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As for this hot new Bible, do you want fries with it?

For a week or more now, I've been thinking about the “God Bless the USA” Bible that Donald Trump has been hawking for $60, minus a penny.

USA-bibleThe least objectionable response to this avaricious abhorrence I've come up with is that everyone in the U.S. -- of any, none and all faiths -- should have some basic familiarity with the Bible because it has so deeply influenced the world and especially the United States.

But simply selling a 1611 English translation of the original Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic in which the Bible was written is a little like giving high school science students a copy of Albert Einstein's 1915 Theory of General Relativity and expecting them, once they read it, to understand how and why the internet works.

As this NPR story reports, the Bible comes with copies of the founding documents of the U.S., which raises the question of whether Trump is trying to encourage the idolatrous idea that those documents and the ideas they contain were either written or inspired and approved by God. Seems possible.

But then you have to say what you mean when you say some documents, including the Bible, are "inspired" by God. And as this Good Faith Media story suggests, that's no simple task.

Jemar Tisby, author of, among other books, The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church's Complicity in Racism, writes in this article that Trump's Bible-sale deal is "a stunningly blatant display of white Christian nationalism."

Well, no. Yes, it's a display of white Christian nationalism but it's not "stunning." It would have been maybe as part of his 2016 winning campaign, but his history since then is so full of the political manipulation of religion that nothing should surprise anyone anymore -- even the fact that a lot of the proceeds from the Bible sales will go to pay Trump's huge legal bills, but, as the FAQ page on the Bible's website notes:


"No, is not political and has nothing to do with any political campaign. is not owned, managed or controlled by Donald J. Trump, The Trump Organization, CIC Ventures LLC or any of their respective principals or affiliates.

" uses Donald J. Trump’s name, likeness and image under paid license from CIC Ventures LLC, which license may be terminated or revoked according to its terms."


When I was in junior high, I heard about a radio station on the Mexico side of the Texas border that was offering to sell listeners copies of the Bible that was, as the announcer said, "autographed by Jesus Christ." Trump's deal doesn't quite match that blasphemy but perhaps only because he didn't think of it.

By the way, the King James Version was a soaring poetic achievement when it was published some 400 years ago, and the great Hebrew Bible scholar and translator Robert Alter thinks that no translation done after the KJV comes close to it.

But since it was published, many older manuscripts of the books in the Bible have been found and that has led scholars to question quite a few passages in the KJV. So we need good new translations. It's just that they lack the beauty of the KJV. So give Trump credit for picking that version, though no doubt his reason for doing so was that it cost him nothing in royalties because the KJV now is in the public domain.

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As Haiti falls further into chaos, kidnappers are grabbing Catholic priests, nuns and brothers and demanding exorbitant ransoms, sometimes in the millions of dollars, this RNS story reports. Wonder why they imagine the church has that kind of money. Oh. But if you were the pope, is that how you'd spend it? To decide that question, you need to have thought through the ramifications of every choice. And then have the courage to act.

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P.S.: My latest Flatland column -- about clergy as first responders -- can be found here.


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