love me or ELSE’, don’t you?
Rose-coloured glasses, perhaps, or is it as I have suggested previously – willful blindness?
Dr. Tarico has articulated the parallels between two egomaniacs, in my opinion. I think it is YOU who needs to scrutinize their Bible, without the glasses.
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No, I didn’t and don’t mean that. Perhaps I’m just lucky enough to scrutinize the Bible without so much baggage as many of us and, more importantly, with the tools the 21st century affords me. All Dr. T. seems to be doing is reading the OT from a different viewpoint than a troglodytic fundie but still in the same way AS that selfsame fundie! Think about it!
And are you telling me that YOU are just such a splendidly peaceable specimen and that you’re always that way? If so, could it be YOU’RE the Messiah?!
How can I be as smart as you? I wish I could read The Bible and see the truth like you do. I guess I’m just too dumb, and see that Jehovah told the Israelites–those war-loving bozos–to kill every man woman and child in the Holy Land. I wish I was as smart as you to see how this equals love. I wonder how we got so war-loving with such a loving God?
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One other thing: I know people live moral lives and lives of honor without reference to God. But can we all do that? Are you sure? I’m not–not sure, that is. I know some people do not seem to need a god; good for them, sez I. Maybe I don’t anymore, although I very much doubt that. But about NO one needing a god….well, how much do YOU know about the other seven billion? I at least know I do know very little. What about you?
Do you realize what you just wrote, godfrey? That you are not sure you can do without an invisible friend to live a moral life. Think about that. You need your imaginary friend to be nice to people, to have compassion and to keep from behaving immorally. You have a brain, don’t you? How about using that? I have been reading this sort of comment for quite some time from Christians and I don’t think they realize that, from the things they share, they are far more moral than the god they worship. Surprise, surprise, they all worship the same god as you – Yahweh!
Of course, I cannot speak for 7 million other people (which I’m not doing, btw) but neither should you, godfrey. What I’m suggesting to you – and what I take to be Dr. Tarico’s message – is that one needs to dig a little deeper into the ‘good’ (sic) book. In fact, since your avatar suggests that you are keen on education, I’d think you’d be considering doing just that. Ever read that meme – ‘Internet – where religion goes to die’?
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‘Digging deeper into the Good Book’ is something I’ve been doing for YEARS–and Dr. T. is NOT, from what I can see! She’s just a fundie who flipped to the other side. Btw, it’s 7 BILLION, includes many other people who are NOT Christians but profess a need for God, or a god. And the point is, I CAN’T speak for them and wouldn’t think to try it–AND NEITHER SHOULD YOU!
The slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe!
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I know where that’s from, but what does it mean?
All mimsy were the borogroves and the mome raths outgrabe.
Yeah, what she said —
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Trump doesn’t render to Caesar what is due to Caesar when it comes to paying little taxes as possible to the government; however, he expects the government to respond to me when he calls them on the phone.
“respond to me when he calls them on the phone.”
I meant to say respond to him when he calls him on the phone.
“But shouldn’t Bible belief inoculate earnest believers against someone who seems like the polar opposite of Jesus?”
This hits exactly on the main reason I do not believe in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God. Over the centuries, countless prayers, sermons and pleas have been made to Jesus and the God of Abraham, asking for one thing or another but generally focusing on knowing what’s the right thing to do. Yet mistakes continue to be made on a grand scale, all because humans think they are receiving guidance from God when in fact they’re doing pretty much what they want to do all along. In the run-up to the Iraq War, I know that millions of Americans Christians prayed for God to give George W. Bush the guidance he needed to go into Iraq instead of Afghanistan. When all was said and done, America needlessly slaughtered hundreds of thousands of civilians, including 4,500 of its own troops, all because Bush claimed God told him to “strike Saddam.” Did God lie? Did Christians delude themselves into thinking they supported the right action? Or was God just a convenient, pious reason for exercising brute force?
It has been said that war is just politics by other means. No, that other means is religion. It’s sickening, and I’m completely fed up with this stupid delusion called religious belief.
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You know you’ve found the right religion, when your god hates all the same people as you do!
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Awesome! Our Trump is an awesome spectacle … and you nailed why that is so.
Great work, Valerie!
