Having seen the image of a toddler crying while law enforcement questioned her mother, my daughter was filled with fear, anxiety, and confusion. After tearfully asking if she would be taken away from me, my nine year old followed up with the question, “Will Donald Trump go to heaven?”
It is true that the young girl was not a child who was being separated from her mother. Nonetheless, she has become the face of this time in history where American values no longer include “family values,” protecting children, or respecting human dignity.
The business mogul who claims a Christian identity with a room full of bibles to prove it, has made oppression, injustice, and the general devaluing of life the core of his administration. While Jesus calls us to embrace the stranger, walk with the least of these, to be a loving neighbor, and work for the liberation of every person, Trump’s actions and policies violate every teaching. And so, my daughter’s question was not out of line.
Like many Americans, I wonder whose Christianity he claims allegiance to? Certainly not the tradition founded by a Middle Eastern refugee who was crucified for standing against injustice perpetrated by a corrupt government. In fact, if Jesus lived today, my guess is that Trump would offer to pay the legal fees of anyone who would “punch him in the face.”
A bit less than half way through his presidency, Trump has managed to insult our nation’s closest allies, praise the world’s most vicious dictators, and turn his back on fundamental American principles. Referring to our Constitution as “the dumbest laws in the world,” Trump took office with the goal to “Make America Great Again.” As many have asked, when was America great? What time period are we looking to? And, how does banning Muslims, snatching children from immigrants, supporting Neo-Nazis, damaging the Earth, encouraging bigotry, committing sexual assault, and making friends with Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un achieve this goal?
Still, Trump is rapidly succeeding in destroying our nation’s global reputation for being a human rights defender and is leading its citizens backward as we relive the ugliest moments of our history in a new context. Hate crimes have surged, Islamophobia is at its highest rate since 9/11, and many are being forced to live in a state of constant terror because of their race, ethnicity, gender, religion, and/or sexuality.
It is no surprise given that the leader of the “Free World” has encouraged violence against nearly all persons who are not white males and commends the brutality of dictatorship. Trump praised Kim saying that he is intelligent, a tough leader, that many could not do what he has done, and that he knows how to keep people in line. Apparently torture, imprisonment, mass starvation, public executions, and even the murders of his uncle and brother are of no consequence as long as it gets the job done. Likewise, when reminded that Putin is a killer, Trump responded by saying, “so what?” Rather than challenging inhumanity, Trump offers admiration.
SCOTUS ruled five to four that Trump could refuse border crossing to particular groups regardless of his inflammatory comments about Muslims. Interestingly, no Muslim-majority nations that engage in business relations with Trump’s organization are on the list and zero refugees from the countries listed in the ban have killed anyone on U.S. soil.
In her scathing dissent, Justice Sonya Sotomayer compared the decision to the 1944 Korematsu v. United States ruling to uphold the use of Japanese internment camps during WWII. Such a decision will also have a significant impact on immigration, another sticking point for Trump as he continues to refer to Latinxs seeking residency in the U.S. as rapists, murders, and drug dealers.
Although Trump did back down on the zero-tolerance border policy after months of harsh and well deserved criticism, thousands of children remain in detention centers wondering when and if they will see their parents again. Separating families ensured that child immigration cases are separated from their parents’; as a result, toddlers are being forced to appear in court for deportation without a guardian. Thus, little has changed and Trump continues to defend caging human beings as necessary to keep our country safe.
While supporters of the policy are quick to argue that immigrant families are being separated because they have broken the law, seeking asylum is not a crime. Furthermore, crossing the border without documentation is a misdemeanor. Consider for a moment what that would mean if children were taken from every person who has committed a misdemeanor. Our nation’s youth would be sitting in detention centers punished because a parent got a speeding ticket.
Our nation, founded on immigration and providing safe refuge is now characterized as heartless and cruel in favor of policies that are victimizing and morally wrong. Trump has condoned hate crimes and created a divide among compatriots so deep, some are beginning to question whether the next civil war is on the rise.
This is not politics as usual. Trump is not just another politician who fails to live up to principles and universal rights dictated by our Constitution and Declaration of Independence. No doubt, our nation is guilty of falling short in many ways — some that are unforgivable. Nonetheless, the U.S. continues to represent liberty, democracy, and human rights in the world and every president before 45 has advocated these values. Trump, however, through his discriminatory policies and incessant tweeting, has communicated to the world that our nation’s guiding values are dead.
Trump is a man addicted to power with no concern for the wellbeing of others. Not the U.S., not its citizens, not even his “friends.” Trump’s primary concern is himself. He has never intended on fulfilling his campaign promise to “Make America Great Again,” because he doesn’t even know what that means. We have allowed a man to enter the oval office who has no respect for laws, civility, or humanity. He is a tyrannical dictator who is willing to push the nuclear button if it gets him what he wants.
And so, I return to my daughter’s question while acknowledging that as a good Catholic I know I should not judge — but alas, I also fall short.
Trump has incredible power and wealth on this earth, both of which he uses to manipulate, oppress, and maintain his position in society. Thus, at this moment, it seems that Trump’s ability to defend his life is lacking. After all, Jesus taught that a camel can fit through the eye of a needle more easily than a rich man can enter heaven. But Jesus also taught us to be forgiving, to commit to the wellbeing of our communities, and to love our enemies. And that includes Donald J. Trump.
As such, rather than wondering what Trump’s fate will be in the world to come, it is up to us — the community — to correct his wrongs and reassert the morals and values of this nation. And so, the question we should be asking is, can we confront our own fears of losing power, work for equity and social justice, and “make America great?”
