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Bring Back The Good Old MAGA Days Of The Pillory For Trump

Phil Garber
9 min readDec 5, 2023

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Donald trump is a blasphemer and should be sent to the pillory, just like that other historical, blasphemer, Lodowicke Muggleton.

By all accounts, trump fits the definition of the blasphemer, one who commits and act or offense of speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things.

For those unfamiliar with the pillory, it was a device made of a wooden or metal framework erected on a post, with holes for securing the head and hands, formerly used to publicly humiliate or punish by physical abuse.

For those equally unfamiliar with Muggleton, he was an English religious thinker who created Muggletonianism, not to be confused with Harry Potter’s “muggles.” Muggleton, who died in 1698, held opinions hostile to all forms of philosophical reason, and on Jan. 17, 1676, was convicted of blasphemy, and sentenced to three days in the pillory and a fine of £500. A selection of books seized from Muggleton also were burned by the common hangman.

Trump has used religious terms in his political rhetoric more than any president in history, according to a 2019 survey in the non-profit publication, The Conversation.

The review found that Trump used 7.3 religious terms per thousand words of speech, far higher than any other president from the last 100 years and more than double the average rate of 3.5 terms per thousand used by presidents in general. Similarly, trump explicitly mentioned “God” at a rate of 1.4 per thousand words almost three times the average of 0.55.

In speeches in states with a more religious population trump ramped up the religious references. In the most religious states, such as Mississippi and Texas, trump used on average 1.7 religious and 0.36 God terms per thousand words. In the least religious states, like New Hampshire and Maine, the figures were 1.2 and 0.24.

In contrast, Jimmy Carter, considered one of the most devout of presidents, used 2.6 religious words per thousand words in speeches. The lowest rate came from President John F. Kennedy, with 1.6 words per thousand.

Blasphemy fits trump. Here are a few of the more outrageous examples.

He has said that if reelected, he would “restore our nation under God;” he bellowed at a recent rally at the Washington Hilton that he was leading a holy war against Democrats and challenged, “How can you as Christians, how can the people in this room, vote for them?” and insisted “No president has ever fought for Christians as hard as I have. I got it done, and nobody thought it was even a possibility.”

On Sept. 24, 2022, trump shared a post on his Truth Social account, declaring him as “second” only to Jesus. The post by Truth Social user @austinnegrete said, “Jesus is the Greatest. President @realDonaldTrump is the second greatest.” It was reposted alongside an image of a painting of Jesus by artist Dan Wilson.

In December 2021, trump said his reelection was crucial because “Our country needs a savior right now. And our country has a savior. And it’s not me. It’s somebody much higher up than me. Much higher.” Yes, much, much higher, indeed. Can we say “Amen” to that?

At a recent rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, trump said, “I think if you had a real election and Jesus came down and God came down and said, ‘I’m gonna be the scorekeeper here,’ I think we’d win [in California], I think we’d win in Illinois, and I think we’d win in New York.”

Trump again enlisted the aid of the almighty when he bellowed at an event in Tampa, Fla., held by Turning Point USA, a student conservative group, “We will not break, we will not yield, we will never give in, we will never give up, we will never, ever, ever back down. As long as we are confident and united, the tyrants we are fighting do not stand a chance. Because we are Americans and Americans kneel to God, and God alone.”

In 2017, trump announced his huge tax cut for corporations and the rich, evidently unaware of what Jesus said in Matt 6:19–21, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth…but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven …for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Rather, trump’s reflection on the tax cut was, “We will give the American people a big, beautiful Christmas present.”

Trump is not a member of a church in Washington and while he claims to be a Presbyterian he only infrequently attends a service. Trump said that the Bible is his favorite book but he couldn’t name a meaningful verse

Trump has said many times that he does not ask God for forgiveness, a core principal of the Christian faith. In an interview with CNN in 2015, trump was asked if he had ever asked God for forgiveness for his actions. He answered, “I’m not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. … I think if I do something wrong … I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.”

In the height of hypocrisy, trump told a gathering at a National Prayer Breakfast in February 2020, that “I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong. Nor do I like people who say, ‘I pray for you,’ when they know that that’s not so.” He was referring to Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who said his religious beliefs guided him to vote against trump during the first impeachment trial and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who said she was praying for trump.

Trump is a sacrilegious billionaire who hid his tax returns; a “genius” who won’t show his college grades; a “businessman” who bankrupts casinos and regularly refuses to pay workers on his business sites; a “playboy” who pays for sex and sexually assaults women; a “Christian” who doesn’t go to church; a “philanthropist” who defrauds charity; a “patriot” who dodged the draft and incited the attack against the Capitol; an anger-filled ex-leader who calls for acts of violence against those who are holding him accountable; a “stable genius” who caused a million Americans to die because he was “smarter than the scientists;” and an “innocent man” who has been indicted on a series of state and federal charges.

