Trump, Lent and virtue signalling

Trump, Lent and virtue signalling February 27, 2020
Image via YouTube

YESTERDAY was Ash Wednesday, a virtue signalling occasion that marked the beginning of Lent and gave silly Christians the opportunity to have ashes daubed on their forehead – a practice that can have dire consequences.

Never passing an opportunity to trumpet his faux piety, Trump used the day to send out a message to his adoring Christian followers:

For Catholics and many other Christians, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten season that concludes with the joyful celebration of Easter Sunday.  Today, millions of Christians will be marked on their foreheads with the sign of the cross. The imposition of ashes is an invitation to spend time during Lent fasting, praying, and engaging in acts of charity.

Trumplethinskin or Trumpzilla or the Orange Tornado as he’s sometimes called, added:

This powerful and sacred tradition reminds us of our shared mortality, Christ’s saving love, and the need to repent and accept the Gospel more fully We join in prayer with everyone observing this holy day and wish you a prayerful Lenten journey. May you grow closer to God in your faith during this blessed season.

Some years back, in the print edition of the Freethinker, Richard White wrote:

As a young child I attended a Catholic primary school, and every year we would be ushered into the school hall for the priest to wipe some ash onto our foreheads, in the shape of an archaic torture device. The act of human graffiti was accompanied by the usual Catholic guilt trip: “Jesus… sins… died… sinner… not worth… sin… punishment… reflect…” – you know the routine. But we were told this was Lent.

As an adult, I don’t even think about Lent, except for the past couple of years when my social media feeds keep informing me about what people are giving up. Usually anything with sugar but particularly chocolate and alcohol.

In previous years I’ve simply viewed these posts and thought nothing of them except preferring my own choice of eschewing Lent itself. But this year, skimming Facebook soon after waking and seeing more of these statuses, I realised how trivialised Lent has become for so many modern Christians. Considering that this period began as a time of penance, to make the sacrifice of useful things, to share in Christ’s suffering and perhaps to help others to connect with God, it demonstrates a true bastardisation of it to use that time to give up chocolate instead.

Actually, I find it sad, sometimes grotesque, that people are putting themselves through a level of self-imposed punishment for the sake of a bronze-age myth.

My musings on the trivialisation of Lent have more to do with how much the meaning of these holidays and traditions has been lost. One could argue that they only continue through name and not action for so many people. I also find it particularly amusing, and somewhat ironic, that people spend Lent avoiding chocolate and sugar, only to feast on chocolate eggs when Easter rolls around.

Could this be a sign that the power and respect religion once commanded is slipping? That Lent, one of the big events in the Christian calendar, has now been reduced to something like a 40-day New Year Resolution affair rather than a spiritual reflection of self and God, and their relationship?

It could be an indication that Christians are no longer using this time to re-establish a connection with their creator, nor to reflect on their shortcomings or how grateful they are Jesus’s sacrifice, but instead to focus on their waistline or consumption levels – actions that are necessarily selfish.

Put another way, many modern Christians are not using an important religious holiday to focus on their religion, morals, spirituality or beliefs, but to embark on vanity projects instead.


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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Jezebel’sOlderSister

    I gave up religion for lent a long time ago.

  • Anne Fenwick

    Wow, American Christians are weird! Everyone I know, be they believer or not, just celebrates Pancake Day/Mardi Gras and then goes right back to carrying on as normal.

  • Milo C

    My SO is a Jehovah’s Witness and was initially confused when she saw a news anchor with a dark smudge prominent on her forehead. I had to explain that it’s a tradition of virtue-signalling for most other Xtian denominations.

  • larry parker

    I guarantee that Trump didn’t write that message.

  • Wile F. Coyote

    And if this was tweeted or issued to media in print, Trump hasn’t read the message, either. And never will. Paula White or some other member of the Oval Office Christian cabal may have read it out loud within his hearing range — for his (supposed) review before issuance — but if so, it’s unlikely in the extreme he focused on the words spoken.

  • Cozmo the Magician

    If catholics REALLY want to atone for things, maybe they could just give up BEING CATHOLIC.

