Over the weekend, a larger-than-life golden statue of former President Donald Trump was wheeled through the halls of the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida. It’s a ridiculous statue, featuring Trump holding the Constitution in one hand, a magic wand in the other and sporting a pair of star spangled board shorts. It was also a huge hit.
On the balance, Christians cheering a golden statue feels a little on the nose as metaphors go, and the whole thing sparked a weekend-long debate about just what an idol is and what crosses the line. Obviously, plenty of the usual Republican critics expressed their discomfort, but quite a few Conservatives were unhappy with the unfolding optics as well.
They love the 2nd Amendment, but not so much the 2nd Commandment (no false idols). Talk about worshiping a graven (and craven) image! https://t.co/JpnbY21Bz1
— Rep. Jared Huffman (@JaredHuffman) February 26, 2021
Gotta say I'm not a huge fan of making literal golden idols out of political figures https://t.co/T7GHJjaIdP
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) February 26, 2021
Reading the Bible I always thought, “Really? A calf? All that gold and…a calf?” But now I’m thinking, if you’re going to throw your gold into a fire, a calf really isn’t the worst thing. https://t.co/FkGia6gvTK
— Kristin Du Mez 🤦♀️ (@kkdumez) February 26, 2021
The symbolism is clear. https://t.co/nfxfrjmDWk
— Karen Swallow Prior (Notorious KSP) (@KSPrior) February 26, 2021
The statue is the work of Tommy Zegan, an American expat who carted his creation up over the boarder from Mexico, where he lives. Zegan is a former youth pastor, and he took umbrage with the idea that he’d built an idol.
“It’s not an idol,” he told Mediaite “I know the biblical definition of an idol. This is not an idol. This is a sculpture.”
Zegan has two versions of the statue. He hopes to sell the famous golden one for $100,000 and has dreams that the second, a stainless steel number, will find a home in a future Trump presidential library. In fact, he already tried once to present Trump with his ido — er — sculpture at Mar-a-Lago as a birthday present, but security wouldn’t let him through the front door.
Obviously, the most famous idol in the Bible is the golden calf. According to the Book of Exodus, Moses had left the Hebrews camping at the foot of Mount Sinai to go speak with God and get what we today know as the 10 Commandments. But the people got fed up with waiting and pressured Moses’ brother Aaron to build an idol for them to worship instead of the invisible God they’d followed out of Egypt. Aaron complied and the people worshipped the golden calf, and Moses was so upset he thew away the tablets God had etched out the 10 Commandments on and punished the people by forcing them to drink the idol after he melted it down.
Nobody at CPAC was literally worshipping the Trump statue (as far as we know) but, well, the symbolism is awfully low-hanging fruit.