The latest faux outrage this weekend targeted President Trump’s visit to Alabama, following the tornado that claimed at least 23 lives. Trump and First Lady Melania took time out of their schedule to personally meet with and comfort victims of the tragedy.
Yet rather than focusing on the fact that the President of the United States cares about Americans and coming together as a nation in the midst of these terrible events, all media could talk about over the weekend’s news cycle was shock and outrage that Trump agreed to sign Bibles at an Alabama church when asked. One historian even described it as “right next to sacrilege.”
As a practicing sincere orthodox Christian, I literally rolled my eyes at the outrage. This isn’t heretical or unprecedented. It’s just another way to take focus off the kindness President Trump and Melania showed and put a negative spin on a positive trip.
No one can reasonably suggest that Trump was signing the Bibles presuming to be the author. How many of us have given Bibles and other books as gifts with a message in the front? Many people sign or inscribe Bibles as gifts to others, intending the particular copy of scripture to have a special purpose or meaning. I have personally received copies of Bibles over the years that people have signed.
For example, when I was teaching at Colorado Christian University, the faculty in my department gifted me with a Bible when I was first hired that each professor signed at the front. The intent was obvious — as a Christian university, all faculty are encouraged to teach from the Christian worldview and hold scripture as paramount in all our perspectives and advice to students. It meant a lot to me. Never for one second did I think that the individuals who signed my Bible were presuming to be the author or intending disrespect for the Word of God. It was entirely the opposite.
Indeed, many people all over the world have a family heritage Bible that is passed down through the generations and signed to the next keeper of the Bible. Past presidents have signed Bibles and even many pastors and teachers have as well.
Unfortunately for the wide swath of Christianity, many denominations tend to add extra-biblical mandates and rules for practicing our faith. But what does the Bible actually say? We are admonished in scripture to take the whole counsel of God, and also to not add to or subtract from it. We are given all we need through the Bible to live rightly. Tradition in some circles may suggest a certain reverence for the Bible that excludes a politician signing a Bible, but it isn’t expressly or explicitly against a command of God. For the “religious leaders” who are condemning Trump, I would challenge them to consider whether they value rules and legalism over true Christianity.
It’s things like this story that I believe drive people (especially millennials) away from Christianity. Who wants to be associated with a “religion” that would actually condemn someone for signing a Bible at a church while comforting disaster victims?
The good news is that this type of piousness isn’t genuine Christianity—that is, it’s not what God Himself actually requires or teaches us about the Truth through His revealed Word—the Bible. As someone raised in the faith of Christianity, yet saw a lot of disparity between what the Bible teaches and what some so-called Christians add or subtract to scripture, I have had to separate what God teaches and what the Truth actually is from what some people claim in the name of Christ. Thankfully, the Truth does speak for itself and what God reveals about Himself in scripture is available and accessible for all of us to learn for ourselves. We shouldn’t reject Christianity based on what someone else says or does.
This is a good lesson for all of us. Find out what God teaches. Read the Bible for yourself. Don’t dismiss Truth merely because some people who claim Christ do even worse things in His name or teach false narratives to fit their own fashioning of who they want God to be. True Christianity is a relationship with the God that sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for our sin, which is death. We cannot live rightly enough to pay for the wrongs we all have done, but we can accept the free gift of salvation through Jesus and begin to understand what the Bible teaches about how to live in light of salvation.
Instead of buying into the crazy mainstream media narratives, turn off the TV and go read God’s Word. I suggest starting with Romans because it gives a comprehensive picture of Christianity and answers our most basic questions—who God is, who we are, why we are here, what is the purpose of life, and why we need a Savior. See for yourself who Jesus is and how you can have a personal relationship with the God who created you and loves you. This is ultimately what matters — not whether a president signs a copy of the Bible.
In fact, the next time I see President Trump, I’ll ask him to sign mine.
Jenna Ellis (@realJennaEllis) is a member of the Trump 2020 Advisory Board. She is a constitutional law attorney, radio host, and the author of The Legal Basis for a Moral Constitution.