The Crucifixion and #NeverTrump: What the Cross Teaches Us About Politics

The Crucifixion and #NeverTrump: What the Cross Teaches Us About Politics May 6, 2016
Crazy meme found on Facebook. Creator unknown.
Crazy meme found on Facebook. Creator unknown.

by Samantha Field cross posted from her blog

In case you’ve missed it, Trump is the presumptive GOP nominee for president after Cruz withdrew from the race yesterday. The news kept me up last night, mostly because my emotional state resembles something like Edvard Munch’s The Scream. Handsome and I have been watching a WWII documentary recently, and the episodes describing the political movements that brought Hitler and Mussolini into power left us in dumbstruck horror. I know comparing Trump to Hitler at this point is basically passé, but it doesn’t change the fact that the comparison works for a reason.

While I’m relieved that the theocratic Dominionist-Reconstructionist fundamentalist is out of the race, I’m still terrified of a Trump candidacy and the possibility of his presidency. His campaign has already incited horrific violence against black and queer and female bodies, and I believe it’s only going to get worse. God forbid he’s elected.

As his candidacy has grown more and more successful, winning primaries by ever-wider margins, I’ve looked around at my fellow citizenry and despaired. I honestly thought we were better than him– that sure, maybe some of us were just that bigoted and racist– but certainly not enough of us to get him nominated. Watching this has been a brutal corrective and I’m far more cynical about America than I was back in September.

Aside from his hatred, lewdness, and blatant dishonesty, aside from the fact that he’s advocated for torture and war crimes and directed a miasmic bombardment at women, Trump is the representation of Empire made flesh. He is, quite literally, an anti-Christ in the sense that he stands in direct opposition to everything Jesus Christ taught us to do.

  • Trump tells us that we must fear and hate our enemies. Jesus tells us not only to love and forgive them, but to radically resist oppression through turning the other cheek, to carry the Roman conqueror’s pack not one mile, but two.
  • Trump tells us to ostracize or exile those who look different, to barricade them behind a wall. Jesus tells us that all people are our neighbors, and that our example is the Good Samaritan who sacrificially brought aid to a stranger.
  • Trump calls on us to enact abominations against women and children. Jesus says that anyone who hurts a child deserves to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck.

I understand what he’s appealing to. He is a tool of Empire– he is slavering and rapacious, greedy for power, for control, for prestige, for wealth, for domination. It doesn’t surprise me that when he says “Make America Great Again” he’s pulling on the fear and lust that dwells in all our hearts. We don’t want to feel threatened. We want to feel secure. And, worse than that, we are a nation built on the principle that white men deserve land ownership, deserve enfranchisement, deserve gainful employment– and these white men were quite willing for hundreds of years to enrich themselves off the fact that they literally owned women and didn’t even recognize black people as human beings fully endowed with the imago dei.

Trump is conjuring an image of America for white men where they can have all of that again– all that power, all that wealth, because they deserve it for no other reason than an accident of birth. If they serve Empire, they’ll be rewarded by the restoration of their power.

Jesus asks us to walk a different path than this.

He said that whoever wants to be his disciple must take up their cross and follow him (Mt 16:24, Lk 9:23, Mk. 8:34). It’s clear that he was speaking metaphorically, but I think that over time we’ve lost the bluntness, the absolute starkness, of the imagery he chose for this teaching. Today we think of “bearing our cross” as a form of drudgery– it carries similar cultural weight as putting your nose to the grindstone, and has a feeling of daily wear-and-tear. Our “cross” takes on various forms, usually none of them all that weighty. Fulfilling your obligations as a parent. Chronic illness. A narcissistic employer.

We’ve lost it partly because we abandoned public executions like the crucifixion; today, as despicable as it is that we still execute people, we tolerate it because we culturally accept the lie that lethal injection is somehow humane. We don’t have the absolute brutality of crucifixion as a part of our public consciousness– it’s not something we associate with our government as a daily reminder of their authority and what they will do to us if we try to subvert their power (at least, not if we’re white). We don’t have to move about our day with crucifixion as a constant threat.

The people Jesus was speaking to, though, they did. They knew that if they put one toe out of line, that’s where they could be– hanging on a Roman cross, enduring Roman humiliations, bearing Roman torture. Jesus’ call to discipleship demands that we face that risk, that we stand in the face of Empire and say No!–no, I would rather die a horrible, agonizing death than serve the Empire and Mammon.

