Liberty’s cinematic arts program feature film starts fine but quickly becomes borderline heretical.
It began as a typical low-budget semi-professional film: adequate camera movement, slightly stilted dialogue, mediocre acting. For an amateur production, it seemed to be shaping up just fine. But about 45 minutes into the overly extended build-up, the crackle of Donald Trump’s voice could be heard in a television broadcast.
And thus, the Liberty University produced feature film “The Trump Prophecy” moved from excusably sub-par to borderline heretical.
“The Trump Prophecy” tells the story of Mark Taylor, a man who believes God told him in a prophecy that Donald Trump would be the next president of the United States. Many of the cast and crew members were Liberty University students and faculty, and the movie was shown in about 1,200 theaters in a limited release Oct. 2 and 4.
A film made mostly by undergraduate cinematic arts students should not be held to the same standards of excellence in technique as a typical box office hit, but the major issues with “The Trump Prophecy” are not in the filming or the acting, but in the message of the movie itself.
Based on the real-life experiences of Mark Taylor, the movie goes through his battle with post-traumatic stress disorder he developed as a firefighter – at least, it does until Taylor’s mental condition turns into God’s voice speaking to him.
PTSD is a debilitating mental illness, and it should be taken seriously. Yet throughout the movie, everyone who came into contact with Taylor – including medical professionals – did not seem to think the visions he had were a result of PTSD, but directly from the mouth of God.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “among combat veterans with PTSD, 30% to 40% report auditory or visual hallucinations and/or delusions.”
Mark Taylor may have heard the voice of God, but it is also very likely that he was simply dealing with a severe form of PTSD, and any licensed medical professional should have recognized that. But rather than face the fact that Taylor was dealing with mental illness, the people around him simply attributed the voices in Taylor’s head to the Holy Spirit.
Mary Colbert, wife of the doctor Taylor was seeing for his PTSD, said, “(Mark Taylor’s prophecy) has that rhythm to it when the Holy Spirit is bearing witness to the truth – at least it does to me.”
A good feeling should not be the determining factor for messages from God. There seemed to be no critical thinking whatsoever when these people verified the legitimacy of Taylor’s claim.
There is no way to definitively prove one way or another whether Mark Taylor truly received a prophecy. But these supposed messages from God have been commercialized not just because they turned out to be true, but because they fit with the conservative evangelical narrative already in effect. If the presidential candidate Taylor prophesied had been Hillary Clinton, would Liberty University still have made a movie about this message from God?
The title itself is also curious, as the movie is based on a book titled “The Trump Prophecies.” Plural. The movie left out some of Mark Taylor’s less plausible claims from other prophecies he has published, including that the Illuminati and ISIS have joined together to overthrow the United States, Roe v. Wade will be overturned, Obama will be charged with treason and that a 501c3 status is a “demonic contract” with Baal.
Many of these “words from God” sound like the hallucinations of an individual severely struggling with mental illness, but the movie conveniently glosses over the dozens of questionable claims Taylor has made over the years. Instead, the focus is on the one prophecy that evangelical conservatives have clung to: Trump’s presidency.
Though the spiritual world is very real and present, Christians need to be wise and discerning when it comes to prophecies and visions. In “The Trump Prophecy,” it seems that conservative evangelicals allowed their ambitions for the country to outweigh their discernment in matters of Christianity. The people who inspired “The Trump Prophecy,” as well as the producers of the movie, use ‘God’ as a justification for political actions and present a man severely suffering from PTSD as a mascot who has brought forth proof that Donald Trump is God’s chosen vessel.
Not only does the movie trivialize mental illness and subvert biblically-sound prophets, it attempts to meld ‘authentic’ Christianity with right-wing politics. The terms conservative and Christian are not synonymous, but the characters in “The Trump Prophecy” seem to think otherwise.
“The Trump Prophecy” tries to portray a message of hope and political power for conservative evangelicals, but in pushing that message, the line between a bad Christian film and a heretical Christian film has been irretrievably crossed.