Rodger McDaniel FILE

Rodger McDaniel

I know Jesus. Jesus is a friend of mine. Liz Cheney is no “Jesus of Nazareth.”

First Century crucifixions were not limited to those thought to be the Son of God, but used to punish anyone the Emperor deemed disloyal. That practice continues.

Threads run through events precipitating crucifixions, starting with big lies. Add corrupt despots who lie to keep power. The despot’s disciples, i.e. Trumpublican chief priests, whose power flows from him, demonstrate loyalty by perpetuating lies. Finally, the manipulatable masses side with the despot, though he doesn’t have their best interests at heart.

The story is as old as the Gospels, as contemporary as this week’s crucifixion of Liz Cheney.

In her book “Dakota,” Kathleen Norris quotes a small-town priest. “It seems like every year, somebody around here gets crucified.” The pace has quickened in Wyoming since 2016. Crucifying non-conformists is the raison d’exister for GOPers.

Few are troubled by Trump’s profligate lying. Accustomed as Wyoming people are to big lies, they took to this one like cow pies to cowboy boots. Wyoming was founded on the big lie that it was something they called “The Equality State.” When you’ve pretended to be something you’re not for more than a century, it’s easy to see a charismatic pretender for something he’s not.

With Liz, as in the crucifixions so long ago, it started well. She rode into town on the back of her father. The same crowds that cheered him, cheered her. Hosanna in the highest.

Like her father before, Liz never received fewer than six out of 10 of their votes. In the 2020 election, she was resoundingly celebrated with 68% of the vote. Wyoming Republicans whooped. Above her on the ticket, Donald Trump won Wyoming’s three electoral votes, but Joe Biden won a majority of the electoral votes across the country.

Liz Cheney’s troubles began when Trump lied about the election, orchestrating others to do likewise. “Stop the steal,” they bellowed. Most who cheered Cheney’s re-election a few weeks earlier believed those lies. Cheney’s colleagues, Mike Enzi, John Barrasso, Cynthia Lummis and Mark Gordon regurgitated the lies. Cheney refused to play along. She told Trump to prove it or go home. Instead, he incited a resurrection.

The Cheney-cheering of Nov. 6 turned to Cheney-jeering after Jan. 6. The people who voted for Liz made a choice. As the one crucified long ago warned, you cannot serve two masters. They didn’t. The cult-like adulation of First Century crowds reverberated in the 21st. “We have no king but Trump.”

Liz Cheney joined House Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell. All blamed Trump for the attempt to overthrow a democratically elected president. The three sounded like echoes of one another.

McCarthy spoke the evening the Capitol was desecrated. “The president,” he cried bravely, “bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress.”

McConnell cowered until the Senate voted to ignore the former president’s crimes, then saying, “There’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president.”

Ms. Cheney was mild by comparison. “The president summoned this mob, assembled this mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing.” Two men. A woman. Trump targets the woman.

Paraphrasing Andrew Lloyd Webber’s lyrical telling of the other crucifixion, Trump hummed, “For the sake of the lie, Liz Cheney must die.”

Republicans asked the Pilate question. “What is truth?” After defending years of perpetual lies, not many care anymore. Not many know anymore. Pontius Trump asks, “Whom shall I release. Whom shall I annihilate?” The crowd screamed, “Crucify HER!”

Disloyalty to Rome brought the death penalty then as does disloyalty to Trump today. Literally then. Figuratively now.

Rome miscalculated. They thought Jesus’s crucifixion would be his end. It wasn’t. Trump also miscalculated. Liz won’t go quietly either.

This story hasn’t ended. Smart money is on a resurrection.

Rodger McDaniel lives in Laramie and is the pastor at Highlands Presbyterian Church in Cheyenne. Email: rmc81448@gmail.com.

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