Bible salesman Trump commits many sins the Good Book preaches against

Selling high-priced Bibles to people who often can’t afford them has long been a shady business. After all, many religious organizations give away free Bibles, going back more than a century to the Gideons who put Bibles in hotel rooms (to this day). And these days it’s easy to find various versions of the Old and New Testaments online in the language of your choice.

But this Holy Week, we saw a new purveyor of high-priced Bibles—the same man who brought us Trump steaks, Trump water, Trump wine, and more recently gold Trump Never Surrender sneakers. Former president Donald Trump is now pitching the “God Bless the USA Bible” for $59.99.

It’s a new grift that liberal Protestant theologian Jim Wallis, writing in The Daily Beast, says not only makes Trump “a heretic and an idolator but endangers his immortal soul.”

RELATED STORY: Some Christians are aghast at Trump’s $60 Bible ‘hustle’

Wallis wrote:

The life of lies that Donald Trump has led and deliberately spread to the damage of our nation completely contradicts Jesus’ words in the Gospel of John: “You will know the truth and the truth will make you free.”

While Trump has led the political trajectory of fear, hate, and violence in our public discourse, Jesus says in the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.”

And it’s ludicrous when you realize that this Bible salesman is scheduled to go on trial this month in a New York courtroom on felony charges that stem from paying hush money to adult-film star Stormy Daniels. Trump is also appealing an $83 million judgment against him for defaming writer E. Jean Carroll, whom he was found liable of sexually abusing in a department store dressing room.

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And as Slate noted, the Bible-selling Trump has now “stepped into a role American film and literature have long associated with grift.”

The fictional Bible salesman has, through books and movies, become the metaphorical manifestation of the biblical warnings against those who “peddle the word of God for profit” (2 Corinthians 2:17, NIV). … These wolves in sheep’s clothing appear in works from Flannery O’Connor’s short story “Good Country People” to films like Paper Moon (1973) and O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000).

That’s from the New Testament book that Trump mispronounced during a 2016 appearance at Liberty University as “Two Corinthians” instead of “Second Corinthians.”

In the Oscar-winning film “Paper Moon,” directed by Peter Bogdanovich, Ryan O’Neal plays a con man who combs newspaper death notices for recently widowed women, and then sells them personally inscribed deluxe Bibles that their husbands supposedly ordered before they died.

And in the Coen Brothers’ jailbreak film “O Brother, Where Art Thou,” John Goodman plays Big Dan Teague, a smooth-talking, villainous Bible salesman who says there’s ”damn good money” in selling “the truth, every blessed last word of it, from Genesis on down to Revelations.”

It turns out that Big Dan also is a member of the KKK and takes part in an attempted lynching. Slate writes:

Through this side of his character, the story adds to the Bible salesman trope, linking violence and theft disguised by religion to the South’s history of racial violence in the name of “culture and heritage.” Big Dan’s career as a Bible salesman is a metaphorical hood that allows him to get away with theft, while his Klan hood allows him—and the rest of the hate group—to get away with murder at night while maintaining the veneer of upstanding citizens by day.

Big Dan, meet your real-life counterpart, Big Don.

And there was also the Maysles Brothers’ 1969 cinema verite documentary “Salesman” about a group of traveling Bible salesmen who go door-to-door to low-income households from Boston to Florida selling  $49.95 illustrated versions of the Bible. The film begins with one salesman telling a family, “The best-seller in the world is the Bible for one reason it’s the greatest piece of literature of all time.”

But these Bible salesmen at least know enough to properly quote verses from the Bible, as opposed to Trump.

Now Trump’s $60 “God Bless the USA” King James Bible does include copies of the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the “handwritten chorus” to Lee Greenwood’s hit country song “God Bless the USA,” which is played at Trump rallies.

In his own sales pitch, Greenwood said it’s actually about accessibility:

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Of course, Trump’s authoritarian bent and intent to overturn our democracy go against the very principles outlined in those founding documents.

In his Daily Beast opinion piece, Wallis makes clear why Trump is more dangerous than any previous sleazy Bible salesmen, fictitious or otherwise. Wallis said that Trump has committed idolatry, or false worship, by promoting white Christian nationalism, which contradicts “the most inclusive and welcoming message of the gospel of Jesus.”

And by promoting a Bible with “God Bless the USA” on the cover, Trump goes against Jesus’ teachings “by asserting the power of one nation over others.” Wallis wrote, “That is idolatry—the false worship of one country over others.”

Wallis also accused Trump of heresy for “drawing Christians and others away from Christ.”

Donald Trump and his MAGA movement deny the truest and deepest teaching of Jesus in places like his Sermon on the Mount. Trump’s worship of wealth and utter disregard for the poorest and most vulnerable brings the judgment of Jesus in Matthew’s gospel Chapter 25, “As you have done to the least of these you have done to me.” […]

The divinely created equality of all of God’s children is so much larger than the small world of Donald Trump, who wants to take over our political nation. To invoke God, Mr. Trump, in the making and selling of your Bible is a very dangerous thing—not only for the soul of the nation but also for yours. You once said that you never have felt the need to ask God for forgiveness in your life. You might want to reconsider that now.

In an Easter Sunday interview on CNN, Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia, senior pastor of Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, spiritual home of civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., said this about the newest Bible salesman:

“The Bible does not need Donald Trump’s endorsement,” And added: “It’s a risky bet because the folks who buy those Bibles might actually open them up, where it says things like thou shalt not lie, thou shalt not bear false witness, where it warns about wolves dressed up in sheep’s clothing.

“I think you ought to be careful. This is risky business for somebody like Donald Trump.

RELATED STORY: Trump’s latest grift? A Trump-endorsed Bible

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