Handsome and I were talking about the evangelical notion that the Cross is the pinnacle of God’s love for us– like how Joshua Harris said, that “God’s perfect love for a fallen world is more clearly seen in the death of His Son.” As I argued in response, under the penal substitutionary atonement theory, this doesn’t hold true– but in some theological positions, it could. Handsome argued how God loved us enough, wanted to be with us enough to become Emmanuel, to face what they knew was coming. He said that there was something important enough to teach us that they left heaven and put on a body and walked among us… even knowing that he’d be crucified.

I think that’s true, regardless of what Atonement Theory convinces you most. Setting aside the Atonement for the moment, I think it’s important to concentrate on the “pre-Easter Jesus,” as Marcus Borg puts it. Forgetting all the theological implications for the moment, what does the Cross mean? What does it mean that Jesus suffered this form of death: an execution by the state for treason and sedition?

Like all mythical stories (and, before you clutch your pearls, mythical doesn’t mean untrue), the story of the Cross has a multiplicity of meanings and Truths tied up in it. What it means can change, can flicker, and that is one of the glorious beauties of myth. Today, as Trump ascends to the throne of the Republican party, I think that one of the things that the Cross is meant to teach us is this: we are to resist Empire with all our hearts, souls, strength, and minds. Empire is a siren’s song, luring us in with promises of security and wellness, but those are not our priorities as Christians. In fact, being a follower of Christ means that we’re willing to risk being hung on a tree right beside him because we refuse to bow to our oppressors. We will not give in to white supremacy, or misogyny, or the belief that we have the right to slaughter countless innocents because their communities oppose our nation– either through active war or passively refusing to take in the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

I believe that’s what it means for us today to take up our cross and follow him. Are we going to do it?


Samantha grew up in the homeschool, patriarchy, quiverful, and fundamentalist movements, and experienced first-hand the terror and manipulation of spiritual abuse. She is now married to an amazing, gentle man who doesn’t really get what happened to her but loves her anyway. With him by her side and the strength of God’s promises, she is slowly healing.

She blogs at

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Mel

    I think Trump’s appeal overlaps with why the RAD diagnosis is so popular among CP adoptive parents: The message is appealing because all blame is externalized.

    A pseudo-RAD diagnosis can be summed up as: “Your existent family structure is completely healthy and normal; the new kid is extremely disturbed. You can do whatever you think is needed to change the new child’s behavior without changing your own interactive style.”

    Trump’s social message is “America has done fine as a bastion of white male power. People besides white males who want power (especially economic power) are disturbed and you are entitled to do whatever you want to put them in their place.”

    The appeal of the message is so strong that Trump’s supporters seem completely unaware that NOTHING in Trump’s history supports the idea that Trump gives a shit about anyone but himself….

  • Aloha

    Great article. You have good insight.

  • RetroPam

    Want to see something prescient? This is a U.S. War Department film from 1947, warning about the dangers of fascism.

    Who does the street corner politician appearing at 2:20 sound like?

  • Abigail Smith

    Yes. I agree. You are an excellent writer.

    The one thing that is keeping me calm in this election is that the fundies are more up in arms then ever because they are so used to voting Republican no matter what….
    There were no checks and balances on Hitler, and even if Trump did get elected (God forbid), he could not do the things he plans without opposition.

  • MasterTrollBater

    i’ve heard way too many people praise trump because he is a ‘successful businessman’ and therefore will be a great president

    a) no he’s not, he’s ran many many companies into the ground (check out how he destroyed the USFL as just one of many many examples) and declared bankruptcy about four times

    b) even if he was successful, how in the hell does that translate into a good president?? do people seriously believe that a country is like a business? that anything that doesn’t generate profit needs to be ruthlessly cut out? i do not understand how people who are regularly screwed over by corporations believe this

  • B.A.

    “Education was discouraged…” at 9:33. Sounds exactly like the fundies. In the last election,2012,Santorum was sending the same message.

  • ConcepcionImmaculadaPantalones

    Has there been any detailing of why Cruz (who was pre-destined for the presidency many years ago according to his prophesying father) gave up and dropped out?

