I was on Facebook minding my own business on the Lord’s day, when Jon McNaughton’s latest piece of right-wing propaganda floated into my timeline. If you have never heard of Jon McNaughton, you need to praise Jesus (or your preferred deity). If you haven’t heard of him, you’ve probably seen his work shared by your favorite alt-right, Tea Party, MAGA flag waving “Bible-believing,” born-again Christian. McNaughton’s work revels in the type of Christian Nationalism that claims to want Liberty and Justice for All (except the Blacks, queer people, women, transgender people, etc.) because Jesus is a white man who loves the United States Constitution.
A lot of art connoisseurs might find McNaughton’s approach to be ham-fisted, lacking subtlety, and even pedestrian in its vision. I disagree. McNaughton’s “fine art” (that’s how he markets himself) does exactly what it is supposed to do: stoke patriotic and religious fervor in those with whom his message resonates, and infuriate everybody else. He knows exactly what he is doing. His work is unabashedly racist, unquestioningly nationalistic, and unreservedly idolatrous. The only people who buy this artwork are the people who share his White Christian Nationalist views. It is hanging in the “man cave” of every Bo, Jake, and Bubba between his “prize” 8-point buck antlers and “rebel” flag.
I normally would not give the likes of McNaughton any kind of airtime or attention, but I saw one of his latest pieces and I thought that I would write about it.
This piece is called Legacy of Hope. Here is what McNaughton’s website says about the piece:
I have been discouraged by the times in which we live—a battered economy, a confusing pandemic, civil unrest, riots, and the blind rage of those who seek to destroy our country. What’s even more troubling, is that many in the mainstream media have seemingly joined forces with those who are actively (and seditiously) trying to burn America to the ground.
While thinking about these things, the White House released a photograph—a photograph that gave me… hope.
The photograph shows a group of black religious and political leaders, surrounding President Trump and praying for him—praying for the nation. To say that this image inspired me would be an understatement. Here stood a group of men and women—Americans—praying for God to help President Trump!
It was a photograph of faith and hope for the future.
And as I thought about that hope, I couldn’t help but think about our HISTORY—our legacy of hope. Contrary to what some might tell you, the United States didn’t begin in 1619, with the first importation of slaves. The United States has a specific birthdate—it began in 1776. It began when we not only declared our independence from a system that introduced slavery to the New World, but our country also began when we declared that all men and women are created equal.
From that day forward, great men and women—people like George Washington, Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Frederick Douglass—have risen up and have fought and died to ensure that this nation lives up to its founding creed.
As Americans, we share a legacy of hope that should never be forgotten.
The original images that inspired this painting were released by the White House and are licensed under a Creative Commons License (CC BY 3.0 US).
Additionally, I want to thank those who stood in the image—those brave men and women who stood with our duly-elected President and continue to stand for our country. Thank you.
What in the actual entire Lake of Fire? This dude is “discouraged by the times in which we live.” Imagine watching Black people be lynched on camera and the only emotion that you can muster is discouragement. The caucasity of it all.
I find this image to be wholly repulsive and violating. It is a literal illustration of what it means to take the Lord’s name in vain.
Imagine having the audacity to paint Martin Luther King, Jr. standing (in the back of all places) next to Robert E. Lee (because who else would that be? Don’t try to convince me that it’s Rutherford B. Hayes. It ain’t)? Imagine having the audacity to have Frederick Douglass laying hands on President Trump? Imagine having the unmitigated gall to put Harriet Tubman anywhere near slave-owning Washington, Jefferson, and Madison? To paint revered Black ancestors anywhere next to the likes of racist Abe Lincoln, Ronald “War on Drugs” Reagan, fake Christian Franklin Graham, and his March on Washington invitation turning down behind daddy Billy takes some kind of gumption.
Now you might be reading this and saying, “But Ally, he has them praying for the President! Shouldn’t we pray for the President? Doesn’t the Bible say to pray for your enemies? Why are you so mad about a depiction of prayer?”
Yes, I believe that we should pray for our leaders. In fact, before the pandemic, I led my congregation in prayer for the President by name as part of the “Prayers of the People” found in the Book of Common Prayer. I try to remember the President regularly in my personal prayer times. As a Christian, I believe in prayer. I believe in praying for my enemies, especially in the Spirit of Psalm 35 and the other imprecatory Psalms. I also try to be “nice” and bless those who curse and persecute me…though I’m not always that saved and sanctified. I think that it is possible to pray for people without endorsing what they stand for, something that I’m sure King, Douglass, and Tubman all understood and likely practiced.
Where this painting and—Jon McNaughton by extension—have got me effed up, though, is the underlying message that the payers being offered are some type of endorsement of Trump. That’s the entire messaging of this painting. It’s also particularly convenient that McNaughton was supposedly inspired by a picture of Black people praying for the President, but could not be bothered to paint more than three black people in his rendition (not that we needed any more Black folks in this clustercuss).
