Let’s Avoid A Duel Over Religious Dogma

Donald Trump arrival, airplane, Air Force One
Photo by the White House

On Thursday, President Donald Trump landed here in Cleveland and had barely plodded across the tarmac before declaring that Joe Biden would "hurt God."

I struggle for the words to convey my joy.

That Trump thinks Biden could inflict injury on God gives us a good idea of just how much he fears Biden. The clock is ticking, Mr. President. It's too bad the White House staff forgot to give Preacher Trump his Bible prop as he brayed into the wind. That visual worked so well for him last time.

This was Trump's take on Biden, recited as if he were trying to come up with a limerick:

"Take away your guns, destroy your Second Amendment, no religion, no anything. Hurt the bible, hurt God. He's against God; he's against guns. He's against energy, our kind of energy."

I'm not sure what energy Trump thinks he's peddling, but I'll pass. I don't need a president who tosses a football on the White House lawn, but I do want one who can work up enough steam to read.

It didn't take long for Biden's spokesman, Andrew Bates, to fire back against Trump.

"Joe Biden's faith is at the core of who he is; he's lived it with dignity his entire life, and it's been a source of strength and comfort in times of extreme hardship. Donald Trump is the only president in our history to have tear-gassed peaceful Americans and thrown a priest out of his church just so he could profane it — and a Bible — for his own cynical optics as he sought to tear our nation apart at a moment of crisis and pain. And this comes just one day after Trump's campaign abused a photo of Joe Biden praying in church to demean him, in one of the starkest expressions of weakness throughout this whole campaign."

I understand the need to respond, but I do hope this presidential race doesn't devolve into dueling dogma. Arguing religion with Donald Trump is about as productive as arm-wrestling a pineapple. But if we are going to keep doing this, I offer this observation from the Rev. William Sloane Coffin:

"Christians forget that it was the Devil who tempted Jesus with unbounded wealth and power. And it is the Devil in every American that makes us feel good about being so powerful."

My, the potential in that.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine had planned to meet Trump during his Thursday visit here, but a positive COVID-19 test prior to the president's arrival put an end to that reunion. DeWine, a Republican, has been one of the more vigilant governors about public safety during this trying time. He's had his missteps — he should have mandated statewide masks sooner, for example — but he has been far more responsible than many of his fellow Republicans, including in the circus masquerading as our statehouse.

DeWine said Thursday that, so far, he is symptom-free. I hope this remains true for him and that his family stays safe. Earlier this week, as The New York Times reported, DeWine warned Ohioans that loved ones can be at the greatest risk and recited recent examples:

"In one case, a churchgoer who attended a service while he was sick helped spread the virus to 91 other people spanning five counties. In another, a son brushed off symptoms while holding a vigil for his dying father, and five relatives later tested positive. In another case, at least 15 people were sickened after a man with symptoms attended his brother's wedding. The bride and groom were among those who fell ill."

The guidelines have not changed. Stay home if you can. If you must go out, wear a mask. On Thursday afternoon, DeWine told reporters that he was already getting nasty texts from some declaring that his diagnosis proves masks don't work.

You see what we're up against here.

We wear cloth masks to protect others, not to protect ourselves. If you refuse to wear a mask, you are telegraphing to the world that you don't care about the safety of the people memorizing your face. Think this through.

Also, if you do have to go out, keep at least six feet apart from others. Avoid large gatherings, period.

"Just because it's your family, just because it's your friends, they could still be carrying the virus," DeWine said. "Choosing to not gather for parties or barbecues might feel like you're not being friendly, but it really is a sign of friendship."

If I were ruler of the world, I'd ban all weddings, reunions and kids' parties and close all the bars until we have a vaccination. Anyone who dared send me a nasty text about that would see it show up on Twitter.

Down, Devil. Down.

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University's school of journalism. She is the author of two non-fiction books, including "...and His Lovely Wife," which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. She is also the author of The New York Times bestselling novel, "The Daughters of Erietown." To find out more about Connie Schultz (schultz.connie@gmail.com) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}