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:
We should thank Pres. @realDonaldTrump & his administration for their relentless dedication to religious freedom & tough negotiations with Turkey to secure Pastor Brunson’s release today. Yet another example of “promise made, promise kept” by the Trump Administration. Praise God!
— Dr. Robert Jeffress (@robertjeffress) October 12, 2018
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:
Not really. U.S was not founded as a church or Christian missionary organization. https://t.co/K1NHBx1ZWb
— John Fea (@JohnFea1) October 14, 2018