The Manhattan District Attorney’s office is reportedly preparing to indict Trump in relation to a $130,000 payment from his lawyer and fixer to Stormy Daniels in exchange for her silence prior to the 2016 election.
The former president has long played a key role in the imaginations of Christian nationalists, who believe America is an inherently Christian nation, should have Christian laws, and that Trump is their savior. Christian nationalist language has seeped into MAGA-world rhetoric, but Trump’s imminent arrest has taken it to new heights.
Lawyer Joseph McBride, who is representing a handful of Jan. 6 defendants, thinks that the timing of Trump’s likely arrest is notable.
When he faced some pushback on comparing Trump’s plight to Jesus Christ’s hours-long torture, McBride doubled down. “JESUS LOVES DONALD TRUMP. JESUS DIED FOR DONALD TRUMP. JESUS LIVES INSIDE DONALD TRUMP,” McBride tweeted. “DEAL WITH IT.”
In the Christian nationalist theological framework, all manner of right-wing culture war issues, including drag shows, COVID-19 vaccines, and now the looming indictment of Trump, became primordial battles between good and evil.
Trump has harnessed surging Christian nationalism to his advantage, and has recently adopted increasingly apocalyptic rhetoric to imbue his campaign with a sense of urgency.
Trump has tried to cast himself as a victim of political persecution by “evil and sinister people,” who are “killing our nation as we sit back & watch” in a series of blustering social media posts in recent days.
“The greatest in our history, most important battle in our lives, is taking place right now as we speak,” he told CPAC earlier this month. “For seven years, you and I have been engaged in an epic struggle to rescue our country from the people who hate it and want to absolutely destroy it.”
Thomas Lecaque, an associate professor of history at Grand View University focusing on apocalyptic religion and political violence, says that these dog whistles are always dangerous, but particularly within the context of Christian nationalism and at a moment of surging antisemitism.