Michael Harvey
Michael Harvey
Rabbi | Advocate | Educator

Trumpism is a New Messianic Religion

It’s time for us to see that Trumpism isn’t just a political movement.  It is a new messianic religion.  Like Jesus of Nazareth, Simon Bar Kokhba, and Shabbati Zvi and the many others before him, Donald Trump has joined the ranks of a false messianic figure in the history of Western Religion.  So powerful is this new faith that it has attracted both Jews and Christians alike in following this supposedly blameless warrior sent from above to fight invisible forces of evil on their behalf.

This conclusion comes from more than just the moments in which Trump hinted at his own belief in his divine manifestation, such as when he looked to the heavens declaring “I am the chosen one,” or the many tweets from his supporters naming him the “King of Israel” and the “Second Coming of God.”  Never in the history of the world has one man been given a pardon for his misgivings than Donald Trump.  In the face of dozens of sexual assault cases, recordings of him discussing misogynistic and sexually abusive behavior, mocking the disabled, hurling insults and condescending nicknames that are antisemitic, misogynistic, and racist, his loyal followers cry the cry of Trump’s defense, “Fake News!” that the only way these things could exist is within a slanted news system hell-bent on destroying their perfect messiah.  Even in the face of documented proof, his followers give Trump a pass, stating that his words are simply “misinterpreted,” “a joke,” or “locker room talk.”  In the face of opponents, the followers (and Trump himself) lashed out projection, accusing his enemies of which all the things he, and his followers, was guilty.  While Trump supporters donned themselves in shirts, hats, flags, stickers, and buttons, they accused the other side of being “sheep.”  As “news” outlets such as OANN and Newsmax arose to further the propaganda machine of Trump, reputable news sources such as CNN, Washington Post, New York Times, and the like were labeled as “fake,” and “skewed.”  When Trump himself did something that went against his own followers’ ideas or those of Qanon, such as getting the vaccine, or wishing Ghislaine Noelle Marion Maxwell well after her arrest, the followers cried that this was a “deep fake,” or a 5D Chess game meant to confuse his opponents.

The followers refused to see the labels of “Made in China” on the MAGA hats and clothes despite Trump’s spews of “America First,” and against communist China.  When his followers marched stating “Jews will not Replace Us,” or wore Holocaust denial t-shirts the Jewish followers shrugged it off as “crazies,” that did not represent Trump or his values.  Successfully smearing the lines and creating a cognitive dissonance between hating American Jews and loving Israel, Trump was able to secure a huge Israeli and Orthodox Jewish voting base.  Those followers ignored the obvious and plainly stated support of Evangelicals for Israel by Mike Pence, whose support for Israel was not for Jews, but for the second coming of Christ.  Trump’s reversals to being pro-life and anti-LGBTQ were a natural progression when his Christian base turned up, and he became the beacon to create American judges on the highest court of the land to overturn Gay marriage and Roe v. Wade.  Trump’s character was excused, called “imperfect and human,” in order to further the will of God, according to his followers.

And this was all before Donald Trump lost the election in 2020.  When that occurred, the cultish blind followers transformed themselves from crowds of chants for their king to those who await and would fight for the return of their new messiah.  Tik Tok videos arose of people praying, not to Jesus or God, but to Trump himself, to save them from the “satanic” enemies of America.  Followers at CPAC quite literally bowed down and kissed the feet of a Golden Statue (made in China), evoking the most obvious parallels to that of the Golden Calf in Exodus ever seen.  On January 6th, democracy was put in danger when Trump supporters stormed the capital, replacing American flags with Trump flags, beating the police officers they earlier cried “back the blue” for, and smeared feces on the central building of government of the country they claimed to love.  And then, in the most predictable move ever seen in history, the followers of Donald Trump engaged in their leader’s most notable characteristic, the lack of accountability.  Even with 600 die-hard Trump and Qanon followers sat in jail, the rumors began to spread that ANTIFA and other organizations (even the FBI) were truly responsible for this deadly and destructive attack in order to make them and Trump “look bad.

Each week as more and more proof arose that Trump indeed had lost the election, and with every audit finding more, not less, votes for Biden, the supporters of  Trump dug in their heels crying conspiracy not because of a political party affiliation, but because according to their religion, it was truly impossible that their perfect leader, their new messiah, who has been painted with ripped muscles, on horseback, and with a halo, could have lost to a Catholic Democrat, who according to the followers, was the leader of a lizard people satanic child abusing cabal.

The stage was set for Trump’s glorious return.  The lawsuits were his passion, his election loss was his crucifixion, Mike Pence his Judas, and those in the crowd shouting “His blood be upon us and our children!”?, you guessed it, the “RINOs” and allies who turned against him or refused to “decertify” the election results.  With Mike Lindell as his Paul, and representatives like Marjorie Taylor Greene as his apostles, like all the messianic followers of history, Trump’s followers await his “second coming,” and continually move the goalposts when each deadline falls flat.

Trumpism is no longer, perhaps never was, just a political party or affiliation.  Trump is now seen in paintings, next to messianic bible quotes on billboards, and described as wearing the “armor” of God, while in truth he sits in his country club, continually cheating on his taxes, golfing, never once attending a church, attempting to force, unsuccessfully, his governmental allies to put him back in power.   Trump has now become the “suffering servant” of white Evangelicals (and Jews), who share his idea of being persecuted, and could never believe that Trump lost or was despised by the world (and even his family, past friends, attorneys, etc) because he was and is a horrible man, but because he is a victim of conspiracies bent on destroying him.

We can no longer see Trumpism as a fluke in the political system of America, or a gathering of mass hysteria, or the result of poor attention to mental illness in our country.  It is now a full-fledged fundamentalist messianic religion that has millions of followers spreading like wildfire through our government, police forces, and businesses.  And this, is a much scarier realization because you cannot simply vote out a religious affiliation.  We are stuck with Trumpism for generations or longer, and he will join the ranks of false messiahs in our future history books.

About the Author
Ordained rabbi and social justice advocate with extensive experience serving congregations and leading large-scale community change. Published author who concentrates on bringing deep Jewish understanding to the lay public. Doctoral student with a focus on how Jewish philosophy can drive social justice work in the United States. Passionate Jewish educator using innovative teaching methods to reach unaffiliated Jews. Founder of "Teach Me Judaism": educational and animated Jewish lessons on scholarship: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4vNAB0lVE4munW_znGdEtQ
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