Last week the number of court evangelicals increased dramatically as the White House invited evangelical worship leaders to meet Donald Trump. Thanks to Dr. Andy Rowell, a professor at Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, for identifying some of the worship leaders who appear with Trump in the above photo:
- Paula White-Cain (and husband Jonathan Cain met the night before Dec 5, 2019 at the White House with Trump supporters Jentezen Franklin, Marcus Lamb, Joni Lamb, Harry Jackson)
- Brian Houston (Hillsong Church pastor) Instagram video and instagram of seanfeucht
- Kari Jobe (Carnes) (traveling worship leader, was at Gateway Church, Southlake TX, with Trump supporter, Pastor Robert Morris)
- & Cody Carnes (traveling worship leader, was at Gateway Church, Southlake TX, with Trump supporter, Pastor Robert Morris) Instagram video
- Brian Johnson (President of Bethel Music, Redding, CA) Instagram of seanfeucht (His father, Bethel Church pastor, Bill Johnson voted for Trump).
- & Jenn Johnson (co-founder Bethel Music, Redding, CA)
- Britt Nicole (traveling singer)
- Sean Feucht (Bethel Music, Redding, CA) Instagram group photo and another photo and video.
- Stephen James Hart (Visual Worship Leader, Bethel Music, Redding, CA) Instagram group shot.
- Luke Hendrickson (Mixing engineer, Bethel Church, Redding, CA) Instagram group shot.
- Heather Armstrong (photography, Redding, CA)
- Kiley Goodpasture (Project Manager, Bethel Music, Redding, CA)
- Dominic Shahbon (Director of Events, Bethel Music, Redding, CA)
- Allison & Antonio Marin (Strings players, Northern CA)
- Jeremy Edwardson (Music producer, Redding CA)
- David Funk (Worship leader – Gable Price and Friends, Redding, CA)
- Chris Quilala (Jesus Culture, Sacramento, CA)
- Joseph Zwanziger (The Father’s House, Vacaville, CA) Instagram group shot.
- & Tosha Zwanziger
- Terry Crist (Lead Pastor, Hillsong Phoenix) (Not 100% sure he was there)
- Michael Stampley (Worship leader, GA)
- & Heidi Stampley
- Micah Stampley
- Trent Cory (Hope City United Church, Albany, GA)
- & Keisha Cory
- Myles Rutherford (co-pastors, Worship with Wonders, Marietta, GA) and group shot
- & DeLana Rutherford
- David Brinson (Senior Pastor, Eighth Day Church, Warner Robins, GA who worked with Paula White)
- & son Rafael Brinson
- Tim Brinson (Worship Leader, SC and GA)
- (Jonathan) Ernstly Etienne, Worship Director, Free Chapel, Gainesville, GA (associated with Trump supporter, Pastor Jentezen Franklin)
- & Hillary Harper Etienne
- Eddie James (traveling worship leaders, Ocoee, TN) Instagram group shot.
- David Binion (Dwell Church, Fairview, TX)
- & Nicole Binion (not 100% sure if she was there – photo)
- Nayomi Thomas (worship leaders, Raymore, MO)
- & Jaye Thomas
- Bryn Waddell, Charlotte, NC.
- Two women from New Wine Music. selfie. (associated with Trump supporter, Pastor Guillermo Maldonado of El Rey Jesús, in Miami, FL).
- Jonathan Williams, photographer
These Nashville worship leaders loved it:
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) December 9, 2019
I think former Christianity Today managing editor and evangelical writer Katelyn Beaty sums it up pretty well:
Power is intoxicating. Access to power leads many to trade integrity in order to “be in the room where it happens,” whether it’s a White House board room, the green room behind the stage, etc. It’s just sad to see these worship leaders be so obviously manipulated. https://t.co/qXa0ddzAjo
— Katelyn Beaty (@KatelynBeaty) December 11, 2019
Here is what I wrote about power in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump:
The court evangelicals have been shown “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory” (Matt 4:8-10); but, unlike Jesus in his encounter with the Tempter, they have gladly embraced them. Evangelicals claim to follow a Savior who relinquished worldly power–even to the point of giving his life. Yet they continue to place their hope in political candidates as a means of advancing an agenda that confuses the kingdom of God with the United States of America. Evangelicals often decry the idea of “separation of church and state” (although as we will see in chapter 2, they have not always thought this way), but this constitutional principle has always served as a safeguard to protect the church from the temptations that come with worldly power. Political scientist Glenn Tinder says that power is a “morally problematic” idea because it almost always induces “others to serve one’s own purposes.” In the sense that political power objectifies other human beings, it is a “degraded relationship if judged by the standards of love.” Political power does not have to result in immoral ends, but it nearly always does due to the fallenness of human beings and brokenness of a world stained by sin. Humility, on the other hand, is always centered on the cross of Jesus Christ, a political act that ushered in a new kind of political entity–the kingdom of God. Humility thus requires listening, debate, conversation, and dialogue that respects the dignity of all God’s human creation. What would it take to replace the pursuit of power with humility?
Here is Rowell:
It is entirely appropriate to pray for a president. The problem is if the powerful person “receiving prayer” is primarily using the pray-er to reach their constituency on his behalf. In other words, there likely was not an opportunity to speak truth to power to President Trump. But rather, the strategy is to sell these worship leaders (who have big Instagram followings) with a one-sided “Look at what Trump is doing for evangelicals!” so that they then turn and communicate to their fans: “President Trump and his administration are people passionate about worship and prayer, just like you! And therefore, you should defend President Trump and try to see the good in what he does. And you should vote for him!”
It is of course initially exciting to get an offer to visit the White House and pray for President Trump and disappointing when people criticize you for leading worship (!), but it should be sobering to realize that you are being used to boost President Trump’s popularity. President Trump is in the midst of an impeachment proceeding because of his own misbehavior—because he ignored all advice about Ukraine from his foreign policy advisers. Moreover, on Dec 4, he slashed access to food assistance to 700,000 Americans. And his work on human trafficking is exaggerated. Yes, evangelicals vote Republican for “pro-life” but the abortion rate has been falling fast especially in Democratic administrations due to more access to contraceptives. It is fine to worry about the excesses of a Democratic administration with regard to religious freedom or other issues, but it is another thing to be part of an operation that is focused on promoting President Trump. Moreover, Paula White-Cain, who organized the gathering, is not a model of financial and moral integrity.
Read his entire post here.