President Trump recently took part in a townhall event with Fox News, and was asked “Could there be a way that we can deliver your message without the controversial rhetoric?” to which Trump responded by discussing the idea of turning the other cheek when attacked or wronged.
The reference is to Jesus’ teachings from the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus tells followers: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”
Jesus follows this by instructing followers to love their enemies.
However, Trump had a different take:
Trump: You can’t turn the cheek
Audience: *applauds* pic.twitter.com/YwikUpIdv9
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) March 6, 2020
Directly countering the teachings of Jesus Christ, Trump said, “When they hit us, we have to hit back. I feel that. I mean, there’s two ways of doing it – turning your cheek, but I wouldn’t be sitting up here if I turned my cheek. If I said, ‘OK, just let them keep hitting at me, and I won’t do it, then they’re not interviewing me right now, they’re interviewing somebody else … You know what, you can’t turn your cheek.”
It’s not the first time Trump has openly disputed Jesus’ teachings. At the National Prayer Breakfast, Trump took the stage following a message from Arthur Brooks, author of the book Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt. Trump began his remarks with “Arthur, I don’t know if I agree with you” and began attacking his political rivals.
Back in 2016, when asked about his favorite Bible verse or Bible story, he again directly countered the teachings of Jesus. He said, “look, an eye for an eye, you can almost say that. That’s not a particularly nice thing. But you know, if you look at what’s happening to our country, I mean, when you see what’s going on with our country, how people are taking advantage of us, and how they scoff at us and laugh at us. And they laugh at our face, and they’re taking our jobs, they’re taking our money, they’re taking the health of our country. And we have to be firm and have to be very strong. And we can learn a lot from the Bible, that I can tell you.”