Donald Trump has dispensed with the longstanding tradition of only signing books you wrote yourself and usurped such famous names as Moses, Peter and maybe even God himself by scrawling his signature on copies of the Bible.
The president was witnessing the horrifying tornado destruction in Alabama on Friday when he indulged in a spot crowd-pleasing.
And a picture of two of the signed books immediately prompts two questions – why did he sign the front and what on earth is a “military challenge edition” Bible?
It’s not the first time a sitting president has signed a Bible – the Smithsonian’s curator of religion, Peter Manseau, told The Washington Post that Republicans including George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan have also done so.
He said: “If this was an organised effort where the president was giving out stacks of signed Bibles, that would strike me as odd, 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.”
But over on Twitter, people were a bit less charitable, notably former Hillary Clinton adviser Peter Daou, who wrote: “The man whose vicious and inhumane border policy violates the fundamental teachings of Jesus is signing Bibles.”
Hypocrisy was also the theme of a tweet from an ex-Obama aide who highlighted what else Trump has signed with that hand.
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.”
Trump and First Lady Melania Trump were paying respects to the 23 people killed when a powerful tornado roared through a rural Alabama town.
The dead included four children and a couple in their 80s, with 10 victims belonging to a single extended family.