OPINION: Fort Oglethorpe billboard picturing Trump with messianic words is wrong-headed

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Sep. 15—The billboard apparently wasn't up for long, but it was up long enough last week to make more than a few people boiling mad.

Perhaps it made a few people happy, but we would submit they may be confused about their allegiances.

The billboard, just outside of Chattanooga in Fort Oglethorpe, near Cloud Spring Road on Highway 27 going north, featured an image of former President Donald Trump, an American flag and the words "Unto us a son is given and the government shall be upon his shoulders." Below that image were the words "Joint Heirs" and the Bible reference of Romans 8:17.

Let us do a little unpacking.

First, the words "Unto us a son is given and the government shall be upon his shoulders" are from Isaiah 9:6. Christians and biblical scholars believe the words prophesy the coming of Jesus Christ.

The words have been used throughout Christology and perhaps most famously in the chorus from part one of George Frideric Handel's "Messiah."

The intimation that Trump, no matter what one thought of him or his administration, is akin to a messiah, the one prophesied in Isaiah or otherwise, is arrogant at best and blasphemous at worst.

Next, Romans 8:17, which reads: "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."

Biblical experts say the verse indicates that God, in his infinite love, has made his children full heirs to his kingdom, or, as the billboard said, "joint heirs."

Who the person or organization responsible for the sign interpreted as joint heirs and from whom — Trump? — is not clear.

Scott Hibberts, general manager of Reagan Outdoor Advertising-Chattanooga, the vendor for the billboard, confirmed in an email the advertisement was removed Monday morning.

The advertisement was placed for a client by Impact Outdoor Media Group of Atlanta, he said. His firm does not release information on client agreements and terms of contracts, he noted.

He said his company "supports our advertiser's First Amendment rights and the use of our displays to promote legal products and services, as well as other messages that may be editorial in nature. We provide companies and citizens alike with a powerful medium to reach the public as long as those messages are not offensive to the moral standards of the community, do not provide misleading or false statements, and are legal. The views expressed on our displays belong to our advertisers."

The photo, nevertheless, has gone viral and drew mentions from The Washington Post and Newsweek, among others. Meanwhile, local Trump opponents had a field day with the sign on Facebook. A sample from one posting:

— "That is just so wrong in so many ways!"

— "No wonder why Everyone thinks religion is so screwed up. The ... lying cheating con artist is their savior."

— This is literally biblical in its horror."

Although this page supported Trump in some of his policies while he was in the White House, we feel repulsed that any of his supporters would put him on the same level as Jesus Christ or assign any similar martyrdom to his election loss.

Making the former president out to be any more than the mortal he is, flawed like the rest of us, is unintelligent, heretical and potentially dangerous.