Reading Time: 6 minutes

Still thinking about not voting on Tuesday because you’re annoyed with politics and the system? Considering casting some type of protest vote? Maybe this new digital billboard will scare you into voting to fight Trumpism. Appearing in at least two states, the ad suggests Donald Trump is literally the Second Coming of Jesus.

Multiple independent reports on social media point to at least two billboards carrying this message — one in St. Louis, Missouri and another outside Waco, Texas. It seems likely there are more out there.

A Facebook group, created on Oct. 9th, called “Make the Gospel Great Again,” is taking credit for the billboards [Note: their Facebook comment that was the source for the text below is no longer available]:

This is one of our efforts, yes! We are nationwide, bringing the good news of God re-taking his country, and making it a stronger, more Christian place… We are a group of evangelicals from both Baptist and non-denominational backgrounds who love Jesus and the Bible. We don’t have an office or website other than this facebook page. It’s sparse, but we moved up our plans for the election this year. We expect liberals and other non-Christians to attack our faith and mock us. They will stop at nothing to deceive believers and overthrow our President so we are fine with this.

The group’s logo, a crucifix superimposed over the American flag, makes sense when you consider its description: “We believe God has given American Christians His earthly messenger — Donald J Trump. We follow his words in faith each day!”

Their mission statement is no less nauseating:

MGGA exists to help spread the truth of God’s great champion on earth — President Donald Trump. The Lord anointed Mr. Trump to bless America, and we live out our faith by following him. Donald Trump has already won many victories for Jesus by stopping abortions, telling the truth, proving that the real racists are not white, and fighting against the liberal media and their War on Christians!

But the Progressive “Christians” who hate the Bible constantly say negative things about Donald Trump. We will not stand for their disgusting witch hunts and fake news about porn stars, nazis and Russians and raping. These disgusting liberals proclaim “social justice”, forgiveness and compassion. They use scripture as a weapon to weaken America, when we need it to be stronger than ever in the face of threats against our families from immigrants, abortioners, journalists and other enemies!

MGGA will work tirelessly to remind Christians to be loyal to President Trump and trust him in all circumstances. As Proverbs 3:5 reminds us, “Trust him with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

You are not alone! Thousands of leading pastors have put their faith in our president — Jerry Falwell Jr, James Dobson, Franklin Graham, Robert Jeffress, and many others.

At first, I was sure the billboard image had to be a hoax… but there are many credible reports from several people who have seen it. I next suspected someone (or a group) was trolling conservatives by parodying the worst inclinations of Trump’s actual supporters. Aside from the general Poe-like lunacy of the ad and the group’s Facebook page, a couple of things stood out to justify that skepticism: the manic, glowing picture of Trump. The phrase from the mission statement decrying “disgusting liberals” for proclaiming “‘social justice,’ forgiveness and compassion.” But the next line was slightly less sociopathic, suggesting to me that they’re not satirists, they just suck at writing and basic self-awareness.

I could be wrong, but I don’t think it’s a troll job. They’re (pretty seriously) promoting a separate pro-Trump Christian political voting guide website, and spending thousands of dollars for a handful of billboards makes for some damned expensive trolling. As for the manic, glowing Trump picture, they love this stuff; the more manic and glowing, the better. The racism suggests to me a very real white nationalist group with some bucks to spend.

I’ve contacted DD1 Media to ask about their boards’ sponsor and will update if I hear back.

The billboards are, of course, completely inevitable given the spreading and intensifying belief among many white evangelical and conservative leaders that Trump is divinely ordained to further Christianity in America.  Liberty University’s film The Trump Prophecy, now streaming on Amazon Prime and recently screened in over a thousand theaters, tells the story of an ex-firefighter given a vision that Trump was chosen by God to restore America’s moral values.

Moral. Values.

Some progressive and moderate Christians are responding to the reports on social media with concerns this may send the wrong message about their religion. Many of them are declaring it blasphemy, some even suggesting that it should therefore be illegal… because that’s apparently how freedom of speech and religion works. A few defend it, but as they happen to be commenting on moderate posts they’re getting slammed. (If this were the Rev. Franklin Graham Facebook page, the situation would be reversed).

One conservative commenter used a clever if rather self-contradictory 3-pronged rebuttal strategy: 1) angrily insisting there is no billboard and denouncing those reporting it as liars trying to discredit conservatives, 2) angrily accusing the billboard company of being Democrats putting up a “fake billboard,” and 3) angrily defending the billboard as in no way suggesting Trump is Jesus.

To the Christians responding in horror, I would just say that I understand. I also cringe at horrible representatives of atheism. But unlike Christianity, my atheism and secular humanism encourage me to think for myself; they don’t promote faith without evidence as a virtue, but instead urge me to develop ethical, evidence-based beliefs. 

The billboard group’s mission statement undeniably cites Christianity’s foundational document correctly with this unholy quotation from Proverbs: “Trust him with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

I beg, beg, beg you to vote on Tuesday, if you haven’t already. And just as importantly, I beg you to vote not out of ideological purity, but for the candidates with the most realistic chance of slowing this burgeoning horror.

***Update***: After the St. Louis billboard went viral on social media and made its way onto local TV news, it was taken down Monday by the billboard company, St. Louis-based DDI Media, for not meeting “Paid For By” political ad requirements. They issued this statement:

A recent billboard with an image of President Trump has been removed because of its political nature and the fact that it did not disclose the sponsoring organization. The ad did not meet our requirements for political ads and was taken down just a few days after it was placed.

The company declined requests from news outlets, including a British tabloid, to reveal the sponsor’s identity.

The Facebook page for the anonymous religious organization that sponsored the ad has been a mess: down for a spell yesterday, back up with a “Help We’ve Been Oppressed By Mean Deranged Liberal Atheists So Goodbye Cruel World” post… then back down this morning. I’d archived the final post, so here are their heartbreaking last words, decrying society’s scriptural understanding:

We met as a team last night to discuss how much hatred we’ve received for our efforts to encourage fellow believers in holding fast to the faith.

We prayed that the facebook page would be a community for fellow Christians to be encouraged at what God is doing in the world and to find out how they could, like our president, be a part of being God’s presence in making America great. But the hateful comments and mean spiritedness from liberals and atheists drowned out the voices of Christians in this country. These reflect the level of unfair deranged media attacks on the President in general and his supporters.

Our billboard IS NOT equating Jesus with President Donald Trump. Salvation comes only from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, not any man. But God does send his messengers to us, and just as King David liberated the faithful in his day, President Trump is doing this today through his protection of the unborn, defense of our land against foreign invaders and standing up for Israel. He surrounds himself with champions for Christian Rights –Mike Pence, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh. Compared to the disaster of a president we had in Obama, how is this not the “word become flesh” for Americans? As Christians we must not stand against God’s will despite the persecution we face for doing so.

We will be taking the facebook page down as it has become a place full of disgusting cruel comments and a complete lack of scriptural understanding. But we are not defeated. We draw our strength directly from the Lord as well as from the teachings of evangelists such as James Dobson, Franklin Graham, John Gray, and Jerry Falwell Jr. and many other voices who encourage us in our mission.

Moderate Christians aren’t buying the “not equating Jesus with Trump” defense; hundreds have responded much like The Old Black Church blog:

Stop It, Donald Trump Is Not Jesus Christ In The Flesh?!?!?! …The folks who put this mess up seriously need to repent and take this mess down. It’s blasphemy, heresy, pure unadulterated idolatry.

I consider their Goodbye Cruel World post as beyond the skill of human satirists as we know them, so am further convinced this was no troll job.

(Thanks to Michael for the link)