Selling The Bible

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped up in the American flag, carrying a Bible, and heralded as a plea for liberty and preservation of the U.S. Constitution."

That quotation was long attributed to American novelist and satirist Sinclair Lewis. But apparently, he never said those words in that combination, although he said a lot of similar things.

In "Gideon Planish," Lewis wrote, "I just wish people wouldn’t quote ...the Bible, or hang out the flag or the cross, to cover up something that belongs more to the bankbook.”

Satirist Lewis couldn’t have been more prescient or horrifyingly on the money, especially in creating the character Elmer Gantry, an orator/evangelist who rises to power within his church while living a secret life of debauchery.

This Tuesday, it turned out that during his latest four courtroom entanglements, one of them involving a payoff to a porn star as he first ran for president, Donald Trump took a minute out to promote a new Holy Bible. Really. It’s “the only Bible endorsed by me!” he said as he read from a teleprompter standing in front of two gigantic American flags for the sales video that he posted on Truth Social.



It was self-parody as sad reality.  

He held the slimmish $59.99 volume in his hands, this time right side up.

“Happy Holy Week!” he actually said. “Let’s make America pray again,” while rolling out the “God Bless the USA Bible,” named after the ballad written and sung by Lee Greenwood, which the former “Apprentice” host plays to energize the base at rallies.

“All Americans need a Bible in their home right now, and I have [takes a breath] many. It’s my favorite book,” Trump said. 

Of course, we’ve been around this assertion before. When asked to cite a favorite verse, one of his go-to non-responses, besides “all of them” is “the Bible means a lot to me, but I don’t want to get into specifics. “ 

When he was running in 2016, Trump surprised some Christians by referencing “Two Corinthians” instead of the standard “Second Corinthians.”

But this new national Christian patriots’ edition includes a King James Bible, a handwritten version of the chorus of Greenwood’s song, and copies of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, and the Pledge of Allegiance.

These are not necessarily things that go together, given the First Amendment specifically mentions separation of church and state. Plus it’s safe to say that the former president  has yet to crack open most of the content.

This is such obvious hypocrisy, after the ill-fated attempts to sell Trump-branded water, steaks, vodka, a university, casinos, airline, and golden sneakers, that it’s too on-the-nose as self-satire to satirize.

Especially since what he’s doing is not clueless, but blasphemous.

But in the opportunism department, I’ve always had a bad feeling about country singer/songwriter Lee Greenwood, his latest business partner, whom Trump mentioned as “very special” and who was also on hand for the announcement.

 I remember that a few days after 9/11, Greenwood, or his publicist, bombarded entertainment outposts -- including the office I was working in at the time -- with faxes that noted how personally afflicted he was by the invasion and that as a result, he was making his signature song “God Bless the USA” immediately available for licensing.

So Greenwood's proud to be shame-free as well.

But it turns out that this Bible has been on the market since 2021 as a Lee Greenwood solo venture.

As soon as it was published, according to The Tennessean, “Critics saw it as a symbol of Christian nationalism, a right-wing movement that believes the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation.”

Then a petition came out in 2021 calling Greenwood’s Bible “a toxic mix that will exacerbate the challenges to American evangelicalism.”

Its original publisher, Harper Collins Christian Publishing, suddenly dropped the Book.

Around that time, unhappy customers who had ordered and paid for it and had yet to receive it due to delays, made their voices known in social media.. This got to be such a problem that Greenwood himself made a video in response, showing hundreds of books on a table as he signed each and promised that they’d be shipped.

Now, it’s unclear who the publisher and licensor of this version is, although the holding company for the licensor is the same one that Trump owns, through which he licenses his “Never Surrender” sneakers, which seem to also be on shipping hold.

Of course, the bigger picture is that Trump’s latest statements make non-Christians feel like second-class citizens. And as his candidacy continues, his Christian nation language will only grow stronger.

But the reality is that while Trump pretty much has a lock on evangelicals, he needs to bring a broader constellation to his voter base.

Maybe the former president can kill two birds with one stone, and come out with a “King James” version of “Never Surrender,” sneakers that will come with a pamphlet of light Bible readings.

Just as he hoped to do with the original promotion for the kicks, (though there’s radio silence on whether any purchaser has received them) perhaps this way he can reach urban (aka Black) evangelical sneaker wearers, as offensive as that sounds.

Or maybe that’s only secondary to finding a new revenue stream to pay his lawyer bills.

Sinclair Lewis wrote about preachers who took on the techniques of salesmen and con men, to show how power, money, and ambition corrupt religion. 

Let’s see how this new religious venture goes.

1 comment about "Selling The Bible".
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  1. Ronald Kurtz from American Affluence Research Center, March 28, 2024 at 10:57 a.m.

    Ms. Lippert has provided a factual and credible presentation of Trump's utter contempt for the gullibility and intelligence of his supporters. They are on a path to America's destruction and they don't understand that. 

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