Sunday, September 13, 2020


There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.
—Proverbs 6:16-19 (ESV)

Nineteen years ago last week, terrorists under the command of Osama bin Laden carried out an attack that resulted in the deaths of 2,977 Americans. I put a flag on my vehicle just like millions of my fellow citizens. All around were yellow ribbons and bumper stickers saying “United We Stand.”

On the Wednesday evening after the attack, I attended one of my conservative Laestadian church’s small-group Bible classes in a member’s home. We sat in prayer, asking God to give our leaders guidance and strength, and then dispensed with the regular topic to talk about what had just happened to our country.

I never imagined that a day would come, less than two decades later, when that country would look like the one I see now. That at least a third of my fellow citizens–including most if not all of the people I was sitting among that Wednesday evening–are supporting a man who has done nothing but betray them since he took office.

Let’s be very clear about this, dear believer: Donald J. Trump has betrayed you. He has violated all the Christian values you have taught to your children, that you claim to stand for: honesty, sexual fidelity, respect for officials, Christian love for one’s fellow man. Just look at the Bible verse quoted at the top of this essay; every word could be addressed to the man you voted for as President of the United States.

I mean, just look at these seven things the Bible–your Bible–calls “abominations” to God (Prov. 6:16-19). Look at those verses with those judgment-sharpened eyes of yours, believer, and see how much they fit this man you so steadfastedly champion. There are no more “haughty eyes,” than those of this narcissist who makes every single thing about himself and craves constant admiration. Is there really more of “a lying tongue” on the part of any public official? Does anyone else even come close to his thousands of provable lies? Is anyone else close to being such “a false witness who breathes out lies”?

If you keep reading, you will be able to see the “hands that shed innocent blood.” We have certainly seen the “heart that devises wicked plans” and “feet that make haste to run to evil,” many times over. (You might start with paying off porn stars for their silence about his adultery and continue from there to a whole disgusting list of cruelty and crimes.)

And there really is no doubt about his being someone “who sows discord among brothers,” is there? Seriously, you’re not going to try to claim that, after the thousands of thousands of insults and all the mocking and jeering? Just thinking about some of them is exhausting and sickening. You support even that?

There is a very real spiritual danger you face, dear believer, and I am not afraid to warn you of it even as an atheist who does not share your beliefs about sins or souls. You are headed straight for the cliff of irredeemable hypocrisy, where your words about morality mean nothing, where your faith without works is dead. It matters who you put into the highest office of the land. It matters to the entire nation, yes, and to me, but also to your soul. What have you become?


Now, we will have to gloss over a number of other betrayals. Not because they are anything less than stunning and disgusting, but simply because our attention spans are limited (mine, too, nowadays) and I want to show you how personal his betrayal really is–beyond just your beliefs, and beyond these awful things: He has of course also betrayed his oath of office, many times over, and the lives of our military members.

I wish I could help you understand–along with all but one Republican U.S. senator–how serious it was when he said, “Do me a favor, though?” to a foreign head of state before he would release foreign aid funds that had been authorized by Congress.1 Or when he demanded that governors be nice to him before he would send much-needed Coronavirus aid to their states.2 Or the way he is trying to sabotage the U.S. Postal Service because–as he said himself, on tape–he doesn’t like people voting by mail. Or when he just violated the Hatch Act by staging his Republican convention speech from the White House lawn–our White House?3 Do you like having government property trespassed on for use as a campaign prop? I sure don’t.

Regarding the lives of our military members–most recently, you may recall that those bounties put on their heads by Vladimir Putin was none of this President’s concern. And you do know what he thinks of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, right? Suckers and losers, from John McCain to the thousands of honored dead whose graves he wouldn’t visit because the rain would mess up his hair.4

I wish there were a way to help you see how serious this all is. But let’s get personal again, this time with the betrayal of you and your life.

COVID-19 Chronology

As of September 12, by the reckoning of The New York Times, 193,551 Americans have lost their lives to COVID-19. It’s very important for you to understand this one critical thing about Donald Trump: He has also betrayed you, by making you think COVID-19 is no big deal and masks are for liberal wimps, that you should pack together in a rally and dismiss the dangers of this virus. It’s your honorable service as a veteran of our armed forces. It’s your Christian soul that suffers from the sin of hypocrisy, supporting a man so flagrantly against every one of your values.

Please, would you just stop defending him at every turn for a moment–just this once–and consider how deep that betrayal really is? If so, keep reading.


Below is a timeline of things said and done (or not done) by this President about the virus, in chronological order.5 Each image represents one 9/11 worth of American deaths (2,977) that occurred from COVID-19 during the time between those statements.6 Quotes in red are things he said in private to Bob Woodward.

January 22: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. It’s going to be just fine.”

February 7: “It goes through air. That’s always tougher than the touch. You know, the touch, you don’t have to touch things [to get it], right? But the air, you just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed. And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus . . . .This is more deadly.”7

February 10: “I think the virus is going to be–it’s going to be fine.”

February 26: “This is a flu. This is like a flu.”

March 4: “Now, and this is just my hunch, and–but based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this. Because a lot people will have this and it’s very mild.”

