New video: January 6 insurrectionists pray in the Senate chamber

The New Yorker just released new footage taken January 6, 2020 from inside the U.S. Capitol. Watch the entire video here.

A group of rioters, led by Jake Angeli, the so-called “QAnon Shaman,” said a public prayer from the desk at the front of the Senate. I clipped The New Yorker video to highlight the prayer:

Watch:

Thoughts:

  • Angeli prays like an evangelical. He begins by saying “thank you heavenly father for gracing us with this opportunity….” The phraseology is clearly evangelical.
  • If you still don’t know what Christian nationalism sounds like, just listen to the way this blasphemous prayer blends American nationalism with Christian faith.
  • Angeli seems to have an elementary, albeit flawed, understanding of Christian theology. At one point he refers to a “divine, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent creator God.” The fact that this language just rolls off of Angeli’s lips suggests he has been around the evangelical block a few times.
  • He thanks God for “allowing the United States of America to be reborn.” This comes straight out of the QAnon playbook. Followers of Q, many of whom are evangelical Christians, believe that America will experience a “Great Awakening” after the evil “Deep State” is defeated. This idea of a “Great Awakening” has meshed very well with evangelical calls for a spiritual revival and evangelical claims that the First Great Awakening of the 18th century precipitated the American Revolution.

Does anyone see any similarities between Angeli’s prayer and the stuff going on here:

Conservative website “American Thinker” retracts articles on Dominion software’s role in supposed “election fraud.”

On November 16, 2020, court evangelical Eric Metaxas shared a story from the conservative website “American Thinker” on his Facebook page. The story was titled “The Dominion software story keeps getting worse.” The piece claimed that Dominion software “churned out impossible pro-Biden results in the wee hours of November 4 in Democratic-run states following a Trump wave.” The Dominion story was an important piece of Donald Trump’s “election fraud” claims and was propagated by Michael Flynn’s lawyer Sidney Powell.

Yesterday we learned that “American Thinker” has retracted all of their Dominion software conspiracy theory posts:

American Thinker and contributors Andrea Widburg, R.D. Wedge, Brian Tomlinson, and Peggy Ryan have published pieces on www.AmericanThinker.com that falsely accuse US Dominion Inc., Dominion Voting Systems, Inc., and Dominion Voting Systems Corporation (collectively “Dominion”) of conspiring to steal the November 2020 election from Donald Trump. These pieces rely on discredited sources who have peddled debunked theories about Dominion’s supposed ties to Venezuela, fraud on Dominion’s machines that resulted in massive vote switching or weighted votes, and other claims falsely stating that there is credible evidence that Dominion acted fraudulently.

These statements are completely false and have no basis in fact. Industry experts and public officials alike have confirmed that Dominion conducted itself appropriately and that there is simply no evidence to support these claims.

It was wrong for us to publish these false statements. We apologize to Dominion for all of the harm this caused them and their employees. We also apologize to our readers for abandoning 9 journalistic principles and misrepresenting Dominion’s track record and its limited role in tabulating votes for the November 2020 election. We regret this grave error. 

But let’s get back to Metaxas. After he shared the false Dominion story, his Facebook followers responded with enthusiasm. Here are few of their comments:

  • “I believe that we need to pray not only that fraud will be exposed but that it also will be repudiated and cancelled, i.e., nullified.”
  • “The name says it all. They are guaranteeing that they get dominion over Americans, knowing that they have to cheat do it.”
  • “I am dumbfounded that every American is not outraged about this.”
  • “This explains everything…because its so vast, so easily done, and how the pattern of votes all seemed to reverse themselves in unison after the close of the election centers…it’s all the more tragic the media across the board has so resolutely put on blinders.”
  • “I’m in the UK and I think the media blackout of this is intentional and orchestrated.”

These followers believe the Democrats stole the 2020 election, a belief built on debunked conspiracy theories that Metaxas and others have spread.

This is why we teach history students to read critically, evaluate sources, and consider bias.

History and Trump’s White House records

Historians are concerned that the Trump administration record-keeping habits are going to leave a “hole” in history. Here is Deb Riechmann at the Associated Press:

The public won’t see President Donald Trump’s White House records for years, but there’s growing concern the collection won’t be complete, leaving a hole in the history of one of America’s most tumultuous presidencies.

Trump has been cavalier about the law requiring that records be preserved. He has a habit of ripping up documents before tossing them out, forcing White House records workers to spend hours taping them back together.

“They told him to stop doing it. He didn’t want to stop,” said Solomon Lartey, a former White House records analyst. He said the first document he taped back together was a letter from Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., about a government shutdown.

The president also confiscated an interpreter’s notes after Trump had a chat with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Trump scolded his White House counsel for taking notes at a meeting during the Russia investigation by former special counsel Robert Mueller. Top executive branch officials had to be reminded more than once not to conduct official business on private email or text messaging systems and to preserve it if they did.

And now, Trump’s baseless claim of widespread voter fraud, which postponed for weeks an acknowledgement of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, is delaying the transfer of documents to the National Archives and Records Administration, further heightening concern about the integrity of the records.

“Historians are likely to suffer from far more holes than has been the norm,” said Richard Immerman at the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. In the Trump White House, “not only has record-keeping not been a priority, but we have multiple examples of it seeking to conceal or destroy that record.”

Read the rest here.

James Dobson on Biden’s election: “America and Western Civilization will never be the same.” (And other court evangelical news)

As I write, Washington D.C. is an armed camp. 25,000 National Guard members are ready to defend the U.S. Capitol during Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony on January 20.

Meanwhile, people are still dying of COVID-19. Incoming President Joe Biden is doing his best to deal with the pandemic and its effects while outgoing twice-impeached president is holed-up in the White House meeting with MyPillow guy Mike Lindell.

How are the court evangelicals responding?

