Court Evangelical Franklin Graham Weighs-In on Impeachment

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Here you go:

It always amazes me how these court evangelicals use prayer as a political tool. If we want to play Graham’s game we could also say that the Democrats need our prayers because they continue to face an “onslaught of lies, slander, and innuendos” from the President of the United States.  And we could add: “It’s just shameful” what the President of the United States “is putting this country through.”

Franklin is correct when he says that this nation “needs our prayers,” but I doubt God wants to hear his partisan petitions.  As Lincoln said in his Second Inaugural Address: “The Almighty has His own purposes.”

The Number of Court Evangelicals is Growing

Worship Leaders

Last week the number of court evangelicals increased dramatically as the White House invited evangelical worship leaders to meet Donald Trump.  Thanks to Dr. Andy Rowell, a professor at Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, for identifying some of the worship leaders who appear with Trump in the above photo:

  1. Paula White-Cain (and husband Jonathan Cain met the night before Dec 5, 2019 at the White House with Trump supporters Jentezen FranklinMarcus LambJoni LambHarry Jackson)
  2. Brian Houston (Hillsong Church pastor) Instagram video and instagram of seanfeucht
  3. Kari Jobe (Carnes) (traveling worship leader, was at Gateway Church, Southlake TX, with Trump supporter, Pastor Robert Morris)
  4. Cody Carnes (traveling worship leader, was at Gateway Church, Southlake TX, with Trump supporter, Pastor Robert Morris) Instagram video
  5. Brian Johnson (President of Bethel Music, Redding, CA) Instagram of seanfeucht (His father, Bethel Church pastor, Bill Johnson voted for Trump).
  6. Jenn Johnson (co-founder Bethel Music, Redding, CA)
  7. Britt Nicole (traveling singer)
  8. Sean Feucht (Bethel Music, Redding, CA) Instagram group photo and another photo and video
  9. Stephen James Hart (Visual Worship Leader, Bethel Music, Redding, CA) Instagram group shot.
  10. Luke Hendrickson (Mixing engineer, Bethel Church, Redding, CA) Instagram group shot.
  11. Heather Armstrong (photography, Redding, CA)
  12. Kiley Goodpasture (Project Manager, Bethel Music, Redding, CA)
  13. Dominic Shahbon (Director of Events, Bethel Music, Redding, CA)
  14. Allison & Antonio Marin (Strings players, Northern CA)
  15. Jeremy Edwardson (Music producer, Redding CA)
  16. David Funk (Worship leader – Gable Price and Friends, Redding, CA)
  17. Chris Quilala (Jesus Culture, Sacramento, CA)
  18. Joseph Zwanziger (The Father’s House, Vacaville, CA) Instagram group shot.
  19. Tosha Zwanziger 
  20. Terry Crist (Lead Pastor, Hillsong Phoenix) (Not 100% sure he was there)
  21. Michael Stampley (Worship leader, GA)
  22. Heidi Stampley
  23. Micah Stampley
  24. Trent Cory (Hope City United Church, Albany, GA)
  25. Keisha Cory 
  26. Myles Rutherford (co-pastors, Worship with Wonders, Marietta, GA) and group shot
  27. DeLana Rutherford 
  28. David Brinson (Senior Pastor, Eighth Day Church, Warner Robins, GA who worked with Paula White)
  29. & son Rafael Brinson 
  30. Tim Brinson (Worship Leader, SC and GA)
  31. (Jonathan) Ernstly Etienne, Worship Director, Free Chapel, Gainesville, GA (associated with Trump supporter, Pastor Jentezen Franklin)
  32. Hillary Harper Etienne
  33. Eddie James (traveling worship leaders, Ocoee, TN) Instagram group shot.
  34. David Binion (Dwell Church, Fairview, TX)
  35. Nicole Binion (not 100% sure if she was there – photo)
  36. Nayomi Thomas (worship leaders, Raymore, MO)
  37. & Jaye Thomas 
  38. Bryn Waddell, Charlotte, NC.
  39. Two women from New Wine Music. selfie. (associated with Trump supporter, Pastor Guillermo Maldonado of El Rey Jesús, in Miami, FL). 
  40. Jonathan Williams, photographer

These Nashville worship leaders loved it:

I think former Christianity Today managing editor and evangelical writer Katelyn Beaty sums it up pretty well:

Here is what I wrote about power in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump:

The court evangelicals have been shown “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory” (Matt 4:8-10); but, unlike Jesus in his encounter with the Tempter, they have gladly embraced them.  Evangelicals claim to follow a Savior who relinquished worldly power–even to the point of giving his life. Yet they continue to place their hope in political candidates as a means of advancing an agenda that confuses the kingdom of God with the United States of America.  Evangelicals often decry the idea of “separation of church and state” (although as we will see in chapter 2, they have not always thought this way), but this constitutional principle has always served as a safeguard to protect the church from the temptations that come with worldly power.  Political scientist Glenn Tinder says that power is a “morally problematic” idea because it almost always induces “others to serve one’s own purposes.”  In the sense that political power objectifies other human beings, it is a “degraded relationship if judged by the standards of love.”  Political power does not have to result in immoral ends, but it nearly always does due to the fallenness of human beings and brokenness of a world stained by sin.  Humility, on the other hand, is always centered on the cross of Jesus Christ, a political act that ushered in a new kind of political entity–the kingdom of God.  Humility thus requires listening, debate, conversation, and dialogue that respects the dignity of all God’s human creation.  What would it take to replace the pursuit of power with humility?

