There are men, women and children who were alive last month and are dead today thanks to Donald Trump. To be fair, those words could just as easily be spoken of any American president at nearly any point in history. What makes the words unique in the context of today is not the number of casualties nor even the unnecessary waste of human life they represent, but that their deaths constitute a victory for America’s traditional enemies and a defeat for America’s allies. It now turns out that even Trump’s ostensible reason for pulling American troops out of Syria – because he wanted to bring them home – was also a lie: those troops aren’t going home after all, they’re on their way to Iraq.
As graves are being dug and coffins built for Trump’s victims, the pullout from Syria is being celebrated as a Russian victory in Moscow by the press and Russian partisans. In a quieter way it’s also being celebrated by many of America’s evangelicals.
To understand the role Donald Trump plays in the lives of the evangelicals, you must first understand what they believe. In the world of the evangelical Christian, the return to Earth by Jesus Christ is an essential part of their faith. But in order for that to happen certain things must first occur that are disturbing to the rest of us. While different sects of evangelicals differ about the details, they each agree that a planetary war must come to the Middle East, a war in which the state of Israel is to play a central part.
Their interpretation of scriptural prophecy has the evangelicals being “taken up” or “raptured” at some point in the course of this coming holocaust. “The Rapture” constitutes their literal physical disappearance into thin air. One second they are standing amongst us, the next they are in the presence of God, while the rest of us remain behind to suffer, suffer either the horrors of a war to come or the devastation of a war that has already happened, depending on whether you are a believer in a “pre-tribulation rapture” or a “post-tribulation rapture.”
The arrogance of the true believer places him and her in the center of all this, naturally. In the 2000 years since the death of Jesus of Nazareth, their hubris renders what ought to be their surprise at being the chosen ones the least of their concern. Donald Trump is stirring the pot of destruction in the Middle East and it suits them just fine. What does the disappearance of a few Syrian Kurds mean to them next to the sublime rapture of their own disappearance into glory as a reward for a righteous life?
I did not know any of the brave Kurdish souls who died because Donald Trump is a cruel, vicious puppet of Vladimir Putin, but I mourn their deaths all the same. Because the traditional role of the evangelical is now occupied with the worship of a brutish pig-God named Trump and the advocacy of their own selfish translation into undeserved glory, it remains for the rest of us in the actual world to serve as the real Christians.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.