What Won’t He Say?
A data analysis company has created a new tool called Factbase compiling nearly 3 million words used by Donald Trump. This database makes it possible track when and how the president uses his favorite phrases.
Take for example, “radical Islamic terrorism.” Throughout the campaign, Trump skewered his liberal opponents for refusing to use these same words. Especially among conservative Christians, the conspicuous unwillingness to adopt descriptive religious language in the face of horror — especially by Obama — became a rallying call and powerful unifying critique. Today Trump still repeats this phrase often, slowly, and with purpose, mocking those who seek to separate the political acts of extremists from the religion they also claim.
But what does Trump himself refuse to say?
If we searched the largest known Trump database, linking us to 3 million words from his tweets, interviews, speeches, books, letters, and leaks from Access Hollywood, what would we find?
How about: “Jesus Christ”
Enter this name into the Trump database or do your own research. Use Factbase or Google. Certainly, no name is more universally admired among the core voting bloc of Christians who elected Trump than “Jesus Christ.” Moreover, previous born-again presidents like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush did not hesitate to say “Jesus Christ” openly, in moments and in ways that were official, banal, personal, humble, and sensible in context. The name should not be difficult to find. “Jesus Christ” has likely been spoken, recorded and printed more than any name in human history.
In fact, this sentence marks the fifth time I’ve used “Jesus Christ” in this post alone. You may discover that I’m already ahead of the Donald.
As Trump himself might say, “It’s a curious thing what these politicians won’t say!”
I’m not calling for a return to more use of religious language in the public sphere here. Indeed, I would argue that Steve Bannon is already boldly pushing a despicable law-and-order nationalism with religious heritage undercurrents that should worry anyone of any faith or non-belief. This nominally Christian public religion, which I believe purposely avoids the words and actions of Jesus Christ that damn it, poses a mortal threat to our inclusive democracy.
But back to Trump. When your path to the Oval Office and your fiercest defenders require a personal relationship with an incarnate God whose resurrected life serves as a model for his followers, you’d think the president would would at least throw a bone to his base occasionally.
In the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), Jesus asks his disciples pointedly: Who do you say I am? What is Trump’s answer? (Hint: Evangelical leader Cal Thomas had to ask Trump this question twice after Trump quickly changed the subject how much Christians like him and then to Muslim decapitations).
Trump-defending Christians should research their president’s words. When, where, how, and why does President Donald J. Trump reference his Lord and Savior? What does he actually believe about Jesus? (And if readers question the completeness of this particular database, as do I, please feel free to share the references it overlooks).
I know several Trump-defending Christians, likely a minority, who at least tacitly admit that Trump is not one of them. That’s a reasonable conclusion. But Christians should be expected to engage in these questions as their belief system, in the eyes of believers and non-believers alike, becomes Bannon-ized in the Oval Office each day. It is time to ask whether Donald Trump’s Christianity remains the biggest alternative fact his brief presidency.