In late July, comedy writer and Trump critic Dani Messerschmidt tweeted the following out of disgust:
— Dani Messerschmidt (@riddlefish) July 25, 2016
Quickly, however, Messerschmidt and her boyfriend Greg Karber, who is also a writer, decided the concept was too abstract. It was too difficult, they felt, to imagine Jesus saying something like: “If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them,” as Trump said at a February rally. Or to imagine Trump saying, as Jesus is quoted in the Book of Matthew as saying: “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions.”
But the liberal pair both grew up going to church and Christian schools — he, Catholic, her, Lutheran — and felt the concept behind the tweet was important. Karber, who is also a digital game designer, came up with an idea: a quiz. With an approach that’s part political science, part satire, part modern-day advertising, the couple in a few days created trumporjesus.com — a sleek Web quiz that has been taken by 1.5 million people in the six days since it was launched last week.
People of various religious and political backgrounds took and shared the quiz, which the Los Angeles couple describe as a kind of parody — because the difference it creates is so stark.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Trump or Jesus?
“My IQ is one of the highest — and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure; it’s not your fault.” Trump or Jesus?
People of various religious and political backgrounds have shared it. Among them was conservative commentator Erick Erickson (who did so without comment):
While the quiz is obviously a critique of the GOP nominee, the pair see it also as a push back to the long-held notion that “the Christian right has really owned Christianity in politics. The best argument for the Christian left is Donald Trump. And hopefully this quiz illustrates that,” Karber said.
While the pair don’t consider themselves practicing Christians, they feel Trump contrasts strongly with the faith in which they were raised.
Karber and Messerschmidt are both 29. He grew up in Arkansas, was raised in a Methodist church and attended Catholic school for nine years. Messerschmidt grew up in the Evangelical Lutheran church in South Dakota and went to a college affiliated with the denomination. They both are screenwriters. She writes comic scripts for television. He recently wrote and is making a “horror comedy musical.” He also designs digital games, including one he did a year ago in which the player gets points for nurturing a Donald Trump pet that, regardless of what is done, continues to grow (in popularity points).
“A lot of the best activists and sources for getting people to engage have to marry actual thoughtful discussion with fun and entertainment,” Karber said.
Many millions of American Christians have cast ballots for Trump. The most supportive group of Christians is white evangelicals, with some polls showing the majority of this group are favorable toward the New York mogul. Evangelicals make up about a fifth of the country. Prominent evangelical supporters of Trump have said they support him for his views on fighting terrorism, controlling immigration and helping the middle class — and not for his religious beliefs.
“Now with all the turmoil in the world, when you look at the list of what evangelicals think is important, there’s no difference between them and other conservatives and even blue-collar Democrats. The social issues come at the bottom of the list after saving our country,” Jerry Falwell Jr., president of the evangelical Liberty University, told The Washington Post during the Republican National Convention.
The candidate will meet Thursday in Florida with a group of influential conservative Christian pastors.
This post has been updated to correct the state where Messerschmidt grew up and went to school and that she writes for television, not film. It also clarifies the pair’s faith identity.