What the Court Evangelicals (and some others) are Saying About Mark Galli’s *Christianity Today* Editorial

Trump Beleive me

Out in paperback on January 7, 2020

Here is Robert Jeffress:

Franklin Graham here.

Ralph Reed:

Ralph Reed also really likes Franklin Graham’s comments:

Jerry Falwell Jr.’s Falkirk Center‘s at Liberty University retweeted Trump.

A spokesperson for the Falkirk Center is upset at Jim Acosta of CNN:

Here is one of the so-called “Falkirk Fellows”:

A former leader of the Assemblies of God is not happy with Mark Galli:

Jack Graham thinks, Christianity Today is out of touch with American evangelicalism, as if public morality is some kind of popularity contest.  This makes me wonder who is on the narrow road and who is on the broad road.(Matthew 7:13-14).

It’s always good for the court evangelicals when alt-Right website Breitbart is on your side:

Laura Ingraham of Fox News:

Jerry Falwell Jr. blocked me a long time ago, but this morning he tweeted: “Less than 20% of evangelicals supported Hillary Clinton in 2016 but now CT Magazine has removed any doubt that they are part of the same 17% or so of liberal evangelcials who have preached social gospel for decades! CT unmasked!”

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council trashes Christianity Today:

David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network shows how crazy this is getting and how Trump is not driving the white conservative evangelical narrative.  He  thinks that Christianity Today is now somehow the magazine of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:

Eric Metaxas is apparently engaging on Twitter, but I can’t read his tweets because he blocked me.

 

David Brody: Trump’s Court Journalist

Brody FileSome of you are familiar with David Brody, the Chief Political Analyst at CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network) News and the author of The Faith of Donald J. Trump: A Spiritual Biography.  He often claims to be a legitimate journalist and chronicler of American politics, but in reality he is a pro-Trump advocate.  Here are a few of his recent tweets:

Today Brody has a piece at USA Today titled “Supreme Court and Andrew Brunson return show God sent Trump for ‘such a time as this.'”

The title itself implies that Brody seems to have a hotline to God.  He knows that Donald Trump is part of God’s will to make America great again and restore America to its Judeo-Christian roots.  This kind of certainty about God’s will in the world has long been a hallmark of American fundamentalism.

Brody then expounds on the Old Testament book of Esther.  He writes:

Esther is considered a hero in the Jewish history books.  Evangelicals see Donald Trump in a similar way: an unlikely hero, put in a place of influence, “for such a time as this.”  No, not turn back the clock on civil rights.  Today’s authentic, Bible-believing evangelicals have no tolerance for racism of any kind.  Rather, they see God’s hand at play to usher in a new era in support of traditional Judeo-Christian principles.

Two quick responses to this paragraph:

  • This is classic Brody.  He writes about “evangelicals” in the third person as if he is only reporting on what they believe.  Yet he continues to tweet as a politico and pro-Trumper.
  • Like Brody, I don’t know many evangelicals who would say they want to “turn back the clock on civil rights” (but I know they are out there).  But I know a lot of evangelicals who will not condemn Trump’s racist comments or the way those comments fire-up the white nationalists in his base.  Let’s remember that Robert Jeffress (who Brody quotes glowingly in his USA Today article) said Trump “did just fine” in his comments in the wake of the race riots in Charlottesville.  I also know a lot of evangelicals who have no problem chanting a phrase like “Make America Great Again” or wearing a MAGA hat.  As I have said multiple times at this blog,  in Believe Me, and on the Believe Me book tour, America has never been “great” for everyone–the poor, people of color, women, etc….

Brody concludes:

Romans 13:1 declares, “There is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” Evangelicals believe this promise, and that’s why they are supremely confident that Donald Trump and his Supreme Court have been heaven-sent.

I did not hear Brody or other conservative evangelicals making this argument during the Clinton or Obama presidencies.  Attorney General Jeff Sessions used Romans 13 to justify separating children from their parents at the border.

Read Brody’s entire piece here.