Eric Metaxas is tweeting about martial law:

Ayanna Pressley has alopecia. But that doesn’t stop Eric from doing this:

The other night Eric Metaxas talked about those willing to die for conspiracy theories as courageous martyrs for Christ. He also shared this.

Not specifically court evangelical news, but one Trump evangelical apologized.

Yesterday a Liberty University graduate published a piece at The Bulwark that called the Falkirk Center a “slime factory.”

Apparently the Falkirk Center believes that American companies are “the left.” So much for free enterprise. Businesses can refuse to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, but they do not have the right to silence conspiracy theorists?

Charlie Kirk forgets about the time the MyPillow guy bailed out Kyle Rittenhouse:

Lance Wallnau tells his followers that impeachment is really about the elites screwing the working class. The elites currently control the “seven mountains” (as in Seven Mountain Dominionism), but the Christian working class will overthrow them. Wallnau claims that in 2014 the late “prophet” Kim Clement prophesied the words “impeach, impeach.” The interpretation? Trump would be impeached twice by elites in both political parties and the people would rise up in a “new kind of war.” According to Wallnau, this all has something to do with China and COVID-19. It also has something to do with a Jezebel-spirited “witch” in the White House.

Court evangelical David Brody talks with “presidential historian” Doug Wead about Trump’s legacy. Wead expounded a conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton trying to get control of the Catholic Church. He also claims that Amazon is no longer selling the books of “distinguished” theologians. Wead says that “two impeachments will only get historians to notice all of Trump’s great accomplishments.” I beg to differ. I think two impeachments will get historians and millions of school children to notice that Trump was the only president to be impeached twice. 🙂 Wead calls for national unity. He says Biden doesn’t care about national unity because he called U.S. Capitol insurrections “terrorists.” Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up!:

I am not sure what is happening, but something is going on with Samuel Rodriguez and Twitter:

On Facebook, Jim Garlow calls attention to Trump’s “accomplishments” and still manages to get in a shot at the tech corporations who are persecuting him. He writes: “Never has a modern President accomplished so much (and been hated for doing so much good). If you want to see this before others (those who are re-writing history) remove it, you need to copy it now.” (He links to this article).

Here is Garlow on Facebook on January 13:

What happened today? 1. Highest number of Covid deaths in the US ever. Horrific. But Congress obviously had more important (and nefarious) things to do than to care about the American people. 2. And… 232 “Benedict Arnold” traitors of the US Constitution killed our precious Constitution this day, defying it’s very meaning … and – filled with hatred unlike anything we have ever seen – they are trying their best to destroy Donald Trump and the more than 74,000,000 people who voted for him. What a disgrace. Other than that, not much happened today.

On the same day, Garlow said this about the ten Republicans who voted to impeach Trump: “Remember the story of the 10 wimps who went into the Promised Land but they had no courage? “Well – they now have competition.” (He then lists their names). Here are some of his follower’s comments:

  • “They just flushed their career down the drain.”
  • “Every single one of them need to be aggressively primaried”
  • “Hope they enjoy their shortened career.”
  • “They betrayed our president”
  • “Just pray we have an election in 2020”
  • “Backstabbers”

Garlow also shared this post on Facebook from a “friend”:

Today is a day that will live in infamy. One of the greatest Presidents of all time, probably top 10 and certainly the greatest since Reagan, was for the second time the victim of a purely petty, partisan, pathetic, vindicate and groundless impeachment. That Trump has endured 4 years of illegal investigations, spying, lying and corruption and then had the election stolen in the most blatant and obvious fashion and HE is attacked for the VERY things they have done for the last 5 years! It is truly breathtaking and history will show that Trump was correct and that the Left, the Media, and the pathetic spineless RINO’s are the most shameful group of corrupt cowards ever to stain the floors of our Capitol. These are the 10 Republican lawmakers who supported the move to impeach Trump for incitement of insurrection”

Again, this post drew some interesting comments, including:

  • “Disgraceful and utterly absurd. The evil in the hearts of men is actually beyond my comprehension in this current day.”
  • “Well, they are soon going to regret their act of treason. They need to repent quickly.”
  • “Definitely top 10 and I would say top 5!! Republicans who voted to impeach, NOTED.”
  • “I hope every single one of them is voted out. They are nothing better than traitors”
  • “Shame forever”
  • “Not just spineless. Traitorous.”

Robert Jeffress had a run-in with Illinois GOP congressman Adam Kinzinger. In a now deleted tweet, Kinginger wrote: “I believe there’s a huge burden now on pastors and clergy who openly spread the conspiracies of a stolen election, like @robertjeffress @beholdIsrael @FranklinGraham among many others, to admit their mistakes and lead their flocks out of darkness to truth.” Jeffress claimed he never said the election was “stolen.” (This is true. Although he came close). Jeffress, always ready to turn the other cheek, responded:

And Kinzinger’s response:

Jeffress’s exchange with the congressman seems to have re-empowered him. He was back on the Lou Dobbs show on FOX News last night to defend Trump’s legacy. Jeffress doesn’t regret a thing about his support of Trump and calls the twice-impeached, insurrection-inciting leader the greatest president in his lifetime. He talks about an “axis of evil” that tried to take Trump down and tells Dobbs to keep exposing the “darkness” and “lies” that are “sure to come” in the Biden administration.

Ralph Reed just can’t seem to let go. Trump lost. Loeffler lost. Perdue lost. This is a pretty risky thing to say in light of January 6, 2021. Does Reed really think that Biden’s inaugural will not be “marred by violent protests?”

