The "martyrdom" of Donald J. Trump

"It’s all slapstick comedy: Posing as a Christ-like figure is so outlandish and absurd"

By Chauncey DeVega

Senior Writer

Published March 31, 2024 6:00AM (EDT)

Donald Trump speaks while holding his bible at the Values Voters Summit at the Omni Shoreham hotel in Washington D.C., Friday, September 25, 2015. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images)
Donald Trump speaks while holding his bible at the Values Voters Summit at the Omni Shoreham hotel in Washington D.C., Friday, September 25, 2015. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images)

Donald Trump has repeatedly shown that he can reasonably be described as evil. Yet, white “Christian” evangelicals are among his most loyal, stalwart, and enthusiastic supporters. Moreover, when his behavior and character are evaluated relative to the Christian mythological framework, Trump is actually much closer to being the Antichrist than some type of divine savior in the mold of Jesus Christ and chosen by God as a type of messiah and prophet. In reality, this superficial tension is easily resolved: The relationship between Donald Trump and his fascist MAGA movement and the Christian Right is transactional. Trump is a type of weapon and cudgel for them to create an American apartheid theocratic plutocracy.

In exchange, Trump receives the votes and other support to ascend, again, to the White House – this time as the country’s first dictator – where upon taking power he will proclaim that he was chosen by God. My prediction here is not a spoiler but a preview. During these last few months, Trump has repeatedly made such statements about his divinity and being God’s emissary on Earth.

Earlier this week, Donald Trump took the next logical step in his fascist god complex and megalomania. He is now selling Bibles to his MAGA flock and any other sad and desperate soul who would buy such a thing.

At the time of this writing, Donald Trump owes more than 500 million dollars in fines and legal expenses. Trump will be able to use the money from selling Bibles for his personal and other expenses.  

In a video on his Truth Social disinformation social media platform last Tuesday, Trump described his “exclusive” Bibles, and why they matter so much to him, in the following way: "It's very important and very important to me. I want to have a lot of people have it. You have to have it for your heart, for your soul.”

The relationship between Donald Trump and his fascist MAGA movement and the Christian Right is transactional.

In a post on X/Twitter, his niece, Mary Trump, was very clear and unambiguous about Trump’s Bible-selling hustle: “He’s never prayed in his life [if] that were a real bible, it would burst into a ball of flame.”

On Monday, Donald Trump, who has repeatedly and publicly proclaimed that he is a “Christian”, committed blasphemy by appearing to suggest that his being held accountable by the law for his many obvious crimes is somehow equivalent to the persecution of Jesus Christ and what the latter suffered in the Easter resurrection myth.

In an attempt to better understand Trump’s Bibles and how they relate to Christofascism, the Trumpocene, the MAGA cult, and the larger democracy crisis, I recently spoke to a range of experts.

These interviews have been lightly edited for clarity and length

Jared Yates Sexton is a journalist and author of the new book "The Midnight Kingdom: A History of Power, Paranoia, and the Coming Crisis."

From the moment Trump announced his candidacy he's leaned heavily into heresy. The only religion he's ever known has been Norman Vincent Peale's Prosperity Gospel, which is itself a venal, disgusting twisting cooked up to serve the wealthy and punish the poor. Now, not only is Trump openly calling himself Christ, he's peddling Christian Nationalist Bible's too gaudy and embarrassing for QVC. Unfortunately, this isn't just offensive but evidence of a worsening situation. This is a cult. Full stop. And though its popularity may be dwindling, that's when cults get weird and especially dangerous. They've killed for him already, and there's no telling what they're capable of once the heat gets hotter.

Marcel Danesi is Professor Emeritus of linguistic anthropology and semiotics at the University of Toronto. His new book is "Politics, Lies and Conspiracy Theories: A Cognitive Linguistic Perspective."

There is now a deeply embedded belief among many of Trump’s followers that he was chosen to save the world. It has become a core theme in all kinds of conspiracy theories, and a “thought form” in groupthink that is resistant to most counter-arguments. Trump’s role in the world among a large number of his religious followers in particular is perceived to be that of a victimized spiritual warrior, who is being persecuted and tormented by the sinister deep state, as he awaits the “storm” that will finally catapult him to the seat of power permanently, allowing him to guide the world correctly. Trump has continually portrayed himself to this demographic as a Messianic figure, who is fulfilling a divine mission—a pseudo-narrative that he has promoted himself whenever he thought it would be effective. Comparing his plight as a criminal defendant to that of Jesus is part of his overall performative politics, which revolves around a pseudo-morality script in which he, like Jesus, is persecuted for seeing through the evil deep state.