Here is Rowell:

It is entirely appropriate to pray for a president. The problem is if the powerful person “receiving prayer” is primarily using the pray-er to reach their constituency on his behalf. In other words, there likely was not an opportunity to speak truth to power to President Trump. But rather, the strategy is to sell these worship leaders (who have big Instagram followings) with a one-sided “Look at what Trump is doing for evangelicals!” so that they then turn and communicate to their fans: “President Trump and his administration are people passionate about worship and prayer, just like you! And therefore, you should defend President Trump and try to see the good in what he does. And you should vote for him!”

It is of course initially exciting to get an offer to visit the White House and pray for President Trump and disappointing when people criticize you for leading worship (!), but it should be sobering to realize that you are being used to boost President Trump’s popularity. President Trump is in the midst of an impeachment proceeding because of his own misbehavior—because he ignored all advice about Ukraine from his foreign policy advisers. Moreover, on Dec 4, he slashed access to food assistance to 700,000 Americans. And his work on human trafficking is exaggerated. Yes, evangelicals vote Republican for “pro-life” but the abortion rate has been falling fast especially in Democratic administrations due to more access to contraceptives. It is fine to worry about the excesses of a Democratic administration with regard to religious freedom or other issues, but it is another thing to be part of an operation that is focused on promoting President Trump. Moreover, Paula White-Cain, who organized the gathering, is not a model of financial and moral integrity

Read his entire post here.

How Have Things Been Going at Liberty University’s Falkirk Center?

Liberty_University_Flames_stadium,_Lynchburg,_VA_IMG_4118

In case you missed it, Liberty University recently opened a “think tank” to stop the media from converting Americans to socialism.  It is called the “Falkirk Center.”  Here is what we know so far:

  • Like any good think tank, the Falkirk Center has fellows.  But these are not scholars or public intellectuals, they are “influencers.”  The first group of fellows includes a former beauty queen and a cast member on the ABC reality show “The Bachelorette.”
  • American history will be a focus of the Falkirk Center.  According to founder Jerry Falwell Jr., the think tank will counter the teaching of American history “as some sinister, you know bourgeois, white man, taking advantage of everybody else” that is “totally opposite of what happened.
  • The Falkirk Center will also promote “History 101” because this brand of history “has not been taught in recent decades.”  (At Messiah College my U.S. survey history course is HIST 141.  Does that count?)
  • The Falkirk Center will defend religious freedom because attacks on religious freedom have caused young people “to abandon their faith in Christian roots in droves.”  (This is a new one for me.  I’d like to see evidence to support such an idea).
  • The Falkirk Center affirms the notion that those on the Left offer an “unfulfilling and outright dishonest attempt to provide a purposeful life.”

So far, it appears as if the Falkirk Center is little more than a Christian Right Twitter feed that:

Promotes Liberty University football:

Attacks those who will impeach Donald Trump:

Promotes Liberty University football (did I say that already?):

Retweets Dinesh D’Souza:

Retweets stuff from its “fellows”:

Promotes Liberty University football (oh, wait, I think I already covered that):

Will “take back the narrative”:

Endorses Sarah Huckabee Sanders for a Senate seat:

Robert Jeffress is an Embarrassment to Evangelical Christianity

Watch how he:

  1.  mocks Nancy Pelosi’s faith with his self-righteous culture warrior sneer.  Jeffress’s approach to Christianity and public life can be summarized on one word: “abortion.”
  2.  says that Trump has brought Christmas “back to the forefront” of our country.  So true. I remember before Trump was elected everyone had to work on Christmas or face fine/imprisonment. When I read Luke 2 to my family on Christmas morning I did so out of constant fear of a Gestapo-like police force storming my house and whisking me away to a prison-camp.  There were no Christmas specials on television.  I remember when Obama, the godless socialist, was president my town made me take down my Christmas lights and tried to close all the Christmas tree lots.  And all Christmas Eve church services were forbidden.   Whew!  I am glad Trump changed all this.  😉

If you can’t see the video, click on the twitter link: pic.twitter.com/3u2yLj0NmH

What It’s Like to Talk With Pro-Trump Evangelical Family Members

Court

A gathering of court evangelicals

Check out Alex Morris’s Rolling Stone essay “False Idol–Why the Christian Right Worships Donald Trump.”  Morris talked to a lot of the right people, including commentators Greg Thornbury, Randall Balmer, Peter Montgomery, Charles Marsh, and Diana Butler Bass and court evangelicals Robert Jeffress and Eric Metaxas.

The most telling part of her piece is her description of a conversation with her pro-Trump evangelical mother.  Here is a taste:

In a dimly lit room, with a bottle of red wine, my mom, my aunt, and I pull our chairs close. I explain that I’m taping our conversation, that I love and respect them, and that I want to discuss why my Christianity has led me away from Trump and theirs has led them to him.

