Quick Thoughts on Andrew Brunson’s Return


First, I am really happy that Andrew Brunson is back in the United States.  Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, and others brought him home.  I am happy for his family and his congregation.

I am also confident that any American president would work to bring the imprisoned pastor home.  This is what presidents are supposed to do.  But in our current climate evangelicals will see this as something unique to Trump and his “faith friendly” policies.

Second, I don’t have a problem with Brunson asking to pray for Trump in the Oval Office event on Saturday.  The guy was a prisoner in Turkey for two years.  If he wants to pray for Trump in public, let him pray for Trump.  But I do have a problem with the way Trump and the Christian Right are exploiting this event for political gain.  (Yet another reason why Jesus instructed us in Matthew 6:5 to pray in secret).  Immediately following Brunson’s prayer, Trump, true to form, asked him about how he voted.  Meanwhile, the court evangelicals are relentlessly politicizing this moment:

Third, I would now like to see the court evangelicals fight for the release of other U.S. hostages in Turkey and elsewhere.

Fourth, Michael Hirsh of Foreign Policy notes that Turkey freed Brunson, but still managed to embarrass Trump.

Fifth, at an event like this one should expect someone to promote some really bad U.S. history.  In this case it was North Carolina Senator Richard Burr:

2 thoughts on “Quick Thoughts on Andrew Brunson’s Return

  1. Tony: Thanks for the comment.

    1. We agree that politicization is a “fact of life” and is largely a corrupt sphere. As a result, I don’t want the Gospel or prayer, or Christianity sullied by it. I don’t want my faith used for political purposes to help Trump rally his base for the 2018 midterms.

    2. The quotes represent what Robert Jeffress and Jerry Falwell said about Trump. I believe it was something like he is the most “faith-friendly” president in American history. I don’t see most of his policies as compatible with Christian faith as I understand it.


  2. John: I think your reflexive disdain for All Things Trump makes it difficult for you to objectively assess any of this administration’s policies or, dare I say it, accomplishments. (See also: Boot, Max; Rubin, Jennifer; Kristol, William.) Even though you and I likely disagree on many political issues, I didn’t vote for Trump, largely because of the manifest character flaws you highlight. (I did not vote for Clinton, either. In terms of congenital prevarication, lack of integrity and will to power, in my view she equals or trumps Trump in all categories, which is why I reject your position that Trump’s failings and crudities — including the infernal tweeting — are somehow unprecedented and beyond the pale.)

    Why do you object to Trump “politicizing” Brunson’s return? Did you object to Obama’s victory lap over, say, Osama Bin Laden, or the safe return of Bergdahl, to cite just a few examples off the top of my head? All politicians take credit for this type of thing. Politicization, unseemly as it may be, is a fact of life. Selectively criticizing Trump for it — and, yes, he did live down to expectations with his groan-inducing “who did you vote for” query — does not seem warranted. Now, as to the separate issue of (some on) the religious right misguidedly invoking Trump: Anointed Messenger of Divine Will — your objections to that theological perversion are dead on.

    Final question: you put snark quotes around “faith-friendly” policies. Do you dispute that this administration’s stance on a wide variety of religious liberty issues is decidedly more receptive to and protective of individual religious freedom than that of the Obama administration? If yes, what is your comparative evidence supporting that conclusion?


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