Trump evangelical Eric Metaxas makes sense of impeachment through the lens of charismatic prophets

Today the House Managers in the second Donald Trump impeachment trial have been arguing that the former president incited the insurrection on the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021 and should thus be convicted of such a high crime. Yet many popular evangelical Christians continue to defend the former president and oppose what they believe to be a sham impeachment process. Eric Metaxas, an author and radio host, is one such evangelical.

Over on Rumble, Metaxas is still saying that Mike “MyPillow Guy” Lindell, the “main sponsor” of his radio show, has evidence that the Democrats stole the 2020 presidential election. He also talks to an evangelical prophet named Amanda Grace who claims to have received a direct messages from God about the impeachment. Grace says that God told her:

  • The 2020 election is “far from over.”
  • The Lord will punish the “wicked of this nation…including the media.” God will also punish members of Congress who did not support impeachment.
  • “We are going to see a Purim-like event.” She describes this as a “divine reversal.” It will look like God’s people are “set for destruction,” but God will rescue them from their oppressors.
  • The “delay” in restoring Trump to office is because God wants “all eyes to focus on him right now” so that they will acknowledge his work when he performs the miracle of restoring Trump to office.
  • That “a surprise is coming with this impeachment because you can’t impeach a citizen.” (Notice that her argument here is not based on how we should interpret the U.S. Constitution. It is based on divine revelation. As I have written before, THIS is why the founders said we must separate church and state. You can’t use divine revelation to interpret the U.S. Constitution. That is not how America, a country founded on the beliefs of the Enlightenment, works).
  • That we are going to hit a “pocket of turbulence” but I (God) am still “driving the plan.” Grace notes that God deliberately used the word “plan” instead of “plane.” She calls this a “play on words.”

Here is her most recent prophecy:

And the spirit of the Lord says this day. I am touching down and causing a split and a shaking and fear shall fall upon members of the House and members of the Senate. “Very unsettling,” says the Lord, as a surprise with the impeachment shall take place as the House and the Senate shall be shaken and more shall fall off the cliff of greed and power where they have crowded and crammed themselves in dancing around their golden calf they have wickedly constructed with the work of their hands. And as my children have come up higher as my Servant (Grace says the word “Servants” is capitalized in the prophecy) Moses did at Mt. Sinai, I the Lord will send their golden calf off a cliff–that graven image, that blasphemous people says the Lord. And I the Lord your God Yahweh shall invoke my law, which is much higher than any earthly law constructed by corrupt men who have made agreements with demons and devils and dragons and sheiks. And just as they think they can overstep their bounds with such a wicked plan. As they say “impeach,” “impeach,” I the Lord your God shall reach in an turn the tables over of these wicked merchandizers selling the freedom of the American people for securities and luxuries and pensions that are illegitimate and illegal, says the Lord. I shall overturn their tables and the scene so shall be made as truth comes forth cutting to the core of their plans. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth including with the ailing false leader says the Lord of hosts this day...For I am doing a work in your nation, for even if I the Lord told it to you, you would not believe it. Habakkuk 1:5. Yes the people of America are facing the Red Sea and Egypt is at their backs, however I the Lord and the equalizer. I the Lord can do the impossible. I the Lord am your deliverer. What you are seeing happening–what you have seen with the presidency has been delayed not denied for a time as the church and the House and the Senate, Congress, Governors, the internal working parts of government must be purged, says the Lord.

There is more, but I will stop there.

Grace announces that God told her the names of people in Congress who still stand for truth. Florida representative Matt Gaetz is one of them. Metaxas responds to the Gaetz reference with a hearty “oh, yeah!”

Grace says she sees 7-foot tall angels in powder-blue garments with long golden hair walking through her kitchen while she is talking on the phone. She says hello to them and continues talking on the phone because she is so used to their appearances.

I think it’s fascinating that Metaxas tries to bring order and some degree of rationality to these Grace’s prophesies. He wants “the raw data” on what God told her so he can analyze it. Metaxas suggests that Amanda Grace’s prophecies converge very well with the utterances of one of his favorite prophets, Mike Thompson. Here is a video of Thompson giving a pro-Trump prophecy in 2016, complete with YouTube ads:

There was no singular evangelical Trump voter

The title of this post plays off of Henry Olsen’s recent Washington Post column: “There is no singular Trump voter.” Here is a taste:

The motivation behind voters’ support for President Donald Trump has been a source of intense speculation ever since he burst onto the political scene. But there is no singular “Trump voter.” Despite how it is often portrayed in the media, Trump’s coalition is ideologically and demographically diverse.

That’s according to a new survey from the polling firm YouGov. The poll, which I helped to write, collected responses from 1,000 self-described 2020 Trump voters and was sponsored by the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where I am a senior fellow.