Hi Valerie, great read! I believe Trump provides perhaps some of the best opportunities to ” Make Lemonade from the Lemon”. I believe it is Imperitive we seize opportunities to champion positivity and possibilities. You once said… “We can’t merely expose tired old religions based on book worship. We need to channel humanity’s moral, communitarian, and spiritual impulses (and I use the term broadly) and build rituals and institutions that are compatible with what we now know about ourselves and our planet. Else we simply leave a void that weird cults, fundamentalists and secular ideologues are only too glad to fill. ” Trump and his direct conflict with morality and religious beliefs combined with his public mirage of business acumen, these provide a unique opportunity to expand your “communitarian ” ideal, to make lemonade. Paul Newman showed us how with Newmans Own…Shameless Exploitation for the Common Good or as I say it, hbu4HU. What is each persons highest and best use 4 humanity and how do we inspire, reward and release it? If you were to have a few min to discuss this and how it relates to the “The Law of Diffusion of Innovation” …. You may not see the direct or viable connections here but You are/can be key here. I will hope to inspire you on your journey to your own hbu4HU. In other words, if Trump and many current American religious leaders choose to worship $$…. Let’s embrace that and use it as a teachable moment, let’s show them ” It matters HOW you make it” and you do not have to ” Make it before you matter”. Let me join you and join me in our journey towards our own personal hbu4HU.
ksmit…. kids say the most incredible things
Great article! You examined the “love affair” some religious fundamentalists have with Trump, from a perspective that I hadn’t considered.
You also offered a couple of interesting tidbits:
Since I’ve assumed that the Bible says little or nothing about abortion, I’ve always wondered why the “pro-life” folks often identify with the Religious Right. I’m sure that they’d be delighted to find out that the Bible encourages abortion, at least in some cases. :)
Although you offered a possible (although equally implausible) explanation, I’ve always maintained that the Bible (indirectly) states,that the earth is the center of the universe.
Thanks, Lowell. The Bible has references that might be inferred to support abortion and references that might be inferred to oppose it–the same way that it’s a hot jumbled mess on most moral questions.
I am reading the late Christopher hitchens book “God is not great”, and your sublime to the god bligh me blog here is literally and literarily right up there with Hitches accusations of that same old story. You utilize rare religious satire that comes fully loaded with theological insights, plus academic and street cred. We can keep telling the same old story, apparently, as long as the audience keeps changing. Great stuff.
“Not long ago, an Alabama pastor wanted to teach a lesson about Christian obedience so he starved his chained-up dog for two days and then put food in reach but told the dog not to eat. Yeah, sadistic. Sometimes Christians reveal a little more than intended about the deity they worship.”
Here’s an even more horrific example of Christian sadism involving the starving and torture of 3 children for 19 years by a devout Jehovah’s Witnesses woman. Lots of other examples on that site too:
Great article, Valerie, but I still say Thump is a racist, sexist, lying, hypocritical, bigot and anyone who supports him is sick.
The sad part about what you say is that this nothing new. It’s happened several times in my lifetime, the most recent example of which is the “Brexit” vote a few days ago. The “leave” campaign was losing badly (down 15 points or so) until they found an issue that stuck, i.e. anti-immigrant bigotry/xenophobia. (Also note that, IMO, the rhetoric regarding “Brussels bureaucrats” is entirely analogous to the “less government” stance of the Republican Party in the US. Of course, it’s just coincidence that practically every white supremacist stands for “less government”. :))
Among many other examples to choose from, I would cite Bosnia, the Iranian revolution, and the 1968 and 1980 Presidential elections. All of these examples involved bigotry/scapegoating and/or simple[minded] solutions to complex problems.
The main thing that separates Trump from the rest of the pack is that he doesn’t hide behind euphemisms or code words. I’m not sure whether or not most people realize that he’s revealed the “true colors” of a substantial portion of the Republican base.
Unfortunately, it also appears as though Trump voters don’t realize that someone who will put the screws to large portions of the US population will likely do the same to them!
That’s an interesting blog post, Valerie, but I think that Trump’s appeal to Evangelicals is better explained by authoritarianism.