    Trump is a guy who won’t take a stand in the defense of his own family (Daughter, his grandchildren – she converted to Judaism and married a Jewish man) when the writer of an article about his wife Melania began to be the target of anti-Semitic harassment including some truly repugnant memes…when asked by Wolf Blitzer whether he had anything to say regarding this harassment of the writer by his supporters he said “I have nothing to say”. The article itself didn’t say anything awful about Melania – tax evasion by her father (I think) was as bad as it got – yet it was a dog whistle for the alt-right-neo-nazis to come and ‘defend’ their ’empress’. Yes, they really referred to Melania as ’empress’. And by defending I mean they made anti-Semitic memes superimposing the writer’s face onto WWII-esque Nazi propaganda, as well as taking to twitter with those and other heavily suggestive anti-Semitic attacks against her (the writer). Instead of saying “Hey, it’s not cool to go and harass someone with nazi propaganda or any other form of attack because they are Jewish – I have family members who are Jewish, some of my grandchildren are Jewish, so knock that shit off!”, Trump said “I have nothing to say.”

    He’s also got short, fat fingers, a bad comb-over that fools no one, and really sucks at business-running.

  • Anthony Martinez

    I too am very disturbed about the 2016 presidential race. I am perplexed that the two candidates who are now frontrunners for their party’s nomination could ever happen. Yet, it seems at this point that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are America’s choice for the next president. What on earth has happened to us? We are left with the likes of Donald Trump, who I feel lacks the intellect, morality, tact, and demeanor to be president. He continually speaks without thinking, then reverses himself when others point out the ridiculousness of his statements. Ridicule and put-downs are his argumentative mainstays. I cannot help but think of him as a grammar school bully, and am embarrassed that other country’s leaders also have viewed and listened to his comments.
    And then there is Mrs. Clinton. The most profane and hated lady in Washington. She has never been successful at any endeavor, a flat-out lifetime liar who was fired by fellow Democrats during Watergate for unethical conduct, who sold her position of Secretary of State for donations to the Clinton Foundation, yet many want this person, a near 70 year old habitual liar who is under FBI investigation… again…to be the leader of our country only because she is a woman? Haven’t we learned the lesson of this type of mindset for goodness sake?

    I’m sorry. I am losing confidence in the electoral process. There are intelligent, ethical, moral and serving people in both political parties who are qualified to run for president. What has happened that they won’t step forward? What keeps them from doing so? A void in positive leadership for America is trending. But then again, what is to be expected from a citizenry who gains its information and facts from People Magazine and late night television.

    If Samantha Field wants to bring God into the discussion, it seems clear He may have abandoned America and is now allowing us to reap what we have sown. So be it.

  • jock1234

    Ms. Field;
    While you have your own opinions, and should, I believe you are over analyzing things to the extreme. Donald Trump is no anti Christ! Further, he is far more preferred by myself and countless others, than Hillary Clinton.

    If it helps you whatsoever, please try to realize that he, like you & I, have character flaws too. Who does not? He has a very decent chance of being the next President. And, for the sake of our well being, and that of our children, let’s only hope that we can instill in others the obligation to vote for him, and NOT for Clinton!

    Have a good day! ( -:

  • It is irresponsible to post this kind of rhetoric, “Trump stands against ‘everything’ Jesus stood for” really? Everything?

  • steve fitzgerald

    Jack1234 and Scott Roberts, you both have good points. This author uses terms like “myth” when speaking about Jesus, yet has the gall to tell us about Him or even to compare Trump to the Antichrist, about whom I’m sure she is equally without knowledge or information. And yet, this “magazine” allows her to sleep her nonsense on its pages. All thru history, people of God have had to choose between the lesser of two evils. And while I’m not convinced Donald Trump is anything like evil, Hillary Clinton is, just like her husband and Barack Hussein Obama. So if these people, like some of the rest of the connectors, choose not to vote, they just cast 1/2 vote for Hillary. The fools and children were so wrapped up in Obama’s lies and deceit that he got two terms. What the rest of the comments here as well as Fields don’t realize is that we truly are at the end of the age, and they are helping us get in the real Antichrist. Folks, this is NOT responsibility. And your foolishness will return unto you more than s thousand times. for Ms Fields, you need to read more of your Bible and/or tell the truth about your true – tho uneducated – feelings about Jesus Christ…it’s not like He doesn’t know. For the magazine, if I can see thru these deceivers, you should be able to do do, also. If I see another “false teaching” article like this one, I’ll dump you forever. I don’t come here to read witchcraft.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    Before anyone can claim to know what Jesus said, they must first prove Jesus actually existed.

    Can anyone present evidence that Jesus existed, even as just a man & not the son of a god?

  • Terry Gunn Poff

    Most of the main principles that Jesus taught, and still teaches, surround love, tolerance, forgiveness, peace, and justice. Which of these does Mr. Trump support?

