Priest compares Trump to Herod
Minister cites biblical dictator during attack on President-elect
ONE of Scotland’s most senior churchmen has compared US President-elect Donald Trump to King Herod, the biblical despot who tried to kill the baby Jesus by massacring all the male children in his birthplace.
The Very Reverend Kelvin Holdsworth, provost of St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow, said Mr Trump’s suggestion he would like a register of Muslims has “sinister” echoes of the great biblical census that drew Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. The outspoken priest said Jesus was born at a time “when big men ruled the world”, and warned that “big men with an unhealthy interest in power are taking over again”.
He cited Mr Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin whose regime is suspected of trying to influence the US election.
Rev Holdsworth is renowned for using his showcase sermons during key religious festivals to attack political elites and give his views on controversial topics.
His most recent Easter sermon condemned the religiously-motivated killing of Muslim shopkeeper Asad Shah, and last year’s Christmas sermon slated “wicked” Tory policies on welfare and asylum.
He lost out to American whistleblower Edward Snowdon, who is currently evading US authorities in Russia, in the election to be rector of Glasgow University.
In his sermon to the St Mary’s faithful yesterday, Rev Holdsworth said: “There is much to be afraid of in the world. There always has been. And some feel that fear more than others. Those who are most vulnerable often have the most to fear. But as we face Christmas 2016 it doesn’t feel so difficult to enter into the story this year.
“For we end this year with many people feeling apprehensive about what is to come. This has been a year in which expectation was upended. The world of politics seems to have been turned upside down and no-one really knows what is coming next.
“In such circumstances, it is not surprising that people feel fearful.
“Looking back at the Bethlehem story this year, there is much with which we will be familiar.
“The story begins with a demand that the people had to return to their own towns across the empire in order to be registered.
“In most years that I’ve read the story, I’ve tended to think of this as a bit of a glorious census like our censuses that take place every 10 years. Just a way of counting people so that services can be provided.
“But as I read the story and see in my mind’s eye the holy couple making their way to Bethlehem to be registered just at the most inconvenient time for them when the birth was nigh, it is difficult not to think of the recent political promise on the other side of the Atlantic to insist that all Muslims should be registered and accounted for. Somehow the census that insists Joseph and Mary hurry off to Bethlehem feels a little more sinister.”
Rev Holdsworth said Jesus was born at a time “when big men ruled the world”– the Roman Emperor Augustus, Quirinius the Governer of Syria and King Herod.
He added: “It feels today as though big men with an unhealthy interest in power are taking over again. But Herod didn’t manage to kill the Christ child, didn’t manage to kill hope, didn’t manage to wipe out love either. And neither will Trump. Nor Putin. Nor any of the putative far-right big men (or big women) be able to wipe love out either. Love always wins.”