What Does It Mean to Be Baptized for Trump?Roundup
tags: Christianity, evangelicalism, Donald Trump, MAGA, Christian Nationalism
John Fea is Executive Editor of CURRENT and the author of The Way of Improvement Leads Home blog.
“There are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception.”
I was baptized twice.
My first baptism took place on March 20,1966 at St. Virgil’s Roman Catholic parish in Morris Plains, New Jersey. Rev. John A. Tracey administered the sacrament.
My second baptism took place sixteen years later in a freezing, mountain-fed lake in the hills of West Milford, New Jersey.
About a year earlier my family left the Catholic Church and joined Gilgal Bible Chapel, a non-denominational evangelical congregation that doubled as a day camp, youth outreach center, and Habitat-for-Humanity style ministry. Unlike my first baptism, which took place when I was one month old, I remember my second baptism. I stood before the congregation on a small beach where I testified to a born again conversion experience and dedicated my life to following Jesus. Pastor Dan, a mammoth of a man who was a former basketball star at The King’s College in Briarcliff Manor, New York, took me in his arms, probably said something like “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” and then plunged me beneath the frigid water.
If there was any conversation with Pastor Dan about why I needed to be baptized a second time, I don’t remember it. At some point he probably explained that evangelical Protestants do not recognize Catholic baptisms. Gilgal taught “believer’s baptism”: Baptism was not a sacrament, but an ordinance of the church performed after one made a commitment to the Christian faith through conversion.
I’ve been thinking a lot about baptism this week after learning that 100 Donald Trump followers were baptized last weekend in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania as part of something called the “ReAwaken America” tour, a traveling road show designed to bring a spiritual revival to the United States through the election of Trump-style political candidates. Speakers at these events include former Trump National Security Director Michael Flynn, anti-vax pastor Greg Locke, former Trump adviser Roger Stone, conservative pundit Charlie Kirk, Eric Trump, Mike “MyPillow Guy” Lindell, and worship-leader Sean Feucht.
The New York Post coverage of the Lancaster County event features a man with his hands raised in worship wearing a shirt that says “Jesus is My Savior, Trump is My President.” He stands next to a woman in the same posture wearing a “We the People, 1776” shirt. (For the record, “We the People” are the first words of the United States Constitution, which was written in 1787, not 1776.) A woman at a merchandise table holds-up a t-shirt with the names of Jesus (Redeemer, Emmanuel, Messiah, etc.), while another woman at the table looks at a “Trump Save America, 2024” tank top. Two women lie on the floor, apparently overwhelmed by the spiritual experience of their baptisms, while another is lifted out of a water-filled baptismal tub wearing a shirt that reads, “Do Not Comply, or America Will Die.”
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