I bought Trump’s Bible – a blasphemous, tacky nightmare

There was a time, not so long ago, when Donald Trump didn’t seem very familiar with the Bible.

When he first ran for the nomination of the very Christian Republican Party, Trump could not name a single Bible verse. Early in his 2016 presidential campaign, he called the Eucharist a “little cracker.” On a subsequent church visit, while trying to prove his religious credentials, he slipped cash into a plate intended to hold communion.

How times have changed.

“All Americans need a Bible in their home, and I have a lot of them. It’s my favorite book,” Trump declared in a video on Truth Social in March. “I am proud to endorse and encourage you to purchase this Bible. We need to make America pray again.”

In the video, Trump, who has a long history of endorsing and selling things, holds the God Bless the USA Bible — a “patriotic” take on the sacred text that Trump is now promoting for $59.99.

“I want a lot of people to have it,” Trump continued. “You have to have it for your heart and for your soul.”

Who am I to defy a former one-term president, twice impeached, who is currently on trial for hush money payments to a porn star. I bought it.

Buying anything from Donald Trump is fraught with danger. Trump is known for not living up to his business commitments: in the run-up to the 2016 election, literally hundreds of people, including lawyers, carpenters and painters, came forward to accuse Trump of not paying them for their work.

Fortunately, the Bible, which cost $83.37 after taxes and shipping, eventually arrived. I eagerly tore open the package, turned the bag upside down, and pulled out what is essentially a Christian nationalist’s fantasy: a Bible made entirely of American flags and bald eagles, with founding documents and lyrics to a patriotic anthem next to the sacred text . .

An American flag is embossed on the front of the Bible. In the back are glossy pages of some of America’s most sacred documents: the Declaration of Independence; the pledge of allegiance; and the lyrics of Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA, a song played repeatedly at Trump’s political rallies.

These pages are illustrated with the American flag and some of the country’s most prized things: the bald eagle, yes, but also the Statue of Liberty, which resembles a musket, and the Capitol, which was somewhat ironically attacked by Trump supporters three years ago.

One of the most intriguing questions in the FAQ section of the Trump Bible website asks, “What if my Bible has sticky pages?”

My Bible did indeed have sticky pages. But don’t worry: the FAQ guidelines explain that sticky pages are a common problem with new Bibles, and direct the reader to “a YouTube video that does an excellent job of explaining how to break in your new Bible.”

That video is six minutes long. It shows a man unpacking a Bible that is objectively a nicer Bible than the God Bless the USA version, and then turning page by page through the entire book. “Separating the pages is quite a laborious process,” says the man.

He was right. The Trump Bible, which uses public domain text from the King James Version, has 1,350 thin to translucent pages, and I had no intention of sitting through the entire thing. But all the good seems to be here: there’s Noah desperately bundling animals onto a large boat, Job whose life is ruined because of what amounts to a bet between God and the devil, and the Book of Leviticus – much of which is given after the correct way to sacrifice animals. (For a bull, sprinkle its blood around the altar and wash its entrails before lighting it on fire; if you sacrifice a dove, be sure to wring off its head before plucking.)

You don’t have to pay $59.99 for that kind of content. Search online for “free Bible” and there are hundreds of places literally giving it away. But this Trump-endorsed Bible represents something special to his supporters, said Kristin Du Mez, a professor at Calvin University whose research focuses on the intersection of gender, religion and politics.

“My feeling is that most people don’t buy this Bible to read it,” Du Mez said. “They buy the Bible to have it and to participate in this kind of shared identity. To put down $60 and say, ‘Yes, this is my husband and I am committed to this, and this is my faith.’”

The shared identity is one of embracing the “myth of Christian America,” Du Mez said: “The idea that America was founded as a distinctly Christian nation: a proto-conservative, white evangelical version of the country, which never really has existed. It’s that shared vision of a mythic past, and the commitment to restoring some semblance of that kind of mythic order in the present.”

After those initial attempts to appeal to Christians, Trump was eventually embraced by the evangelicals who make up a large part of the Republican Party — the same GOP that has turned a hatchet to the separation of church and state. In fact, the former president’s relationship with the religious right has now deepened to the degree Trump is comfortable with comparing themselves to their Messiah.

Further strengthening that bond goes some way to explaining Trump’s decision to promote the God Bless the USA Bible. But there is also the financial aspect.

Trump owes more than $500 million as a result of civil court convictions. He’s been charged with over ninety crimes, in five different jurisdictions, and lawyers cost money (unless you don’t pay them).

While the God Bless the USA Bible website says the Bible is “not owned, operated or controlled by Donald J Trump,” it adds that the company “uses the name, likeness and image of Donald J Trump under paid license from CIC Ventures LLC”.

Trump is the manager, president, secretary and treasurer of CIC Ventures LLC, according to a financial disclosure report filed last year.

So happy days for Trump. Although this Biblical wheezing has not gone down well with everyone.

“Blasphemous” and “disgusting” was the assessment of Pastor Loran Livingston, a conservative evangelical who leads the Central Church in North Carolina. A preacher in South Carolina said the Bible was a ‘breaking of the commandments’, while Raphael Warnock, the Democratic Georgia senator and himself a pastor, was also not happy with it.

“The Bible does not need Donald Trump’s approval,” Warnock told CNN.

“And Jesus, in the very last week of his life, drove out of the temple the money changers, those who took sacred things and used them as cheap relics to sell in the marketplace.”

It is unclear how many of these ‘cheap relics’ have been sold. In early May, God Bless the USA Bibles were still available for purchase online — unlike the Trump-licensed sneakers he released earlier this year.

After the failures of Trump Steaks, Trump Vodka, Trump Mortgage, Trump Magazine, several Trump casinos and the Trump board game, the former president may have finally given his name to a winning product. At $59.99 each for what is objectively a rather poorly printed, rather tacky book, the God Bless the USA Bible seems like a pretty safe bet. Maybe those lawyers get paid after all.

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