Why comparing Donald Trump to Jesus Christ is 'devastatingly dangerous': Episcopal priest
This Holy Week, as former President Donald Trump faces 34 charges in New York, comparisons between the 2024 hopeful and Jesus Christ are on the rise among his supporters.
Episcopal priest, Rev. Nathan Empsall, warns of the danger of such doctrine in a recent Time Magazine op-ed.
As far-right activists and politicians place the former president on such a pedestal, Empsall notes "leaders on Capitol Hill have been reluctant to call out Christian nationalism, all but omitting it from last year's Jan. 6 committee report despite clear evidence that the insurrection was largely fueled by the dangerous political ideology."
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Aside from refusing to denounce the reckless rhetoric, some lawmakers who compare the former president to Jesus Christ, also encourage violence.
The New York Times reports "several defendants charged in" the Jan. 6 insurrection "have said they were moved to act by Mr. Trump's words," and "many Republicans have sought to minimize his role."
'As Christ was crucified, and then rose again on the 3rd day, so too will Donald Trump,' tweeted one right-wing lawyer known for representing Jan. 6 insurrectionists. Other influencers making the comparison include Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, TPUSA Faith founder Charlie Kirk, and even Trump's own attorney. Trump, himself, framed his arrest as an attack on Christians in an 'emergency prayer call' on Tuesday, April 4, with televangelist and longtime aide Paula White-Cain, attorney Rudy Giuliani, and MAGA worship leader Sean Feucht.
Additionally, the executive director of the progressive online community, Faithful America, submits, "far too many moderate, progressive, and apolitical pastors decline to acknowledge or speak out against the merger of MAGA and religion," adding their silence sends a "devastatingly dangerous message."
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He adds, "Any comparison between Trump and Christ is clearly heretical and inappropriate," but, "these extremist voices are right about one thing: There is, indeed, a parallel between Donald Trump’s arrest and Holy Week. But it's not between Trump and Jesus—it's between MAGA leaders and Pontius Pilate, the brutal Roman governor who ordered Christ's crucifixion."
A recent Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) study, NPR reports, found "more than half of Republicans believe the country should be a strictly Christian nation, either adhering to the ideals of Christian nationalism (21%) or sympathizing with those views (33%)."
PRRI "warns the 'rising influence of Christian nationalism in some segments of American politics poses a major threat to the health of our democracy.'"
Likewise, Empsall emphasizes:
Co-opting religion for power isn't just blasphemous; it's also dangerous, repeatedly leading to real-world violence. The most obvious such moment is, of course, the use of religious language and symbols before and during the failed Jan. 6 insurrection. Last year, MAGA adherents—operating in the same echo chambers—again took aim at the FBI, IRS, and even the National Archives. Trump himself has all but called for people to take up arms in response to his indictment, repeatedly telling his supporters 'They're not coming after me. They're coming after you.'
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Empsall's full TIME op-ed is available at this link (subscription required).