Like Jim Garlow, Gary Bauer also turned to Facebook to call out the ten House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump. Here are some of the comments from his followers after he shared this Washington Examiner article:

  • “Remember that next Election Day; oh, I forgot–there will never be a fair election again.”
  • “They are so blind and deaf, they are Democrats in wolfs clothing, I call for them to be removed/recalled and even kicked out of the GOP”
  • “praying for their hearts and eyes to be lifted up to Jesus to bring healing and deliverance from deception and unbelief…”
  • “Satan worked on their emotions and won. Their hearts were hardened.”
  • “Wicked doesn’t even describe what they have done and will continue to do. The evil devils in the demonkkkrat (sic) party along with their friends the liberal activists in the media have no qualms about using and abusing some one else for power.”

A moderate Democrat and devout Roman Catholic will be inaugurated President of the United States on January 20, 2021 and James Dobson believes that “America and Western Civilization will never be the same.” Here is a taste of his monthly newsletter:

The Left has now achieved ultimate power in the White House, in the House of Representatives, and in the Senate. Consequently, as I warned in December, there will be no checks and balances within our system of government. The most radical ideas promoted by President Joe Biden and his majority party will be enacted. We can infer from what they have told us that the years ahead will bring more regulation, less freedom, more taxation, less religious liberty, more socialism, less democracy, more funds for abortion, less support for the sanctity of human life, less funding for the military, more illegal immigration, more restrictions on speech, less patriotism, more wasteful spending, less support for families, more regulations on business, more appeasement of China, Iran, Russia, and North Korea, less support for the electoral college, trillions more dollars for climate nonsense, more LGBTQ propaganda, less moral compunction, more governmental corruption, less oversight of elections, more “cancel culture,” fewer police officers, more gun control, and less government of the people, by the people and for the people. We can also anticipate quick passage of the horrendous “Equality Act.” You might want to keep track of these items as they occur. This is just the beginning.

America and Western civilization will never be the same, because it is not possible to back up on a freeway. Once radical changes are implemented, they will become ensconced in law and culture. I am most concerned about what all this means for the next generation. Children are extremely vulnerable to leftist curricula in the public schools. Specifically, I am worried about parental rights and the legality of home schooling. It is the only protection for kids.

In conclusion, I will let you interpret this Franklin Graham tweet:

The International Bonhoeffer Society calls for Trump’s removal

While court evangelical Eric Metaxas is invoking Dietrich Bonhoeffer to “stop the steal,” the real Bonhoeffer scholars are calling for the removal of Donald Trump from office. Here is the official statement by the executive board of the International Bonhoeffer Society:

January 11th, 2021

In light of the domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol and Congress of the United States of America, fueled and facilitated by white supremacy, invigorated by false narratives about what was a free and fair election, and incited by President Trump himself, the Executive Board of the International Bonhoeffer Society – English Language Section calls for the immediate removal of Donald Trump from office by the invocation of the 25th Amendment or impeachment.

In February of 2017, the IBS-ELS Board of Directors expressed our grave concerns about the rise of hateful and divisive rhetoric, violence, and distrust that came in the wake of Donald Trump’s election (February 2017 Statement). In January of 2020, we leaned into Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s legacy to see the world from the perspective of those who suffer, and expressed our concerns about threats the Trump administration posed to the most vulnerable among us, including people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, religious minorities, immigrants, and the poor. We called for “ending Donald Trump’s presidency” (January 2020 Statement). In both statements, we offered theological and ethical insight from Bonhoeffer on discerning responsible actions in times of crisis. The threat posed to American democracy by this insurrection amplifies the need for immediate action.

On the day of the baptism of his godson, in May of 1944, Bonhoeffer speaks into a context much like our own, where the dominant church, consumed by the pursuit of its own power and preservation, has not only tolerated but supported authoritarian leadership. Bonhoeffer argues that given this troubling reality, Christians have lost their ability to proclaim a life-giving word to the world. Because “the words we used before must lose their power … we can be Christians today in only two ways, through prayer and in doing justice among human beings.” We call on Christians to band together with all persons of conscience and all institutions dedicated to truth and justice to fight for the preservation of democracy and seek justice for all human beings by holding accountable the leaders who have threatened American democratic foundations.

Jennifer M. McBride, President IBS-ELS
Lori Brandt Hale, Vice President IBS-ELS
Gaylon Barker, Treasurer IBS-ELS
John Matthews, Secretary IBS-ELS
Christian Collins Winn, Board Member
Michael DeJonge, Board Member
Stephen R. Haynes, Board Member
Matthew K. Jones, Board Member
David Krause, Board Member
Michael Mawson, Board Member
Keith Clements, Emeritus Board Member
Clifford J. Green, Emeritus Board Member
Barry Harvey, Emeritus Board Member
Michael Lukens, Emeritus Board Member

How are evangelical colleges are responding to the January 6, 2021 insurrection?

Several colleges have released statements:

Shirley Hoogstra of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities acknowledged the insurrection’s connection to “systemic racism” and “racial disparities.” She also affirmed the Electoral College results. (Sadly, we need to mention this because so many evangelicals believe the election was stolen). Nothing in her statement references Trump’s role in inciting the riot.

Wheaton College lamented “the way perpetrators used the name of Jesus” to promote violence, but the official college statement says nothing about Trump’s role in inciting the riot.

Paige Comstock Cunningham, the interim president of Taylor University, condemned the violence, racism, and use of Christian symbols. The statement says nothing about Trump’s role in inciting the riot.

Robert Whitaker, the president of Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina, lamented the violence and the contentious nature of American politics. He seems to defend Trump against the critics who do not respect the office of the president and thus undermine civility. He reminds the Anderson community that Christians should not place their hope is not in politics.

Corban University (Salem, Oregon) laments the violence. The vague statement says nothing about Trump’s role in inciting the riot.

Most evangelical colleges did not issue formal statements about the January 6, 2020 insurrection. Those who did issue statements were careful not to condemn Trump. Why? I think the answer is obvious. Many of these schools have pro-Trumpers in their constituencies.