But this is not the only “character” that Trump presents to his diverse audiences. He has always been a consummate chameleon performer, playing to different audiences with different characters, but uniting them all under the rubric of victimization. As Machiavelli cynically, but accurately, wrote, “It is necessary [for a despot] to know how to be a great pretender and dissembler…a deceiver will always find someone who is willing to be deceived.”

As for Trump announcing that he is going to sell Bibles? What can anyone expect from a huckster, who will peddle anything and anyone to line his pockets? The danger is that he will keep doing it if he wins—but he will NOT!!!

Rich Logis is an ex-MAGA activist and Founder of Leaving MAGA.

No one could look at Donald Trump’s campaign and logically conclude that he is running to win. He shuns non-MAGA voters. He falsely blames vote-by-mail (favored by both Democrats and Republicans) for voter fraud. He is now hawking Bibles inscribed with “God Bless the U.S.A.”

Why, then, is he running? To potentially avoid prison, yes. But it goes beyond this: it’s martyrdom. Does he believe that he is a martyr protected by the armor of God? I find that unlikely; it’s all slapstick comedy: Posing as a Christ-like figure is so outlandish and absurd, my fear is that it will be laughed off as “Trump is just being Trump.”

Trump is a political pervert: he’s perverted patriotism by jingoistically pairing it with Judaic-Christian theocracy, in an unholy matrimony. He is a QVC presidential candidate; he’s Jake LaMotta singing out of tune to the same audience nightly. Yes, all the world’s a stage, and for all their invective against Hollywood, MAGA and the far right are America’s premier political performers.

I maintain that most MAGA Americans are good people, deep down. But they don’t realize that they’re not in on the joke, and there is the challenge of reconciling this with their unapologetic support of a candidate who hasn’t made an occasionally indefensible remark, but has a library’s worth.

I am not blameless, either, as I was a devoted MAGA volunteer activist from 2015–22. Amongst some other reasons for leaving MAGA, I could no longer, in good conscience, justify the unjustifiable about Trump and MAGA (especially the nonstop mythology about a stolen 2020 election).

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Trump masks his abhorrent rhetoric in the cloak of godliness because with God on his side, he’s infallible. I neither defend my past, or anyone’s current, ignorance. It must be emphasized, however, that MAGA Americans have been traumatized by MAGA and the right-wing; they perpetually feel desperate and panicked, as I once did. As I came to painfully realize: Trump the golden calf is no messiah or savior. Let’s not depend on the courts or Constitution to prevent a second Trump presidency, which would irreparably damage our democracy. Get registered, get others registered (ask me for help, if necessary) and vote. As the Book of Romans instructs: be patient in affliction. I believe many MAGA Americans will eventually have their epiphany that they—as I once did—worshiped a false prophet.

A blessed Easter to all who celebrate. For Christians, especially, who remain silent over Trump’s blasphemous Bible salesman schtick: do you find it appropriate and acceptable that Trump would adulterate the Good Book during the holiest, most blessed weekend for Christians?

Ephesians 5:11:

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

Dr. Lance Dodes is a former clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a training and supervising analyst emeritus at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute.

Donald Trump’s recently comparing himself with Jesus as a saintly man unfairly accused, and trying to sell King James Bibles with the incredibly grandiose come-on that they are “the only bible endorsed by Donald Trump” shows that his deeply malignant narcissism remains as severe as ever, and may be becoming worse as he is faced with more limitations to his grandiosity. Trump’s recent threats against the country with a “bloodbath” if he is not returned to power is another sign of how deeply pathological he is, and how enormously dangerous it would be if he were to regain power. Our country has never seen anything like this, but it is strikingly familiar from the rise of Hitler and other populist tyrants.  

By Chauncey DeVega

Chauncey DeVega is a senior politics writer for Salon. His essays can also be found at He also hosts a weekly podcast, The Chauncey DeVega Show. Chauncey can be followed on Twitter and Facebook.

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