The New York Times is profiling the lawyer who will be leading Trump’s impeachment defense. Read it here.
Now allow me to add a few things to this profile based on our work here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home
First, Sekulow has strong court evangelical connections. He was (and still may be) friends with Steven Strang, the editor of Charisma Magazine, a Christian magazine that represents Pentecostal and charismatic Christians in the United States. Many of the so-called evangelical “prophets” who think Trump is the new King Cyrus are regularly featured in Charisma. (See our section on Strang and Independent Network Charismatics in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump). In 2005, Time named Strang one of the “25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America.”
In 1989, Strang was editing Charisma and Sekulow was a thirty-two-year old lawyer coming out of bankruptcy. Somewhere around May 1, Strang gave Sekulow a copy of Oral Roberts’s latest book How I Learned Jesus Was Not Poor. Roberts, of course, was the controversial Pentecostal televangelist and president of Oral Roberts University. Here is a taste of the dustjacket of How I Learned Jesus Was Not Poor: “Christians today commonly believe that Jesus was poor. And they believe that God wants them to be poor, too. Oral Roberts says nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus was not poor, and He wants Christians to prosper in every way, including financially.” Strang wrote a short message to Sekulow on the first blank page of Roberts’s book. It read: “This book is a little different in its approach. But after you read it, I’m sure you’ll agree he has some unique insights into what the Bible says about this important subject.”
So perhaps you are wondering how I got this book. Read this post to find out.
Second, Sekulow, who mostly handles religious liberty cases, has done very well for himself. (Perhaps Oral Roberts and the prosperity gospelers were right). In a June 28, 2017 post I suggested that “defending religious liberty is good for business.” According to a 2005 article in Legal Times, Sekulow used over $2.3 million from a nonprofit organization he controlled to buy two homes and lease a private jet.
And here is a taste of a 2017 article on Sekulow from The Guardian:
More than 15,000 Americans were losing their jobs each day in June 2009, as the US struggled to climb out of a painful recession following its worst financial crisis in decades.
But Jay Sekulow, who is now an attorney to Donald Trump, had a private jet to finance. His law firm was expecting a $3m payday. And six-figure contracts for members of his family needed to be taken care of.
Documents obtained by the Guardian show Sekulow that month approved plans to push poor and jobless people to donate money to his Christian nonprofit, which since 2000 has steered more than $60m to Sekulow, his family and their businesses.
Telemarketers for the nonprofit, Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism (Case), were instructed in contracts signed by Sekulow to urge people who pleaded poverty or said they were out of work to dig deep for a “sacrificial gift”.
“I can certainly understand how that would make it difficult for you to share a gift like that right now,” they told retirees who said they were on fixed incomes and had “no extra money” – before asking if they could spare “even $20 within the next three weeks”.
In addition to using tens of millions of dollars in donations to pay Sekulow, his wife, his sons, his brother, his sister-in-law, his niece and nephew and their firms, Case has also been used to provide a series of unusual loans and property deals to the Sekulow family.
Attorneys and other experts specialising in nonprofit law said the Sekulows risked violating a federal law against nonprofits paying excessive benefits to the people responsible for running them. Sekulow declined to detail how he ensured the payments were reasonable.
“This is all highly unusual, and it gives an appearance of conflicts of interest that any nonprofit should want to avoid,” said Daniel Borochoff, the president of CharityWatch, a Chicago-based group that monitors nonprofits.
The Washington Post also covered this story.
Third, Sekulow jams with John Elefante (former of Kansas front man) and John Schlitt (former lead singer of the Christian rock band Petra) in a group called The Jay Sekulow Band. Watch them cover the Doobie Brothers’s “Jesus is Just Alright”: