The Herald

Even after a year like 2016, there is still hope to be had

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HRISTMAS messages from public figures can be rather bland affairs, but not the message from Very Reverend Kelvin Holdsworth. Delivering his Christmas Day sermon, provost of St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow, tackled the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States and did not shy away from some passionate criticism.

Drawing a parallel between the time of Jesus (“when big men ruled the world”) and 2016 (when “big men with an unhealthy interest in power are taking over again”), Rev Holdsworth directly compared Mr Trump with King Herod. The minister could also see in his mind’s eye, he said, Mary and Joseph heading to Bethlehem to be registered and said it was difficult not to compare the ancient census to Mr Trump’s promise that all Muslims in America should be registered and accounted for.

There will be some who think the comparison is over the top, but it does effectivel­y demonstrat­e how many feel about Mr Trump’s most controvers­ial outburst. The billionair­e won the presidency with a campaign based on bombast and rhetoric and used the tactic long favoured by demagogues: singling out minorities such as Muslims for blame. And it worked: the most untested candidate ever to stand for president, whose own personalit­y seemed to be working against him, won the campaign.

The only hope now is Mr Trump will prove more moderate in office than he was during the campaign, although Rev Holdsworth does make the point that the most vulnerable often have the most to fear from the most powerful.

If there are signs of hope anywhere, they lie in Mr Trump’s acceptance speech in which he said it was time for America to come together. Rev Holdsworth has also found something positive in the story of Herod and, at the end of a year like 2016, it is worth clinging to. Herod didn’t manage to kill hope, said Rev Holdsworth, and neither will Donald J Trump.

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