A Meme is Worth a Thousand Words–How Nationalism Blinds Conservative Christians

A Meme is Worth a Thousand Words–How Nationalism Blinds Conservative Christians March 13, 2018

This week, I have had two different conservative Christian social media friends share memes that nearly floored me with their levels of what I can only deem willful ignorance. The memes were about different things, but their unmistakable messages were inextricably linked. Donald Trump, despite the enormous mountain of evidence to the contrary, appears to have that segment of Christianity farthest to the right on the political spectrum completely hoodwinked and believing that he is a representative of Christ’s message. I am beginning to believe, sadly, that the situation has passed the point of no return. Nationalism has eclipsed the message of Christ in the pyramid of values that far right Christians hold most dear.

This was the first meme in question…

It is a “work of art” depicting a noticeably distraught and concerned President Trump walking off an NFL football field clutching a desecrated flag. Accompanying this image was the following text.

“[Artist’s name] painted this picture of President Trump and named it “Respect The Flag.” The painter says, “I painted President Trump picking up a shredded and trampled flag off the football field. He holds a wet cloth in his right hand, as he attempts to clean it. I respect America. I respect the flag, the anthem, and the President; because he doesn’t back down to those who do not.”

I don’t even know where to begin with everything that is wrong with the sentiment of this image and caption. But here goes nothing…

  • No flags have been “shredded” or “trampled” on any NFL football field anywhere. The only thing that has happened is that some players and team personnel have chosen to solemnly and respectfully take a knee and bow their heads during the singing of the National Anthem.
  • In discounting this respectful form of protest by spreading this misleading–outright dishonest–depiction, right wing Christians are disrespecting America far more than the athletes who chose to take a knee. They are spreading a lie that cheapens the sacrifices that so many have made to protect the rights of those young men to protest against what they feel are injustices in our society.
  • In spreading this false message, right wing Christians are ignoring the cries of hurting people. The whole reason for the take a knee protests was to call attention to the plight of an awful lot of people who are afraid and hurting. They are simply asking to be recognized, heard, and for our nation to be willing to have a conversation about a reality they face every day. To ignore those cries in favor of nationalism seems about as un-Christ-like as anything I can imagine.


This was the second meme…

Where do I begin with this one?

First of all, I’m not certain that picture hasn’t been photoshopped, but let’s assume for the sake of argument that it is a legitimate image of President Trump holding up the Holy Bible.

There is so much to consider here, let’s dive in…

  • I can understand how this meme seems attractive to Christians at first blush. After all, what could be wrong with the nation being guided by biblical principals? Well, a lot, if you understand the Constitution. It is true that the majority of Americans identify themselves as Christians–in fact, the number is around 75%–but it is a number that is steadily shrinking. There are many millions of Americans who follow other religions or no religion at all. The Constitution is very clear that those people count just as much as anyone else and that our government isn’t permitted to endorse or forbid the free practice of any religion.
  • The man in the picture holding up that bible has a history of behavior that gives no indication that he understands a word of it. He continually takes to social media to publicly trash people he disagrees with. He has made war on every policy his predecessor, Barack Obama, put in place. His policies would make the rich much richer. His policies would take health care away from millions of the people he leads. His policies would round up and deport millions of people who have been productive members of American society for most of their lives. What does that book he is holding say about the kinds of policies he promotes?
  • The same right wing Christians who are buying that meme spent eight years tearing down President Obama. They claimed he was a Muslim from Kenya, despite the fact that Obama said he is Christian and attended a Christian church–something a Muslim would never do. Here is the story of Obama’s faith from in his own words…

“I was not raised in a particularly religious household. I had a father who was born a Muslim but became an atheist, grandparents who were non-practicing Methodists and Baptists, and mother who was skeptical of organized religion, even as she was the kindest, most spiritual person I’ve ever known. She was the one who taught me as a child to love, and to understand, and to do unto others as I would want done. I didn’t become a Christian until many years later, when I moved to the South Side of Chicago after college. It happened not because of indoctrination or a sudden revelation, but because I spent month after month working with church folks who simply wanted to help neighbors who were down on their luck–no matter what they looked like, or where they came from, or who they prayed to. It was on those streets, in those neighborhoods, that I first heard God’s spirit beckon me. It was there that I felt calls to a higher purpose–His purpose.”

Barack Obama, Feb. 5, 2009


Can you, in a million years, imagine those words coming out of the mouth of Donald Trump? Now I ask you, when comparing the words and deeds of Trump with Obama, which man better reflects the message and demeanor of Christ?


If I had the artistic ability to do so, I would create my own painting in response to these two memes. Since I can’t draw or paint well, let me try to paint it with words.

Imagine, if you will, a painting with a tone very similar to the one of Trump with the flag that I shared above.

Now, replace Trump with President Obama and replace the desecrated flag with a dirty, tattered and torn Bible.

Are you getting the picture?

If someone with artistic ability would like to create such an image, I’d love to see it.

But, just a word of warning…if you share it on social media, you may make the heads of your right wing Christian friends explode.


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