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Cash-strapped Trump is now selling $60 Bibles, U.S. Constitution included

Then-President Donald Trump holds up a Bible outside St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., during a controversial 2020 photo-op.
Brendan Smialowski
/
AFP via Getty Images
Then-President Donald Trump holds up a Bible outside St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., during a controversial 2020 photo-op.

Former President Donald Trump is bringing together church and state in a gilded package for his latest venture, a $60 "God Bless The USA" Bible complete with copies of the nation's founding documents.

Trump announced the launch of the leather-bound, large-print, King James Bible in a post on Truth Social on Tuesday — a day after the social media company surged in its trading debut and two days after a New York appeals court extended his bond deadline to comply with a ruling in a civil fraud case and slashed the bond amount by 61%.

"Happy Holy Week! Let's Make America Pray Again," Trump wrote. "As we lead into Good Friday and Easter, I encourage you to get a copy of the God Bless The USA Bible."

The Bible is inspired by "God Bless the USA," the patriotic Lee Greenwood anthem that has been a fixture at many a Trump rally (and has a long political history dating back to Ronald Reagan). It is the only Bible endorsed by Trump as well as Greenwood, according to its promotional website.

The Bible is only available online and sells for $59.99 (considerably more expensive than the traditional Bibles sold at major retailers, or those available for free at many churches and hotels). It includes Greenwood's handwritten chorus of its titular song as well as copies of historical documents including the U.S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence and Pledge of Allegiance.

"Many of you have never read them and don't know the liberties and rights you have as Americans, and how you are being threatened to lose those rights," Trump said in a three-minute video advertisement.

"Religion and Christianity are the biggest things missing from this country, and I truly believe that we need to bring them back and we have to bring them back fast."

Trump critics on both sides of the aisle quickly criticized the product, characterizing it as self-serving and hypocritical.

Conservative political commentator Charlie Sykes slammed him for "commodifying the Bible during Holy Week," while Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota critiqued him for "literally taking a holy book and selling it, and putting it out there in order to make money for his campaign."

Trump says the money isn't going to his campaign, but more on that below.

Klobuchar added that Trump's public attacks on others are "not consistent with the teachings of the Bible," calling this "one more moment of hypocrisy." Tara Setmayer, a senior adviser for anti-Trump Republican PAC the Lincoln Project, called it "blasphemous."

And former Rep. Liz Cheney, a Republican from Wyoming, trolled Trump with a social media post alluding to his alleged extramarital affairs.

"Happy Holy Week, Donald," she wrote. "Instead of selling Bibles, you should probably buy one. And read it, including Exodus 20:14."

Christianity is an increasingly prominent part of his campaign

Trump has made a point of cultivating Christian supporters since his 2016 presidential campaign and remains popular with white evangelicals despite his multiple divorces, insults toward marginalized groups and allegations of extramarital affairs and sexual assault.

And his narrative of being persecuted — including in the courts — appears to resonate with his many Christian supporters.

Trump has increasingly embraced Christian nationalist ideas in public. He promised a convention of religious broadcasters last month that he would use a second term to defend Christian values from the "radical left," swearing that "no one will be touching the cross of Christ under the Trump administration."

He made similar comments in the Bible promotional video, in which he warned that "Christians are under siege" and the country is "going haywire" because it lost religion.

"We must defend God in the public square and not allow the media or the left-wing groups to silence, censor or discriminate against us," he said. "We have to bring Christianity back into our lives and back into what will be again a great nation."

Trump himself is not known to be particularly religious or a regular churchgoer. He long identified as Presbyterian but announced in 2020 that he identified as nondenominational.

A Pew Research Center survey released earlier this month found that most people with positive views of Trump don't see him as especially religious, but think he stands up for people with religious beliefs like their own.

Trump said in the promotional video that he has many Bibles at home.

"It's my favorite book," he said, echoing a comment he's made in previous years. "It's a lot of people's favorite book."

Trump's relationship to the Bible has been a point of discussion and sometimes controversy over the years.

In 2020, amid protests over George Floyd's murder, he posed with a Bible outside a Washington, D.C., church, for which he was widely criticized. U.S. Park Police and National Guard troops had tear-gassed peaceful protesters in the area beforehand, seemingly to make way for the photo-op, though a watchdog report the following year determined otherwise.

That same year, a clip of a 2015 Bloomberg interview, in which Trump declines to name his favorite — or any — Bible verse resurfaced on social media and went viral.

Bible sales are unlikely to solve Trump's financial problems

An FAQ section on the Bible website says no profits will go to Trump's reelection campaign.

"GodBlessTheUSABible.com is not political and has nothing to do with any political campaign," it says.

However, the site adds that it uses Trump's name, likeness and image "under paid license from CIC Ventures LLC."

Trump is listed as the manager, president, secretary and treasurer of CIC Ventures LLC in a financial disclosurefrom last year.

Trump's sales pitch focuses on bringing religion back to America.

"I want to have a lot of people have it," he said at one point in the video. "You have to have it for your heart and for your soul."

But many are wondering whether Trump has something else to gain from Bible sales while facing under mounting financial pressure.

There's his presidential reelection campaign, which has raised only about half of what Biden's has so far this cycle. Trump acknowledged Monday that he "might" spend his own money on his campaign, something he hasn't done since 2016.

There's also his mounting legal expenses, as he faces four criminal indictments and numerous civil cases. Trump posted bond to support a $83.3 million jury award granted to writer E. Jean Carroll in a defamation case earlier this month, and was due to put up another $454 million in a civil fraud case this past Monday.

His lawyers had said last week that they had approached 30 companies for help making bond, but doing so was a "practical impossibility" — prompting New York's attorney general to confirm that if Trump did not pay, she would move to seize his assets. On Monday, the appeals court reduced the bond amount to $175 million and gave Trump another 10 days to post it.

Trump has evidently been trying to raise money in other ways.

The day after the civil fraud judgment was announced, he debuted a line of $399 golden, high-top sneakers, which sold out in hours. The company behind his social media app, Truth Social, started trading on the Nasdaq exchange on Tuesday, which could deliver him a windfall of more than $3 billion — though he can't sell his shares for another six months.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.
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