Trump voters are typically thought of as hardcore conservatives and evangelical Christians with a strong White, blue-collar vibe. These demographics are part of Trump’s support, but far from all of it.

Take religion, for example. The poll shows that 41 percent of Trump voters describe themselves as evangelicals, but 24 percent say they are atheist, agnostic or have no religious beliefs in particular. Only 31 percent say they attend religious services at least weekly; 46 percent say they attend services “seldom” or “never.” Many of Trump’s voters are religious Christians who like his pro-life views and support for religious liberty, but many more are not.

Over the last couple of months I have heard from more than 1000 Christians, both pastors and laypersons. I am no social scientist, and I am not making any definitive claims, but I am noticing different kinds of evangelical Trump voters:

  1. Evangelical voters who love Trump. They are not bothered by his immoral lapses because no one is perfect and God forgives sin. They believe God uses flawed individuals to support his purposes in the world.
  2. Evangelicals voters who voted for Trump because of his stands on abortion, Israel, and religious liberty. They wish he wasn’t so abrasive, immoral, or untruthful, but they were willing to vote for him because of his policies. Some of these voters remained silent about Trump’s corruption. Others criticized him. A lot of evangelical pastors fell into this category. They voted for Trump, but they tried to steer their congregations away from political saviors. Some of these pastors completely avoided politics in their sermons.
  3. Evangelical voters who voted for Trump because they thought he would become more “presidential” once he took office. These voters eventually regretted their decision and either did not vote for a major candidate in 2020 or voted for Biden. These voters generally supported Trump’s Supreme Court appointments and defense of religious liberty.

Of course one could also argue, as I have, that all of these evangelical Trump voters enabled and empowered the former president and are thus indirectly complicit in what he did to American democracy and our democratic institutions.

Early Trump supporters in their own words

Over at The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf shares the thoughts of some of Trump’s earliest supporters. Here is a taste:

…the fourth correspondent claimed in 2015 that “Trump is refreshingly blunt, honest, and pro-American.” Today? “Trump will go down as the most charismatic and successful president despite a mere four-year term,” he wrote. “Trump might not run again, but his voters now know what the standard is.” In his telling, “My observations were slightly off back in 2015.

I underestimated the number of attacks that the intelligence bureaus would launch against Trump. I underestimated the fervor of the media in its incessant effort to destroy him … Trump was and is an existential threat to the Washington establishment. They had to remove Trump even if it meant fixing two elections and manufacturing two impeachments.” (I always find it odd that Trump and some of his staunchest supporters claim that even the 2016 election, which he won, was rigged.)

The fifth correspondent, who wrote in 2015, “It’s going to take a successful capitalist to stop and repair the damage that’s already been done by Barack Obama in his attempt to destroy the greatest capitalistic nation ever,” had this to say after observing Trump in the White House:

As far as the country’s economy goes and the advancement in job creation, the building of a border wall, tax cuts, eliminating job-killing regulations and making our lives financially better and more stable, President Trump was phenomenally successful. He was even successful on foreign affairs, doing what no President has done before, by scaling back the number of troops and conflicts, [and] brokering peace deals in the Middle East.

The only problem this President has, and has had, for over four years, is the Democrats, along with the media and their constant dismissal of his win. It’s been exhausting that they didn’t do anything but lie and obstruct him at every point, instead of helping him in his attempt to make America great again. He has exposed everything bad about our country and its elected officials. He was our last great hope, and almost did everything that he promised us, and then the coordinated worldwide attack to take him down along with our country happened. We are tired and exhausted, but we know that this man should be remembered in history as one of the greatest Presidents, ever. I’m proud to have supported him.

Read the entire piece here. There are millions who feel the same way as these Trump supporters. Many Trump supporters sympathize with the January 6, 2021 insurrection. As Anne Applebaum writes, we must now figure out “how to live alongside them” because “coexistence is the only option.”

Antifa! Antifa! The court evangelicals prepare for spiritual warfare against Biden and the Democrats

We are learning more and more about the mob that invaded the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. They were Trump-supporters, extreme Christian nationalists, QAnon believers, militia groups, and other assorted thugs. Mo Brooks, a Republican representative from Alabama, still believes that Antifa was behind the insurrection:

On Wednesday, Trump spoke to his followers. He said that he loved them and called them “special.” Watch:

Last night, Trump read another statement:

This is Trump conceding the election without officially conceding the election.

It is worth mentioning again that Trump cannot give a speech without lying. He did not “immediately employ the national guard.” In fact, he initially resisted the idea. There is nothing in this speech about the fact that Trump created this mob or that he is ultimately responsible for what happened. On Wednesday, he was sending his love to the insurrectionists and calling them “special.” Last night he wanted to throw them in jail.