ADDENDUM: (11:49 AM): Since I published this post I have learned that the Wheaton College faculty also issued a statement:

The January 6 attack on the Capitol was characterized not only by vicious lies, deplorable violence, white supremacy, white nationalism, and wicked leadership—especially by President Trump—but also by idolatrous and blasphemous abuses of Christian symbols. The behaviors that many participants celebrated in Jesus’ name bear absolutely no resemblance to the Christian teachings or ethics that we submit to as faculty and staff of Wheaton College. Furthermore, the differential treatment displayed by those with a duty to protect in their engagement with rioters who trespassed on the Capitol grounds illegally, when compared to recent protests over police brutality in D.C. last summer, illustrates the ongoing reality that systemic racism in our country is tragically and undeniably alive and well. These realities are reprehensible. Our Christian faith demands shining a light on these evils and the simultaneous commitment to take appropriate action.

In the days and weeks preceding January 6, many more leaders, including many evangelical leaders, could have spoken truth to the disillusioned supporters of President Trump—diminishing the prospects for violence and bolstering the witness of Christian love and the call for justice in our civic life. Some did. However, many wittingly propagated lies, or were unduly silent in a just cause. Our Christian faith demands greater courage. 

We repent of our own failures to speak and to act in accordance with justice, and we lament the failures of the Church to teach clearly and to exercise adequate church discipline in these areas. Moreover, we grieve over the inadequate level of discipleship that has made room for this type of behavior among those who self-identify as Christian. We pray that the Holy Spirit will reveal to us all manner of idolatry, and we commit to speaking plainly against it wherever and whenever we find it.  We commit ourselves to a more faithful witness in our callings as the faculty and staff of Wheaton College, and will work diligently to provide ample opportunities to show students, as well as the larger Wheaton College and Christian community, how to practice discernment in civic engagement, to demonstrate the connections between love and justice, and to courageously communicate the truth—even and especially when the truth is difficult to hear.

We pray that, in so doing, we will fulfill the Lord’s requirement of us: “To do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before our God” (Micah 6:8).

Charismatic prophets at war

In Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump, I wrote extensively about the so-called Independent Network Charismatics (INC). According to scholars Brad Christerson and Richard Flory, INC is the fastest-growing Christian movement in both the Western world and global south. INC Christians are outside the network of traditional Pentecostals. Unlike the Assemblies of God, Church of God (Cleveland), International Pentecostal Holiness Church, International Pentecostal Church of Christ, Foursquare Church, and the Pentecostal Free Will Baptist Church, INC Christianity is not a denomination. Nor are its networks affiliated in any way with the National Association of Evangelicals.

INC Christianity is a network of authoritative spiritual leaders with very large followings. They are closely related to the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). If I understand these movements correctly, INC Christianity it more open to the prosperity gospel than NAR Christianity, but there is a lot of overlap. Both groups believe in the traditional Pentecostal “gifts” (speaking in tongues, healing, miracles, and prophecy). They expect a great revival of the Holy Spirit will take place shortly before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and God will raise up “apostles” and “prophets” to lead this revival.

Some of the more prominent INC prophets include Che Ahn (Harvest International Ministries in Pasadena, CA), Bill Johnson (Bethel Church in Redding ,CA), Chuck Pierce (Glory of Zion Ministries in Corinth, TX), Cindy Jacobs (Generals International in Red Oak, TX), Mike Bickle (International House of Prayer in Kansas City, MO), Lou Engle (The Call in Colorado Springs, CO), Dutch Sheets (Dutch Sheets Ministries in Dallas, TX), Lance Wallnau (Lance Learning Group in Dallas, TX), Jeremiah Johnson (Jeremiah Johnson Ministries in Charlotte, NC), Kat Kerr (Revealing Heaven Ministries of Jacksonville, FL), and Shawn Bolz (Bolz Ministries of Studio City, CA).

INC prophets and apostles believe that they have been appointed to serve as God’s agents in ushering in his future kingdom, a process that many describe as God “bringing heaven to earth.” They are thus deeply attracted to Seven Mountain Dominionism, the belief that Jesus will not return until society comes under the dominion of Jesus Christ. Drawing from Isaiah 2:2 (“Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains”), INC prophets want to reclaim seven cultural “mountains”: family, government, arts and entertainment, media, business, education, and religion. The goal is to place God’s appointed leaders atop these cultural mountains as a means of setting the stage for the time when God will bring heaven to earth.

As early as 2007, INC prophet Kim Clement received a word from God: “Trump shall become a trumpet. I will raise up Trump to become a trumpet, and Bill Gates to open up the gate of a financial realm for the church.” Early in the 2016, Wallnau received a similar words: “Donald Trump is a wrecking ball to the spirit of political correctness.” When Wallnau’s prophecy caught the attention of Trump’s evangelical supporters, he was invited to attend a meeting with the candidate and other evangelical leaders in Trump Tower. As Wallnau listened to Trump talk about his desire to give evangelicals a more prominent voice in government, he sense that God was giving him an “assignment”–a “calling related to this guy .” One day, while he was reading his Facebook page, Wallnau saw a meme predicting that Trump would be the “45th president of the United States.” God told Wallnau to pick up his Bible and turn to Isaiah 45. On reading the passage, Wallnau realized that, not only would Trump be a “wrecking ball” to political correctness, but he would be elected president of the United States in the spirit of the ancient Persian king Cyrus. In the Old Testament, Cyrus was the secular political leader whom God used to send the exiled kingdom of Judah back to the Promised Land so that they could rebuild the city of Jerusalem and its holy Temple. Wallnau was shocked by this discovery. “God was messing with my head,” he told Steven Strang, the editor of Charisma, a magazine that covers INC and other Pentecostal and charismatic movements.