Jeff Sessions Defends His Use of Romans 13

jeff-sessions

Context: I have commented on Sessions’ use of Romans 13 in several posts here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home.  I also contributed to Washington Post and New York Times stories on this.

Recently Session talked with David Brody at Christian Broadcasting Network.  Here is a taste:

WASHINGTON – Attorney General Jeff Sessions addressed some of the criticism he and the White House have received in recent weeks regarding the administration’s immigration policy in an exclusive interview Thursday with CBN News.

Sessions was personally criticized when he quoted scripture to justify separating families at the southern border, something CBN’s David Brody asked him about.

“I don’t think it was an extreme position that I took,” said Sessions. “I directed it not to say that religion requires these laws on immigration. I just simply said to my Christian friends, ‘You know, the United States has laws and I believe that Paul was clear in Romans that we should try to follow the laws of government of which we are a part.'”

Sessions alluded to the Bible again when he discussed the morality of immigration law.

“I believe, strongly, that it is moral, decent and just for a nation to have a lawful system of immigration,” Sessions said. “I’m not aware of a single nation in the world that doesn’t have some sort of rules about who can enter and who cannot enter. I believe there is biblical support for that, too.”

Sessions told Brody that all of the criticism has not gone unfelt, especially the criticism coming from his Christian brothers and sisters.

Read the rest here.

David Brody: Trump’s Journalist

Brody FileI just finished reading Elizabeth Dias’s New York Times piece on Christian Broadcasting Network journalist David Brody.  The evangelical journalist and the co-author of The Faith of Donald J. Trump: A Spiritual Biography has had some intimate access to the White House.

Here is a taste of Dias’s piece:

“The access has been phenomenal,” Brody said later in an interview. “I’m very appreciative to God for allowing it.”

While Trump attacks major news organizations and suggests revoking media credentials for outlets he deems “Fake News,” Brody and his network enjoy a closeness to the White House that is foreign to most reporters. In return, Trump gets a direct line to his most supportive voters, the conservative evangelicals who make up CBN’s core audience. Their allegiance is critical to his success; more than 80 percent of white evangelicals who went to the polls in 2016 voted for Trump.

The Christian Broadcasting Network has become an important outlet for the president. Brody interviewed Trump eight times during the campaign. A week after the inauguration, he scored a landmark interview in which Trump called the media “the opposition party.” White House surrogates routinely appear on Brody’s program, and Brody himself has been a guest both on Fox News and on programs on other networks like “Meet the Press.”

“What you are seeing in the White House is base-tending,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, co-founder of FactCheck.org and a professor of communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

Viewers of Christian media, she added, are often presented with more favorable information about Trump than they would find in the mainstream media. “It is agenda control,” Jamieson said.

Read the entire piece here.

Brody knows his audience and, of course, is perfectly free to report the kind of news that the viewers of CBN want to hear.  But I wonder if Brody is ever bothered by having such access to the White House.  It would seem that a journalist’s integrity can be corrupted pretty quickly when one gets such access.

“Evangelicals Fell For It”

Trump bioI will confess that I had never heard of conservative pundit Erick Erickson until he started speaking out against Trump. Yesterday The Weekly Standard published Erickson’s scathing review of David Brody’s and Scott Lamb’s The Faith of Donald Trump.  It is brutal.

Here is a taste:

President Trump relishes his reputation as a savvy dealmaker. “Deals are my art form,” he once tweeted. “Other people paint beautifully or write poetry. I like making deals, preferably big deals.” He promised during the 2016 campaign that if elected, he would work with politicians and foreign leaders to make “smart deals for the country.” But since he took office there has been precious little evidence of Trump’s vaunted dealmaking prowess. Such successes as his administration has been able to claim have generally been accomplished without his direct involvement—and sometimes in spite of it.

There is, though, one obvious piece of evidence from the president’s political career that suggests his dealmaking reputation might be deserved after all: the relationship he has with evangelical political leaders. He has lavished them with attention and let them bask in his celebrity star-power, things that they, long feeling like outsiders in American culture and politics, have badly craved. In exchange, they have thrown him their support—unconditional support, by all appearances—and with it, the backing of a political constituency vital to his success at the polls.