  • Cozmo the Magician

    typed mine b4 reading down… great minds etc etc.

  • Yep, same. Specifically, Catholicism. And I’m much better for it.

  • HematitePersuasion

    Maybe this year, I’ll try to get into the spirit of things, and give up chastity for Lent.

  • andrewm

    If Lent has started, the first salvo in the “War on Easter” cannot be far away. Never fails to amuse.Tabloid hysteria at its best.

  • TheBookOfDavid

    Grammatically correct sentence structure, lack of the best words; this is clearly not the work of a stable genius.

  • Raymond Metcalfe

    this means the war on easter should begin soon. So put on your tin hat grab a beer and get ready to laugh and cringe

  • Jennifer A. Nolan

    This is a better sermon than anything you’ll get from most pulpits this spring!!

  • Douglas Bailey

    Have a friend who gives up Facebook for Lent. Really?

    Priest: Is it still true you don’t eat pork?
    Rabbi: Yes. Is it still the case you don’t have sex?
    Priest: Yes
    Rabbi: You should try it, it’s better than a ham sandwich………….

  • Jon Ripley

    It’s the mark of the beast.

  • stevie68a

    I read somewhere that the real reason pork is forbidden in some religions, is that it tastes like human flesh!
    I hope I never have to find out.

  • stevie68a

    People who practice meditation and study higher awareness, know about something called the “third eye”.
    With diligent practice, one can see more of this world than the average person.
    For instance, if an advertisement has a hidden message, they can spot it right off the bat.
    Ashes are a sign of destruction, and it looks like it’s to get rid of this “third eye”.
    Many people think religion is about revealing things, but it often is about hiding things.
    Just trickery.
    If you plucked out this eye, you’d have a red hole. Now you know what the red dot means in other religions.
    Another example: people wear a coin like disc in the same area. It acts a a covering for this “third eye”, essentially
    closing it.

  • Karen the rock whisperer

    A decade or so ago, when I was a grad student (at a secular school), I wandered intro our department’s student lounge one morning where a handful of other grad students were gathered. One of them was talking about what she was giving up for Lent. Now, this particular student almost lived at a nearby taqueria. She was infamous for bringing an uncapped squeeze bottle of their signature orange sauce on a field trip, and having it fall over and drip on everything in the cooler we all shared. On this particular morning, she announced to her friends that she was giving up the taqueria’s breakfast burritos for Lent.

    I had to leave the room before I laughed out loud.

  • Philip Buczko

    Spam, spiced ham, very popular on some Pacific islands where cannibalism used to be rife. Some tribes referred to man as ‘long pig’

  • Arthur F. Meincke

    Hokus Pokus! The religious nonsense continues with people locked into their notions and superstitions.

  • Connie Beane

    Pigs are omnivores and will eat human flesh as readily as that of other dead animals. So, eating pork could in some circumstances amount to second-hand cannibalism. Certain shellfish, forbidden under Jewish dietary law, also eat dead flesh, which could include drowning victims….

  • beckiru
  • Larry Dawson

    Or, as my late father-in-law would put it: “I’m just giving up.”

  • Thanks4AllTheFish

    Even as a lifelong atheist, I have observed Lent in honor of my Catholic stepmother. I have yet to falter in my fasting.

    Every year I resolve to make a New Year’s resolution to observe Lent and every year I have given-up my New Year’s resolutions for Lent. It’s a sacrifice, but someone has to do it.

  • Art Davison

    What a ridiculous, nonsensical activity. No wonder it has devolved into meaninglessness.

  • Gord O’Mitey

    Verily I say unto ye, whyfore dost they put ashes upon their foreheads? Y’all know, cleanliness is next to Gordliness, eh.

  • Rennyrij

    Is it possible that the greeting card companies are a bigger part than they are given credit for, of why these religious traditions keep showing up on our calendars?

  • Raymond Metcalfe

    Thanks for sharing this is the best nonsense I have seen for a while

  • Jennifer A. Nolan

    You do understand, I hope, that our hallmark characteristic is hypocrisy, don’t you?