Does anyone believe anything Trump said in this video? Does he really care about national healing and reconciliation? He released this second video because he is scared. His advisers and cabinet members are resigning. The House and Senate are calling for either the 25th Amendment or another impeachment. And what did he mean when he said “our incredible journey is only just beginning?” Maybe it has yet something to do with this:

Let’s check-in again on the court evangelicals:

Eric Metaxas had self-professed prophet Lance Wallnau on his radio program. He starts the conversation by asking Wallnau if “the prophets got it wrong.” I listened several times to Wallnau answer this question and I have no idea what he is talking about. I think he is just making it all up. Wallnau, speaking with apparent prophetic authority, says that the insurrectionists were Antifa members. Metaxas agrees. He calls the insurrection a “Marxist coup. Metaxas also floats the idea that Muriel Bowser, the mayor of Washington D.C., was behind the rioting. Finally, Wallnau says that he and Metaxas are part of a Christian populist movement led by Donald Trump. Trump, he says, “is not finished.” He describes this “movement” as “righteous.”

Metaxas also talked to Charlie Kirk, the co-founder of Liberty University’s Falkirk Center. Kirk admits that Biden will be the next president. He says that a “lot of people were misled” to believe that Trump was actually going to win. Metaxas admits that he was one of those people, but Kirk lets him off the hook. Then they start talking about the possibility of a God-sized miracle that will get Trump into office.

Kirk, “constitutional scholar” that he is, criticizes Mike Pence for doing his constitutional duty on Wednesday night. He said that Pence did not act with “courage or clarity” when he agreed to certify the votes of the Electoral College.

Watch:

Court evangelical journalist David Brody on “smart analysis”:

Brody plays the moral equivalency card:

David Brody is a sly one:

Pastor Darrell Scott says he spoke to Trump. MAGA forever!

David and Tim Barton of Wallbuilders believe that Antifa was behind the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Richard Land rejects the violence at the U.S. capitol, but he says nothing about his role in empowering Trump and, by extension, those who stormed Congress. Remember, it was Land who bragged about having “unprecedented access” to the White House during Trump’s presidency.

Jack Hibbs is talking with fellow court evangelical Tony Perkins about the “spiritual battle” for the U.S. capitol. Perkins says that when Trump was elected in 2016 he felt a demonic presence in Washington D.C. trying to stop the inauguration. The women’s march, according to Perkins, was part of this evil presence.

Ralph Reed praises Mike Pence:

Interesting:

Trump has two weeks. I think it’s a little late for advice:

Franklin Graham–yes Franklin Graham–wants us to stop the finger-pointing:

I wonder if Franklin will listen to Cindy T:

Let’s set the record straight on what Mike Pence can and cannot do at tomorrow’s certification of the Electoral College results

Donald Trump seems to believe that Mike Pence can overturn the votes of the Electoral College tomorrow when Congress certifies the results.

Here is Trump last night in Georgia:

And earlier today:

CNN is reporting that Trump and Pence had an unscheduled lunch today.

Is Trump right?

No.

Let’s start with the U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 1:

The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President…

The Constitution says that the sitting Vice President does have a role in the certification process. His role is to open the results (presumably in envelopes) sent to him by the states. It is purely ceremonial.

Now let’s move on to the pertinent parts of the 12th Amendment.

The Electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate;-The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;-The person having the greatest Number of votes for President, shall be the President…

The 12th amendment requires electors to cast one electoral vote for president and one electoral vote for vice president. This was necessary after Thomas Jefferson and his VP running mate Aaron Burr both received the same number of electoral votes in the president election of 1800. Learn more about what happened here. Notice that the language related to the Vice President’s role in opening the certified votes does not change with the 12th Amendment. His job is to open envelopes. It is a role that is purely ceremonial.

The final document of note is the Electoral Count Act of 1887. This act was passed ten years after the controversial presidential election of 1876. It clarifies the role of the vice-president in the certification of the Electoral College votes. Here is the pertinent part of the act as codified in 3 U.S. Code 15:

Congress shall be in session on the sixth day of January succeeding every meeting of the electors. The Senate and House of Representatives shall meet in the Hall of the House of Representatives at the hour of 1 o’clock in the afternoon on that day, and the President of the Senate shall be their presiding officer. Two tellers shall be previously appointed on the part of the Senate and two on the part of the House of Representatives, to whom shall be handed, as they are opened by the President of the Senate, all the certificates and papers purporting to be certificates of the electoral votes, which certificates and papers shall be opened, presented, and acted upon in the alphabetical order of the States, beginning with the letter A; and said tellers, having then read the same in the presence and hearing of the two Houses, shall make a list of the votes as they shall appear from the said certificates; and the votes having been ascertained and counted according to the rules in this subchapter provided, the result of the same shall be delivered to the President of the Senate, who shall thereupon announce the state of the vote, which announcement shall be deemed a sufficient declaration of the persons, if any, elected President and Vice President of the United States, and, together with a list of the votes, be entered on the Journals of the two Houses.

