Trump’s Backing of ‘Patriotic Bible’ Sparks Sharp Catholic Criticism, Some Praise

The presidential candidate touted the ‘God Bless the USA Bible’ — which includes both the Protestant canon of sacred Scripture and America’s founding documents — in a social-media video on March 27.

Donald Trump touts the ‘God Bless the USA Bible’ in a video March 27.
Donald Trump touts the ‘God Bless the USA Bible’ in a video March 27. (photo: National Catholic Register / X screenshot)

Donald Trump’s Holy Week promotion of a pricey, patriotic-themed Bible has sparked sharp criticism from Catholics on social media.

While political groups aligned with the former president such as Catholic Vote and the Heritage Foundation praised him for promoting prayer, critics accused him of using Scripture to advance himself politically and financially.

The presidential candidate touted the “God Bless the USA Bible,” a King James Version that includes both sacred Scripture and America’s founding documents, in a social-media video on March 27.

Trump is promoting the book in tandem with country singer Lee Greenwood, whose 1984 song God Bless the USA is its inspiration. In his promotional video, the businessman-turned-politician said that America’s Judeo-Christian values were currently under attack, “perhaps as never before,” and described the politically infused Bible as part of his effort to “make America pray again.”

“All Americans need a Bible in their home, and I have many,” said Trump. “It’s my favorite book.”

The president’s scriptural sales pitch received widespread criticism from Catholics, including those known for holding more conservative political views.

“It’s an unholy blend of tacky Protestantism, messianic Americanism, and corporate consumerism,” said Eric Sammons, editor of Crisis magazine, in a social-media post, adding that “stuff like this makes my skin crawl.”

Brian Burch, president of Catholic Vote, a political advocacy group that has endorsed Trump, offered a different take.

“It’s refreshing to hear a presidential candidate talk this way,” Burch told Catholic News Agency. “People may have different opinions about President Trump’s personal life, but he is undoubtedly an ally to Catholics and all people of faith.”

Burch contrasted Trump’s message and record with President Joe Biden, a Catholic who Burch says has targeted churches and decimated religious-freedom protections.


Making a Biblical Buck?

Catholics on social media criticized Trump for using the Bible to make a buck, with some saying that if the real-estate mogul thought it was so important for every American to have a Bible, then he should give it away for free — instead of selling it for $59.99.

“It’s giving moneychangers in the temple [vibes],” tweeted the American Solidarity Party, a small third party inspired by Catholic social teaching.

The New York Times has reported that Trump, who is facing hundreds of millions of dollars of legal fees in the face of four criminal cases and several civil lawsuits, is earning royalties with each copy of “God Bless the USA Bible” sold.

For others, the most egregious offense was that the “God Bless the USA Bible” packaged the divinely inspired word of God together with political documents, mixing the sacred and the profane.

“A sacrilege just in time for Holy Week,” tweeted Valerie Schultz, a columnist for America magazine, including a screenshot of the Trump-backed Bible’s political contents.

Bradley Gregory, a biblical scholar at The Catholic University of America, told CNA that the “God Bless the USA Bible” marked a “potentially dangerous misunderstanding of how our Christian faith should relate to our politics” by pairing the word of God with the founding documents.

“Whenever Scripture and something political are implied to be on the same level, even subconsciously, it makes it that much harder for the Church to see and challenge things that might be in conflict with the Gospel,” Gregory said.

Kevin Roberts, president of the Heritage Foundation, a D.C.-based conservative think tank, acknowledged to CNA that he was disappointed the Trump-backed Bible didn’t include all of the books of the Bible, as the King James Version excludes deuterocanonical texts like the Book of Tobit and Maccabees.

But Roberts, whose organization is leading an ambitious plan to reorganize the federal government in the event of a Republican victory in November, defended Trump’s promotion of the “God Bless the USA Bible,” describing the presidential contender’s remarks as “a great witness by a political leader who has not always spoken about his faith.”

“His belief in God, his belief in the importance of Christianity, going to the core of his message [of] the intertwining of religion and the fate of this country — are all heartfelt,” Roberts told CNA.

Some commentators have said that the Bible and Trump’s comments exemplified Christian nationalism, which holds that America should be governed by religious law. Several media articles have claimed that a second Trump presidency would usher Christian nationalists into power, a charge that several Catholic analysts previously told the Register was overblown.


Marketing a ‘MAGA Bible’?

The Trump-backed Bible isn’t the first time that hallmarks of American civic life have been included in a Bible. The “God Bless America Bible,” published in 1995, included the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag on the inside cover.

But the combination of perceived political and financial motivation in Trump’s “God Bless the USA Bible” promotion, as well as its timing just before Easter, has drawn a heightened degree of ire.

“This is degenerate,” said Orthodox writer Rod Dreher, who described Trump’s sales pitch as “Holy Week marketing of a MAGA Bible.”

The controversy isn’t the first time Trump’s engagement with sacred Scripture has been criticized. Notable gaffes include mistakenly citing a biblical reference as “Two Corinthians” instead of “Second Corinthians” in 2016, and holding the Bible upside down in a 2020 photo op in front of a D.C. church in the midst of protests outside of the White House.

The former president’s apparent unfamiliarity with sacred Scripture has helped fuel allegations that his frequent appeals to religion are motivated entirely by politics. More than 63% of those who attended religious services at least once a week supported Trump in his unsuccessful 2020 bid for reelection, and devout Christians are a pivotal voting bloc in the businessman’s attempt to retake the White House this coming November.