March 7: “No, I’m not concerned at all.

March 19: I intended “to always play it down.”

March 30: “Stay calm, it will go away. You know it–you know it is going away, and it will go away, and we’re going to have a great victory.”

April 1: “They [governors] have to treat us well, also. They can’t say, ‘Oh, gee, we should get this, we should get that.’”

April 7: “So, you know, things are happening. It’s a–it’s–I haven’t seen bad. I’ve not seen bad.”

April 9: A reporter asked, could Trump’s coronavirus response have been better? “I couldn’t have done it any better.”

April 23: “I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning? As you see, it gets in the lungs, it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that . . . . So, supposing we hit the body with a tremendous, whether its ultraviolet or just very powerful light, and I think you said, that hasn’t been checked but you’re gonna test it. And then I said, supposing it brought the light inside the body, which you can either do either through the skin or some other way . . .”

April 29: “It’s gonna go away, this is going to go away.”

May 8: “This is going to go away without a vaccine. It is going to go away. We are not going to see it again.”

June 15: “At some point this stuff goes away and it’s going away.”

June 23: “It’s going away.” Trump held a rally on this day in Phoenix, and one in Oklahoma three days earlier at which he “joked” that testing should be slowed down and then said he really doesn’t joke. He was reportedly “furious” about the low attendance of 6,200 as reported by the Tulsa fire department. And yet that small number of people gathered close together, never seeing the “Do Not Sit Here, Please” stickers that had been removed by his campaign staffers beforehand, still managed to spread the virus.8

July 7: “I think we are in a good place.”

July 28: Dr. Anthony Fauci has “got this high approval rating. So why don’t I have a high approval rating with respect–and the administration – with respect to the virus?” (Well, one hint might be that it took until July 11 for Trump to finally demonstrate the faintest hint of leadership on the virus when he wore a mask for the first time.9 And that faded fast; on Sept. 3, he was mocking Joe Biden for wearing a mask and claiming his doing so indicated psychiatric issues.10 This is our President talking like this.)

August 5: “It will go away like things go away”


  1. Much respect to Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) for showing some backbone and principle when he voted to hear witnesses, when he voted to convict Trump for crimes for which the evidence was overwhelming, and when he speaks out against Trump–all as the lone member of Congress (as far as I know, certainly the lone member of the Senate) from his entire party to do so. 

  2. “Trump commits to helping blue states fight the coronavirus if their governors are nice to him,” Vox, March 25, 2020. The article quotes Trump from an appearance on Fox News: “It’s a two-way street. They have to treat us well, also. They can’t say, ‘Oh, gee, we should get this, we should get that.’” 

  3. Seriously, just look it up. It’s all there for you with a simple web search, if you move past your usual right-wing safe media sources to see what’s actually going on. You may also come across a story about Trump deep-sixing the plans Jared Kushner came up for him to address the COVID-19 pandemic because, well, it was only (then) blue states who were getting hit. Gotta love all that “do unto others as you would have others do unto you” from our nation’s chief executive, huh?

    Please, look some stuff up about all this, honestly and openly, OK? It’s our country, and you need to be worrying about it, too. 

  4. “Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers’,” by Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic, September 3, 2020. This article will horrify you if you just allow yourself to read it. Please go ahead; the country needs you to become informed about this man, and your refusal to do so would not make any of what he’s done any less true. 

  5. The items in the listing were selected and (except as otherwise indicated) copied from a comprehensive timeline table provided by Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX32) on his web site

  6. The image of the North face of the South Tower is a reduced-resolution thumbnail of one by Robert on Flickr: UA Flight 175 hits WTC south tower 9-11 edit.jpeg, CC BY-SA 2.0. To figure out where to insert the 65 copies of that image (65 x 2,977 = 193,505; close enough) in the timeline, I used the then-latest version of the file us.csv made freely available to the public by The New York Times with some basic arithmetic. Overall, the distribution of images I chose has the effect of rounding to the nearest image’s worth of deaths in between Trump statements. 

  7. “Trump acknowledged seriousness of COVID-19 privately to Bob Woodward in early February”, Thomson Reuters, September 9, 2020. The subheading under the article’s headline is, “Biden blasts Trump on latest revelation, calls it ‘a life and death betrayal’.” It ain’t just me saying this. 

  8. Wikipedia, 2020 Trump Tulsa rally. One person who very plausibly died as a result of that gathering was Herman Cain, a prominent Republican leader who “tested negative for the virus immediately before entering the rally,” tested positive nine days later, was hospitalized two days after that, and died on July 30. 

  9. “Trump wears mask in public for first time during visit to Walter Reed,” Politico July 12, 2020

  10. “Trump mocks Biden for wearing mask: ‘Did you ever see a man that likes a mask as much as him?’”, CNN, September 3, 2020. “Speaking to a largely mask-less crowd in Pennsylvania, Trump asked his supporters if they know ‘a man that likes a mask as much’ as Biden. ‘It gives him a feeling of security,’ the President said. ‘If I was a psychiatrist, I’d say this guy has some big issues.’” I wonder if any of the people he said this to in front of Air Force One will feel at all betrayed if they get sick with COVID-19?