Here is Joe Biden doing his ceremonial duty on January 6, 2017:

Here is Al Gore certifying the election of George W. Bush. Very awkward, but necessary:

The rest of the Electoral Count Act explains the entire process of dealing with objections. The Vice President’s only role in dealing with objections (which several members of the House and Senate, including Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz will bring) is to “call” for written objections.

In the end, there is nothing Pence can do to change the election results at tomorrow’s certification ceremony. It may take some time because of the objections, but Congress will certify the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and Biden will be inaugurated on January 20.

ADDENDUM (8:37pm): Apparently Pence is going to do the right thing.

Evangelicals are the “Trumpiest demographic in America”

Over at Christianity Today, Bonnie Kristian asks: “Are the Eighty-One Percent Evangelicals?” The subtitle of her piece is also revealing: “Just because people claim the name shouldn’t automatically imply they heed what it means.” Here is a taste:

Evangelical support for President Donald Trump wasn’t enough to win him another term. But it was enough to confirm evangelicals’ reputation among the broader public as perhaps the Trumpiest demographic in America.

Whether that perception is fair is disputable, certainly. The well-known report that 81 percent of evangelicals voted for Trump in 2016 was never really accurate. Derived from exit polls, it ignored the millions of evangelicals who didn’t vote for Trump because they didn’t vote at all. Widely shared as descriptive of the whole evangelical vote, it only considered white voters, though evangelicalism is increasingly racially diverse.

It also counted as evangelical anyone who simply claimed the label, though self-identification is a messy metric that includes “evangelicals” who don’t believe or behave as longstanding definitions of evangelicalism stipulate. And, after all those qualifications, it wasn’t even 81 percent: Laterbetter studies put that figure in the mid-70s, matching the very consistent rate at which self-identified white evangelical voters supported other recent GOP nominees.

But will any of this nuance, or whatever shifts in evangelical voting patterns may appear in the 2020 data, make a difference? I don’t think so. “Americans seem to increasingly view evangelicals through a political lens,” the Barna Group summarized in survey results from late 2019. For many of our compatriots, “evangelicals” are first and foremost a voting bloc. A term intended to signal views on salvation, Scripture, and service now communicates political alignment with a single party and a president.

Read the rest here.

“Such a move is not for the faint of heart. It requires courage”

Some 2016 Trump voters are voting for Biden in 2020. Here is a taste of Carol Kuruvilla’s piece at Huffington Post:

The emotional heavy lifting white evangelical voters need to do to move away from the Republican Party is no easy feat, according to John Fea, a history professor at Messiah College and the author of “Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump.” And it would be even harder for them to vote for Biden, instead of a third-party candidate. The Christian right has convinced evangelical voters that abortion and religious liberty are the most important issues facing believers, Fea said. Ahead of the 2020 election, pro-Trump evangelicals have been making the case on social media that anyone who votes for Biden is not a real Christian or will be held responsible for the killing of millions of babies in the womb, he said.

Because of these fear-based tactics, many first-time Democratic voters will have moments in which they will second-guess their decision to vote for Biden, Fea said. To break away from their loyalty to the Republican Party, these Christians need to believe that Trump and some of his policies are so deeply immoral that they have no other choice but to vote a different way, he said.

“Such a move is not for the faint of heart. It requires courage,” Fea said.

Read the entire piece here.

The new CNN poll is damning for Trump

We still have four weeks go, but if this poll holds up, Biden will win in a blow-out. Here are a few things that caught my eye:

Nationally, Biden leads 57% to 41%.

48% of Americans approve of how Trump is handling the economy. 48% disapprove.

38% of Americans approve of how Trump is handling election security. 55% disapprove.

39% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Trump. 55% of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of Trump.

52% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Biden. 42% of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of Biden.

38% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Mike Pence. 49% of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of Pence. 6% of Americans have “never heard of” Mike Pence.

47% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Kamala Harris. 36% of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of Harris. 9% of Americans have “never heard of” Kamala Harris.

Likely voters believe that Biden is better than Trump on the economy (50-48), coronavirus (59-38), health care (59-39), racial equality (62-36), Supreme Court nominations (57-41), and crime and safety (55-43).