For a while, we just hit the typical talking points. There’s some discussion of Trump being a baby Christian, some assertions that the lewd behavior of his past is behind him, that in office he would never actually conduct himself as Bill Clinton had. But when I really double down, my mom and aunt will admit that there are flaws in his character. Though not that those flaws should be disqualifying.

“I don’t think he’s godly, Alex,” my aunt tells me. “I just think he stands up for Christians. Trump’s a fighter. He’s done more for the Christian right than Reagan or Bush. I’m just so thankful we’ve got somebody that’s saying Christians have rights too.”

But what about the rights and needs of others, I wonder. “Do you understand why someone could be called by their faith to vote against a party that separates families?”

“That’s a big sounding board, but I don’t think that is the issue,” says my mom.

“But it’s happening, and I’m not OK with it.”

My mom shakes her head. “No one’s OK with it.”

“If that’s your heart, then vote your heart,” says my aunt. “But with the abortion issue and the gay-rights issue, Trump’s on biblical ground with his views. I appreciate that about him.”

“As Christians, do you feel like you’re under attack in this country?” I ask.

“Yes,” my mom says adamantly.

“When did you start feeling that way?”

“The day that Obama put the rainbow colors in the White House was a sad day for America,” my aunt replies. “That was a slap in God’s face. Abortion was a slap in his face, and here we’ve killed 60 million babies since 1973. I believe we’re going to be judged. I believe we are being judged.”

Read the entire piece here.  Morris’s conversation with her family is almost identical to some of my conversations with Trump supporters over the past several years.

Eric Metaxas Doubles-Down on His Belief That Those Who Oppose Trump are “Demonic”

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Ted Cruz speaks with moderator Eric Metaxas at the National Religious Broadcasters Annual Convention at Oryland in Nashville

Last week on the Eric Metaxas Show, Franklin Graham said that the efforts to impeach Donald Trump were “almost a demonic power.”  Metaxas, the conservative pundit and court evangelical, responded with these words: ” I would disagree, it’s not almost demonic.  You know and I know that at the heart it’s a spiritual battle.”  When conservative writer Peter Wehner challenged Metaxas in a piece at The Atlantic, Metaxas said that Wehner’s piece was “PREPOSTEROUS.”  Get up to speed here.

If you have the time, listen to Metaxas yesterday on his radio show.  In an interview with conservative writer John Zmirak, Metaxas complained that Wehner and others misunderstood him.  He says:  “[Franklin Graham] did not say that everyone who opposes this president is demonic, he didn’t say anyone who opposed this president is demon-possessed–he said the opposition to this president is almost demonic.  In other words, there is a spirit that is so angry, it’s like people have given themselves permission to hate….”

I am not sure how Metaxas is saying anything different here. How can opposition to the president take place without people?  If the opposition is demonic, then the people promoting the opposition must also be under demonic influences. I am not sure what kind of semantic word-game Metaxas is trying to play here.  Perhaps I am one of the people Metaxas describes in this interview as “theologically ignorant.”  Maybe those two theological degrees from an evangelical seminary, including a course on spiritual warfare called “Power Encounters,” were all for naught.

In fact, by the end of the interview Metaxas doubles down on his previous comments and affirms again that those who strongly oppose this president and want him impeached are under the influence of “demonic forces.”

Here are some other highlights from the episode:

  • Metaxas suggests that liberal philanthropist George Soros may have been behind the negative tweets he received from his affirmation of Graham’s “demonic forces” comment.
  • Metaxas complains that no one defended him on twitter after the conversation with Graham.  Hmm…. I wonder why?
  • Metaxas says Wehner’s article and all the other negative articles about him on this issue are “fake news.”
  • In a particular’y rich exchange, Metaxas and Zmirak, diehard Trump supporters, claim that they are the defenders of “honesty” and “truth.”
  • Metaxas is upset that Wehner called his Dietrich Bonhoeffer book “slipshod” in its accuracy and scholarship.  Wehner is right.  The book has been strongly criticized by nearly every major Bonhoeffer scholar.
  • Metaxas cries about political partisanship, implying that he is somehow above the fray.  This is coming from the man who referred to Hillary Clinton as “Hitlery Clinton” and said in Wall Street Journal article that if evangelicals didn’t vote for Trump “God will not hold us guiltless.”
  • Finally, Metaxas says when you allow lies to spread “you are part of the problem.”  Again, this is rich. At last check, The Washington Post has counted over 13,000 lies and false claims made by Metaxas’s man in the White House.  Who is part of the problem here, Eric?

Pro-Trump Evangelical: “When you look at the women who were literally scratching the doors of the Supreme Court building and pounding the doors, it was like someone having a tantrum when they couldn’t get their way…”

Witch trial

Michael Brown, a pro-Trump radio pundit, recently appeared on court evangelical Steven Strang‘s podcast and talked about the attempts to impeach Donald Trump .  The title of the podcast is “Are Demonic Spirits Influencing the Trump Impeachment Process.”  (I am not sure why Strang decided to frame his title in the form of a question because he and Brown clearly believe that this is the answer is “yes.”)

