The Time Trump Wished Everyone a ‘Happy Good Friday’

Who knows Christianity better than this guy?
Photo-Illustration: Intelligencer; Photo: Getty

For Christians, Good Friday is a solemn occasion marking the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Crucifixion is not a pleasant activity, or so I gleaned from legions of Sunday School teachers and Bible professors, along with Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ. Yet on April 10, 2020, as COVID was wreaking havoc on America, then-President Donald Trump greeted the day with a celebratory tweet.

Who is happy on Good Friday? Presumably not Jesus. Certainly not my mother, a devout Evangelical Christian. “They’re nailing Jesus to the cross, you asshole!” she told me when I informed her of Trump’s tweet. Of course, the former president is not a person of deep piety. The thrice-wed businessman famously has a transactional relationship with Christianity and with conservative white Evangelicalism in particular. In return for their undying loyalty, he gives them anti-abortion Supreme Court justices and the occasional ham-handed display of religiosity. (It’s “Second Corinthians,” not “Two Corinthians.”)

Now that Trump is running for reelection, he needs his most reliable demographic to turn out once more. He doesn’t have to do much to keep them interested; his justices overturned Roe, after all, and his anti-immigrant nationalism appeals to the “white” in “white Evangelical.” But one must keep up appearances. Trump recently hawked singer Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA Bible” on Truth Social for the low price of $59.99. “All Americans need a Bible in their home and I have many. It’s my favorite book. It’s a lot of people’s favorite book,” he said in the ad. To be fair, Trump doesn’t really read, so this may technically be true.

The New York Times reported on Wednesday that Trump will receive royalties from sales of the Greenwood Bible, which now boasts his official “endorsement” on a promotional website. In Trump’s hands, the Bible is just another product, like his gold Trump-branded sneakers or his NFTs or Trump steaks or the ill-fated Trump University. Faith becomes snake oil, sold to eager masses. All the while, Trump promises them what they really want: power. It’s easy to blame Trump for transforming white Evangelical Christianity into a more monstrous version of itself. But white Evangelicals degraded themselves long ago by striking a political alliance with the right wing. Trump is what it looks like to bid for power at any cost. The Bible is a casualty in a much bigger war.

Trump doesn’t have to be pious. He doesn’t have to understand what holy days mean to his supposed co-religionists. He just has to infuriate their enemies — and he’s good at that. Happy Good Friday, indeed.

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