Proving he is the hugest thing ever to hit the American political scene, Donald Trump’s poll numbers actually went up this month after his recent criticisms of Jesus Christ. Trump bragged that by contrast, even the Beatles fell in popularity when, 50 years ago, John Lennon asserted that Christianity was in decline and the group was “more popular than Jesus.”
Trump’s controversial comments came in a wide-ranging interview for Decision Magazine with Franklin Graham, son of renowned evangelist Billy Graham. In the article, Franklin describes the 2016 presidential race as “the most important election of our time” and Donald Trump as “The Chosen One.” Franklin invited Trump to “open up for our readers about your views on Jesus.”
After clarification from Franklin that he was referring to “Jesus Christ — the one in the Bible,” Trump said, “OK, that guy. I admit it. I’ve got some reservations about him. For one thing, he allowed himself to be captured. In my book, that’s not what a hero does. They don’t turn the other cheek — you know, choke. I wish he had punched the Romans in the face. Knocked the crap out of Judas. Judas was a very bad dude. Had it coming.”
The transcript reflects Franklin Graham breaking into a coughing spell at this point, while Trump continues to propound on what Jesus had done wrong. “He praised the Samaritans — people who wouldn’t have been around if not for open borders. He said the meek were blessed. Did you get that? The meek are blessed. The other religions — I mean — they’re laughing at us.”
When Franklin resumed his composure, he pushed back, questioning if Trump meant what he said. “Oh, I know more than the generals about ISIS, and more than Jesus about living right,” Trump assured him.
Trump went on to list other areas of disagreement:
“Blessed are the peacemakers? It’s very weak. I’m going to make America so unmeek you’ll get tired of it.”
“Blessed are you when you are persecuted? I guess he couldn’t afford lawyers to stand up for his rights. Or maybe Roman laws were like ours: too much protection to people who tells lies about you.”
“Praying in private and secretly giving to the poor? I mean, what’s the point if the cameras don’t catch it? If it’s not on TV, it didn’t happen. Just doesn’t make any sense to me.”
Asked if he could name one thing Jesus did right, Trump cited the ability to express memorable things in a tweetable 140 characters or less: “The Golden Rule, you know, that ‘Treat others like they treat you’ — Jesus said that in less than 40 characters and everyone in the world knows about it. It’s great, really great. Walking on water, that’s another thing I admire. Believe me, I really do.”
Franklin pegged religious freedom as “the No. 1 issue” and Trump as “100 percent right on it.” He compared this to Hillary Clinton being a Methodist, “which in the end is only nine letters away from Muslim.”
Trump noted with pride that he does “very well with the Jews, a lot of them are voting for me and are my close friends. They count my money. I trust them.”
Franklin wrapped up by admitting he resented Trump for making Christians choose between “political power and the Prince of Peace” but that Trump was right: Jesus spent “too much time with the needy — if Jesus focused more on flattering the political elite like I do, Herod and Pilate would have been his buddies.”
Trump nodded his hair in agreement.
[Originally appeared in September 27, 2016 Waco Tribune-Herald at 4A.]