Here is Brown on the podcast:

When you look at the women who were literally scratching the doors of the Supreme Court building, and pounding the doors, it was like someone having a tantrum when they couldn’t get there way.  It’s one thing to feel passionate about an issue, it’s another thing to behave in that way.  I documented in [my book] Jezebel’s War With America…that you have to look at the forces that have come together from radical feminists to witches, even The New York Times saying we’ve reached “peak witch, asking when did everyone become a witch.  These are the same ones who are “hexing” Donald Trump and hexing the patriarchy…there is more going on here….

And this:

Bottom line we have to recognize we are in an intense spiritual battle…for decades now there has been a real push to destroy the very fabric of our culture, to uproot any Christian heritage and roots that we have.  It’s been very deep and very concerted.  You can see the most major shift from the sixties and thereafter and we are now reaping the very, very bad fruit of it.  So it’s going to come down to us getting really serious–believers who are searching their own hearts and their own lives.  Am I revived?  Have I lost my first love and left it?  Have I become part of the problem?  Am I compromised?…And then from there let’s be a positive influence on those around us.  Let’s help ignite unite a passion fire in others. And as believers get awakened to live for God, for the Gospel, then they’ll get awakened on social issues, cultural issues [and] start to stand up for what’s right.   But look, either we’re gonna be the generation that was known as the one that let the drag queens read to toddlers in libraries with the endorsement of the American Library Association, or we’ll be known as the generation that stood for what was right and recovered the foundations of the Gospel, and of family,  and of morality here in America.  It’s either or. We’re standing at a critical point in our history.

There are a lot of things that can be said about Brown’s thoughts.  As an evangelical Christian, I too believe in the kind of spiritual revival Brown is talking about here.  Brown seems to imply, in the context of this podcast on impeachment, that if only Christians would come alive spiritually they would see the light and naturally support the presidency of Donald Trump.

But what if the church needs to be revived for the purpose of opposing the sinful behavior that our current president represents?  What if Christians need to be revived so that they can see that they have jumped into bed with this man and, as a result, are damaging the witness of the Gospel?

As an early American historian, I was particularly struck by Brown’s reference to passion-filled women “scratching” at the door of the Supreme Court building.  Brown mentions “witches.”  He talks about women having “tantrums.”  Wow!  Is it just me or does this sound a lot like the most important “spiritual battle” of 17th-century New England–the Salem Witch Trials?

Brown says “there is more going on here.” This suggests that the impeachment of Donald Trump is a spiritual battle–a battle against the devil and his minions.  The same goes for his use of the word “forces” to describe the Democratic efforts to impeach the president.

I think it’s time to revisit a couple of good books on the Salem Witch Trials.

They are:

Carol Karlsen, The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England

Elizabeth Reis, Damned Women: Sinners and Witches in Puritan New England

These books show that women were often thought to be easily susceptible to the wiles of the devil because of their “weaker” nature.  Puritans believed that the devil possessed and inflicted women for the purpose of undermining the orderly Christian society they were trying to build in Massachusetts Bay.  When the devil inflicted women in this way, the Puritans described the women behaving in a manner similar to how Brown describes anti-Trump women above.

Is Paula White Bringing Her “Ponzi Scheme” to the White House?

donald-trump-and-pastor-paula-white

Many of you recall that court evangelical and prosperity preacher Paula White is now working in the White House.  Learn more here.

Former George W. Bush Administration ethics lawyer Richard Painter suggests that White is using her new position in the White House to make her spiritual “sales pitch” to her television followers.

Here is Newsweek:

Richard W. Painter, who served as the chief ethics lawyer in President George W. Bush’s White House, blasted President Donald Trump’s personal spiritual adviser Paula White, suggesting the religious leader was committing “fraud” and running a “Ponzi scheme.”

The White House recently announced that White, who previously served as the senior pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in Florida, would officially spearhead Trump’s Faith and Opportunity Initiative. Since taking on the official role, the prominent televangelist has continued to sell religious items that she claims will provide spiritual and material benefits to buyers.

“This ‘prosperity gospel’ scam by ⁦@Paula_White⁩ tests the boundaries between ‘religious freedom’ and criminal mail fraud and wire fraud,” Painter argued in a Wednesday morning tweet. “‘Send me money and God will make you rich.’ Now she uses her White House position to make her sales pitch.”

On Tuesday, Painter raised related concerns about White. “Paula White now is running her faith based Ponzi scheme from inside the White House,” he wrote in a tweet, sharing a link to a Newsweekarticle that reported on criticism of Trump’s adviser. ‘”Send me your January paycheck and God will pay you back with interest …. [perhaps out of somebody else’s February paycheck],'” he added.

Read the entire piece here.

Court Evangelicals Weigh-In on Today’s First Day of Impeachment Hearings

Trump court evangelicals

Court evangelicals in the court

Several of the court evangelicals had things to say today (and in the last day or two) about impeachment.

Here is Franklin Graham:

This Paula White quote tells it all.  It is, in many ways, the essence of court evangelicalism and Trump evangelicalism generally.

Here is Ralph Reed:

Trumps Critics are “Satanic” and Other Evangelical Craziness on the Eve of Impeachment Hearings.

 

baker Bookhouse

 

Two books on evangelicals and Trump on the shelf at Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI

Newsweek is calling attention to a televangelist named Irvin Baxter who believes that Donald Trump is the only thing standing in the way of the coming of the Antichrist.  Anyone who does not support Trump is working for Satan.

