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Lift Up Your Eyes, Empty Your Wallets For Bible Thumper Trump

Phil Garber
8 min readMar 28, 2024


“He was the first who shouted on the public platform, who used abusive language, and who spoke with his cloak girt around him, while all the others used to speak in proper dress and manner.”

No, the comments were not about trump and they were not recent. It was 25 centuries ago and the speaker, Aristotle, was referring to the populist Cleon who persuaded his fellow Athenians to slaughter every man in the city of Mytilene as punishment for a failed revolt.

The prescient words of author James W. Wise Jr., are as relevant today as when Wise first commented in 1936, when Hitler and the Nazis were rising to power.

“When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped up in the American flag, carrying a Bible and heralded as a plea for liberty and preservation of the U.S constitution” Wise wrote.

And then there were the observations by the great socialist and trade unionist, Eugene Debs, who said, “In every age it has been the tyrant, the oppressor and the exploiter who has wrapped himself in the cloak of patriotism or religion or both to deceive and over awe the people.”

Thomas Macaulay, author of “The History of England from the Accession of James II” (1849), wrote about the tyrants throughout history and said, “In every age the vilest specimens of human nature are to be found among demagogues.”

And probably the most salient observation came from Emily Pears, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College, who wrote in the fall 2022 edition of National Affairs.

“Protecting democracy from future demagogues will require us to zoom out from our focus on Trump and to re-engage with broader theories of democracy, populism, and institutionalism,” Pears wrote. “The next master of the masses (and there will be another) won’t look like Trump or act like Trump. To properly defend democracy against demagoguery, we need a deeper, ongoing analysis of the threat demagoguery poses to the American regime and the tools available to address it.”

Trump joins a long list of world-famous demagogues, false self-proclaimed gods like Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Huey Long, Father Coughlin, and Joseph McCarthy, who followed similar playbooks of using scapegoating, fear mongering, lying and rhetoric to excite the passions of the masses against customs and norms of the aristocratic elites of their times.

Trump generated anger and fear with his provocative oratory warning about rapists coming to the U.S. from Mexico. In the late 19th century, the American demagogue, “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman, made up tales about white women who were raped by black men lurking by the side of the road. Tillman depicted black men as having an innate “character weakness” consisting of a fondness for raping white women. Tillman was elected governor of South Carolina in 1890, and elected senator repeatedly from 1895 to 1918.

Trump’s racist slurs were tepid compared with the words of the southern demagogue, James K. Vardaman, who was governor of Mississippi from 1904–1908 and a U.S. Senator from 1913–1919. Like trump, Vardaman was short on specifics and long on generalities. Vardman spoke after President Theodore Roosevelt invited African Americans to a reception at the White House.

“Let Teddy take coons to the White House. I should not care if the walls of the ancient edifice should become so saturated with the effluvia from the rancid carcasses that a Chinch bug would have to crawl upon the dome to avoid asphyxiation,” Vardaman said.

Trump promises to rid the country of the immigrant “vermin” and “bad blood.” When running for governor in 1903, Vardaman told his followers, “a vote for Vardaman is a vote for white supremacy, a vote for the quelling of the arrogant spirit that has been aroused in the blacks by Roosevelt and his henchmen, …a vote for the safety of the home and the protection of our women and children.”

The MAGA of Vardaman’s day were the so-called “rednecks,” poor white farmers and industrial workers who supported Vardaman and got the moniker from the red neckerchiefs they wore to rallies and picnics. Vardaman advocated a policy of state-sponsored racism against blacks and said that he supported lynching to maintain white supremacy. From 1877 to 1950, Mississippi had the highest number of lynchings in the nation, gaining Vardaman the reputation as the “Great White Chief.”

The town of Vardaman, Miss., is named in honor of Vardaman as was Vardaman Hall at the University of Mississippi. In July 2017, the University of Mississippi announced that Vardaman’s name would be removed from the building, but it still had not been removed as of September 2023.

Demagogues have always held themselves up as false gods and have used blasphemous messages to appeal to their subjects. Trump is well on the way to creating the nation’s foremost kakistocracy, a term meaning a state or country run by the worst, least qualified or most unscrupulous citizens. The word was first coined by English novelist Thomas Love Peacock in 1829, but was rarely used until the 21st century. The word is derived from two Greek words, kakistos (κάκιστος; worst) and kratos (κράτος; rule), with a literal meaning of government by the worst people.

Trump has screamed that Christianity is under threat, and that he stands as the relentless defender of the faith. In trying to win support of Christian nationalists, trump has compared himself to Jesus Christ and the crucifixion, claiming, in so many words, that he is persecuted in the same way the Romans persecuted Christ.

Trump referred to the “politically motivated” criminal and civil cases against him. In one case, he has been found guilty of fraud and could lose many of his properties through foreclosure. He claimed to have received a message on his Truth Social page, that “It’s ironic that Christ walked through His greatest persecution the very week they are trying to steal your property from you.”

The supposed sender also supposedly quoted Psalm 109, noting, “They have also surrounded me with words of hatred — and fought against me without a cause — In return for my love they are my accusers … let an accuser stand at his right hand — when he is judged — let him be found guilty — and let his prayer become sin — let his days be few — and let another take his office.”

