The Story Behind Those ‘Jesus 2020’ Signs
The lawn signs suggest support for Trump, but they don’t exactly mean that Trump is Jesus
“Jesus 2020” signs have sprouted up like weeds on the front lawns of Trump supporters across America. They’re also standing tall like battle standards over the crowds at rallies like Prayer March 2020, a recent political extravaganza held in Washington, D.C., where leaders of the Christian Right masqueraded their Trumpvangelicalism as the only true political expression of Christianity.
These increasingly widespread signs began with the efforts of two women from a Baptist church in Alabama. “We’re trying to keep politics out of this,” one said, declining to endorse either major party candidate. “Our focus is on Jesus.”
One problem: There’s nobody named Jesus on the 2020 presidential ballot. So what do these signs really mean?
Outsiders might take these signs as confirmation that Republican Christians believe Trump is the second coming of Christ. They have limited evidence of this belief at work: For instance, in 2018, a Christian group posted a billboard showing Trump alongside the biblical quote “The Word became flesh”; during the impeachment hearings Georgia Rep. Barry Loudermilk compared Trump’s trial to Jesus’ trial under Pontius Pilate; and last year, Trump himself retweeted the false and anti-Semitic claim that Israeli Jews love Trump “like he is the second coming of God.”
But as much as liberals like to joke that the Christian Right worships Trump, the simple formula Donald Trump = Jesus Christ misrepresents right-wing Christians’ theological justifications for Trump. Instead, the Christian Right generally describes Trump as “chosen,” “anointed,” and “appointed” by God. Trump embraces this designation as the “Chosen One” and declares that God is “on our side.” The fact that Trumpvangelicals interpret Trump as God’s appointed leader, but not as Christ himself, is important, because this offers plausible deniability for anything Trump does that conflicts with traditional Christian morals.