Here is a taste:

 

Evangelical pastor Irvin Baxter, a televangelist who is the founder and president of Endtime Ministries, said Donald Trump’s critics are “satanic” while claiming that Satan was angry that the president is “messing up” his goal of creating a unified global government.

Baxter, who hosts a nationally syndicated biblical prophecy program on TV, End of the Age, made the remarks during Monday’s Jim Bakker Show, as first reported by Right Wing Watch. He argued that Trump is hated because he stands in opposition to a “satanic” plot that has been in the works for 100 years to create a world government system.

“All of a sudden this guy by the name of Trump comes along,” Baxter said. “He starts campaigning against their globalistic system. The first thing he did was pull us out of the Paris climate change accord, which was—.” The evangelical leader was then cut off, as the studio audience erupted in applause.

Read the rest here.

Meanwhile, court evangelical Steven Strang, the author of God and Donald Trump, has a new book coming out describing the 2020 election as “spiritual warfare” and claiming that “satanic schemes are so brazen on key issues that the book was written to explain what’s at stake.”  Strang is the CEO of Charisma magazine.  I wrote about him in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump.

Learn more about Strang and his new book at Right Wing Watch.

Moral Majority Veteran Cal Thomas on the Prosperity Preacher Who Just Joined Trump’s White House

Cal T

Here is what I wrote about Cal Thomas in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump:

When Jerry Falwell Sr. founded the Moral Majority in 1979 –in his attempt to clean up and win back America–journalist Cal Thomas and evangelical pastor Ed Dobson were two of the Moral Majority’s most important staff members.  Thomas put his journalism career on hold to join Falwell in Lynchburg as the Moral Majority’s vice president for communications.  Dobson, a professor at Falwell’s Liberty Baptist College (later to become Liberty University), served as a tireless promoter of the organization from his position as a member of the board.  During the 1980s, those two were influential in shaping the direction of the Moral Majority.  They believed in Falwell’s vision completely and served the cause with passion and zeal.

But in 1999, Dobson and Thomas reflected soberly on their experience with Falwell and the Moral Majority in their book Blinded by Might: Can the Religious Right Save America?  They concluded that the answer to the subtitle’s question was a definitive “no.”  Neither Dobson nor Thomas left evangelicalism or ceased their commitment to conservative causes; but they were forced to admit that the political strategy they helped to forge in the 1980s had failed.  Despite their efforts, Roe v. Wade had not been overturned.  The Internet had made pornography more accessible than ever.  Drug use had not subsided, and crime had not dissipated in any significant way.  In the process, the prophetic witness of the evangelical church was subordinated to political power and all its trappings.  As Cal Thomas put it, in a reference to Palm Sunday, “Who wanted to ride into the capital on the back of an ass when one could go first class in a private jet and be picked up and driven around in a chauffeured limousine?

Thomas, who parlayed his Moral Majority fame into a nationally syndicated newspaper column, did not mince words when he disparaged the evangelical pursuit of political power, “Christian faith is about truth,” he tells his readers, and “whenever you try to mix power and truth, power usually wins.”  Through his years with Falwell, Thomas learned ho power is the “ultimate aphrodisiac.”  It is not only seductive, but also affects the judgment of the one who “takes it.”  Thomas warned his evangelical readers how the chase for political power threatens the spread of the gospel.  He quoted the late Catholic priest Henri Nouwen: “The temptation to consider power an apt instrument for the proclamation of the gospel is the greatest temptation of all.”  Thomas pointed to the myriad ways in which the Moral Majority–and the Christian Right agenda that is spawned–played to the fears of white evangelicals.  For example, Moral Majority fundraising letters always followed a basic formula: “First, they identify an enemy: homosexuals, abortionists, Democrats, or ‘liberals’ in general.  Second the enemies are accused of being out to ‘get us’ or to impose their morality on the rest of the country.  Third, the letter assures the reader that something will be done…. Fourth, to get this job done, please send money.”  Thomas completely rejected the court evangelical notion that Christians need to have a “seat at the table.”  “Access” to political power, he argued, required compromise of “cherished and deeply held convictions.”  He added: “Religious leaders who seek favor with the king run the risk of refusing to speak truth to power out of fear that they won’t be invited back.”  

These are strong words.  Thomas offers a cautionary tale to today’s court evangelicals based on their own extensive experience in the king’s court.  (Of course this did not prevent Thomas from endorsing Donald Trump).  In his recent column he criticizes the selection of prosperity preacher Paula White as Trump’s new director of faith-based outreach.  Here is a taste:

As far as I can tell from a reading of history, while some presidents were friends of clergy, who sometimes advised them, to my knowledge, none hired them as staff members until the presidency of Richard Nixon. It was during Nixon’s administration that Charles Colson began mobilizing the evangelical community to support the president’s policies and programs, seeing evangelicals as just another special interest group, like organized labor has been for Democrats.

After his conversion and after serving time in prison for crimes related to the Watergate scandal, Colson told historian Kevin Kruse, as recounted in The Washington Post, “Sure, we used the prayer breakfasts and church services and all that for political ends. One of my jobs in the White House was to romance religious leaders. We would bring them into the White House, and they would be dazzled by the aura of the Oval Office, and I found them to be about the most pliable of any of the special interest groups that we worked with.”

