UPDATED Sept. 23, 2021: A retired pastor’s reaction to a headline-grabbing billboard in Georgia is itself making headlines. Rev. Bill Bond of Chattanooga, Tenn., was appalled when he saw the billboard, which has since been removed and which portrayed former president Donald Trump as a messiah.
“When you’re not the Anti-Christ but your followers think that would be a good idea,” said Bond in a tweet on Sept. 10. “People just over the border in Georgia seeking to redefine blasphemy. And doing an excellent job at it.”
When you’re not the Anti-Christ but your followers think that would be a good idea.
— Bill Bond: Unlearn, Relearn Y’all (@wcbj) September 10, 2021
The billboard had been posted in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., and was up for about a week before being removed. The one that is there now has the text, “Who do you say that I am…Pick a side,” and includes a picture of a crown of thorns.
“To be fair,” said Bond, referring to the previous billboard, “this is not blasphemy if you equate the power of politics and the power of God. Jesus told Pilate this was a faulty position. Jesus lived and taught us not to be complicit with the status quo.”
ChurchLeaders original article written on Sept. 17, 2021, below:
A billboard near the Tennessee-Georgia border was removed this week after people objected to its message comparing former President Donald Trump to Jesus Christ. The advertisement, which appeared in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, not far from Chattanooga, Tennessee, features Trump’s face with this quotation from Scripture: “Unto us a Son is given and the government shall be upon his shoulders.” An American flag appears in the background, and the words “Joint Heirs” and “Romans 8:17” are in smaller print along the bottom.
The billboard vendor confirmed that the ad was removed but didn’t specify why. The company says it doesn’t share details about clients and supports the First Amendment rights of its advertisers.
‘Trump as a Messiah’ Message Called Into Question
After Washington Post political reporter Eugene Scott tweeted a photo of the billboard with the caption “Wow,” it went viral—with lots of pushback. “This is literally biblical in its horror,” someone commented.” Some people pointed out that the quoted verse isn’t from Romans but from Isaiah 9:6, a well-known prophecy about the coming Savior, Jesus. The rest of that verse says the Christ-child “will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
In an opinion column in the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Chris Cooper writes, “The intimation that Trump, no matter what one thought of him or his administration, is akin to a messiah, the one prophesied in Isaiah or otherwise, is arrogant at best and blasphemous at worst.” As for the Romans 8:17 reference to joint heirs, Cooper says it’s unclear who is being “interpreted as joint heirs and from whom—Trump?”