Voters think Biden cares about them more than Trump (58-38), is better suited to unite the country than Trump (61-33), has a better plan to solve American problems than Trump (55-39), will keep them safer than Trump (55-43), and is more trustworthy than Trump (58-33).

58% of Americans who watched the first presidential debate thought Biden won it. 27% thought Trump won the first presidential debate. 13% said that “neither of them did well.”

Read the entire poll here.

And as long as we are doing polls, here are the latest Real Clear Politics poll averages from the major battleground states.

Wisconsin: Biden is up 5.6% (Trump won by 0.7% in 2016)

Florida: Biden is up 3.5% (Trump won by 1.2% in 2016)

Michigan: Biden is up 6.2% (Trump won by 0.3% in 2016)

North Carolina: Biden is up 1.4% (Trump won by 3.6% in 2016)

Arizona: Biden is up 3.4% (Trump won by 3.5% in 2016)

Minnesota: Biden is up 9.4% (Clinton won by 1.5% in 2016)

Ohio: Biden is up 1.2% (Trump won by 8.1% in 2016)

Iowa: Biden is up 0.5% (Trump won by 9.4% in 2016)

Nevada: Biden is up 5.3% (Clinton won by 2.4% in 2016)

New Hampshire: Biden is up 8.4% (Clinton won by 0.3 in 2016)

Maine: Biden is up 12.8% (Clinton won by 2.9% in 2016)

Virginia: Biden is up 11% (Clinton won by 5.4% in 2016)

Georgia: Biden is up 0.3% (Trump won by 5.1% in 2016)

Texas: Trump is up 3.2% (Trump won by 9 in 2016)

Colorado: Biden is up 10% (Clinton won by 4.9% in 2016)

New Mexico: Biden is up 14.5 (Clinton won by 8.3% in 2016)

“I hope this person believes this. Some days I am not even sure I do.”

Like most people, I sat down early Tuesday evening, November 8, 2016, to watch election returns fully expecting that, by the time I went to bed, Hillary Clinton would be declared the country’s first female president.

Instead, I saw my home state of Pennsylvania fall to Trump, followed by the Clinton “firewall” states of Michigan and Wisconsin. I was shocked. I was saddened. I was angry. But my emotions were less about the new president-elect and more about the large number of my fellow evangelicals who voted for him.

Five days later–the Lord’s Day–I took my seat in the sanctuary of the central Pennsylvania megachurch where I had worshipped with my family for the last sixteen years. As I looked around at my fellow worshippers, I could not help thinking that there was a strong possibility, if the reports and polls were correct, that eight out of every ten people in that sanctuary–my brothers and sisters in my community of faith–had voted for the new president-elect. This seemed to reflect deep divisions in how we understand the world, and it was deeply distressing.

I still attend that church, but I have not visited in person since the outbreak of COVID-19. I wish I could say that COVID-19 is the only reason I haven’t returned. It’s been four years since that post-election Sunday and there are days when my anger and disappointment are still raw. This is not an indictment of the pastoral staff at my church or most of the members–past and present–of the church elder board. They are serious Christians who have been doing their best to navigate this season without dividing the church. I appreciate the work they are doing and I can tell when they are trying to bring biblical faith to bear on the times without naming names or “getting political.” I do not attend a pro-Trump church.

But I also get the sense that my church is keeping me at arms length. This is probably a smart move. I am a divisive figure. I have tried to use my voice and platform to criticize a morally corrupt President of the United States and the conservative media infrastructure, including the Christian media, that props him up.

Some of my fellow churchgoers have read Believe Me and have sent me wonderful notes of encouragement and support. Others have made it clear that I am a negative influence in the Christian community. When I taught a Sunday school class on Christianity and politics (a class in which I don’t think I ever mentioned Trump), I got a lot of positive feedback. I also got some pretty strong negative feedback.

Why am I bringing this all up right now?

Today I had an emotional conversation with a Christian I love. This person does not understand how friends, family, and fellow Christians can support Donald Trump. Tuesday night’s debate really set this person off. How could Christians vote for a man who refuses to condemn racism, lies endlessly, and lacks basic empathy? This person is considering giving-up on church and the Christian faith generally. She/he is trying to hold together her/his friendships with Trump supporters, but does not know how to do it and still be true to her/his deepest convictions.

We both had tears in our eyes. I didn’t know what kind of advice to give this person, but I certainly understood. Over the last four years I have had old friends cut me off because of my strong criticism of the president. I have had present friends pull back. I have had dozens and dozens of people tell me that they have stopped going to church (COVID-19 has become a convenient excuse). People who I have not communicated with in over thirty years have come out of the woodwork to condemn me in public forums.