The latest spiritual adviser to the president is TV evangelist Paula White-Cain. For 18 years she has claimed to have President Trump’s ear on religious matters, but while his policies closely align with evangelical concerns, there is little evidence her “advice” has had any effect on his personal behavior.

Ms. White-Cain is unlikely to serve the role Nathan the prophet filled when he confronted King David over his adulterous affair with Bathsheba, bringing David to repentance and one of the great statements about placing faith in political leaders: “Put not your trust in princes … in whom there is no help.” (Psalm 146:3)

Read the rest here.

Beware of Adam Schiff’s Eyes. They are the Eyes of the Devil!

You might remember Perry Stone as the preacher who checks his smart phone while speaking in tongues.  In the video below, he reminds us again that the debate over the impeachment of Donald Trump, at least according to his most ardent evangelical supporters, is a spiritual battle.  More mainstream conservative evangelical Trump supporters like Robert Jeffress or Franklin Graham do not talk with the charismatic fervor of a Perry Stone or Paula White, but they believe the same thing about impeachment.

‘Satan Hates This Man’: Perry Stone Says Trump’s Critics ‘Have Demons in Them’ from Right Wing Watch on Vimeo.

I’m Confused. Is Trump the New King Cyrus, Queen Esther, or Daniel?

Court evangelical Jim Garlow, who recently co-authored a book with GOP activist David Barton, posted an image of Donald Trump in a lion’s den with the words: “Sometimes one picture says it all.”  He posted it on both Facebook and Twitter.  (I think he may have removed the pic from Twitter since I can’t seem to find it).

Garlow Lion

So I am really confused.

Is Trump the new King Cyrus?

Is Trump the new Queen Eshter?

Or is he the new Daniel?

Who will be next?  Any predictions?

For the Court Evangelicals, Impeachment is a Spiritual Battle

Trump Jeffress

Over the past couple of weeks several reporters have asked me if I think impeachment will draw conservative evangelicals away from Donald Trump. At this point, I can’t imagine such a thing happening. As I recently told The Huffington Post, impeachment will only rally parts of the evangelical base.

Here, for example, is court evangelical Robert Jeffress:

No Bob Jefffress–the attempt to impeach Trump has nothing to do with the “traditional faith values of millions of Americans.”

Jeffress and other court evangelicals are incapable of believing Trump did anything wrong. Sure, they will admit he is a sinner. But God uses sinners to fulfill his purpose. Trump is God’s anointed. He was elected to restore America to its Christian roots and, like King Cyrus of old, lead evangelicals out of the captivity of the Obama era. How could the attempt to impeach him be any thing other than a demonic attempt to thwart God’s plan for America?

Court Evangelical Paula White Joins the White House Office of Public Liaison

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Paula White at the court with fellow court evangelical Franklin Graham

Paula White is the televangelist and megachurch pastor who claims to have led Donald Trump through his supposed born again experience.  Evangelical theologians and leaders have said  the prosperity gospel that she preaches is heretical.  We have covered White extensively here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home:

 

The Orlando Sentinel on court evangelical Paula White

More court evangelical fear mongering from Paula White

A court evangelical weighs-in on Thanksgiving in the age of Trump

Court Evangelical Paula White is the Latest to Use the Bible to Defend Trump’s Immigration Policies

Paula White responds to critics of her recent comments on immigration

Court Evangelical: Trump is “100 percent a Christian who understands repentance

Court Evangelical Says Trump’s “Two Corinthians” Gaffe Was a Set Up

Court Evangelical: “We were sent there to take over”

A Court Evangelical Exposed: Heat Street on Paula White

James Dobson Reveals the Evangelical Leader Who Brought Trump to Christ

Here is some of what I wrote about White in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump:

White’s life is a classic rags-to-riches story filled with hardship, struggle, and eventual victory (and wealth0 stemming from faith in Christ and positive thinking.  She often describes herself as a “messed-up Mississippi girl” who God saved from an early life of sexual and psychological abuse, poverty, and single motherhood.  She is not shy about sharing negative stories from her past because she believes her biography is a testament to how God can help ordinary people live the American dream.  As religion scholars Shayne Lee and Phillip Sinitiere note, White preaches a gospel of “redemption and second chances.”  After a neighbor in her trailer park led her to Christ, Paula married Pentecostal preacher Randy White.  The newlyweds scraped together enough resources to start a church in Tampa, Florida, that would eventually become Without Walls International Church. Well before the 2016 presidential election, White was preaching that individuals could make America great again through a combination of faith in God and self-esteem.  During one appearance on the Trinity Broadcast Network in 2007, White told her viewers that “anyone who tells you to deny yourself is from Satan.”

