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 samesex 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.