In early 2015, Cindy Jacobs claimed that God said to her, “I have a trump card in my hand and I’m gonna play it and I’m gonna trump the system.” When Trump announced his candidacy in 2016, Jacobs supported his candidacy through “prayer walks” through seven swing states. Jacobs was one of the religious leaders who stood behind Trump on the White House lawn when he announced an executive order on religious liberty on May 4, 2017.

Frank Amedia, an INC apostle who claims to have presented Trump with a note at a campaign stop in Youngstown, Ohio, telling the candidate that God had revealed to him that it was a “forgone conclusion” that he would win the GOP nomination, worked as Trump’s “liaison for Christian policy.” Amedia has led several of these INC leaders in the formation of an organization called POTUS Shield. The clergy associated with this organization gather regularly to pray for Trump to protect them from the Satan-inspired attacks of his political opponents. The POTUS Shield prophets seldom appeared at the White House, but they served as a kind of spiritual support group for God’s new Cyrus, who will lead America back to spiritual and economic prosperity and help to set the stage for the dominion of Jesus Christ over all the earth.

Prior to Trump, INC and NAR prophets were on the fringe. The secular media didn’t even know they existed. The only outlet that covered them on a regular basis was Right Wing Watch, a project sponsored by People For the American Way. But in recent days, the Washington Post and New York Times have recognized the influence of these Christians and their massive followings. Yesterday we posted about Michelle Boorstein’s piece at The Washington Post. A few hours ago, David Brooks of The New York Times published a column that referenced Jeremiah Johnson.

As might be expected, INC and NAR prophets prophesied a Trump victory in 2020. Some of them, including Johnson, apologized. Over at Religion Unplugged, Julia Duin has a piece on how Trump’s loss has divided the INC and NAR community. Here is a taste:

At least 40 charismatic Christian leaders predicted Trump’s reelection starting around 2018, according to J. Gordon Melton, 78, the venerable compiler of the Encyclopedia of American Religions and an American religious studies professor at Baylor University. 

“Only a handful [of prophets] got it right on the 2016 election,” said Melton, “so they all jumped into this election and with one exception,” a Black prophet from North Carolina whose name he did not recall, “they were wrong.”

This is the second major hit this movement has taken in less than a year, he added. The first was during a prophetic summit last year.

“Last November when [evangelist] Cindy Jacobs had her meeting in Dallas, none of the prophets at that meeting – and it was the elite who were there – none of them hinted that anything like the coronavirus was coming,” Melton said. “That has come back to haunt them.”

Some in the movement are still holding out for some kind of last-minute miracle from God that would magically reverse the election and install Trump as president on Jan. 20. The Dallas-based Kenneth Copeland Ministries is one. On Jan. 7, host Gene Bailey and several other prophets appearing on a ministry broadcast known as Flashpoint, floated conspiracy theories about the Jan. 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol. All of them encouraged listeners to continue believing in prophecies of a Trumpian victory.

“Many are on the side of, ‘Let’s attack one another. Let’s get on social media and attack the prophets. And let’s draw the sword on one another,’” said the Rev. Hank Kunneman, pastor of Hosts Church in Omaha, Neb. “And I think that is the greatest mistake we can make as true patriots, true Christians, those of us that are in the body of Christ.” 

God had personally assured him there would be a miraculous outcome, he added.

“I’m telling you that’s what we’re getting ready to see,” he said. “I don’t know how that’s going to play out. I just know this thing is not over.”

Let’s pray that on January 21, 2021 conservative evangelical extremists don’t act on Eric Metaxas’s prayer for martyrdom

This is very disturbing. It comes from a pro-Trump prayer meeting organized by court evangelical Jim Garlow. Thanks to Right Wing Watch for capturing it on video.

I am not one to criticize people’s prayers, but what Metaxas does here deserves some interpretation.

I am not sure what to call a prayer to God premised upon the belief in a false conspiracy theory.

  • The Metaxas’s introduction to the prayer, and the prayer itself, is filled with words of victimization. Metaxas complains about losing his Twitter feed and getting criticized by The New York Times. Is losing one’s social media accounts for promoting a false conspiracy theory the mark of religious persecution? Metaxas speaks like he is now part of an underground evangelical congregation in Stalin’s Russia. He says that he and the other Trump evangelicals are experiencing “oppression.”
  • Metaxas reaffirms his belief that it was probably Antifa who invaded the U.S. capitol last week. He says that liberals have “seized on” the insurrection “in the same way the Nazis seized on the Reichstag fire to use it as a way to demonize their political opponents, an incredibly wicked thing.”
  • Metaxas reaffirms his belief that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. He repeats several debunked stories.
  • Metaxas really believes that when he prays against the Democrats and the Left he is praying against satanic evil.
  • I’ve written this before, but I believe Metaxas is under the delusion that he is the Dietrich Bonhoeffer of this generation. (By the way, that makes two court evangelicals who believe this. The other is Johnnie Moore). At one point he prays that God would help his fellow evangelicals to have “the courage” of Bonhoeffer and the early Christian martyrs who “went to their deaths singing hymns.” I will be praying tonight that some crazy pro-Trump evangelicals do not show-up at the inauguration with hymn books to “courageously” die in order to help God answer Metaxas’s prayer.
  • Metaxas prays for a miracle to take place between now and January 20. He doesn’t specifically mention the nature of the miracle, but everyone watching this prayer meeting knows he is praying for a second Trump term.

Franklin Graham “shames” the ten Republicans who voted to impeach Trump

Evangelicalism is an activist faith. Historically, evangelicals have preached a life-changing gospel. They have done amazing acts of service and justice in the world. We can’t ignore these things. Evangelicals have been a source of good.

At the same time, as Mark Noll reminded us in his 1994 book The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, evangelicals are a largely anti-intellectual bunch. This anti-intellectualism results in, among other things, a shallow Christian politics that leads them into the hands of populist leaders like Donald Trump.

