No President Can Save Us

The weeks before and after Easter have been somewhat of a bizarre time in presidential politics—particularly from a Christian perspective. 

Holy Week, which is celebrated the week leading up to Resurrection Sunday, is the most important week on the Christian calendar. It is when we remember Jesus’ final entrance into Jerusalem, his final confrontation with the religious leaders of his day, his final teachings to his apostles, his death, and his resurrection. 

But this is an election year, and both presidential candidates have been focused on other things.

On Holy Monday, former President Donald Trump compared his myriad legal woes to the persecution of Christ in a social media post. Quoting a message he said came from a Christian friend, Trump wrote, “It’s ironic that Christ walked through His greatest persecution the very week they are trying to steal your property from you.”

Trump was referring to the case in which he was found to have committed real estate fraud and now faces a $464 million fine. 

On Holy Tuesday, Trump released an advertisement for the God Bless the USA Bible—a leather bound copy of the King James Version that includes a handwritten chorus to “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood, the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, and the Pledge of Allegiance. It is selling for $59.99.

“Religion and Christianity are the biggest things missing from this country, and I truly believe that we need to bring them back and we have to bring them back fast,” Trump said in the ad. “We love God, and we have to protect anything that is pro-God. We must defend God in the public square and not allow the media or the left wing groups to silence, censor, or to discriminate against us.”

On Good Friday, President Joe Biden published a presidential proclamation recognizing Trans Visibility Day, an annual celebration held on March 31. 

“We honor the extraordinary courage and contributions of transgender Americans and reaffirm our Nation’s commitment to forming a more perfect Union—where all people are created equal and treated equally throughout their lives,” Biden said. “But extremists are proposing hundreds of hateful laws that target and terrify transgender kids and their families.”

Among the “extremists” to which Biden referred are those who have moral objections to chemical and surgical interventions for minors experiencing gender dysphoria. 

Notably, Easter also fell on March 31 this year, leading many conservatives to accuse the president of attempting to replace Easter with Trans Visibility. 

Nevertheless, also Biden released a proclamation celebrating Easter, in which he said, “Easter reminds us of the power of hope and the promise of Christ’s Resurrection. As we gather with loved ones, we remember Jesus’ sacrifice.” 

While the two statements were released separately, albeit on the same day, the dissonance between them was palpable.

On the Tuesday following Easter, Trump responded to Biden’s proclamation about Trans Visibility Day with a proposal for an alternative celebration.

“And what the hell was Biden thinking when he declared Easter Sunday to be Trans Visibility Day,” Trump said in a speech in Green Bay, Wisconsin. “Such total disrespect to Christians.”

“And Nov. 5 is going to be called something else. Do you know what it’s going to be called?” Trump continued. “Christian Visibility Day, when Christians turn out in numbers that nobody has ever seen before. Let’s call it Christian Visibility Day, all right?”

Implied in Trump’s statement is the idea that voting for him on election day is the means by which Christians will make their presence known in America. 

During that same speech, Trump vilified immigrants several times. In another speech given that same day in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Trump even referred to them as “animals.”

“The Democrats say, ‘Please don’t call them animals; they’re humans,'” Trump said. “I said, ‘No, they’re not humans; they’re not humans. They’re animals’…I’ll use the word ‘animal,’ because that’s what they are.”

In short, both presidential candidates have often used Christian language right alongside very anti-Christian rhetoric and policy positions—and, strikingly, on Christianity’s most holy week. And while much could be said, one theme that seems to emerge is that both candidates seem to have a very poor understanding of biblical anthropology. 

From the beginning pages of Scripture we are told, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). 

And yet President Biden has consistently advocated for life-altering and irreversible medical procedures to be performed on children, the results of which can be disastrous. Many of these children later change their mind about their gender transition, as even one New York Times columnist reports. 

Biden can also rightly be described as the most pro-abortion president in American history. For all his talk of dignity and unity, Biden has made abortion—a procedure that denies the humanity of unborn children—one of the main tentpoles of his reelection campaign. 

As for Trump, he routinely denies the humanity of people born in different countries through his degrading remarks that are meant to provoke fear and hatred. “In some cases, they’re not people, in my opinion,” Trump has said.

And while he often speaks of Christian values, Trump now owes E. Jean Carroll $83.3 million plus interest for sexually assaulting and subsequently defaming her. 

I cannot speak to the state of either of these men’s souls. But the spirit of antichrist is at work in both their moral frameworks as constituted by their public words and actions. While both promise to save the country from the other, both deny the humanity and dignity of some of the people who live in it. 

And in the words of the prophet Isaiah,

Woe to those who call evil good
     and good evil,
who turn darkness to light
     and light to darkness,
who replace bitter with sweet
     and sweet with bitter.
(Isaiah 5:20)

Regardless of how a Christian feels about how to use (or not use) the power of their franchise in this election, what cannot be said is that one of these candidates is the clear Christian option. 

I understand that the world is morally complex. Multiple policy issues are at play when deciding how to cast your ballot. But may we never be fooled into thinking that our partisan politics can be boiled down to a battle of “good versus evil.” Evil is on every side, and our task is to humbly seek to bring about the most good in the midst of it. 

And even as we might find ourselves voting for candidates with whom we have significant moral disagreements, let us never make excuses or justify the evils that they have spoken or advocated for. 

But ultimately, may this dismal assessment of our political system not cause us to despair—if for no other reason than we never put our hope in it to begin with. We can remain engaged without giving our hearts or our hopes to woefully flawed political platforms and candidates. 

In fact, it would be better to disengage entirely than to be fooled into thinking one side will save us from the other. 

In other words, don’t take partisan politics that seriously. Not because they aren’t important or because they don’t care, but because they have no real transformative power. No president can save us. 

And if that is the case, then we need not passionately debate, scream at, rage-post, or silently judge those who vote differently than us. In fact, we can share a table with them. We can share our lives with them.

If they are our brother or sister in Christ, the most important thing we can do is walk alongside them as we seek to deepen our love for God and neighbor.