In The Faith of Donald J. Trump, authors David Brody and Scott Lamb provide an in-depth look at the relationship between the president and American evangelicals. Brody and Lamb—respectively a newscaster with Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network and a vice president at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University—have written what they dub a “spiritual biography,” even though they come right out and say they have no intention of answering the question of whether Trump is a Christian. Instead, they hope to convey his faith through his actions.

In the process, though, Brody and Lamb inadvertently expose the corruption and moral vacuity of the political evangelical movement in the United States.

Trump only started paying attention to evangelicals once he began to consider running for president—some five or more years before the 2016 campaign. He made a show of cozying up to evangelical pastors who write books that usually don’t sell well outside their own congregations. He reached out to the prosperity-gospel heretic Paula White and flattered her. He asked questions of other religious leaders.

As his ambitions grew, Trump cannily cultivated relationships with evangelicals, and they convinced themselves that those relationships must be sincere since they began before he openly started campaigning for the presidency. Once he did start openly campaigning, the outreach only became more intensive. As Brody and Lamb report, Trump would seek out the preachers to sit next to at events. He would bring his mother’s Bible to meetings to show it off. Evangelicals fell for it. So deluded and distracted are they by the trappings of power, they do not even see what Brody and Lamb see. “He’s the P. T. Barnum of the 21st century,” an anonymous banker in the book says of Donald Trump. These evangelical leaders have yet to realize that they are the suckers.

Read the entire review here.

In case you haven’t heard, we take a different approach to Trump in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump.

Believe Me JPEG

Journalist Ed Kilgore Reviews Brody and Lamb’s *The Faith of Donald Trump: A Spiritual Biography*

Trump bioIt is not pretty.  Kilgore says that the book should actually be titled Our Faith in Donald Trump.  Here is a taste of his review at New York Magazine:

But ultimately, as the increasingly hagiographic tone of the book shows, Brody and Lamb and the conservative Evangelical thought-leaders they represent are working hard to overcome any doubts about Trump. The more the president outrages the Americans who aren’t pining for a return to the 1950s, the more these proud reactionaries cling to him like a Rock of Ages. Here’s conservative Evangelical radio host Eric Metaxas, who also wrote the foreword for this book, reacting to the furor over Trump’s comments defending the honorable intentions of the white rioters of Charlottesville:

We’re going to stand up for Trump a hundred times more. It’s been unbelievably despicable the way he’s been treated. And I think there’s some kind of demonic deception. I mean I’ve never seen anything like it begin to compare it to in my lifetime.

If faith is indeed (as Paul suggested in his Epistle to the Hebrews) “the evidence of things unseen,” then the passionate faith that conservative Evangelicals are placing in “their” president needs little sustenance from the man himself. And that’s a good thing for him and for them, if not for our country and all of the Americans who worship a God who’s not necessarily Republican.

Read the entire review here.

A Spiritual Biography of Donald Trump?

Trump bioSome might say that this an oxymoron.

Whatever the case, David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network and Scott Lamb of The Washington Times have written The Faith of Donald J. Trump: A Spiritual Biography.  It is also worth noting that Eric Metaxas wrote the foreword.  I will leave it there.

If anyone is interested, I have also jumped into the fray on this subject.  Please consider pre-ordering my Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump.  It will be out in the late Spring with Eerdmans.  The good folks at Eerdmans tell me that pre-orders are important to advancing the message of the book.

The Faith of Donald Trump

HolmesYesterday I posted about David Brody’s forthcoming “spiritual biography” of Donald Trump.  The post led to some hilarious and contentious conversation on social media centered around the question of whether or not there is enough material to write such a book.

During one of those discussions, Jay Blossom called my attention to a January 2017 interview with David L. Holmes, retired religion professor at the College of William & Mary and author of The Faiths of the Founding Fathers.  Holmes reflects on the religious background of our current president.  This kind of scholarly and thoughtful analysis of Trump’s connection to Christianity is welcomed.  It is very different, I imagine, from the approach that David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network is going to take.
Here is a taste of Meghan Murphy-Gill’s interview with Holmes:

What do we know about Trump’s religious upbringing?

