Donald J. Trump may not be the first United States president who could have been indicted for criminal activity, but he surely is the most likely.
The fact we now have reached this point and this statement is controversial tells you everything you need to know about the state of our union today.
The state of our union is messed up, and it has fallen into this condition because a group of people who once claimed to care about absolute truth abandoned every shred of decency to support a despot they thought would grant their every wish. As long as they didn’t wish for truth.
We hear the echoes of Satan in the ear of Jesus: “Bow down to me, and I will give you all the kingdoms of this world.”
In my latest book, Honestly: Telling the Truth about the Bible and Ourselves, I address this exact scenario. In a closing chapter, I state:
The threat to the very foundations of truth this man continues to spew is no less dangerous than it was on Inauguration Day in January 2017.
And whenever in the future you may be reading this, the same will still be true — unless by that point there has been some miraculous recentering on truth and objective facts within the American public and Congress. What we saw unleashed in the Trump presidency was not just the victory of one political party over another but the complete capitulation of a historic political party to a doctrine of lies and conspiracies.
“Donald Trump is the most dangerous pathological liar on the American scene in my lifetime.”
Donald Trump is the most dangerous pathological liar on the American scene in my lifetime. He has undermined democracy itself, not to mention trust in the Christian church and the truth on which it stands. Count me among those who consider Trump an antichrist — meaning someone whose life and agenda run completely counter to the teachings of Jesus Christ. It is astounding to me that so many evangelical Christians who have been fixated for decades on warnings about the coming Antichrist of Revelation cannot see this antichrist they have empowered.
Political preferences aside, the root problem with Trump is the lying — the never-ending, persistent, chronic, inescapable lying. And then there are the people who know better but turn a blind eye to the damnable lies because they serve their interests.
Ironically, the kind of lying that finally caught up with Trump is garden-variety. Lying about a payoff to a mistress. Amid all the crooked business dealings, amid all the abuse of tax laws, amid all the vendors and businesses ripped off by Trump’s empire, amid inciting an insurrection that bordered on treason, amid a cavalcade of likely criminal activity, it is the simplest of things that has thrown him over the line.
Isn’t life like that?
On the one hand, this is no day to celebrate. We should mourn the state of our union that such an antichrist tempter ever was voted into office. On the other hand, this is a day to celebrate that some parts of American democracy do work and that some people — maybe not even Christians — still value truth as fundamental to humanity.
The fact thousands of people still turn out to rally around a man who is the full embodiment of falsehood should astound us. And that they do so with the implicit or sometimes explicit blessing of their religious leaders passes all understanding.
“Truth always wins in the end, even if the end takes a long time to arrive.”
Truth always wins in the end, even if the end takes a long time to arrive. The problem is all the people and institutions who are destroyed in the process.
Last weekend, I had the privilege of leading a dialogue after our church’s production of a staged reading of Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible. The script never uses the word “crucible,” which as you likely know is a word meaning a vessel where things are tested by fire.
The Salem Witch Trials, the historical inspiration for the play, and McCarthyism, the context in which the play was written, share a lot of similarities with Trumpism. All three movements were built upon lies — upon slandering good people and then accusing them of crimes when they fought back, upon falsehoods utilized to take control of communities and societies, upon mass hysteria incited by puppet masters who act like antichrists.
We’ve made our way out of such messes before, but the body count was huge. Twenty-five innocent women, men and children were murdered by misguided people in Salem, Mass., in 1692 and 1693. Sen. Joseph McCarthy and his allies ruined the lives of thousands of innocent people in the 1940s and 1950s.
As a people, we survived these false prophets. But not all people survived these false prophets. The same is true today. Trumpism is a bankrupt philosophy guided by the most prolific liar of our lifetimes.
As long he remains a viable public figure, we, the people, stand indicted. It never should have come to this. Not that Trump shouldn’t have been indicted or even jailed, but that such an antichrist should have been lifted up on high by those who claim the name of Christ.
It’s time for the Christian church in America to repent, to throw down the 30 pieces of silver gained as filthy lucre and head back to the Jordan River to be baptized for the remission of sins and meet Jesus all over again.
Mark Wingfield serves as executive director and publisher of Baptist News Global. He is the author of the new Fortress Press book Honestly: Telling the Truth about the Bible and Ourselves.