Gina Messina, Ph.D. is an American feminist scholar, Catholic theologian, activist, and mom. She serves as Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Ursuline College and is co-founder of FeminismAndReligion.com. She writes for the Huff Post and is author or editor of five books including Jesus in the White House: Make Humanity Great Again and Women Religion Revolution. Messina is a widely sought after speaker and has presented across the US at universities, organizations, conferences and on national platforms including appearances on MSNBC, Tavis Smiley, NPR and the TEDx stage. She has also spoken at the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations to discuss matters impacting the lives women around the world. Messina is active in movements to end violence against women and explores opportunities for spiritual healing. Connect with her on Twitter @GMessinaPhD, Instagram: @GinaMessinaPhD, Facebook, and her website ginamessina.com.
17 thoughts on “Will Donald Trump Go to Heaven? by Gina Messina”
Thank you for alerting us to the secondary trauma being inflicted on all US children who can watch television by the forced separation policy of the US government. This trauma will remain etched in their minds and bodies. So much the more so the traumas endured by the separated children and adults.
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As for Jesus’s words, “judge not” I don’t think they should be taken out of context and applied as a universal rule. In other contexts, Jesus made judgments and even here he told the woman to “sin no more.” In this context he was confronted by legalists who hoped to trick him into agreeing with them that the woman caught in the act of adultery should be stoned or to catch him in the act of overturning Jewish law and custom. I think we should interpret his response as “skillful means” not as universal law. He saved the woman and he saved himself. What may be universal wisdom in his words is that he asks us to judge ourselves before rushing to judge others.
I agree with you that our job is to right the wrongs that are being done in our own contexts. And this of course requires us to make judgments about what is right and what is wrong in our personal, social, and political lives.
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Carol, Thanks so much for your comments here and for making this very important point. We are in a very strange territory with Trump – nothing like this has happened in my lifetime and while I often believe in dialogue and working together, I have found myself unable to have a conversation with anyone who is a Trump supporter. It is a question of morals for me – not politics. Don’t get me wrong, politics and morals connect and there are many issues I have with those who oppose reproductive justice, marriage equality, and so on. But Trump? He is cancer and my only thought is that those who support him are focused on white power and not much else.
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Also, I know I have been MIA for quite a while. I am trying to resurface and get back to things that are important to me and that I love. Thank you for always being patient and supportive. You are a wonderful friend and mentor. xxx
“It is no surprise given that the leader of the “Free World” has encouraged violence against nearly all persons who are not white males and commends the brutality of dictatorship.”
Of course not – T’s a madman.
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Humanity to the real Donald J. Trump: YOU’RE FIRED!
Blessings of safety and love to your daughter and all those children we see on TV in the “rooms with the chain-link walls.”
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Thank you, Barbara – and let’s hope an impeachment is close. I wake up everyday afraid for our nation and for every person in the world. God knows what could happen next.
One thing I’d like to see happen next is that the people and the leaders of every country in the world tells Trump DO NOT VISIT US. I wish there was a way to fire him off the Neptune or Pluto.
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As we watch from outside I keep wondering when the people of the US are going to rebel and say: “ENOUGH!”. All I can do is insist that my government doesn’t placate him, but stands firm in our values. Not always successful. I also think the cancer is world wide. Trump isn’t smart enough to do this on his own. There are many who profit from exploitation. Always observe the people in the background.
My heart breaks for the children. How does one explain, or comfort, a 9 year old?
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Barbara, you are so right. We cannot forget those who pulling the strings on the puppet!
You have Trump all wrong. He cares about our country over being liked by the press. As a religious person you should feel comforted that Trump won the presidency against all odds with the help of The Man Upstairs. And he is still standing by him to protect him from the Deep State. So rest assured he will go to heaven and your daughter doesn’t have to worry.
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I’ve never before heard Vladimir Putin referred to as “The Man Upstairs.”
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Esther, that might be the greatest post I’ve read thus far. :)
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Not so original as I figured an uniformed person would say that. Read The Art of the Deal. Trump would never scold a leader of a country in public. “You have to know when to scold them and know when to cajole them.”
I’m sorry I don’t know your name so I cannot address you properly. I just mentioned in my comment to Carol above that for the first time, I have not been able to engage in dialogue with those who think differently than me. Trump is someone who defies logic, has no ethics, and is immoral. If you are truly paying attention to all that Trump says and all that he does, I don’t understand how you can come to this conclusion. How do you respond to Trump praising Putin and Kim? Men who have brutally tortured and murdered their own people in public executions as a means to keep control of the rest of the population? What about Trump’s blatant racist and misogynistic comments and actions? What about taking children from their parents for something that amounts to a misdemeanor if at all? What about him calling for violence against those who don’t support him? If you believe in God, in the teachings of Jesus, how can you possibly stand with Trump? I am dumbfounded and it is disappointing to say the least that anyone who refers to herself as a Christian can also claim support for Trump. I welcome your response to my questions.
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He rec’d most of the Christian votes. I can’t vote for anyone who was part of a rigged election. None of what you write is correct. But I don’t want to get into a tit for tat as it gets no where. But as a feminist before feminist was a word, I can assure you that the Left is deflecting what they do unto Trump. Immoral, unethical and the other names you called him. Read some of my blogs if you want to learn.
Outstanding article! So perfectly parallel with my own thoughts. Certainly this president seems an evil plague, and a dark cloud over our great country. It’s beyond incredible that he has even one supporter at this point. Never once has this man ever considered God while leading our country. Going to heaven will never be an option for this guy. Since he gladly boasts that he doesn’t read books, we can all be assured he’s never opened a bible. I can’t speak for everyone, but I myself do not want a president who doesn’t read books. I do not want a president who has no faith in God. I do not want an uncompassionate president with pure hatred in his heart. The laws of karma, and the powers that be, will surely hold him accountable to pay for the tragedies that he’s created. Great work! I Enjoyed reading your views!