  • Terry Gunn Poff

    Why do you characterize Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama as “evil”? I just don’t see it.

  • prhayz

    There is no doubt in my mind that Donald J. Trump deserves some of the nasty things people say about him. But to go out on a limb and call him the antichrist is a bit too far. Nobody knows who the antichrist is. Furthermore, where were these people in 2008 and 2012 when Trump was saying crazy stuff and spitting vitriol at Obama. Trump is no different today than he was in 2008 and 2012.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Steve, welcome to ban because we’re dumping you forever… trying to proselytize , calling the original author things like ‘foolish’ and ‘uneducated’ violates our comment policy.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    This will be your first and only warning. Attack the issues not the authors and/or mods. This is a recovery community and we do not allow nasty debate or name calling. Please read our comment policy before posting again.

  • billwald

    More evil than Hillary?

  • Not a problem. I will read them.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    I’m still feeling the Bern in a most serious way here..

  • Astrin Ymris

    There’s one reference in Josephus which seems to be legit: When he refers to a “James, brother of Jesus” who was executed by a corrupt priest while the head priest was out of town.

    There’s another reference in Josephus, but it’s widely believed to be a later interpolation. Not only does Josephus’s writing make perfect sense with it removed, but the paragraph is so full of fangirl gushing that the writer couldn’t have been Josephus himself.

  • Astrin Ymris

    Show me where the author ever calls Trump the anti-Christ. All she says is that his campaign based on hate and fearmongering is completely unChristian.

  • prhayz

    My friend, I did not address my response to the author. I directed it at Republican elites. But, the author’s narrative is similar in tone and tenor to the talking points of Republican elites.

    Mind you; I am not for Trump. I was trying to point out the pharisaic hypocrisy.

  • RetroPam

    A double standard that, interestingly if unflattering for one side, comes from a vast difference in expectations.

    Trump, the walking embodiment of the modern GOP base, is crass and uncouth because, as the commercial goes, “that’s what they do.” As a result, they get a pass.

    Democrats, for whatever reason, don’t get that pass, and continue to be expected to behave as exemplary paragons of virtue. When George W. Bush ironically mentioned the “soft bigotry of low expectations,” he wasn’t thinking of the low expectations that allow people like Donald Trump, Chris Christie, or Ted Cruz to win elections while a far more minor misstep by a Democratic candidate gets “trumped up” into being grounds for total disqualification from office.

    Apologies for the punditry, as it’s a bit off topic, but I do believe it factors into Trump’s immunity.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    So far outside of the Bible no legitimate documentation for the existence of Jesus has been found.

    And we don’t know who the authors of the new testament are, and we have no original copies of them to examine.

  • Astrin Ymris

    Josephus was a Jewish historian who was part of the Jews final loss against the Roman Empire. He’s considered pretty legitimate.

    Of course, even IF the “Jesus” referred to was the same guy in the Bible, all the Josephus reference tells us that he existed. It’s not proof he was the “son of God”.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    Yes, the existence of Josephus is considered pretty legitimate. But the alleged writing about Jesus claimed to be by Josephus isn’t.

    Herod’s existence is also considered legitimate. But there is no evidence that Herod met Jesus & had him sent back to Pilate for sentencing.

    This is the same sort of thing when it comes to comic books. The stories may take place in actual cities & countries & may mention actual public figures ( President Obama is one example; in one comic he meets Spider-man) but that doesn’t prove the comic stories are true

  • MX

    The only reason Trump looks like a viable candidate for President is because the alternative is a bold-faced American-hating liar. The Dems gave us literally ONE candidate – one white self-entitled snot who got Americans killed and believes Syrian refugees are more important than US security and US citizens. Who believes allowing our borders to be breached rather than enforce the law. Not only that, our national debt has DOUBLED in the last 8 years – from 7-16 Billion, and it will double AGAIN if the Dems get their way.

    Ironically, TRUMP looks great when compared to the alternative who will give the ayatollah and terrorists free reign in our world and make our military weaker. Give me a break, there is no decision – its TRUMP or total chaos – make your own choice.

  • MX

    And what about Hillary and the Clinton’s history? Or does your insight and analysis only apply to Trump?

  • MX

    The world is REPLETE with proof of Jesus’s existence idiot – his Crucifixion was witnessed by thousands of non-christians and jews who chronoicled the event.

  • MX

    Trying to “proseltyze?”…. what, this whole site is a pseudo proseltyziation site – gimme a break!

