Certain evangelical leaders who are deeply involved in politics have been pushing the theory for some time right now that President Trump is akin to the biblical and historical figure of Cyrus the Great, who was anointed by God and freed the Jews from their captivity, enabling their return to Jerusalem and the reconstruction of the Temple. Their motive for doing so is to reinforce Trump’s strong support among the white conservative evangelical demographic group, which some thought might waver as Trump’s crude and definitely ungodly language and behavior in both past and present continue to be highlighted. They use the example of Cyrus to show that even a non-Christian can be used by God to advance his plan.
In that last point they are absolutely correct. Repeatedly in the Bible non-believers are used, wittingly and unwittingly, to carry out God’s will.
After that, however, the analogy falls apart utterly.
First off, Cyrus was no Trump. While he is a figure of ancient history, he is a very significant one, and much is known about him. Cyrus was, by most accounts, a conqueror, a statesman and an enlightened ruler who respected and protected religious and other diversity in his empire.
Trump is none of those things. He avoided military service (or any service at all before being elected President). He blusters and blunders through foreign and domestic policy, lying and misspeaking on a daily basis, and his entire presidency has been a series of scandals and disasters that have divide our country as rarely before, alienated our allies and emboldened our enemies. His entire candidacy was based on a backlash against diversity in America, and its most defining characteristics are its crackdown on immigration and its rampant endorsement of racial and religious bigotry.
More importantly, however, regardless of how enlightened Cyrus’s rule was, the Jews had no choice but to depend on his good will and charity. They were a captive and enslaved people with no control of their own destiny. They did not vote to put Cyrus in power and could not influence and thus were in no way responsible for any of Cyrus’ actions.
That also is not the case now. Conservative white evangelicals voted for Trump in large numbers, and are one of the groups most responsible for bringing him to power. They do indeed bear some responsibility for all of his actions and policies, from his racism to his assault on the poor, from his misogyny to his corruption, from his repeated marital infidelity to his constant lying. Their votes made everything he has done possible. Their continued support and intent to vote for him again means they endorse his subsequent actions, or at least tolerate them.
Cyrus is praised in the Bible because he did what was right for the people of God. The only way you can say the same about Trump is if you believe that the only issues of any importance in Christianity today are abortion and homosexuality. Two issues on which our Lord and Savior said not one single solitary word in his three years of ministry.
Trump is no Cyrus, and today’s evangelicals are not in the same powerless position as the Jews under Babylonian rule. They have choices and will be held to account for their choices. That thought should lead to some fear and trembling.