I don’t want this person to give-up on Christianity. I encouraged this person to lean into our shared faith and not pull away. Current events have led me to read the Bible with new eyes, pray in different ways, and rethink how I live my Christian life. It is all a work of progress, but I feel like I have started a new spiritual journey of sorts. I shared all of this with this person. We must continue to live as people of hope and try not to let the anger overwhelm us. I hope this person believes this. Some days I am not even sure I do.

Many Americans do not see this as an ordinary election between two candidates committed to basic principles of decency, civility, truth, science, reason, and human dignity. This is not a choice between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama (2008) or Al Gore and George W. Bush (2000) or Bill Clinton and Bob Dole (1996). This is an election between one man who believes that the president should be a steward of democracy and another man who is a racist, nativist, and narcissist willing to undermine democracy with almost every word he speaks.

And the majority of white evangelicals, whether they love Trump or held their nose and voted for him, are complicit. I know that statement will anger a lot of people. But how long will evangelicals support–either directly or indirectly through their silence– this immoral president?

When Trump is gone, I hope and pray I will be ready to participate in the healing work that needs to be done. But right now the cancer at the heart of the republic must be cut out. Americans have the chance to do this on November 3rd. As I have said before at this blog, let’s remember that Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address (“bind up the nation’s wounds” and “achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace”) occurred after the Northern victory over the slave-holding Confederacy was all but secured.

UPDATE: I wish the President and First Lady well as they deal with COVID. I am praying for them and for all who are struggling with this terrible virus.

Trump’s Supreme Court appointee should get a hearing and a vote

Article II of the United States Constitution states that the President:

…shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

The President nominates Supreme Court justices and the Senate advises and consents. That’s how it works.

When Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, Barack Obama did his constitutional duty and nominated Merrick Garland to replace Scalia. The Senate, under the leadership of Mitch McConnell, refused to give Garland a hearing. He said that it was inappropriate for Obama to nominate a new justice in an election year. The next Supreme Court nomination, McConnell argued, should thus be left up to the new President. Trump won the November election and appointed Neil Gorsuch.

We are now 43 days away from an election and the recent death of justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has reignited the same debate about the right of a president to appoint a new justice during an election year. The Republicans in all their hypocrisy are now demanding that Trump should appoint Ginsburg’s successor. Here is Lindsey Graham, the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, 2016:

Graham is now suggesting that Trump should get to pick the next justice.

Of course this should not surprise us. Politics is not about integrity, ethics, or standing by one’s word. It is about power. And let’s not pretend that the Democrats wouldn’t do the same thing if they were in the GOP’s shoes right now. Plague on all their houses!

Two wrongs do not make a right. McConnell was wrong in 2016. Merrick Garland should have received a hearing and an up or down vote. In 2020, Trump’s appointee should receive a hearing and get an up or down vote. If the Senators believe that it is in the best interest of the country to let the next president choose a justice, then they can vote accordingly.

In March 2016, I wrote a Fox News piece on the whole Garland mess while I was in residence at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Read it here.

Michael Cohen links the “killing” of racy photos to Jerry Falwell Jr.’s Trump endorsement in 2016

Here is Aram Roston at Reuters:

In his book released today, Michael Cohen, the former fixer for U.S. President Donald Trump, ties for the first time the 2016 presidential endorsement of Trump by American evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr to Cohen’s own role in helping to keep racy “personal” photographs of the Falwells from becoming public.

As Reuters reported last year, the Falwells enlisted Cohen to keep “a bunch of photographs, personal photographs” from becoming public, Cohen said in a recording, made surreptitiously by comedian Tom Arnold. “I actually have one of the photos,” he said, without going into specifics. “It’s terrible.”

In “Disloyal: The Memoir,” Cohen describes thinking that his involvement in the Falwell photo matter would be a “catch and kill” — the practice of American tabloids to obtain and then suppress unfavorable stories about celebrities — “but in this case it was just going to be kill.”

He later writes: “In good time, I would call in this favor, not for me, but for the Boss, at a crucial moment on his journey to the presidency.”

Cohen has said that he helped persuade Falwell to endorse Trump just before Republican voters gathered in Iowa in February 2016 to nominate a presidential candidate. Falwell not only publicly vouched for Trump’s Christian virtues but also barnstormed with the candidate. His backing of Trump — a twice-divorced candidate who had talked about grabbing women’s genitals and engaged in extramarital affairs — was one of the major surprises of the 2016 campaign.

In the book, Cohen doesn’t explicitly say that the endorsement was the favor he sought in return for his help in having kept the Falwell photos from getting out. But his account marks the first time he has linked the two issues.

Read the entire piece here.