Like most of us, Trump was influenced by the faith of his parents. Three‑quarters of the presidents we’ve had since World War II ended up in the very same interpretation of Christianity in which they were raised. That seems to be a pretty good national statistic. Trump is no exception.

Trump’s heritage is Protestant and European. His father came from Lutheran stock in Germany. We don’t know how religious his father’s family was, but the father attended church faithfully throughout his life. Trump’s mother came from a highly religious area of Scotland, where a branch of Presbyterianism, called the “Wee Frees” (the nickname for the small Free Church of Scotland), is still strong today.

Maryanne Macleod, Trump’s mother, immigrated to the United States as a strict Presbyterian. She seems to have become broader in religion in later years, but she ensured that all of her children were raised Presbyterian.

Brody File

CBN’s David Brody

Trump identifies himself as a mainline Protestant. But if we want to understand him, we would be better off to pay attention to his social, economic, and cultural upbringing, and not to his experience in church. Trump’s father, Fred, was a developer, a field which he quit school to enter. The Trumps lived in Jamaica, Queens, in an area where Fred built many of the houses, often in the Tudor revival style. The home he built for his family was huge: 23 rooms. They had live‑in help, a chauffeur and a maid. They had two Cadillac limousines.

Fred Trump was an interesting guy. I wish we had more history on him. He did things like wear a hat and a tie when the family went to the beach. He may have had a formal side. He was all business. Religiously, he was Lutheran in background, but the crossover to Presbyterianism is hardly a step. He also displayed some anti-Semitism.

Read the entire interview here.

David Brody on Trump’s “Thin Evangelical Line”

Trump Joe

Over at the Christian Broadcasting Network, journalist David Brody sends a warning to Donald Trump in the wake of yesterday’s tweets about Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.  Here is what he said at his blog, “The Brody File”:

The evangelical attraction to Donald Trump was strong during the GOP primaries and reached even greater heights during the General Election when a record number 81 percent of evangelicals voted for him. But he needs to be very careful if he wants to duplicate or even improve on that number next time around. Calling out the media is one thing but making it personal is quite another. Evangelicals don’t mind President Trump’s unorthodox ways and his fighting spirit. They like when he socks it to Washington bureaucrats and phony politicians. But a pattern of petty personal insults will put Trump in danger of “evangelical voter apathy” in 2020. Diehards will stay with him no matter what but that won’t be enough to win in 2020. He needs those, “anti-Hillary Evangelicals.” Will they show up and vote for the next democrat nominee? No. Many of them may just not show up at all. If 81% turnout becomes 77% evangelical turnout (especially in key swing states) then he’s toast. It’s that simple. He needs evangelicals and he knows it. Any slippage and it’s game, set, match. He can’t afford to go down this road. It’s not worth it for him.

Look, the art of this deal is pretty simple if President Trump wants to seal the deal with evangelicals going forward: he can bash the media, “the deep state” and disingenuous politicians all day long. He just shouldn’t make it personal. Evangelicals are watching. And honestly, is it worth it? I get it. They insult him multiple times daily and Trump’s instinct is to punch back ten times harder. But sometimes it just gets way too personal and it can cause him more political harm than good.

Read the entire piece here.

Trump Jeffress

Will Trump lose the Court Evangelicals if he keeps it up with these nasty tweets?

This all gets at a question I have been asking for the last year.  What must Trump do to alienate the Court Evangelicals?

When does he cross the line and thus lose the support of Jeffress, Metaxas, White, Dobson, Falwell Jr., and others?  So far the Court Evangelicals have been silent about Trump’s “Morning Joe” tweets.  It is deafening. When will they step up with a prophetic Christian voice?

I think the so-called “evangelical line” is much thicker than Brody thinks it is. We will see if it breaks in the next couple of days.  I doubt it.