  • MX

    Well, Obama’s real name is Soetoro.
    He went to school in the US at occidental, etc. as a ‘foreign exchange student’.
    He was hand-picked by Soros to lead a progressive change movement and was assigned a Pakistani handler in college – where he went on to become a muslim and travel to the mid-east.
    – his chicago-based ideology is a modern blend of nation of islam and contemporary black liberation theology – some crazy mix of islam and white-people hating
    – feels the fundamental foundations of this nation – the constitution and our christian-based beliefs are racist at their core and is working to dismantle every single bastion of our nation one by one.
    – He’s lied are avoided discussing the above whilst making friends with our enemies – namely the ayatollah in Iran – while pushing our long time allies away
    – you don’t have to look to far to find some very off-putting things about the leaders of the Dem establishment but you won’t find those facts here or most of the media. Just go check it out – start with ‘barry soetoro’ – the real name of our president.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    “The world is REPLETE with proof of Jesus’s existence”

    Then go ahead & present some of this proof.

    “his Crucifixion was witnessed by thousands of non-christians and jews who chronoicled the event.”


    None of the new testament accounts of Jesus are written by firsthand witnesses.

    We have no original documents to examine that describe the accounts.

    Name some of these thousands. Then prove the ones you named actually existed.

    What we have are differing accounts written by anonymous writers who were not actual witnesses to the events they are writing about.

    All we have is proof that the Bible says these things… we don’t have any proof that what it says is factual or accurate.

  • MX

    Trump is actually the opposite of the GOP base – jeez. You have got everything wrong.

    Trump represents what a lot of people like – a honest non-politician who calls it as he sees it. You may not agree with his brash delivery, you may even see him as a misogynist – but he’s not a liar. And let’s face it, Bill Clinton is a mad raving misogynist – and you want to put him back in the white house? And you’re back to Bush?

    And you think Clinton’s blatant disregard to US security policy, and intimidating EVERYONE in the investigation to drop it or else, man, this is really dangerous and you think these things are ‘trumped up?’ What would it take? Having our current president openly court and support our enemies? Have our secstate order our forces NOT to fire back and defend themselves and result in our ambassador and others be KILLED? Oh, guess what, that’s already happened. Please wake up.

  • MX

    Pagan Romans accounted for the crucifiction of Jesus – so there. Let me know if you need more. You’re welcome.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    This site is about recovery and obviously you have no respect for my request. Guess what that means?

  • RetroPam

    “Have our secstate order our forces NOT to fire back and defend themselves and result in our ambassador and others be KILLED?”

    Investigated and re-investigated 187+ times and debunked, every single time.

    The only thing that got killed here was your credibility.

    As for being the opposite? Come on, just about anyone could create a Disqus account and start posting quotes from Donald Trump speeches, and no one would be able to tell it apart from all the rest of the trolls.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    Pagan Norsemen gave accounts of Thor, Odin, & other Norse gods & goddesses. So there is as much evidence for those deities.

    So far, you have presented no actual evidence to show Jesus existed.

  • MX – still

    I dunno Suzanne? Go ahead and tell me and all of us what your rationale is/was to ban me? With your condescending quip of ‘guess what that means?’
    Did my comment actually violate any policy? Umm, no. I merely took issue with your characterization of Steve’s comment as “proseltyzing.” Yes, he did characterize people in a negative way, and if that’s enough for you to go ahead and use your ‘ban’ wand then sobeit.
    But exactly how/what did MY comment break any rule?

    Doesn’t matter, you are clearly applying your interpretation of your own rules however you want to – no consistency or fairness. Shocker. I do respect others and their points of view – totally. Just kinda don’t like to see hypocrisy masquerading as referees.

  • MX – still

    Actually, 4 were killed in Benghazi and if we ever find the emails what all insiders know, including the Americans who survived, is that orders to stand down came from SecState or higher. Funny how Obama fired General Hamm over this but the embassy was/is a State Dept responsibility. But, then again, Hillary characterized the little incident as a minor local uprising, and definitely not terrorism. So no need to look into my emails folks, nothing there, just take my word for it… right.

  • MX – still

    I agreed about Steve’s name calling – but he didn’t proseltyze – in my read and re-read.

    Maybe you should read what I wrote – before you comment. No mention of Christ – anti or otherwise in my comments. No name calling. Maybe you should read what I wrote and then see who is “throwing a tantrum.”

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Banning you again and every time you pop up. This is a recovery community and you have no respect for that.