If you want an illustration of all this, just look at Franklin Graham’s twitter feed today:

So far so good. A lot of good ministry and service here. This is what evangelicals do best.

And then, about thirty minutes ago, Graham drops this beauty:

It is worth noting that Graham is shaming at least three fellow evangelicals.

Meanwhile, Jenna Ellis of Liberty University’s Falkirk Center is asking Wheaton College writer Ed Stetzer a question:

I would offer some answers to Ellis here.

Notice how Ellis defines evangelical Christianity. How could Stetzer possibly think evangelicals sold out to Trump, Ellis believes, when Trump is pro-life, loves America, and believes in limited government? Again, Ellis’s tweet speaks volumes about the current state of conservative evangelicalism. I don’t know what church Ellis attends, but there is nothing in the Bible about American liberty or American patriotism.

Why some evangelicals believe Trump will get another term as president

I am glad to see that the religion desk at The Washington Post is covering this. Here is Michelle Boorstein’s piece:

The high-octane, emotional fight for Trump makes sense for these believers, who take the stories of Christian scripture literallyand see daily life as a visceral struggle between God and the devil. Spiritual warfare is constant. Signs and wonders are everywhere. So as time passes and Trump’s options disappear, God’s move to keep him in power will be even more spectacular — evidence even more likely to spark a religious awakening or revival.

“Let’s pray like a field, moving forward, for the Lord to reveal his plans and seal our time together — as long as there is an intercessor there is still hope. We are needed at this time in our nation; we are an effective part of God’s plan for the United States,” a voice said on a call Tuesday to Intercessors for America, a Purcelleville, Va.-based ministry with 100,000 Facebook followers and a weekly prayer call. The call ended with a cacophony of callers praying in tongues.

Many believers of what some experts call “neo-charismatic” Christianity are not heavily focused on politics and more on the miraculous. Instead of a faith life that revolves around sitting in a pew listening to a sermon, they embrace the idea that the Bible is happening right now; the world is a supernatural story and they are players in it. And that includes an aspect of the religion that traditional institutional Christianity has left to the earliest centuries of the church: The notion of prophets and apostles.

Read the entire piece here.

Get up to speed on impeachment. What happens next?

CNN’s Zachary Wolf offers a very helpful summary here. The piece explains why the Senate might hold an impeachment trial after Trump leaves office. Here is a taste:

What’s the point of holding an impeachment trial for a former President? There is precedent for impeaching former officials. Read about that — it’s called a “late impeachment” — here. While the main penalty for a guilty verdict in an impeachment trial is removal from office, senators could vote to bar Trump from holding office in the future — remember, he has not ruled out running for president in 2024. He could also lose his six-figure pension and other post-presidential perks.

Read the entire piece here.

Did American exceptionalism survive Trump?

Bloomsburg writer Mihir Sharma says that Americans shouldn’t get so uptight about apparent threats to their democracy.

Maybe sometimes we need an international voice to help us keep things in perspective. Here is a taste of Sharma’s piece, “World shouldn’t laugh at U.S. too soon“:

Remember: Donald Trump was impeached once and might be again. He has been repudiated by several influential leaders of his own party. He has lost re-election and all his attempts to overturn the result have failed. His party has been rewarded for its embrace of populism with the loss of not just the White House but also of both chambers of the legislature. And Trump himself has been cornered into conceding defeat. That is what you might objectively call a drubbing.

Such a drubbing is not, I hasten to assure you, the usual result of electing a populist. Generally, such leaders ensconce themselves comfortably in power and their victory margins seem mysteriously to grow with each election. There are far too many places where voting is always free but rarely fair, and where democratic despots seem never to be deposed. I wonder how we can even drum up the enthusiasm to mock America, which is emphatically and demonstrably not one of those countries.

I don’t want to minimize the damage that Trump could and did do to America. And it is an open question whether another four years in power would have left the U.S. completely incapable of resisting his corrupting influence. Yet, in comparison to other nations — from Russia to Turkey, Hungary to India — American institutions have demonstrated their value and resilience. Liberal democracies are only as robust as their institutions are independent and their officers are honest. And, because institutions and officials in the U.S. preserved their integrity, Trump was forced to fight a free and fair election — and will have to leave after he convincingly lost it.

In America, judges — even those appointed by Trump — threw out dozens of frivolous court cases. That’s what an independent judiciary does and it is also why populists in places such as Poland and India are reducing judges’ freedom to maneuver.

In America, even Republican officials such as Georgia’s governor and secretary of state stood up to their party’s leader, bluntly refusing to follow his bidding. I’m struggling to imagine an equivalent phone call between, say, Vladimir Putin and a provincial leader from United Russia.

And in America, an adversarial media actually reported on Trump’s corruption in power, as well as his attempts to retain it illegally. We were told in great detail about the colossal ineptitude of his legal team and the poverty of their arguments. In India, the media — even those so adept with puns — would never present the case for ruling-party venality and ineptitude as clearly.

Face it, the death of American exceptionalism has been greatly exaggerated. 

Read the entire piece here.

Ten Republicans voted for the second impeachment of Donald Trump. At least three of them were evangelical Christians

Adam Kinzinger (IL) attends Village Christian Church of Channahon, Illinois, a non-denominational evangelical congregation that appears to have some connection to the Church of Christ tradition.

Liz Cheney (WY) identifies as a United Methodist.

John Katko (NY) is a Catholic.

Fred Upton (MI) identifies as a Protestant.

Jamie Herrera Beutler (WA) is an evangelical Christian who attends City Harvest Church in Vancouver, WA. (She is pictured above).

Dan Newhouse (WA) is an elder at Sunnyside Presbyterian Church, a member of the Presbyterian Church-USA. This church has some links to evangelicalism. The pastor, Mike Souza, is a graduate of Denver Baptist Bible College, Colorado Christian University, and George Fox University.

