Righting America

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Payday Someday for Evangelicals (Ahab) and Trump (Jezebel) | Righting America

by Rodney Kennedy

Rodney Kennedy has his M.Div from New Orleans Theological Seminary and his Ph.D. in Rhetoric from Louisiana State University. He pastored the First Baptist Church of Dayton (OH) – which is an American Baptist Church – for 13 years, after which he served as interim pastor of ABC USA churches in Illinois, Kansas, New York, and Pennsylvania. He is now a full-time writer. His seventh book, Good and Evil in the Garden of Democracy, has recently been published. And book #8, Dancing with Metaphors in the Pulpit, will appear soon. 

Image of Jezebel in front of Baal. Image via Ancient World History.

Some evangelical leaders enjoy pretending Donald Trump is the second coming of a biblical character. They have dubbed him Cyrus, God’s anointed. Lance Wallnau made this connection explicit, telling the Christian Broadcasting Network that God told him directly that “Isaiah 45 will be the 45th president … Isaiah 45 is Cyrus.” 

Other evangelicals have compared Trump to Samson, David, even Esther. The most recent spate of comparisons has Donald Trump as Jesus – a persecuted and suffering man, who is taking the place of his devoted followers. What a sick political substitutionary atonement scam. I listened to a young couple explaining how Trump was taking on all their suffering to be their savior. My heart broke; my mind shifted into neutral, and I stared at my computer screen in disbelief at the blasphemy.

Anyone with a rudimentary biblical knowledge can play this game with the evangelicals. Here’s my entry. Trump is Jezebel, and evangelicals are her spineless husband Ahab. 

Like Ahab, evangelicals whine and whine about not being allowed to say what they please, do what they please, and have whatever they want. They pretend to be victims even as they live as privileged people. And when they are denied, they go to their room and pout. They go into isolation and sulk. They fit the description of Ahab in I Kings 21: “Ahab went home resentful and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had said to him; for he had said, ‘I will not give you my ancestral inheritance.’ He lay down on his bed, turned away his face, and would not eat.”

But Jezebel – a fervent devotee of the Canaanite deity Baal – told Ahab: “Get up, eat some food, and be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.” So she did, and the methods she used were frighteningly Trumpian.

She wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal; she sent the letters to the elders and the nobles who lived with Naboth in his city. She wrote in the letters, “Proclaim a fast, and seat Naboth at the head of the assembly; seat two scoundrels opposite him, and have them bring a charge against him, saying, ‘You have cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out, and stone him to death.” 

The elders and the nobles who lived in his city did as Jezebel commanded. They proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth at the head of the assembly. The two scoundrels came in and sat opposite him. In the presence of the people these false witnesses proclaimed that “Naboth cursed God and the king.” So the people took him outside the city, and stoned him to death. Then they sent a message to Jezebel: “Naboth has been stoned; he is dead.”

Justice was destroyed. Case closed. 

Transactional, greedy, and evil, Jezebel and Trump act the same way. Both will say anything and do anything to get what they want. 

There’s a famous Southern Baptist sermon on Jezebel and Ahab called, “Payday Someday.” The author of the sermon, Rev. R. G. Lee calls Jezebel the “the evil genius at once of her dynasty and of her country.”  And then there is Ahab, “the vile human toad who squatted upon the throne of his nation — the worst of Israel’s kings.” 

“Payday Someday” is the perfect title for this sermon. And evangelicals and Trump have a payday coming – a judgment they will not be able to bear. Like Jezebel and Ahab, Trump and the evangelicals are scoundrels and villains. They spread crooked speech, wink the eyes, shuffle the feet, point the fingers, with perverted minds devising evil and sowing discord. 

There’s no joy or satisfaction in my heart making this harsh accusation against my evangelical brothers and sisters. But I feel called of God, demanded by God, to make this appeal. Recently I received an email from Dr. Robert L. Ivie, who wrote: 

Somehow between now and the November election we have to assemble the scattered democratic majority in sufficient number to prevail over the immediate threat. The storm clouds are dark and angry. I trust your work in the pulpit on ground zero will help folks to regain a positive perspective on democracy and its values. The public has lost its democratic aspirations, but hopefully they can be renewed.

I am not Elijah; I am unworthy to carry his mantle, but I can speak with the courage of Elijah, and in the hope that God will prepare an Elijah for our modern Jezebel and Ahab. Because I believe in my heart there’s a payday coming for evangelicals and Trump. You can’t engage in the “bastardization of religion” in such dastardly ways and come away unscathed. 

The current manifestation of Jezebel and Ahab reminds me of the conservatives of the Roaring 20’s who sent our nation into the spiral of a Great Depression. They were blind to reality, truth, and consequences. Tennessee Williams stated well the idea that there are costs to self-delusion and immoderation. As Tom Wingfield, the narrator in The Glass Menagerie (1945), put it: 

That quaint period, the thirties, when the huge middle class of America was matriculating in a school for the blind. Their eyes had failed them, or they had failed their eyes, and so they were having their fingers pressed forcibly down on the fiery Braille alphabet of a dissolving economy.

This is the judgment. Evangelicals and Trump will have their fingers pressed forcibly down on the fiery Braille alphabet of a dissolving religious zeal riddled in hypocrisy.

Evangelicals and Trump will face the very judgment they have preached for so long. I’m not talking hell, fire, and damnation. I’m talking here and now, earthly, material, bodily judgment: Loss of power, dignity, self-respect, standing in the larger community of faith. The judgment of God will take all this from them. 

Evangelicals will protest by calling me names: “Idiot,” “Liar,” “Delusional preacher.” But that doesn’t stop the judgment. 

They will cry “Lord, Lord,” but the Lord of the universe has observed them bowing the knee to Trump. 

They will object, “Lord, when were we unfaithful to you? Lord, we were only trying to protect you and save our nation.” And the Lord will say, “Depart from me, you workers of iniquity.” 

The judgment evangelicals have thrown in our faces will now be theirs to bear forever.