by Jeff C. Stevenson
In 2003, the President of the United States reportedly told the BBC, “I’m driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, ‘George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan,’ and I did, and then God would tell me, ‘George go and end the tyranny in Iraq,’ and I did.” Estimates on the number of people killed in the invasion and occupation of Iraq vary widely and are highly disputed, but they range from hundreds of thousands to more than a million.
God has a lot to answer for. He apparently tells people to blow up clinics, start wars, and even run for office. Any sentence that begins or ends with these four words— “God told me to”—often results in terrifying or embarrassing consequences.
For example, at least nine Republicans indicated that God told them to run for the 2016 nomination, with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker proclaiming, “I needed to be certain that running was God’s calling — not just man’s calling. I am certain.” Walker dropped out of the race within two months of entering the primary.
Although it’s said that religion and politics don’t mix, for decades the religious right sect of the Republican party has been trying to mash them together by any means necessary. In 2016 they thought they had succeeded; they had more than a dozen conservatives whom they thought were all electable, even if their religious right-wing worldview would be considered crazy and dangerous to most voters in a general election.
Convinced that they really, really, really had God on their side this time, they chose Texas Senator Ted Cruz to carry their torch and gain the nomination. But God—or the voters—had other ideas and Ted soon lost traction under the steamroller known as Donald Trump. Once Trump defeated Cruz, the religious Republicans yielded, regrouped, and sheepishly admitted they had misheard God.
It was actually Donald Trump that God wanted to be President. Not only that, they proclaimed that Trump was now a born-again Christian. The internet responded with laughter and mockery, but the GOP said they had proof of the Donald’s conversion.
In June of 2016, Dr. James Dobson, founder and former head of the right-wing religious group Focus on the Family, announced that Trump, “had really made a commitment, but he’s a baby Christian. We all need to be praying for him, especially if there’s a possibility of him being our next chief executive officer.” Of course, no sane Christian believed this, and as the months passed, Trump himself never claimed to have seen the light, only some of his alt-right religious handlers who continued to peddle the story.
Since that point, have we all seen Trump becoming a radically more loving, forgiving and Christ-like person? No, we haven’t. The man who chillingly said in January 2016 that he could “stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” now has a devoted and passionate following that’s in the tens of millions. And their passionate—and at times violent, racist and dangerous—fervor for their candidate is well documented. Those who blindly support him regardless of what he says or does have caused the Trump movement to be likened to a cult by none other than Rick Ross, the executive director of the Cult Education Institute.
Ross, a lifelong Republican, was first alarmed by Trump’s rhetoric at the Republican National Convention. When Trump said, “I alone can fix it,” it was the tipping point for Ross. “That kind of pronouncement is typical of many cult leaders who say that ‘my way is the only way, I am the only one,’” Ross told GQ the end of August. “That was a very defining moment.”
This election—like each one before and after—will be significant, especially for those who insist their candidate is God’s choice or “God” told him or her to run for office. Here’s breaking news for the religious right and their candidates, past, present and future: No, He didn’t tell you to run. You’re listening to what the Bible calls “vain imaginations,” your ego or the voices in your head. And you’re embarrassing yourself and Christians around the world who wonder why you act so crazy and say such bizarre things.
People who state “God told me to” are never to be listened to (or voted for) because the same God could also tell them to blow up a clinic, start a war, or run for president. The stakes only get higher and more dangerous the further they climb the ladder of influence.
Or, as Ross warns: “We’re not talking about a compound with a thousand people. We’re talking about a nation with over 300 million people. So the consequences of Trumpism could affect us in a way Jim Jones never did.”
Regardless of who you vote for, don’t blame God for the outcome. He has nothing to do with it.
Jeff C. Stevenson works as a freelance copywriter for various New York advertising agencies. He is a professional member of Pen America and an active member of the Horror Writers Association. The author of Fortney Road: Life, Death, and Deception in a Christian Cult, Jeff has had more than a dozen articles, novelettes, short stories and flash fiction published in a wide variety of journals and anthologies. Author profile: http://goo.gl/dWEA8N