While touring tornado-ravaged Alabama last week, Donald Trump visited Providence Baptist Church (a Southern Baptist congregation) in Opelika. According to the Washington Post, the President received a hero’s welcome:
The president was granted a hero’s welcome in the corridor of a state that overwhelmingly supported him in 2016.
Inside a Baptist church, the president autographed at least two Bibles for an adoring horde of volunteers, who were packed eight-deep around tables of recovery supplies. Thousands waved and cheered along the roadways, some paved and some not, with nary a protester in sight. Crowds greeted him in a wrecked neighborhood with MAGA (Make America Great Again) signs, Trump chants and a mannequin decorated with Trump merchandise outside a crushed home.
“I’d vote for him again,” said Ada Ingram, a local resident, in the annex of Providence Baptist Church serving as a shelter. She said proudly that Trump had signed Bibles belonging to her sister and a 12-year-old volunteer, who drew uproarious cheers when he posed for a picture with Trump. She called the president a “godsend.”
“He signed his Bible!” she exclaimed
Many people were upset over Trump signing his name on Bibles. “Is he the author of the Bible?” one man rhetorically asked. Of course not, but neither are the men this man thinks ARE the authors. Most of the books of the Bible are written by unknown authors. Of course, this fact is not preached from Evangelical pulpits. Preachers mustn’t ever say or do anything that would cause parishioners to doubt that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God.
Those upset over Trump “defacing” the Word of God are ignorant of Evangelical Baptist church culture. It is not uncommon for Bible owners to write inside their Bibles: the date/time/place they were saved, the date/place they were baptized, and their life verse.
Life verse? “What the hell is a life verse?” liberal and progressive Christians ask. A life verse is a passage of Scripture that is your governing statement. My life verse was Proverbs 3:5,6:
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
This passage of Scripture set forth how I wanted to live my life:
- Trust in the Lord with my whole heart
- Don’t trust my own reasoning and understanding
- In everything I do, I will acknowledge God
And if I did these things, God would direct my path.
Congregants — especially children and teens — are also encouraged to have famous preachers sign their Bibles. I wasn’t into having my Bible signed, but I knew countless people who would wait in long lines to have a famous pastor or evangelist shake their hand and sign their name to the person’s Bible. This practice was common in Independent Fundamentalist Baptist and Southern Baptist churches. There was nothing about what Trump did that was out of the ordinary. If blame rests on anyone, it rests on the people asking him to sign their Bibles. Having Trump sign their Bibles is like having King David sign their Bibles right after he committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband Uriah. Trump is a despicable human being, yet some of the Evangelicals at Providence Baptist think differently.
Trevor Noah, of The Daily Show fame, perhaps summed it up best when he said:
I’m just slightly confused why anyone would want him to [sign their Bible]. Because seeing Trump’s autograph on a Bible should be like seeing a picture of your own mom on the cover of a Penthouse magazine. It should render the whole thing useless, and if you keep reading after discovering it, you’re going directly to hell.
About Bruce Gerencser
Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.
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