The positioning of the figures in this paining communicates “spiritual impartation;” Trump is in a posture where he is submitting to prayer from the people in the painting. It is communicating that they are both endorsing him and passing something of themselves—their “legacy”—on to Trump. Make no mistake, what is being passed on is the legacy of white supremacy. The Black people are only there to give McNaughton plausible deniability, which is futile since his hood is already showing.
19 thoughts on “Who asked for this? A White Christian Nationalist painting depicts Black ancestors praying for Trump”
i know that your use of the word “paining” was a typo (at least i think it was?), but it is maybe the most perfect typo ever (or is a very clever word play).
The positioning of the figures in this paining communicates “spiritual impartation;”
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How do you know they praying for Trump?
They could be praying over him that Allah will protect their people from Trump…..
They could be praying to Allah to shelter America from the Vessel of Evil that Trump is…..
Trump is only a vessel
Who asked for your article? To take something that was meant to promote peace and unity and spin it and turn it in every way possible is disgusting! Do you think Martin Luther King Jr. Or Harriet Tubman would have this disgusting point of view and words for this painting?! No they point out the good and positive and encourage the world to do better instead of this negative rhetoric of hate that you are trying to spread! You are part of the problem in this world! I hope that you include yourself in your prayers because to lead a congregation with this kind of hate in your heart only spreads more hate!
Sounds about white.
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Amanda, it might help if you spent some time in the actual words of Harriet Tubman, or Martin Luther King Jr., or Frederick Douglass. It’s not too much to say they’d pretty much be in agreement with this post.
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no they would have hated trump you turnip. trump’s legacy has been nothing to but spreading hate and violence. there was a spike in hate crimes after he was elected & he encouraged white supremacists and his other supporter to storm the capitol. life isn’t always positive and its not a sin to point out the negative. trump is not a christian and his character is NOTHING like jesus.
Amen, Sista! Yu got that right!
Trump was, and still is, an AWESOME President … SO much better than Obama, or Biden the Moron… McNaughton’s paintings depict TRUTH as we see it from a Constitutional Republic perspective … The Liberal Commies that disparage McNaughton’s art, LOL! No loss there, as his art work is meant for connoisseurs of true freedom, and NOT for Hammer & Sickle Liberals, BLM’ites or Antifa lemmings …
** TWO thumbs up to McNaughton for his art, creativity & his Patriotism!
Excellent article, thank you! Trump is a hateful, evil man and I don’t believe for one second that the likes of Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr. and Frederick Douglass want to be anywhere near him. I like to think that they’re praying for this country to be freed from him very soon!
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Sadly, it’s comments like this that show a lack of knowledge in historical content. Fredrick Douglas would have stood arm in arm with Trump, because he took the time to patiently listen to the viewpoints of both the Democrats and the Republicans in a time of great upheaval.
Frederick Douglas began his political career supporting the Democrats but eventually took the time to hear the perspective of Abraham Lincoln, another man the Democrats called Evil, and painted with thier brush of Propaganda at the time. He took the time to understand the 3/5ths clause and how it limited the slavers of the souths power within the halls of government and he ultimately switched sides. Harriet Tubman was a steadfast Republican working with the Republicans on the underground railroad.
MLK Jr. While initially being taken aback by Trumps Brash mannerisms, judges people on what they do, not on what they say…you know, content of character matters here. And if the best you can come up with is a hate-filled Racist rant about white people…then you clearly need to work on your character.
I LOVE your article. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
I did not know of this painting and I was appalled when I saw it.
I shared widely.
I love what you said about this literal translation of “taking the Lord’s name in vain.” hahaha
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Wow just wow. I never understood how the anti Christ would deceive so many people until Trump was elected. The incredible and violent hatred people like you have for him makes no sense at all. You have no ability to think for yourself whatsoever.
excuse me, trump is the one who incites violence by sending his cult to storm the capitol even though he lost the election fair and square. its no coincidence that there was a spike in hate-crimes in America after that buffoon was elected. trump is not a christian and his character is evident: a wife cheater, prostitute banger, lying, non-bible reading dumb prick.
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How funny, I have also thought often since Trump’s election about how the anti-Christ has deceived so many. Except that I feel Trump is the closest our country has ever come to an anti-Christ himself. The fact that almost half of our country has drunk his kool-aid is downright scary.
You are blinded by hate. I am praying for you.
I’m sorry but you guys are going far out of your way to trash this beautiful and unifying painting. Anger and hatred is a sad burden to bear. Not your fault I suppose. Get well soon.
I asked for it and it’s beautiful .
It is often said when viewing crap like this, that “this is not who we are”. I’m sorry to say that for so many, this is who we are.
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Am I the only one that found this entire article shockingly prejudiced, victimist, intolerant and unreasonable?
To be sure, I don’t like McNaughton’s ideas. I think he is way too xenophobic and narrow minded to be a true conservative. I also think he is quite capable of distorting reality to fit his own world views. But he is indeed a true lover of his country and of his cultural legacy, which is actually comendable. I don’t realy see him showing racism or disrespect towards blacks.
Like people say here, this article’s author is looking for horns in a horse head.