Lee and Sinitiere call White the “‘Oprah’ of the evangelical world.”  In 2001, she began Paula White Today, a television show that would soon appear on nine different television networks.  Her show and self-help books are filled with helpful advice for overcoming everyday problems. She hawks dietary supplements, teachers her followers how to lose weight (repent and stop eating sugar), and offers beauty tips.  According to Lee and Sinitiere, White “reinvented her image with extensive plastic surgery, modish hairstyles, perfectly manicured nails, chic silk suits, fitted dresses, and a leaner size 4 figure.”  White knows how to market her message and get her followers to send her money. For example, during the 2016 Lenten season, White preached a sermon from John 11:44–the passage in the Fourth Gospel in which Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead.  White told her viewers that just as Jesus raised Lazarus, they too could overcome’s life difficulties if they would only “sow the seed of faith” in the form of a $1,144 donation to her ministry.  White assured her listeners that she does not usually request such specific amounts of money, but this was different.  God had specifically instructed her to ask for this $1,144 to correspond with the Scripture passage he told her to preach. Those who donated would receive an anointed “prayer cloth” that would bring “signs and wonders” to their lives.  White herself owns a $2.1 million waterfront mansion and a $3.5 million condominium in Trump Tower in New York City.

Over the years several celebrities have become followers of White.  When pop icon Michael Jackson was arrested on child molestation charges in 2003, he asked White to come to his ranch and provide him with spiritual counsel.  Former New York Mets baseball star Darryl Strawberry sought White’s spiritual assistance amid his several stints in prison for drug-related offenses.  But White’s biggest start-caliber fan is Donald Trump.  In 2002, Trump, who had apparently seen White on television, reached out to the popular prosperity preacher and invited her to a meeting at Trump Tower.  White and her message must have impressed Trump. Following that meeting they remained friends, and Trump began to take White with him on Atlantic City excursions, where she would conduct Bible studies and prayer meetings with the celebrities who visited the casinos.  At some point in their ongoing relationship, White claimed that Trump had a born-again experience. When Religion News Service asked White about Trump’s conversion, she said that she was “one hundred percent” sure that he “confesses Jesus Christ as Lord,” adding that she “shared the Gospel with Mr. Trump,” using the “Roman Road map” (a popular took used by evangelicals to share their faith with others)…..

Now it appears that Paula White is working for the White House.  Here is a taste of the New York Times reporting:

Paula White, a televangelist based in Florida and personal pastor to President Trump whom he has known since 2002, has joined the Trump administration in an official capacity, according to a White House official.

Ms. White will work in the Office of Public Liaison, the official said, which is the division of the White House overseeing outreach to groups and coalitions organizing key parts of the president’s base. Her role will be to advise the administration’s Faith and Opportunity Initiative, which Mr. Trump established last year by executive order and which aims to give religious groups more of a voice in government programs devoted to issues like defending religious liberty and fighting poverty.

As Mr. Trump campaigns for a second term, he cannot afford to lose support from the religious conservatives who voted for him in 2016 in significant numbers. Without their backing, his path to re-election would be significantly narrower.

He has taken repeated steps to ensure they turn out for him again — by issuing executive orders, making cabinet appointments and nominating federal judges that pass muster with the religious right. On a range of issues from abortion rights to tax exemptions for churches, Mr. Trump has tried to grant Christian conservatives their policy wish lists whenever legally and politically feasible.

But Ms. White cannot be easily categorized as either a political asset or a liability. She has a large following among Christians who believe in the “prosperity gospel,” which teaches that God blesses people he deems to be of strong faith with wealth, good health and other gifts.

Read the entire piece here.

The *Orlando Sentinel* on Court Evangelical Paula White

donald-trump-and-pastor-paula-white

The editorial board chides the court evangelical for “weaponizing faith for politics.”  Here is a taste of the editorial:

We’re particularly appalled — though not surprised — by Paula White.

Not because she’s a conservative but because of her naked use of religion as a weapon. She’s trying to frighten believers with apocalyptic consequences if they don’t get in line behind this president.

Unfortunately, the national attention on these self-promoting evangelical opportunists risks overshadowing the selfless work of Christian churches and missions that help people who are hungry, poor, sick and homeless.

Here in Central Florida, groups like the Catholic Charities, the Christian Service Center and IDignity better represent the Christian faith tradition.

Read the entire editorial here.

The Court Evangelicals Convene in Washington for a “Brief” on the “Remarkable Accomplishments” of the Trump Administration

Court Evangelicals at TableThe court evangelicals were back in the court this week.  According to a piece at the Christian Broadcasting Network, the court evangelicals were in Washington so Trump could “brief” them “on the “continuing, remarkable accomplishments of this administration–especially in areas important to evangelicals.”

Sounds like an effort by Trump to shore up his base in preparation for 2020.   Everyone around the table in the picture above is a political pawn.

And like any good court evangelical, they all made sure that everyone knew they were there. Here are some of their tweets:

It is at this point that I might copy a tweet from Pastor Greg Laurie, but he blocked me.

Court Evangelicals at White House

L to R: Greg Laurie, Gary Bauer, Luke Barnett, Jenetzen Franklin, Samuel Rodriguez

By the way, did I mention that Eerdmans will publish the paperback version of Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump in January 2020?  I have an entire chapter on the court evangelicals.

Believe Me 3d

More Court Evangelical Fear Mongering from Paula White

Bakker White

Donald Trump’s spiritual adviser Paula White is at it again.  On a recent appearance on the Jim Bakker Show to promote her new book Something Greater: Finding Triumph Over Trials, White said that those who do not support Trump will one day have to answer to God.

