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Trump Is No Savior

It is fitting that the biggest movie in the world this year is the story of a messiah gone wrong.

I’m speaking, of course, about Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” sequel, the story of a savior who broke bad in a specific way: He manipulated prophecy to unleash the religious fervor of an entire people against a hated foe.

The “Dune” movies present a beautifully shot, marvelously acted, fantastical tale set in a distant future, but they’re very much grounded in the dark reality of human nature here and now. When people are angry and afraid, they will look for a savior. When that anger and fear is latched to faith and prophecy, they will yearn for a religious crusade.

There’s a version of this same story playing out in the United States, but because the anger and fear are so overwrought, the prophecies so silly, and the savior so patently absurd, we may be missing the religious and cultural significance of the moment. A significant part of American Christianity is spiraling out of control.

The signs are everywhere. First, there’s the behavior of the savior himself, Donald Trump. On Monday of Holy Week, he compared himself to Jesus Christ, posting on Truth Social that he received a “beautiful” note from a supporter saying that it was “ironic” that “Christ walked through his greatest persecution the very week they are trying to steal your property from you.”

On Tuesday, he took to Truth Social to sell a $60 “God Bless the USA Bible” (the “only Bible endorsed by President Trump”), an edition of the King James Bible that also includes America’s founding documents. “Christians are under siege,” he said. The Judeo-Christian foundation of America is “under attack,” Trump claimed, before declaring a new variant on an old theme: “We must make America pray again.”

Two weeks ago, Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA, told a Christian gathering that Democrats “want full and complete destruction of the United States of America.” Kirk is a powerful Trump ally. He has millions of followers on social media and is hoping to raise more than $100 million in 2024 to help mobilize voters for Trump.

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