Last year, trump compared himself to Jesus when he reposted an image created by artificial intelligence showing a court sketch of Jesus sitting beside trump in a courtroom during one of his legal proceedings.

Hot on the heels of his trump sneaker grift, trump is partnering with country music singer Lee Greenwood to market “God Bless the USA Bibles.” The sneakers sold for $399 making the bibles a steal at $59.99. And despite the nation’s solemn separation between church and state each trump, King James version Bible includes a copy of the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Pledge of Allegiance and of course, a copy of the “handwritten chorus” to Greenwood’s 1984 hit “God Bless the USA,” which has become the rowdy ubiquitous theme song at trump rallies as trump tries to amp up his support for those arrested after the Jan. 6, 2021, uprising at the capitol. Trump calls them “hostages.”

“We must make America pray again,” trump posted on his social network site in urging people buy his Bibles. He claims that he won’t benefit from the sales but he might not be telling the truth. The same company marketing the bibles, CIC Ventures LLC, owns trademark for his “Never Surrender High-Top Sneaker” which is raising money for trump’s legal defense. The Washington Post also reported that trump’s financial disclosure report for 2023, identify him as the company’s “manager, president, secretary and treasurer” and the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust is identified as a 100 percent owner of the business.

Trump is in a big rush to raise millions to pay his bonds to avoid losing properties and he’s hoping to cash in on his gullible followers.

“Religion and Christianity are the biggest things missing from this country,” said trump, who said his “many” personal Bibles are his “favorite” books. “I truly believe that we need to bring them back, and we have to bring them back fast. I think it’s one of the biggest problems we have.”

There are thousands of Bibles on the market. The trump bibles cost $59.99 but a quick Google finds other Bibles can be purchased for as little as $2.69 for the “Crossway/2017/Trade Paperback” from ESV Economy Bible, available at Amazon. Many churches have lending libraries or may even provide free bibles for newcomers.

And if money is no object, send in an order for the 1897 Genuine London ART Edition Embellished with 852 Illustrations Holy Bible Old and New Testaments Louis Klopsch Rare, for $9,000. Amazon reports there is just one left so there is no time to waste.

The partnership with trump is not Greenwood’s first foray in the Bible selling business. In 2022 Greenwood marketed a similar custom “God Bless The USA Bible” that included copies of the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, and Pledge of Allegiance and lyrics for Greenwood’s “God Bless The USA.” Greenwood has other things in common with trump. Greenwood is married to former Miss Tennessee USA Kimberly Payne, Greenwood’s fourth marriage, In 2012, he released a children’s illustrated book, “Does God Still Bless the U.S.A.,” which included a calendar, “Prayers of a Patriot.

Greenwood, 81, the self-proclaimed “America’s Patriot,” has released more than 20 major-label albums and has charted more than 35 singles on the Billboard country music charts. His patriotic signature songGod Bless the U.S.A.,” was originally released in the spring of 1984 and has been played at Republican political rallies from Ronald Reagan through trump.

The day before trump’s inauguration, Greenwood performed at trump’s “Make America Great! Welcome Celebration.” He also sang for Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., after her victory in her Senate election. Blackburn was a staunch trump supporter and climate change denier who nominated trump for Nobel Peace Prize.

In September 2008, President George W. Bush nominated Greenwood for a six-year term on the National Council on the Arts. In 2015, President Barack Obama nominated Esperanza Spalding to succeed Greenwood but the nomination was not acted upon by the Senate, and Greenwood continued serving under Obama and trump. In 2021, President Joe Biden nominated and the Senate confirmed a successor, Kamilah Forbes. Greenwold told Fox and Friends of his “shock” at learning he was replaced on the council.

In 2022, Greenwood was named to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Hall of fame. CPAC hosts an annual gathering of far right political figures and has been a consistent trump supporter.

There have been other patriotic-themed Bibles in the past, including the 2009 “American Patriot’s Bible,” which includes scriptures and essays about American history. Others notably include the “1599 Geneva Bible: Patriot’s Edition” and the “Founder’s Bible” by evangelist, David Barton. The “New England Patriots Bible Verses” published in 2018 includes “101 motivational verses for the believer.” The Bible, however, is out of print and no longer available.

One thing trump knows is money and he is tapping into an institution that contributes around $1.2 trillion to the U.S. economy each year. An estimated 344,000 religious congregations of all faiths contribute $418 billion into the economy.

Religion has created some very rich people. The richest pastor in America is Kenneth Copeland, with an estimated net worth of $300 million. Copeland leads the “Believer’s Voice of Victory,” TV show and network. He operate Kenneth Copeland Ministries on a 1,500-acre campus near Fort Worth, Texas, equipped with a church, a private airstrip, and a hangar for the ministry’s $17.5 million jet and other aircraft. Copeland resides with his wife, Gloria, in a $6 million church-owned lakefront mansion.

Other uber wealthy pastors include Joel Osteen; the late Pat Robertson; Steven Furtick Jr.; Andy Stanley; Creflo Dollar; Rick Warren; Jesses Duplantis; T.D. Jakes; and Greg Laurie.