Here is a taste of Leonardo Blair’s piece at The Christian Post:

“It is a dividing line unless you have eyes to see,” White told Bakker while discussing how America was being changed through the lower courts. Trump has been working hard to protect religious freedom in a spiritual war between good and evil that is being waged through the courts and that threatens to outlaw the Bible as hate speech, she claimed.

“It’s [warfare] gonna either make you stand and lets you have to look in the Word and say what does God say and where do I line up. Where do I line up on policy? I might not like the personality, I might not understand him. Get my book and you’ll understand the personality and you’ll understand the person, Ok? Not just the persona,” White said.

“Where do I line up? And you’re gonna have to make a decision that won’t be just held accountable here for how things turn out for you, your children, your grandchildren, but you’re gonna have to stand accountable before God one day. Not based on your opinion, your hurt, your wounding, what you think, what you don’t. Educate yourself. Know the issues, know the word of God, and then if you cannot align with the word of God I don’t see it,” White continued.

She explained earlier how since he assumed office, Trump managed to fill 170 lower court vacancies and two Supreme Court justices.

“We now we’ll have a third one, we just need the time. But it is very potential that we could have a fourth or even a fifth,” White said.

“If we can change the Supreme Court like we are already changing it, these are lifetime appointments. You don’t think all hell is trembling right now?” White asked.

Without President Trump’s re-election, White and Bakker agreed, “we’re going to lose the freedom of America soon.”

Read the entire piece here.

Two quick comments:

  1. I don’t think “hell” really cares about Supreme Court nominations. If anything, hell is rejoicing as its minions watch Paula White put her faith in a political strongman to save her.
  2. Let’s not forget that almost every major court evangelical has endorsed White’s book.

Eric Metaxas: Corruption Will Lead to the “End of America”

Metaxas

It is worth noting that Metaxas is not referring to the corruption of the Trump White House here.

Nope, he refers to Trump’s corruption as a “chimera” and an “illusion.”

Metaxas is actually referring here to the “corrupt” politicians and journalists who want to impeach Trump.  Metaxas says that these politicians and journalists are following a “narrative” that will lead to the “end of America.”

Of course there are other narratives out there as well.

For example, there is the narrative, which now seems to be held by about half of the country, that the impeachment and removal of Donald Trump will not lead to the “end of America,” but will actually save America.

And then there is the court evangelical narrative to which Metaxas subscribes.  In this narrative, Trump is God’s anointed who was raised in the world of Manhattan real estate and reality television for such a time as this.  God has placed Trump here to restore America to its supposed Christian roots.  As a result, we must overlook his nativism, racism, constant lying, misogyny,  use of Twitter to demonize his enemies, utter disregard for American institutions,  cozying-up to dictators,  failure to do anything about Russian interference in American elections, and attempt to get the president of the Ukraine to investigate a political opponent. Come on Eric Metaxas, admit that you are following your own narrative.  It is a narrative that many Americans have tested and found wanting.

Watch:

And as long as I am the topic of Metaxas, I am have been meaning to write something about his recent interview with Katrina Trinko of The Daily Signal.  Here is a taste of that interview:

Trinko: What I thought was really interesting about your answer was you brought up, of course, Trump’s policies, which most conservative Christians would agree are good, but you also seem to really like his personality.

Is there a time that you think in his presidency that his character or his way of approaching things came through in a very … crystallizing way, a way that helped a lot?

Metaxas: Yeah. Well, I think for me it’s a little weird. I grew up in Queens, New York, so I’m a New Yorker, I’m a Queens New Yorker. I was raised in a working-class environment. I grew up with people kind of rough around the edges like Donald Trump, so I really feel like I speak that language in a way that a lot of people don’t.

People in the Beltway, people in certain social circles in Manhattan where I have traveled in certain educational environments—I graduated from Yale—do not speak that language.

And it’s horrifying to most of them to try to make sense of what he says, because it’s like you’re listening to somebody who talks like a comedian, who talks completely differently in cartoon phrases and things, and then you try to parse it as though it was spoken by an aide to Eisenhower. You really can’t do that. You have to be able to hear him correctly.

But I’ll tell you, I used to really despise this president. I was horrified by him culturally. I just thought that this is a man who is contributing to the vulgarization of the culture. And to some extent, I think that that was true. But when he was in the primaries, I began to listen to him on the stump.

A friend of mine kind of rebuked me and said, “Hey, you need to give him a listen. I think you’re missing something. He’s like a folk hero.” And I began to listen, and I was shocked to hear him making sense on a level that was so simple that I thought, “Nobody talks like that. Nobody talks to the common man.” People are always, you know, virtue-signaling to their super intelligent, educated friends that are going to blog about it tomorrow or something like that. I thought, “That’s really refreshing.”

Metaxas says that he grew up in Queens with people “kind of rough around the edges.”  As a result, he finds Trump’s way of speaking to the “common man” to be “refreshing.”  He adds, “I speak that language in a way that a lot of people don’t.”

Like Metaxas, I  also grew-up in the New York metropolitan area around people who were “kind of rough around the edges.”  In fact, I am only a few years young than the radio pundit.  My North Jersey working class upbringing taught me to spot an immoral huckster like Trump from a mile away.