The atrocities ascribed to the Bible god are irrefutable, and Donald Trump in many ways does seem similar to a watered down, demythologized version of Yahweh, yet Evangelicals are left to wrestle with the conundrum of an ostensibly all loving and all benevolent God, who nevertheless is vindictive, mean, brutally (and inconsistently) harsh, and not only quick to commit genocide, but to order his followers to behave likewise. Yet with all this codified in Biblical mythology, the marketing of the all-loving god has worked a bit too well for its own good. It is more than a trick or a marketing tool: “God is Love” is far too ingrained through childhood indoctrination and evangelization to be dismissed by the initiated as merely a recruiting ruse. It also allows Christians who behave badly or endorse barbaric policies to rationalize their own behavior. They have to keep themselves ostensibly on the side of Love, Righteousness, and Goodness.
The Evangelical and Fundamentalist demographics by and large map to the authoritarians. (I think it would be fair to say the rank and file is largely what Atlemeyer has described as Right Wing Authoritarian followers.) They must preserve the illusion of essential goodness of their leader (God or Trump) in light of these atrocities (perfect goodness in the case of God, but not for humans–this way the culture stays intact when a leader falls from grace). I think “good” has different underpinnings for them than it does for us: though they might be unwilling to frame it this way, “good” would equate to embracing, accepting, and preserving the norms of the in-group, and shunning the evils of the out-group. Protecting their norms, can thus turn bigotry, misogyny and tribalism, enforced with persecution and aggression, into virtues, as long as these de facto norms are discussed using a completely different vocabulary.
So I don’t think that any resemblance that Trump has to Yahweh directly explains their support for Trump. Instead, I think that the same underlying elements that contribute to their own authoritarian leanings draw them to both the Bible god and to Trump, with the reassurance they afford to the flock at the expense of their authoritarian style leadership and enforcement, and of course, the ill consequences upon the rest of us that you blog about each week.
Check out this YouTube video: “Authoritarianism: The political science that explains Trump” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YU9djt_CQM). I think they’ve not only expressed the idea of how authoritarianism accounts for Trump’s appeal more eloquently than I have, but from a completely different perspective that is more focused and direct than my ramblings were. :)
I held “working class” jobs until I returned to college at age 43. From my experience, I would state that you’re essentially correct. Interestingly, and no doubt paradoxically, before the 1979 Iranian Revolution, many of these folks were fans of Sharia Law!
Right on SNM!
According to the following cnn article, it’s even worse than I thought. It appears as though no one can accuse me of being an alarmist. :)
At the risk of contradicting my previous statement :), while it certainly is true that advocacy of authoritarianism is likely prevalent among Trump supporters, it’s also true that many religions, especially fundamentalist religions, are authoritarian in nature. History is replete with examples of despots who claimed to rule by divine right, and, presumably, large portions of the populace who bought into their claims. More recently, there are numerous cases, e.g. the People’s Temple and the Branch Dravidians, who blindly followed a charismatic, but paranoid, leader. Therefore, it’s clear that fundamentalists constitute a large subset, perhaps even a majority, of those advocate and admire authoritanianism.
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This is a bad article. Now the “Dangers of Christianity” is beautiful and real. The latter sounds like it comes from a place of concern. This one just sound like a attack on Christianity. Wonderful writer, all the same.
What a roller-coaster of a read that was. Trump and “Jehova” have very little in common. First of all, my use of the term ‘Jehova’ is clearly not the same as used here (or even the same with many [fake] christians), so I wasn’t buying a lot of the comparisons. It is so easy to reveal the hypocrisy and bullshit with the christian right– in my opinion, evangelicals, tv preachers, and “prosperity” con artists are dangerous cults- nothing more. But, in my lifetime, I have also seen how religion and/or a belief in something bigger than we are is also beneficial to many. Every single culture in history has had some form of deity- whether a volcano or a bird, it served a purpose. A great deal of poetry, music and paintings were inspired by religion. Its is beyond arrogant for non-believers to think they are better than, because they don’t “require” a deity. If you think that, you’re just as hypocritical and self-righteous as the people you look down on. I used to get so aggravated at any “anonymous” meeting when someone would say “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual” with an arrogant, self-righteous tone, as though the two are mutually exclusive. Just pointing out that hypocrisy works both ways. Anyone can agree or disagree, I honestly couldn’t care less. Just typed out my thoughts after reading this piece…. Wishing everyone a happy new year (seriously, I’m hoping really hard and writing congressmen- yikes!).