The Stigmata of Trump - Word&Way

The Stigmata of Trump

“I have the wounds all over my body.”

That’s not a new translation of Jesus speaking to a doubting Thomas after the resurrection. That’s what Donald Trump told the Faith & Freedom Coalition over the weekend when he depicted himself as a martyred messianic figure saving Christianity.

“If I took this shirt off, you’d see a beautiful, beautiful person,” Trump added after saying he had fought to “defend religious liberty” during his term in office. “But you’d see wounds all over, all over me. I’ve taken a lot of wounds I can tell you.”

He even claimed his level of wounds was “more than I suspect any president ever,” which is quite a claim considering four of them were literally assassinated in office! Trump’s remarks to the group created by Republican evangelical activist Ralph Reed rambled through a lot of territory — from salivating about making migrants fight in cage matches to reminiscing about Al Capone killing people to talking about how he would rather die by electrocution than shark attack. But after coming to the stage while Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” blared over the speakers, a key theme throughout Trump’s remarks was how he’s the singular person standing up to save Christianity. And the crowd applauded and cheered.

Screengrab as the crowd welcomes Donald Trump at the Faith & Freedom Coalition conference in Washington, D.C., on June 22, 2024.

Adding to his messianic flare, Trump depicted himself as being persecuted for the evangelicals at the event — not just in getting “wounds” on his body but also by being charged with crimes in various courts. To a crowd that professes Jesus died for them, Trump told them he also offered himself to take their punishment.

“I’m being indicted for you,” Trump claimed. “Never forget our enemies want to take away my freedom because I will never let them take away your freedom. They want to silence me because I will never let them silence you. And in the end, they’re not after me, they’re after you. I just happen to be very proudly standing in their way.”

While lots of writers have addressed why White evangelicals became the loyal base for Trump’s MAGA politics, it’s important amid analysis of evangelical hypocrisy, racism, and lust for power that we not miss what is being said and applauded today. As Trump’s rhetoric has evolved, it’s telling what he thinks evangelicals want to hear — and he seems to know it quite well as his speech was peppered with cheers, applause, and laughter at his jokes about President Joe Biden, migrants, and others. So this issue of A Public Witness takes you inside Trump’s Faith & Freedom Coalition remarks as he framed himself in messianic terms as the only one who can save Christians from the alleged persecution of the Biden administration.


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