Episode 73: Cowboy Evangelicalism

Podcast

What does it mean to be a man in white evangelical Christianity? In this episode we talk with historian Kristin Kobes Du Mez, author of Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation. We discuss definitions of masculinity, the Gospel Coalition, Beth Moore, Donald Trump, the 2016 election, the differences between White and Black views of Christian manhood, and how the thesis of her book might be applied to American evangelical culture during the COVID-19 pandemic.

https://playlist.megaphone.fm?p=ADL7692401175
You can also listen at your favorite podcatcher, including Apple Podcasts

Joe Biden’s National Faith Engagement Director is an evangelical Christian

DicksonHis name is Josh Dickson. He was a leader in Campus Crusade for Christ during his undergraduate days at the University of Michigan. Many of his relatives attended Moody Bible Institute. His Christian faith led him to a job as a teacher in the poor neighborhoods of the South Side of Chicago. He voted for George W. Bush in 2004, but was inspired to become a Democrat by reading Ronald Sider’s Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger and Barack Obama’s Audacity of Hope.

Here are some quotes from Michael Gryboski’s recent Christian Post piece on Dickson:

Dickson believes some evangelicals are moving toward supporting Biden. An example of this, he said, is seeing evangelical leaders’ embrace of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“We have seen evangelicals marching in the streets, we have seen evangelicals talking about Black Lives Matter and speaking and praising Black Lives Matter,” said Dickson. “We’ve seen a tremendous response from individual pastors who have large followings who have marched in the streets. We’ve seen leaders, elected leaders who have marched in the streets from evangelical backgrounds.”

This level of support leads Dickson to conclude that “the real religious issue in this election is fighting systemic racism.” Biden, he said, has an advantage in handling that issue.

I appreciate Dickson’s arguments here. I hope he is right. But I don’t think many evangelicals believe systemic racism is “the real religious issue” in this election.

If the number of white evangelicals who vote for Trump in November 2020 drops below the 81% that he received in 2016, it will be because evangelicals are just tired of Trump’s lies, disgusted with his tweets, and upset with his handling of the coronavirus. They may not like Trump’s racism or his handling of Floyd protests either, but I am not sure they are going to vote for Biden (or not vote for Trump) because they want to fight systemic racism.

Here is more from the article:

When asked by CP about concerns over Biden’s stance on abortion, religious liberty, and similar issues, Dickson responded that “there’s room for disagreement” on these matters.

“I know that not everyone is going to agree with him on everything. We’re a big tent party as Democrats. Joe Biden is someone who is putting forward a vision that is inclusive,” said Dickson. “We want to be working with as many people as possible.”

“I see the values that Joe Biden lives by. I see the values that have been reflected in the history of his involvement in public life. And I see the ways in which he’s going to lean into this moment right now where our country is hurting.”

If Dickson wants to get white evangelicals who voted for Trump in 2016 into the Biden camp he is going to have to do better than this. He needs to get his candidate to say something concrete about the reduction of abortion in America. The numbers of abortions in the country are on the decline and he needs to show how he will sustain this downward trend.

Dickson needs to convince Biden to connect his policies on poverty and systemic racism to the reduction of abortion. If systemic racism is indeed “the real religious issue” in this campaign, then why not bring up the fact that addressing this problem has the potential to lower the number of abortions in America? In other words, Biden should articulate the connection between racism, poverty, and abortion. This will not win over most white evangelicals, but it could secure votes from those who are looking for any good reason to vote for Biden.

Dickson also needs to convince his candidate that our democracy is better when faith-based institutions such as schools, colleges, hospitals, and social service agencies are allowed to uphold their deeply-held religious beliefs about marriage and abortion. Rather than going after faith-based institutions in order to appease the left of the Democratic Party, Biden can win the hearts and minds of many white evangelicals by articulating a more robust vision of pluralism.

Read the entire Christian Post article here.

Court Evangelicals gather in Georgia

Paula White Georgia

This weekend court evangelical Paula White hosted a face-to-face event in Alpharetta, Georgia as part of the “Evangelicals for Trump” wing of the Trump 2020 campaign. Watch it here.

Speakers included Jenetzen Franklin, Harry Jackson, Ralph Reed, Alveda King, Richard Lee, and White.

Jenetzen Franklin says that evangelicals who believe in the Bible, the sacredness of life, supporting Israel, and law and justice “must “speak now or forever hold your peace, you won’t have another chance.” If Trump does not get elected, Franklin says, Christians will not have freedom of religion or freedom of speech. This line got a standing ovation. Franklin says that we only have three months (November) to save America. This is evangelical fear-mongering 101.

Harry Jackson calls for racial healing in the country. The applause is a lot more tepid than the applause Franklin received. No one seems to think that his support for Confederate flag-loving Donald Trump might contradict this message.

