The Bible’s imprints on US politics are noticeably masculine

Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza wants us to reform our collective subconscious.

On June 1, 2020, Donald Trump processed less than a quarter of a mile from the White House to St. John’s Episcopal Church. Though St. John’s had been damaged by protesters the night before, he did not reach out to the congregation, nor did his visit entail a survey of the damage. Hours later, the White House put out a video that showed Trump walking to and fro over dramatic background music, as if surveying the situation and ensuring the city was in order. The visit to the church was a symbolic act meant to show that the president was in control of the situation.

Oddly, Trump chose to use only one prop during this publicity stunt: a Christian Bible. At the time, I wondered: Why did it seem like a good idea to take a Bible to a damaged church if the point was to convey his ability to maintain order in the capital? Why not show Trump commanding military units or driving in an armored vehicle? Why the Bible?

Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza offers a possible answer. In Wo/men, Scripture, and Politics, she argues that the Bible has left a seemingly indelible imprint on American culture, and specifically on its political imagination.