In video ad, Donald Trump endorses ‘God Bless the USA’ Bible for every American home

(RNS) — During Holy Week, Donald Trump says he has the perfect solution to America’s troubled soul.

A patriotic, God Bless the USA Bible.

“We must make America pray again,” the former president said in a YouTube and social media promotional video for the Bible, named after country singer Lee Greenwood’s 1984 hit song.

Along with a King James Version translation of the Christian Scriptures, the God Bless the USA Bible also features the text of the U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Pledge of Allegiance and the chorus to Greenwood’s song.

All for $59.99.



In the promo, Trump, who is seeking a return to the White House, laments the decline of organized religion in the United States. A new poll from Gallup found that more than half of Americans rarely or never go to church, while projections from Pew Research indicate that by 2070, fewer than half of Americans may be Christians. Most Americans believe religion is on the decline but are split on whether that is a good or bad thing.

“Religion and Christianity are the biggest things missing from this country,” said Trump in the promotional video. “And I truly believe that we need to bring them back. And we have to bring them back fast.”

Every American, says Trump, needs a Bible in their home. In the video, he is flanked by American flags and calls Greenwood a good friend.

Trump, who promised Christian broadcasters a revival of Christian power during an appearance in Nashville, Tennessee, last month, has played Greenwood’s anthem during campaign events. 

While Trump claims in the promo that the Bible is his favorite book, saying he owns many copies, his endorsement is likely a paid one — the promo video points viewers to godblesstheusabible.com, where they can order a copy.

The site includes a disclaimer that the Bible has no ties to the Trump campaign and that funds from the Bible don’t go to the campaign. However, Trump was compensated for the endorsement.

“GodBlessTheUSABible.com 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,” an FAQ on the site reads.

The Washington Post reported that CIC Ventures LLC is owned by Trump. 

Endorsing the God Bless the USA Bible was likely a smart move for Trump, said Warren Throckmorton, a retired Grove City College professor who has studied the work of David Barton, a popular Christian speaker who has his own patriotic version of the Scriptures known as The Founders Bible.

That Bible and the one Trump endorses appeal to a sense of nostalgia about America’s past, based on efforts in the 1940s to market the United States as a Christian nation. The idea of the U.S. as a Christian country is commonly held, Throckmorton said, while not historically accurate.

“I think that’s the fallback position for many people, even if they’re not personally Christian themselves,” he said.

Throckmorton predicted the endorsement would pay off for Greenwood and Trump.

Former president Donald Trump, left, and musician Lee Greenwood on the website for the God Bless the USA Bible. (Screen grab)

Former President Donald Trump, left, and musician Lee Greenwood on the website for the God Bless the USA Bible. (Screen grab)

“It will sell Greenwood a profitable amount of Bibles and it will solidify Trump’s image as a champion of morality to his fans,” he told Religion News Service in an email. “Trump needs to shore up his base and this kind of Christian nationalist baby food will do the trick.” 

Ruth Braunstein, associate professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut and director of the Meanings of Democracy Lab, said that the God Bless the USA Bible appeals to “God and country” religion — but can be used to promote more radical forms of Christian nationalism — the idea that America belongs to Christians and that Christians have the right to run the country.

“It’s one thing to say (or sing along to) ‘God Bless the USA’ and quite another to say (as Trump did in his announcement video), that ‘All Americans need a Bible in their home,’” she said in an email. “This is not just promoting religion in general, which would perhaps draw criticism but still be considered within the pale. He is using his position as the former President to endorse a specific form of religiosity, to sell a Christian Bible.”

University of Oklahoma professor Samuel Perry, who has published two books on Christian nationalism, said Trump’s ad reflected the ideology’s penchant for framing Christianity as under siege. He pointed to the former president’s argument that the U.S. is not only tied to Christianity at its founding, but that the nation’s religious heritage is under attack. 

“It’s not enough to say ‘We’re a Christian nation and we should honor that.’ What really needs to be communicated is that ‘We were a Christian nation, but not anymore, because of those people,’” Perry said in an email. “In other words, at the core of the political strategy of Christian nationalism is constantly evoking the felt sense of loss and future threat.”

Trump, he added, “can’t convincingly sell himself as an exemplar of Christian piety,” but can “sell himself as the defender of Christians against the attacks of leftists, socialists, Muslims, and immigrants.”

Put together by Greenwood with the help of a Nashville marketing firm, the God Bless the USA Bible has been controversial in the past. Plans for an edition using the New International Version of the Bible under agreement with the Christian publishing giant Zondervan were derailed after Christian authors with ties to Zondervan protested.

The project was resurrected using the King James Version, which is in the public domain.

A spokesperson for Greenwood did not respond to requests for comment.

This story was reported with support from the Stiefel Freethought Foundation. Jack Jenkins contributed to this story, 


 



Title: In video ad, Donald Trump endorses ‘God Bless the USA’ Bible for every American home
URL: https://religionnews.com/2024/03/26/in-a-paid-endorsement-donald-trump-promotes-lee-greenwoods-god-bless-the-usa-bible-for-every-american-home/
Source: Religion News Service
Source URL: https://religionnews.com/
Date: March 26, 2024 at 11:30PM
Feedly Board(s): Religion