Ralph Reed starts by thanking the “God-fearing, Bible-believing Christians” of the state of Georgia for making sure Stacy Abrams did not win the governorship in 2018. Instead of Abrams, the people of Georgia got this.

Reed calls Abrams the “most radical, extreme, far-Left, governor” in the history of the South. It is worth remembering that Abrams would have been the third Black governor in the history of South and the first woman. Since the Civil War, the former Confederacy has had only two Black governors. P.B.S. Pinchback was governor of Louisiana for about a month (December 9, 1872 to January 13, 1873) and Douglas Wilder was governor of Virginia from 2005-2009. Only about 11% of white evangelicals in Georgia voted for Abrams. Reed, of course, knows how to appeal to the Trump base.

Reed also says that he senses “God’s anointed in this place.” He speaks with an arrogant certainty about the will of God and claims to know that God is on Trump’s side. Reed sees through a glass clearly.

Reed tells a story about how “thunderstruck” and upset he was when Antonin Scalia died in February 2016. He thought God had abandoned the country by allowing Scalia do die so close to the presidential election. But when Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said that he would not give the Obama nominee Merrick Garland a hearing, and would wait until after the 2016 election to start Senate proceedings on Scalia’s replacement, Reed knew God had intervened in human history and had answered the prayers of all true Christians. This story speaks volumes about the political playbook of the Christian Right. Trump said he can shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and still win in 2016. I think Trump can shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and still have conservative evangelical support in 2020 as long as he appoints conservative justices.

Alveda King, the niece of Martin Luther King Jr., read some scriptures. I am not sure what she was trying to say, but she is Alveda King’s niece and she supports Trump.

Richard Lee, the author of the The American Patriot’s Bible, spoke next. He praised Trump for trying (unsuccessfully) to repeal the Johnson Amendment. I doubt that he ever considered that the Johnson Amendment is actually good for the church.

Lee says we should vote for Donald Trump because he is a “man’s man.” (Later today I am interviewing historian Kristin Kobes Du Mez about her new book Jesus and John Wayne so this kind of tough-guy masculinity is fresh on my mind right now).

In response to mayors and governors who are trying to protect people from the coronavirus, Lee says: “Get your hands off the church of Jesus Christ. Don’t tell me what to do. Don’t you tell my congregation what to do. You think we’re idiots. You don’t think we know to protect ourselves?” He tells evangelical pastors that they should be “scared to the core” because “they’re gonna come for ya!” He even tells them to whistle the theme song to the television show COPS:

White evangelicals have believed that “they” (Thomas Jefferson, the Illuminati, abolitionists, modernists, the Supreme Court, “big government,” the Clintons, Obama) have been “coming for them” for a long time.

Lee concludes that the church should be a “shock force” for a “moral revolution” in this country. Something tells me that this is not the kind of moral revolution that Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and others are preaching.

The last speaker is Paula White. She tells about her history with Trump and praises the moral character of the entire Trump family. She calls Biden a “trojan horse” who will bring the “radical left” into the mainstream of America. At this point she gets pretty fired-up and starts ripping through Christian Right talking points.

It is hard to get a good look at the crowd, but I do not see many masks. The only person on the stage wearing a mask during the final prayer is Alveda King.

As November approaches, Trump releases his “greatest” hits album

Trump Tulsa

The coronavirus is spiking again. The country is in the midst of what might be an unprecedented conversation about race. And polls show that Donald Trump is trailing Joe Biden by a considerable margin.

Trump is desperate. If he loses in November, he will limp back to New York as arguably the worst president in United States history.  His growing sense of hopelessness and despair is leading him to double-down on the issues that got him elected in 2016. It’s like a Trump greatest hits album.

It’s going to be a really bad album, but a lot of people will buy it between now and November.

Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz’s prospective running mate in 2016, is voting for Joe Biden in 2020

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Here is Edward Isaac-Dovere at The Atlantic:

Republicans who say Donald Trump should lose in November but insist they won’t vote for Joe Biden aren’t being honest, Carly Fiorina argues.

Fiorina was a Republican candidate for president just four years ago, and was briefly Ted Cruz’s prospective running mate. Trump needs to go, she says—and that means she’s voting for Biden.

Fiorina is not going to keep quiet, write in another candidate, or vote third-party. “I’ve been very clear that I can’t support Donald Trump,” she told me, in an interview that can be heard in full on the latest episode of The Ticket. “And elections are binary choices.” She struggled with the decision, and whether to go public. But she said that this struggle is one Republicans need to have—including those who have rationalized supporting Trump despite their disagreements, because of some of his policies or judicial appointments.

Listen to the interview here.