The ex-con artist-in-chief selling Bibles to cure what ails his $oul…

Vince Rizzo
5 min readMar 27, 2024

Spreading the Word

Two Corinthians walked into a bar. The first one asked, “Have you heard? Trump is in town for a rally.

The second Corinthian reached into his pocket to hold onto his wallet.

- 2 Corinthians, Trump’s favorite Bible verse

The man selling Bibles like a QVC hawker this week was once ridiculed for his pretense of having read a Bible himself. He became the unchristian-like butt of many who have read and lived by the Good Book. In 2016 while delivering a talk at Liberty University, Trump tried to show off his evangelical chops. NPR’s Jessica Taylor takes it from there:

There were a few stumbles during Donald Trump’s sojourn to Liberty University on Monday.

He mispronounced a book of the Bible. He cursed — twice. And on Martin Luther King Day, the GOP presidential candidate said he was honoring the slain civil-rights leader by dedicating to him the record crowds he says he drew for the school’s opening convocation. (Students are required to attend.)

“We’re going to protect Christianity. I can say that. I don’t have to be politically correct,” he thundered at the beginning of his speech at the conservative evangelical university.

Then he moved on to cite “Two Corinthians 3:17, that’s the whole ballgame. … Is that the one you like?” Trump asked. “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

That’s a verse that’s etched on campus buildings, but that verse comes from “ Second Corinthians” — not “Two.”

The man who sold condos to the rich and famous is reduced to selling Bibles on the internet and running for president from the bargain basement venue of a shared digital billboard overlooking America’s highways. We have come a long way from roadside Burma Shave billboards. If you are too young to remember, Burma Shave would set a series of little ads along rural roads with pithy storylines like this, which made them in those bygone days when Dad took ya’ll for a spin in the country anti-boredom treats- not to mention beginning reader lessons for the younger set.

Outdoor signage is used to sell everything from pizzas to political grifters. Some of their ads are cute like the Burma Shave campaigns, others more informational. But the one that caught my eye was the new pitch by candidate Donald Trump, whose combination of snark and outlandishness has a certain appeal even to those of us who find him loathsome. His picture, larger than life, looks down on us like a three-car wreck that forces you to slow down and rubberneck. You can’t help but look, and pray no one dies:

Going for snark, he achieves bathos, that special combination of the sublime and the ridiculous. The small wheeled carry-on he pulls tells a story. Is he moving in or simply going away? Is the rollaway filled with clothing or his latest scam-for-sale? The sign popped up in a week when the NY AG threatened to confiscate his properties after a devastating court decision ordering him and his sons to pony up over a half-billion dollars in fines and a three-year ban from doing business in New York state. If NYC is home. he isn’t very welcome. Others may resnark that the satchel he is dragging is likely stuffed with top-secret documents he still holds in defiance of Federal law- or Trump playing cards, or, now, Bibles. Yes, Trump has added The Good Book to his nefarious inventory of merch. Passing him along the road, the sense that as he looks down on all of us someone else may be watching. Desperate and with nothing worthwhile left to lose, Donald Trump may just have tweaked the wrong Marine.

A Biblical Sale of the Century

There is a certain wistfulness in the red-lettered “I’M COMING HOME!” — all caps and exclamationed, as is his style- a little like Ricky Riccardo opening the door to his NY apartment clueless to the dangers that lurk inside. Letitia James has shown herself as relentless and unwelcoming as Ricky’s Lucy with a new money-making scheme. Today he is selling Bibles to cover his bills. His campaign coffers drained to pay his ever-growing legal penalties, he turns to scam his evangelical disciples whom he has convinced that he is the second- and if they need it- third coming:

Trump remains deeply popular with white evangelical Christians , who are among his most ardent supporters, even though the thrice-married former reality TV star has that often seemed at odds with teachings espoused by Christ in the Gospels… a long history of behavior

When asked to share his favorite Bible verse in an interview with Bloomberg Politics in 2015, he demurred.

— AP, “Trump is selling ‘God Bless the USA’ Bibles for $59.99 as he faces mounting legal bills,” by Jill Colvin

There are no specifics, and his “faithlessness” is truly personal. Here is a man in search of a savior. Selling Bibles is his latest grift and for those who ask, “What’s next?” they are left scratching their heads. Nothing is beneath him but us.

The truth is the billboard encapsulates the Trump conundrum, deep down he knows he’s damned. Just as he campaigns for president in a race against time and justice, he literally tests the limits of fate with desecrations and blasphemies- like a spoiled little boy doomed by bad parenting. What’s next? As Trump heaps sacrilege upon his other sins, his lifetime has become a series of near escapes from consequences that in the end will surely engulf him. All the foreclosures, the bankruptcies, the philandering, and the political sins of commission cannot compete with the moral bankruptcy of selling the word of God to pay off your creditors while never having cracked the text or subscribed to its teachings.

So the message he sends in this billboard that blinks his disrespect and sarcasm for 12 seconds of every minute, sharing a digital sign with nacho ads and dental tips is a mirror into a darkened soul. “Look at me” he shouts from board alongside the road. Like Burma Shave before him, he is selling foam and bubbles, waving his sign, hoping we will notice.

The truth is it is impossible to look away.

Originally published at https://www.dailykos.com on March 27, 2024.

--

--

Vince Rizzo

Former president of the International Association of Laboratory Schools (IALS) and a founder of a charter school based on MI theory.