Peter Meijer (MI) does not seem to make religion a central component of his political identity.

Anthony Gonzalez (OH) is a Catholic.

Tom Rice (SC) is a member of Trinity Episcopal Church. It is is an evangelical Anglican congregation. Interestingly enough, Rice also objected to the certification of the Electoral College vote.

David Valadao (CA) is a Catholic.

Donald Trump just got impeached for the second time. How are the court evangelicals handling it?

The days of the Trump court evangelicals are ending. Right now the big question is whether their king will make it to January 20. The House of Representatives impeached Donald Trump today. Ten members of Trump’s own party voted to impeach him, making this the most bipartisan impeachment in U.S. history. We are now waiting to see how the Senate will respond.

The court evangelicals do not usually respond to current events in real time, but there a few things to report.

The Twitter feed at the Falkirk Center at Liberty University is saying nothing about the impeachment or the insurrection. The feed is filled with tweets about free speech.

Jenna Ellis believes conservative principles are founded on God’s word. (I assume she believes “liberal” principles are not). The verses she quotes in tweet below are all about paying “evil” with “evil.” So apparently she believes that the impeachment of Donald Trump was a form of evil. Ellis wants you to think she is taking the high road here, but she is really manipulating scripture to take yet another shot at her enemies. I don’t expect to see tweets of love toward Joe Biden anytime soon.

Blessed are those who lose their Twitter and Facebook feeds for promoting conspiracy theories:

Richard Land is preaching moral equivalence:

Jim Garlow is still holding his “election integrity” prayer meetings:

Today on his Facebook page, Garlow wrote: “The House of Representatives vote. Despicable.”

Robert Jeffress is gearing-up for Sunday morning:

What does White mean by this tweet?:

Interesting:

Actually, forgiveness, redemption, and restoration begins with taking a hard look at the mistakes of the past:

Franklin Graham endorsed Mike Pence’s use of scripture last night:

Thaddeus Stevens: “In rebuilding, it is necessary to clear away the rotten and defective portions of the old foundations, and to sink deep and found the repaired edifice upon the firm foundation of eternal justice….”

This morning I listened to the debate on impeachment that took place on the floor of the house. The defenders of Donald Trump were arguing that the impeachment of Donald Trump would divide the country and undermine national unity. Mike Pence said essentially the same thing last night when he refused set in motion the process to invoke the 25th Amendment.

As I listened, I pulled David Blight’s Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory off the shelf. The book has a lot to say about calls for “unity” and “healing” in the wake of a tragedy. Here are some pertinent quotes:

p.3: “Americans faced an overwhelming task after the Civil War and emancipation: how to understand the tangled relationship between two profound ideas–healing and justice.”

p.3: “Human reconciliations–when tragically divided people unify again around aspirations, ideas, and the positive bonds of nationalism–are to be cherished. But sometimes reconciliations have terrible costs, both intentional and unseen. The sectional reunion after so horrible a civil war was a political triumph by the late nineteenth century, but it could not have been achieved without the resubjugation of many of those people whom the war had freed from centuries of bondage.

p.53: “In 1866-67, all sides in the epic Reconstruction debates seemed to hear and speak in the tones of requiem. But this requiem was badly out of tune, its harmony discordant.”

p.55: “But in the minds of radical leaders healing could wait. As the House of Representatives was about to vote on the Fourteenth Amendment., [Thaddeus] Stevens declared: ‘in rebuilding, it is necessary to clear away the rotten and defective portions of the old foundations, and to sink deep and found the repaired edifice upon the firm foundation of eternal justice….’ The tragedy of Reconstruction is rooted in this American paradox: the imperative of healing and the imperative of justice could not, ultimately, cohabit the same house.”

Will a third political party emerge?

Some are suggesting that the Republican Party could split into principled conservatives and Trump populists. The next four years will also reveal the depth of the divisions within the Democratic Party. How hard will the progressives in the party challenge Joe Biden and the moderates? Or maybe we will see a unification of Republican moderates and Democratic moderates.

Whatever the case, I found Sriram Laksham’s interview with presidential historian Jeffrey Engel to be informative. Engel directs the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Here is a taste of the interview, published at The Hindu:

Laksham: If appears that people in the Republican party are torn between sticking with Trump or standing for the “real” Republican party. Do you think that there’s going to be a third major political party forming in the near term?

Engle: I’m glad you asked that. That’s what history suggests. Remember that one way to understand the entire Trump presidency and candidacy is as a civil war within the Republican party. That Donald Trump ran against the Democratic party, but also ran against traditional Republicans — the George W. Bush-Mitt Romney wings of the Republican party. Obviously he was successful in controlling the party and then ultimately winning the presidency, but those people haven’t gone away. And I think that what we’re seeing is quite likely a moment where the Republican party, I think, as a brand is going to continue moving forward.

That doesn’t mean everybody who’s in the Republican party is going to continue under that brand, which suggests — especially given that the people who are most antagonistic towards Trump are by and large towards the centre of the political spectrum and there is of course a centre wing of the democratic party as well — that there is a ripe moment here for a coalescing of these two into a new political party.

Now, before Democrats get very excited about that, I should point out that every previous time in American history we’ve seen one party collapse, it takes the other party down with it over the course of the next several election cycles, just because it completely realigns the interest groups and the coalitions and the alliances within the broad electorate. So I think that there’s a good chance of the Republican party is in its death throes. As we currently see it, I think Republicans will continue. I don’t necessarily know that their party is going to continue as is currently formed.

Read the entire interview here.

Trump to Pence: “You can either go down in history as a patriot or you can do down in history as a p___sy”

Here is Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman, and Annie Karni at The New York Times:

For Vice President Mike Pence, the moment of truth had arrived. After three years and 11 months of navigating the treacherous waters of President Trump’s ego, after all the tongue-biting, pride-swallowing moments where he employed strategic silence or florid flattery to stay in his boss’s good graces, there he was being cursed by the president.