Trump has welcomed the support of Lance Wallnau, a Christian nationalist who recently claimed on the Christian network’s “FlashPoint” program that those who oppose trump are under demonic control. Wallnau said opponents of trump have been taken captive by Satan, and their judgment is overruled by a narrative that opposes trump. Wallnau said he plans to spend 2024 traveling the country to hold political and spiritual rallies to break the “demonic strongholds” that he believes prevent Republicans from winning elections.

Another trump ally is Christian nationalist, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga. Speaking on the day that trump was indicted in New York City on federal charges of falsifying business records, Greene compared trump to Jesus and Nelson Mandela, the South African leader who fought to end apartheid.

“Trump is joining some of the most incredible people in history being arrested today,” Greene said. “Nelson Mandela was arrested, served time in prison. Jesus — Jesus was arrested and murdered by the Roman government. I just can’t believe it’s happening, but I’ll always support him. He’s done nothing wrong.”

And despite all these examples of using religion for political ends, a national poll on Dec. 5 found that more than half of Republicans view trump as a person of faith, putting him ahead of his fellow Republican contenders running for president. In a HarrisX poll conducted Sept. 8–11 for the Deseret News, registered voters were asked, “Is this political figure a person of faith?”

To understand the absurdity that is trump, read the words of President Abraham Lincoln, a president with true moral clarity and understanding of scripture. In his Second Inaugural Address, near the Civil War’s end, he referred to the north and south, “Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged.”

James Blair, a Republican strategist and trump supporter, posted a video on Dec. 2, purporting to show more than 150 pastors and religious leaders praying over trump before he took the stage at his “Save America” rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In the video, the prayer group leader was heard chanting, “The gates of hell shall not prevail against him. We are talking about this for him. Lord, I pray for protection for him; I pray for protection for his family.”

They continued, “All the weapons that have been formed against him will not succeed, and lord, they will not come to anything, and the traps that have been set against him.”

In a press conference, one of those at the rally, Pastor Dan McCoy, Senior pastor at the Baptist Church in Urbandale, said, “The overwhelming support from Iowa’s faith leaders is a clear indication of President Trump’s unwavering commitment to the principles and values important to people of faith.”

Following a blessing from church leaders, trump took the stage to rant about his debunked claims that the 2020 election was rigged in favor of Biden. Trump compared Biden to a “Third World political tyrant” who “is not the defender of American democracy; Joe Biden is the destroyer of American democracy.”

McCoy’s Baptist Church website explains that “Everyone wants a life of hope, meaning, and real love — but many people are struggling to find it, and most are done with ‘religion.’ We invite you to discover the same journey by visiting soon. Don’t miss the joy of taking a truthful and careful look at the real message of Jesus.”

Among those commenting on the video of the prayers for trump was Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., who in January 2021, voted to object to the certification of electors from Arizona and Pennsylvania in the 2020 presidential election. Donalds has repeatedly claimed that Biden is not the legitimate president.

In his post, Donalds said disingenuously that Biden “is the REAL dictator: Punishes political opponents. Ignores federal laws and the Judiciary. Profits from power. Subverts our Constitutional Republic.”

He posted, to “Mainstream Media. I’ll tell you what will happen WHEN Trump wins: Border will be secure. Economy will soar. Wars will stop. America Will succeed.”

Humility is not in trump’s vocabulary and he would do well to follow some of the wisdom of his predecessors, starting with George Washington, who said in his inaugural address, “It would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe….”

President William Henry Harrison warned of “the false Christs whose coming was foretold by the Savior.”

President Kennedy said, “here on earth, God’s work truly must be our own.” And President Gerald Ford said, “let us restore the Golden Rule to our political process, and let brotherly love purge our hearts of suspicion and of hate.”

For those who yearn for the days when blasphemers were punished, as of 2009, the states of Massachusetts, Michigan, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Wyoming, and Pennsylvania had laws that made reference to blasphemy. Pennsylvania’s blasphemy law was found unconstitutional in 2010.

The Massachusetts law is based on a 1697 statute which rules that “Whoever willfully blasphemes the holy name of God by denying, cursing or contumeliously reproaching God, His creation, government or final judging of the world, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching or exposing to contempt and ridicule, the holy word of God contained in the holy scriptures shall be punished by imprisonment in jail for not more than one year or by a fine of not more than three hundred dollars, and may also be bound to good behavior.”

The last known U.S. conviction for blasphemy was of atheist activist Charles Lee Smith. In 1928, Smith rented a storefront in Little Rock, Ark., and gave out free atheist literature there. In his trial he was denied the right to testify and was sentenced to 90 days in jail and fined $100. Released on $1,000 bail, Smith appealed the verdict and several years later, the case was finally dismissed.

The last man jailed in the U.S. for blasphemy was a Universalist preacher, Abner Kneeland. Kneeland, who died in 1844, was radical for his day advocating women’s rights, racial equality, and religious skepticism. Due to his provocative statements, Massachusetts convicted Kneeland and jailed him. After his sentence, he founded a utopian society in Iowa, but it failed shortly after his death.

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Phil Garber

Journalist for 40 years and now a creative writer