This morning my wife pointed out something that I hadn’t noticed. To wit, at George H.W. Bush’s funeral earlier this month, Trump was alone among the attending dignitaries and former presidents not to recite the Apostles’ Creed — or, at least, he doesn’t appear to in the videos of the event.
That’s interesting, because the Creed is pretty central to Western Christianity. Say what you like about either the Creed or the Christianity it represents, but it is something that is hard not to learn if you grow up in the United States involved with any sort of church. You probably know it yourself. Maybe you can recite it. I can’t. I was raised in a non-religious family. But at least I know what it is.
Trump, however, seems to have been utterly clueless. He didn’t seem to know what it was. Or, if he did, he didn’t feel particularly compelled to honor (even by lip syncing) that ancient statement of faith. That’s also odd, in that you would have thought that he would at least copy the behavior of the people around him. It is what you do when you’re in unfamiliar territory and don’t know quite what’s expected.
But, no. He didn’t. He did nothing.
Some of his critics point to this inaction as evidence of Trump’s fundamental disinterest in the religion which he claims to defend. And, they say, it is further evidence of the deeply hypocritical nature of the relationship between Trump and the Christian Right. Both pretend that he is some kind of Christian. Both know he is not.
And those things are doubtlessly true. But, I will go further. I will suggest that for Trump to have said that prayer would have been, for him, to be untrue to his actual gods. He would have been disloyal to his true and actual religion.
That is, the worship of himself.
And, surely, from what we have seen, he would never have been so untrue.
Not for so long as altar and his shrine are…
For he is a jealous god, and will suffer no other graven images before him.