Mr. Trump was enraged that Mr. Pence was refusing to try to overturn the election. In a series of meetings, the president had pressed relentlessly, alternately cajoling and browbeating him. Finally, just before Mr. Pence headed to the Capitol to oversee the electoral vote count last Wednesday, Mr. Trump called the vice president’s residence to push one last time.

“You can either go down in history as a patriot,” Mr. Trump told him, according to two people briefed on the conversation, “or you can go down in history as a pussy.”

The blowup between the nation’s two highest elected officials then played out in dramatic fashion as the president publicly excoriated the vice president at an incendiary rally and sent agitated supporters to the Capitol where they stormed the building — some of them chanting “Hang Mike Pence.”

Read the rest here.

Historians call for the second impeachment of Donald Trump

Here is the statement from the Historians and Legal Scholars for Impeachment.

As American historians and constitutional scholars, we support the impeachment and removal of President Donald J. Trump. Throughout his presidency, Trump has defied the Constitution and broken laws, norms, practices, and precedents, for which he must be held accountable now and after he leaves office. No future president should be tempted by the example of his defiance going unpunished.

One of Trump’s earlier abuses of power did result in his impeachment on December 18, 2019, for attempting to coerce a foreign power to interfere in the U.S. presidential election of 2020. But since November 2020, Trump has refused to accept the results of a free and fair election, something no president before him has ever done. Instead of engaging in the peaceful transfer of power, he encouraged an insurrection by a mob of his supporters on January 6, 2021, urging them to march on the U.S. Capitol, to “fight,” in his word, and halt the constitutionally prescribed process of counting the Electoral Votes that would confirm former Vice President Joseph R. Biden as President-Elect.

By fomenting violence against the Congress and seeking to subvert constitutional democracy, which resulted in the killing of a Capitol police officer and the deaths of several rioters, Trump has violated his oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. He is a clear and present danger to American democracy and the national security of the United States. He has disqualified himself from continuing to serve out even his few remaining days as president, as well as from ever again holding, according to the Constitution, “any Office of honor, Trust or profit under the United States.” We urge members of the House of Representatives to conduct a speedy impeachment and the Senate to hold a prompt trial as the Constitution stipulates.

Signers include: Eric Alterman, Fred Anderson, Rick Atkinson, Sarah Barringer Gordon, Mia Bay, Thomas Bender, Mary Beth Norton, David Blight, Claire Potter, Patricia Bonomi, Eileen Boris, Taylor Branch, John Brooke, Richard D. Brown, Kathleen Brown, Jon Butler, David Chappell, Ron Chernow, Joseph Crespono, Robert Dallek, Andrew Delbanco, Gregory Downs, Mary Dudziak, Jeffrey Engel, Michael Dyson, Nicole Eustace, Ann Fabian, Daniel Feller, Michael Flamm, Francois Furstenberg, Neal Gabler, Gary Gerstle, Jonathan Gienapp, Todd Gitlin, Lawrence Glickman, Adam Goodheart, Eliga Gould, Edward Gray, Steven Hahn, Karen Halttunen, Andrew Hartman, Nicole Hemmer, Eric Hinderaker, Martha Hodes, David Hollinger, Benjamin Irvin, Meg Jacobs, Karl Jacoby, Jacqueline Jones, Joseph Peniel, Jane Kamensky, David Kennedy, Kevin Kruse, Christine Heyrman, Dahlia Lithwick, Staughton Lynd, Louis Masur, Kevin Mattson, John McWhorter, Steven Mintz, Timothy Naftali, Mae Ngai, Rick Perlstein, Jack Rakove, Eric Rauchway, Daniel Rodgers, Renee Romano, Doug Rossinow, Jonathan Sarna, Virginia Scharff, Stacy Schiff, Kevin Schultz, Robert Self, Rick Shenkman, Manisha Sinha, Jason Sokol, Thomas Sugrue, Jeremi Suri, Sam Tanenhaus, Gil Troy, Ted Widmer, Sean Wilentz, Alan Wolfe, Conrad Wright, Rosemarie Zagarri, Jonathan Zimmerman, and Michael Zuckerman.

Yes, I also signed it.

Mike Pence quotes Ecclesiastes; says it is time for the nation to heal

Last night the House of Representatives asked Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment. He refused to do it.

Here is the letter he sent to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi:

The next to last paragraph caught my attention. Pence quotes part of Ecclesiastes 3. He writes, “The Bible says that ‘for everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven…a time to heal…and a time to build up.'”

Here is the entire passage:

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace

There are a lot of ways one could manipulate this passage. For example, one could say that it is time to “uproot” this president and “tear down” his administration so we can “build up” democracy. Or perhaps this verse is telling us that it is a time to “weep” and “mourn” for what Trump put the nation through during the last four years. For Pence and the GOP, maybe the last four years was a “time to speak” instead of a “time to be silent.” And so on. This is why I hate it when politicians try to use Bible verses to justify their specific political decisions.

Pence goes on: “In the midst of the global pandemic, economic hardship for millions of Americans, and the tragic events of January 6, now is the time for us to come together, now is the time to heal.”

But is it really?

Pence’s call for healing rings hollow. It comes from a man who stood faithfully behind Trump for four years. The Trump administration, including Pence, had a lot to do with the spread of the global pandemic, the economic hardship Americans are now facing, and the events of January 6.

Yes, we need to heal, but first we must remove Trump from office and crush his ability to get back into the political arena, a place where he can continue his divisive and disruptive ways. If Pence is serious about healing, he would do his part to cast Trump into the dustbin of history and make sure that his attempts to propagate a “lost cause” movement are weakened.

Remember that Lincoln’s conciliatory Second Inaugural Address took place after the Confederacy was all but defeated.