It was an unusual move. Typically, people autograph books they’ve written.
The Bibles may have been the closest things on hand for Trump to sign during his visit. Volunteers had their own, and Bibles were also being distributed at the Providence Baptist Church in Opelika along with clothing and other goods, according to The Associated Press.
The community has mobilized in the wake of the EF-4 tornado that struck rural Beauregard last Sunday and killed 23. It was the deadliest tornado in the nation since 2013.
Trump perked up the church crowd, which cheered when he autographed the cover of a 12-year-old boy’s Bible. The president and Melania Trump together signed the cover of 10-year-old girl’s Bible decorated with pink camouflage. One woman at the church called Trump’s visit a “godsend,” according to pool reports.
The crowd cheering when President Trump took a picture with Gatlin, a 12 year old who has been volunteering at Providence Church all week. The President also signed some bibles. pic.twitter.com/CTOsFQhlOZ
— Sally Pitts (@SallyPitts_WSFA) March 8, 2019
The Smithsonian’s curator of religion, Peter Manseau, told The Washington Post that past presidents have also signed Bibles, including George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.
“If this was an organized effort where the president was giving out stacks of signed Bibles, that would strike me as odd,” Manseau said. “But from what I can tell, the event wasn’t outside the norm. Presidents seem to sign a lot of random things put in front of them.”
However, Southern historian Wayne Flynt, a Baptist deacon and Auburn University professor emeritus, told AL.com that signing a Bible is “right next to sacrilege. That’s a holy book,” he added. Flynt also said he wasn’t surprised Trump would autograph a Bible because “there is nothing that shames the president.”
Several people responding with tweets — including former Hillary Clinton adviser Peter Daou — were furious that a president responsible for placing immigrant children in cages would have the nerve to sign a Bible. Others pulled out the stops to mock it.
Donald J. Trump is signing Bibles. The man whose vicious and inhumane border policy violates the fundamental teachings of Jesus is signing Bibles.
— Peter Daou (@peterdaou) March 8, 2019
In Trump’s defense, he wrote as much of the Bible as “Art of The Deal” https://t.co/BsR6pTkaxK
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) March 8, 2019
When the man who embodies all 7 deadly sins—lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride—is signing Bibles it means that it is time to reevaluate your religion.
— Ryan Knight 🇺🇸 (@ProudResister) March 8, 2019
In Alabama, Trump signed the COVER of Bibles. So his record is still intact: He’s never actually opened one. pic.twitter.com/L7XzCAJy3G
— Mrs. Betty Bowers (@BettyBowers) March 8, 2019
Good grief. Trumpty was autographing Bibles today in Alabama! Don't you just know those books are gonna burst into flames someday.
— JG (@Jaxjanetg) March 8, 2019
Donald Trump signing bibles is like Hannibal Lecter signing cookbooks.
— Adam Best (@adamcbest) March 8, 2019
He signed bibles with the same hand he used — as President — to sign hush money checks to an adult film star. https://t.co/ecQH8ooJaf
— Ronald Klain (@RonaldKlain) March 8, 2019
I hope Trump leaves room in all the Bibles he signs for the other three horsemen.
— Jeremy Newberger (@jeremynewberger) March 8, 2019
Per a pool report from the tornado zone, the president *signed people's Bibles* in Alabama today.Old joke, adapted: –– What's the difference between God and Donald Trump? –– God doesn't think he's Donald Trump. pic.twitter.com/y2nZwiHeXy
— David Martosko (@dmartosko) March 8, 2019
Those who would like to help survivors can contribute to the Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund or the Community Foundation of East Alabama. The American Red Cross at redcross.org or 1-800 RED Cross is also seeking donations.