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Donald Trump is a Bible salesman now

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth and, of course, Donald John Trump. The former US president, as we all know, and as he has repeatedly told us, is God’s gift to humanity. He’s basically Jesus … if Jesus were a blond sexual predator from Queens.

As if there were ever any doubt that Trump – who has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 25 women and is facing 34 criminal charges for paying hush money to an adult film star – is a pious man, he is now hawking Bibles. Earlier this week, the presumptive Republican nominee made headlines for endorsing a patriotic version of the Bible. “Happy Holy Week! Let’s Make America Pray Again,” Trump said as he announced his latest scheme. You can get your hands on the book – the only version endorsed by Trump – for just $59.99 through a website, GodBlessTheUSABible.com.

Where are all the proceeds going? Good question. An FAQ on the site clarifies that Trump is not selling the Bible directly but states that “GodBlessTheUSABible.com uses Donald J Trump’s name, likeness and image under paid license from CIC Ventures LLC”. CIC Ventures is a company that Trump reported owning in his 2023 financial disclosure. In short: it looks like he is getting royalties from the arrangement.

Trump’s superpower is the fact he has absolutely no shame whatsoever; the cash-strapped candidate will do whatever it takes to make a buck. He’s capitalized on his legal troubles by selling merchandise with his mugshot on it, for example. A couple of years ago, he was peddling digital trading cards depicting him dressed up as a superhero. (“Only $99 each!”) Earlier this year, he launched his own sneaker brand, selling Never Surrender High-Tops for $399. While shopping for the shoes, you could also pick up Trump-branded Victory47 cologne and perfume for $99 a bottle. Then, of course, there’s Truth Social: the Twitter clone Trump launched in 2022.

All of these recent business ventures have inspired much mockery. Despite the copious jokes, however, Trump has always somehow managed to get the last laugh. His digital trading card selection sold out in less than a day, netting $4.5m in sales. His sneakers also sold out hours after launch. As for loss-making Truth Social? That went public on Tuesday and quickly achieved a valuation of almost $8bn.

Selling Bibles, of course, is rather different from selling sneakers or trading cards. Might this be a bridge too far for Trump’s followers?

There has certainly been some criticism of the venture from conservatives. Commentator Charlie Sykes, for example, slammed him for “commodifying the Bible during Holy Week”. However, others on the right are singing the Trump Bible’s praises. “From a Christian perspective, this is one of the the greatest spiritual moments in US history,” Tulsa preacher Jackson Lahmeyer told Real America’s Voice, a rightwing news network.

All in all, it’s unlikely that the white evangelical Christians who are Trump’s most passionate followers care about the hypocrisy of Trump selling Bibles. These people don’t actually labour under the delusion that their hero is a man of God. They just know he’s a useful means to an end. A Pew Research Center report released earlier this month found: “Most people who view Trump positively don’t think he is especially religious himself. But many think he stands up for people with religious beliefs like theirs.” In other words: they don’t care if Trump personally practices what they preach; they just want him to legislate in a way that means others are forced to follow these practices.

This isn’t to say that the Bible venture is some sort of genius strategy by Trump. It is, as many people have pointed out, clearly something of a desperate move by a man who is having trouble fundraising and who knows that if he’s not headed to the White House he may be headed to jail. “Donald Trump is weak and desperate – both as a man and a candidate for president,” James Singer, a spokesperson for the Biden campaign, crowed on Monday. Trump may well be desperate, but that shouldn’t cheer anyone up – least of all the Biden campaign. Few things are more dangerous than a desperate man with nothing to lose.

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