Donald Trump is being compared to Jesus Christ this week. Suffering and crucifixion analogies have been thrown around during Passion Week as President Donald Trump prepared to learn of the charges against him and then presented himself to the authorities in New York State. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene protested in Manhattan:

“Jesus was arrested and murdered by the Roman government,” she said. “There have been many people throughout history that have been arrested and persecuted by radical corrupt governments, and it’s beginning today in New York City.[1]

As the President left the courthouse and boarded his plane to Florida, he joined in a ‘prayer call’, comprising an eclectic group of religious Trump followers.

I have seen news footage and tweets all week that make comparisons between Donald Trump’s trial and that of Jesus.


Evoking the Suffering of Christ

None of this is new. Adopting and hijacking the person and work of Jesus for political and social agendas is more common than we might realise. People have been doing so since Jesus’ actual trial and crucifixion. Constantine tried it at the Milvian Bridge. Jacques-Louis David’s The Death of Marat and a thousand other paintings evoke Christ’s suffering. The Confederacy and the KKK, the Taiping Rebellion, Horst Wessel, anti-vax campaigners, and many others have appealed to the suffering of Christ as an analogy to their own claim to righteous suffering. Political agendas from both the right and left have a long history of misappropriating the person and mission of Jesus Christ. Sadly, there are times when members of Christian communities and church leaders become enamoured of these false narratives.

This doesn’t mean that there is never validity to any of the causes for which people suffer. The Bible does speak of a suffering that is for the sake of Christ and His Church. For example, the Apostle Paul writes to Timothy, “So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God” (2 Timothy 2:8). This refers to suffering explicitly due to persecution for being Christians and preaching the gospel. In a broader sense, we may also suffer for the sake of the godly life we are called to, as Peter addresses in his first letter. At best, endless appeals to Christ-like suffering might be seen as appeals to suffering for a righteous, noble cause. At best. However, far too often, those who make these appeals are neither interested in the proclamation of the gospel, nor especially concerned about genuine righteousness. In the end, evoking the suffering of Christ often seems to drift much closer to blasphemy than anything else.

Listen to the religious language that President Trump chose for his speech following his court appearance: “America is going to hell.”[2]

Well, yes, that is a theological truism. But it also accurately describes people in every nation. And it has nothing to do with the prosecution of Donald Trump or any other political leader. It has to do with whether or not individuals find atonement before God for our own sinfulness through faith in Christ.

No Comparison

It is of course possible to believe that the charges against President Trump are politically motivated and at the same time to believe that Trump has little moral compass. After all, in addition to the thirty-four felony charges of falsifying financial records are also allegations of adultery and sexual immorality. There is no semblance of Jesus in this story.

Let it be said again, lest anyone is unclear, there is no comparison between President Donald Trump and Jesus Christ. One is a deeply sinful human being, the other the innocent Son of God. The former President carries with him a lifetime of transgressions, Jesus went to the cross taking our sins on himself.

What if, instead of presuming to identifying with the crucified one, we understand the true meaning of the Easter story? Easter tells us that we all, by nature, are opposed to Jesus. Rather than identifying ourselves with Jesus, we should understand that we are more like Peter who disowns, Judas who betrays, the Pharisees who denounce, and the crowds who mock.

Donald Trump is no Messiah figure. He is not an innocent lamb laying down his life to save a nation. He may or may not be innocent of these particular charges. But neither Trump nor President Biden and any political leader comes remotely close to the Lord Jesus Christ.

There is only one perfect leader, one truly righteous sufferer and one sure hope for humanity, whether in the United States or Australia.

A version of this article was first published on Murray Campbell’s blog on 6th April 2023.

[1] From https://www.theage.com.au/world/north-america/divine-timing-trump-supporters-see-jesus-story-in-ex-president-s-arrest-20230406-p5cyit.html accessed 6th April 2023.

[2] From https://www.smh.com.au/world/north-america/trump-attacks-judge-s-family-laments-the-country-is-going-to-hell-20230405-p5cy9h.html accessed 6th April 2023.