The “Battle Hymn of the Republic” was written by Julia Ward Howe, a Unitarian who didn’t believe in the Trinity or the Deity of Jesus Christ. And even though it’s sung in Christian circles across America to feel more “patriotic,” most have no idea what the song is about or why it was written in the first place.
The fact is that the song was not written to praise God or Jesus. As an abolitionist and social activist, Howe used imagery from the Bible to reinforce her personal agenda while simultaneously working to stir the emotions of Union troops in the battle against the south during the Civil War.
One example of this can be found in the first few words of the song when she wrote, “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” In this reference to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, Howe was giving us her “interpretation” of the second advent: the Union army pouring out divine grapes of wrath on the Confederacy.
Despite the controversial origins of the song, the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” remains popular in may Christian circles because it makes them feel good about America during troubled times.
This backstory to Howe’s work came to mind after witnessing Trump’s recent anti-riot speech and the reaction to it by today’s evangelicals and the Fellowship of the Pharisees.
In a made-for-TV stunt typical of Trump and dictators everywhere, he trampled out the vintage where his [personal] grapes of wrath are stored. In order to clear the path before him, Trump used tear gas and rubber bullets against a group of peaceful protesters before “sounding forth [his] trumpet that shall never know defeat” and “marching on” to St. John’s Church across the street from the White House for a photo op.
Despite the tyrannical implications of these actions taken by a man who once praised China for its bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square, evangelicals and the Fellowship of the Pharisees are singing what I’ve come to call the “Battle Hymn of the Trumpublic” in response to Trump’s self-aggrandizing gimmick.
“I thought it was completely appropriate for the president to stand in front of that church. And by holding up the Bible, he was showing us that it teaches that, yes, God hates racism, it’s despicable — but God also hates lawlessness. So, I’m happy.”
~ Robert Jeffress
“I don’t know about you but I’ll take a president with a Bible in his hand in front of a church over far left violent radicals setting a church on fire any day of the week.”
~ David Brody (Christian Broadcasting Network)
“I will never forget seeing [Trump] slowly & in-total-command walk … across Lafayette Square to St. John’s Church defying those who aim to derail our national healing by spreading fear, hate and anarchy.”
~ Johnnie Moore, president of the Congress of Christian Leaders
“His presence sent the twin message that our streets and cities do not belong to rioters and domestic terrorists, and that the ultimate answer to what ails our country can be found in the repentance, redemption, and forgiveness of the Christian faith.”
~ Ralph Reed, Chairman Faith and Freedom Coalition
Meanwhile, Trump couldn’t say if the Bible he held in his hand for his photo op is his, and I’ll leave it up to you to determine why. But Trump has repeatedly demonstrated that he has little concern about the contents of his “favorite book” outside of “Two Corinthians.”
As Trump stands outside St. John's church:
Reporter: "Is that your Bible?"
Trump: "It's a Bible."
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) June 1, 2020
Christians sing the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” because it makes them feel good even though it has nothing to do with God.
Today’s evangelicals and the Fellowship of the Pharisees sing the “Battle Hymn of the Trumpublic” for the same reason.
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.