Jim Wallis: What that Bible Trump is selling says about truth

Take a look inside that ‘God Bless the USA’ Bible and you’ll find that in the truth lies real freedom.

Former President Donald Trump endorses the “God Bless the USA” Bible in a recent YouTube video. (Video screen grab)

(RNS) — An open letter to Donald Trump:

Dear Donald,

By marketing your new “God Bless the USA” Bibles, along with your sneakers, during Holy Week, leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion and Easter resurrection, you may be exposing yourself to something far larger than you. Not everything in this world is about you, Mr. Trump. And God’s big world puts your little world into perspective. 

You have made it clear before that you know little about the Bible. So peddling Bibles to help pay your legal costs, with a soon upcoming trial about your alleged affair with a porn star, while your wife was at home with your new baby, and trying to cover that up right before the 2016 election, may be very bad timing both religiously and politically. You admit that your brand is your life, but contrasting your branded behavior with the Bible is not a good sell, Donald.

The video of you selling your own Bible for your own personal profit was so absurd and hilarious that my wife, an Episcopal priest, could not believe it at first. But many are starting to realize that you are much more than a bad joke, Donald, but now a serious threat to both democracy and the integrity of faith communities, and the future of faith for a new generation. 

Perhaps you should have edited your new Bible first. It clearly doesn’t have a place for Jesus telling us in the Gospel of John, “you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.” When your whole campaign, and your whole life really, is built upon lies, big and small, that hold people captive, you have a problem with that text. Truth and freedom are indivisible.

The first chapter of the first book of the Bible, Genesis, lays out the foundation for human equality when God says, “Let us make humankind in our own image, and after our own likeness.” How does that, Donald, mesh with acts of voter suppression and subversion based on skin color or anything else which is literally an assault on imago dei? 

And, Donald, you are going to have a lot of trouble with the good Samaritan parable in Luke’s Gospel. Jesus says the core of faith is to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself. But if all the people you try to turn into feared and hated others are really our neighbors, where do you go with that?

The Samaritan whom Jesus lifts up as the best example of a good neighbor is somebody who was “othered” by the Judean people of his day (Jesus’ audience), yet goes out of his way to help a beaten man by the side of the road who was a Jew, and “other” to him. The lawyer’s question of Jesus in the famous parable story — “Who is my neighbor?” — may be the most important question today for a true multiracial democracy going forward. Pay attention to the lawyer’s question and Jesus’ answer, Donald.

When Jesus tells us that “the peacemakers” will be called “the children of God,” do you realize, Donald, that absolutely no one would ever apply that term to you? Throughout your political career you have stoked toxic polarization and have worked hard to dangerously divide our country over race, gender and class. The Apostle Paul says in his Letter to the Galatians that Christians must overcome those barriers and do the opposite by inviting reconciliation to God and to each other. 

You make a very big deal of your wealth, Donald. But in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus instructs his followers to focus on the poor and vulnerable, and says that what we have done to “the least of these” is what we have done to him! The economics of Jesus turn our politics upside down. 

And be very careful, Donald, when you say “Make America pray again.” Because when the faithful open up their Bible and remember what it actually says, they might start praying against you and your MAGA movement, which so violates the core teachings of Jesus. The authoritarian regime you now promise us could rightly be named an idolatry of false worship, and a heresy that is anti-Christ in its values.

Instead, let’s all pray together, for a country more truthful, more fair, more compassionate and more just — for all of God’s children, no matter who they are or what they believe.

The Rev. Jim Wallis. (Courtesy photo)

The Rev. Jim Wallis. (Courtesy photo)

Donald, I remember you once said that you have never felt the need to ask God for forgiveness. Perhaps it’s time to reconsider that.

(The Rev. Jim Wallis is director of Georgetown University’s Center on Faith and Justice and the author, most recently, of “The False White Gospel: Rejecting Christian Nationalism, Reclaiming True Faith, and Refounding Democracy.” The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)

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