On Sunday, Turning Point USA hosted Donald Trump Jr. where he praised a crowd of young conservatives as “the frontline of freedom” but cautioned that following biblical teaching like “turn the other cheek” was holding them back and has “gotten us nothing.”
“If we band together, we can take on these institutions,” Trump told the crowd in Arizona. “That’s where we’ve gone wrong for a long time.”
“They cannot cancel us all,” he continued. “This will be contrary to a lot of our beliefs because I’d love not to have to participate in cancel culture. I’d love that it didn’t exist. But as long as it does, folks, we better be playing the same game.”
“We’ve turned the other cheek and I understand sort of the biblical reference — I understand the mentality — but it’s gotten us nothing,” Trump said. “OK? It’s gotten us nothing while we’ve ceded ground in every major institution.”
Trump is more correct than he probably knows here. Christianity is a poor device for gaining worldly influence. Nearly every page of the Gospels has stories of Jesus refusing earthly power and exhorting his followers to do the same. In fact, there are few things Jesus talked as much about as the upside down Kingdom of God where “the last shall be first” and “blessed are the meek.” Moreover, he cautioned against seeking earthly influence, going so far as to proclaim “woe to you who are rich.” The most cursory reading of Scripture would leave anyone with the sense that this is not a manual for getting stuff.
That’s why Christians who do seek earthly power have often had to either ignore inconvenient parts (like “love your enemies” or, yes, “turn the other cheek”) or trivialize them into meaninglessness. This is a particularly robust American tradition. Thomas Jefferson famously cut together his own personal Bible in which he had clipped out any references to Jesus’ miracles, preferring to focus on Jesus as a moral teacher. But you don’t have to take things that far, as Trump demonstrates here. You can just tell your fans that you want your side to gain more control and the Bible is getting in the way. There is some honesty in that, at least.
You can see Trump’s comments below.