By now, we've all seen the photo from last week's King Jesus International Ministry rally in Miami—a solemn moment of prayer for President Donald Trump and some 7,000 evangelicals, proclaiming that he's their man, and extolling his "strong leadership" and solid "Christian values." Some proclaimed that POTUS had experienced a change of heart since acquiring higher office, and that, despite his "rough edges," he is truly a man of God. The story was the emetic equivalent of a gallon of ipecac. Perhaps only a handful of attendees could clearly see Trump's horns and his trident.
As Christian Right evangelicals rack their brains with the problem of how to reconcile the president's divine appointment with his highly mortal super sins, there continues to be a voluntary unconsciousness that allows them to rationalize his actions. The reality is, that the devil himself could aspire to the presidency and evangelicals would offer the same hearty support. (Yes, Lucifer would only have to proclaim his condemnation of contraception and same-sex marriage, and the evangelicals would most likely declare, "Oh, he may not be perfect, but he is a fine man.") It's sad to compare our leader with the devil, but is there really much difference?
I don't know about you, but I can only shake my head in disbelief. Obviously, judgment is a dangerous thing, but so is the blatant hypocrisy demanded by the evangelicals' position. Trump is much more the Antichrist than the "chosen one"—taking great pleasure in stomping on Moses' stone tablets and desecrating everything that real Christians stand for. One doesn't need to be intelligent, or even perceptive, to understand that Trump takes glowing satisfaction in breaking all laws—religious, civil, criminal and international. Undoubtedly, even his mind is boggled by the level of gullibility that makes 80% of evangelicals his ardent supporters. It's probable that he goes to bed every night with this thought on his mind: "Those evangelicals are so stupid; I could tell them a pig's a butterfly, and they'd believe me."
It seems to me that time should have cemented the president's incredibility. While lies are his favorite sin, and particularly the bearing of false witness against anyone who opposes him, a quick assessment would show that Trump has broken every one of the Ten Commandments. Adultery? Coveting? Worship of material goods? He's probably very proud of it; his score is zero.
Well, we skipped-over commandment No. 6. For some reason, the evangelicals will find another word for Trump's killings, but they are, nonetheless, murder. In a country which supposedly believes that life is precious and that capital punishment is an irreversible wrong, it's amazing what contortions his Christian Right base can go through to justify their president's lust for blood. But that's the value of being the "Chosen One." When he sits at his video console manipulating his joystick and takes out another "bad guy," it must have been God's will.
There's no question that war can cloud the definition of morality. But the U.S. is not involved in any legitimate wars. Targeted assassinations like that of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Suleimani are an affront to all moral decency. Except, that is, for the evangelicals. It's no affront to them, simply because, for every 10 really bad things the president does, he offsets his offenses with a few glib declarations on how awful it is to kill fetuses and how God hates the sodomites.
The targeted killing of Suleimani is murder, pure and simple. There are international laws that forbid it. Of course, Trump doesn't care about U.S. laws (or God's, for that matter), so why would he give a crap for those created by the international community? Frankly, Trump, the miserable vomitous mass that he is, (I borrowed those words from Westley in The Princess Bride) has no respect for due process of law or the rights of the accused. But his time is coming when he will be screaming that his own rights are being violated. Nothing exists outside of his little me-world, and no life is of any value unless it's his.
I hate to say it, but Trump killed a far better man than he. Suleimani, though an enemy to some, was a real patriot to his country and his cause. Trump is certainly taking great pleasure in knowing that he has killed a bigger-than-life Iranian hero—a man who didn't feign bone spurs and constantly risked his own life for those things he believed in. (Oh, if only our president could be of such caliber.) While there can be a flurry of rationalizations over Suleimani's murder, it is likely yet another diversion to distract American minds, temporarily, from his impeachment. I cannot gloat over the death of this man, and I personally mourn for his family. It's too easy to assign a number to a target and play our little video games in Trump's den at Mar-a-Lago, forgetting that these are real, thinking, feeling people. Their lives matter, too.
Sadly, Trump's juvenile action—taking out one man, believing it puts a real dent in the enemy's resources—is vastly reckless. I once had a boss who said to me, "Michael, if you stick your hand into a toilet bowl and then pull it out, is there a hole left in the water?" Needless to say, I got the point. It is pathetically sophomoric for Trump to think there's no one to take the fallen general's place—or that killing can lead to anything other than more of the same.
The author is a former Vietnam-era Army assistant public information officer. He resides in Riverton with his wife, Carol, and one mongrel dog. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org