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.

Jerry Falwell Jr.’s Interview with *The Guardian*

U.S. Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump shakes hands with Jerry Falwell Jr. during a campaign event in Sioux City Iowa

Here are some highlights from Falwell Jr.’s interview with the British newspaper:

  • Donald Trump is a “good moral person.”
  • Donald Trump is “Ronald Reagan on steroids”
  • Democrats are “fascists” and “Brownshirts”
  • If we were living in the 18th-century, the U.S. would be engaged in a “civil war” right now.
  • Falwell Jr. talks to Trump “all the time.”
  • Falwell Jr. says that he and Trump “think alike.”
  • Enrollment is down at Liberty University

Read the entire piece here.

University of Illinois Undergraduate: “Conservatism killed Christianity”

donaldtrumppatrobertsonhandshake_si

Trump shakes hands with Pat Robertson

Joseph Diller, a junior at the University of Illinois, is correct.  Here is a taste of his piece in The Daily Illini: Conservatism killed Christianity“:

The Kavanaugh issue is just a small part of the Republicans’ deal with the devil. In this deal, the party gets tax cuts and Supreme Court appointments in exchange for giving President Trump the highest office in the land, all while ignoring affairs with porn stars and pussy-grabbing.

The Public Religion Research Institute and Brookings put out a poll that asked if respondents believe whether “an elected official who commits an immoral act in their personal life can still behave ethically and fulfill their duties in their public and professional life.” In 2011, while Evangelicals were the most likely group in America to say no, only 30 percent answered yes. By 2016, their opinion on an immoral personal life flip-flopped — 72 percent (more than any other group) believed that an official could ethically fulfill their duties despite their personal life.

Other mainline American Christians also experienced a spike. Why did the religious right shift their opinion to allow Trump in at all? Because they’re badly losing the culture wars.

Winners do not make deals with the devil; it’s a Hail Mary strategy. It has been 40 years since they have not been able to stop Roe v. Wade, gay marriage has been legalized and church attendance is in decline.  As further evidence of their downfall, not only are these things legal, but most Americans support abortion and gay marriage.

Read the entire piece here.

White Evangelicals and the New Marist Poll

Blasey

Here are some of the findings:

  • 72% of white evangelicals approve of the job Donald Trump is doing as president (and 44% “strongly approve).
  • 71% of white evangelicals say that they will vote for a Republican in the 2018 midterms.
  • 58% of white evangelicals say that they are likely to vote for a congressional candidate in November 2018 who supports the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. (27% of white evangelicals say that the confirmation of Kavanaugh will not make any difference in how they vote in November 2018).
  • 56% of white evangelicals have a “favorable impression” of Brett Kavanaugh. (31% are either “unsure” or have “never heard” of Kavanaugh).
  • Only 9% of white evangelicals have a “favorable impression” of Christine Blasey Ford.  59% of white evangelicals are “unsure” of her or have “never heard” of her.
  • 51% of white evangelicals have been following the Kavanaugh news coverage “very closely” or “closely.”
  • If Kavanaugh did commit the acts that Christine Blasey Ford said that he did, 48% of white evangelicals would still support his confirmation to the Supreme Court.
  • Only 14% of white evangelicals think Christine Blasey Ford told the truth about what happened at the party in high school.  41% are “not sure” who to believe.
  • 64% of white evangelicals support the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.

Liberty University Students Came to the U.S. Senate on Thursday to Support Kavanaugh

Liberty U Kavanaugh

Liberty University staged a rally for Kavanaugh (Huffington Post photo)

And their president, court evangelical Jerry Falwell Jr., was with them.

The Lynchburg News & Advance reports:

About 300 Liberty University students traveled to Washington, D.C. Thursday to support Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who is under fire with two accusers alleging sexual assault and another claiming to have witnessed such behavior.

While the marathon Senate Judiciary Committee hearing unfolded on Capitol Hill, Liberty students attending a Concerned Women for America and Women for Kavanaugh rally. They also visited the office of Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to show their support for the Judiciary Committee chairman.

“We wanted [Kavanaugh’s] voice to be heard … and to support him and his family,” said Victoria Belk, an LU student and president of LU’s Young Women for America, a college chapter of CWA. “True equality is hearing from both sides; hearing him out was important to us.”

Read the rest here.  The Huffington Post has posted a video of the rally here.

Over at Religion News Service, Jason Lupfer argues that conservative evangelical support for Kavanaugh will cost them.  Here is a taste of his piece:

Politically,  white conservative Christians have been invaluable to the country club wing of the Republican Party, which put their zeal to work to end an era of social progress on civil rights, economic equality and fiscal health. The old guard used its newfound clout to enact deficit-financed tax cuts, decimate the labor movement and shift an ever higher percentage of the national income to those at the very top.

Meanwhile, their own principles suffered.

Few white evangelicals or conservative Catholics were put off by the party’s embrace of leaders who demonized Islam, disparaged undocumented immigrants and rolled back voting rights. They helped ensure that the Republicans ended up abandoning morality altogether and nominating for president a vulgar, spiteful man who boasted of his own sexual assaults.

Now it seems that president has nominated a judge who shares the political values of conservative evangelicals but may have violated many of their morals. Drunken parties and sexual assault are the kinds of things that Liberty University — and Concerned Women for America — have abhorred in the past.

But they no longer seem to give these conservative evangelicals pause.

So often when religion and politics mix, religion is sullied. As the evangelicals have risen in prominence, we have heard less and less about the Old, Old Story, and wondered if they even believed it at all.

The country has suffered under this partnership as well.

Read the entire piece here.  Much of what Lupfer writes here meshes well with my own work in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump.

Believe Me 3d

Jake Tapper: Evangelical Support for Donald Trump is Similar to Feminist Support for Bill Clinton

Lewinsky

Here is a taste of Peter Rothpletz’s interview with the CNN anchor at The Yale Politic:

I think Trump and Trumpism is a manifestation of many different parts of American popular cultural and societal evolution including the increasing importance of celebrity, the lack of faith in experts, the populist distrust of intellectualism, the moral compromises made by supporters of Bill Clinton. I think today you see Evangelicals making compromises about President Trump similar to how in the 90s we saw feminists making compromises about Bill Clinton. He and his personal behavior were reprehensible to everything that they stood for in terms of feminism but by the same token he was taking many feminist, progressive, capital D Democratic actions… The same can be said when it comes to President Trump with conservative Evangelical Christians.

Read the entire interview here.

Franklin Graham, Al Mohler, Eric Metaxas, Russell Moore and Rachel Held Evans on the *Second* Kavanaugh Accusation

Senate Holds Confirmation Hearing For Brett Kavanugh To Be Supreme Court Justice

Kayla Koslosky has rounded-up some tweets and other commentary from evangelicals on the Deborah Ramirez accusation.  Here is a taste of her piece at “Christian Headlines”:

Many Christian leaders are offering their opinions on Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and they are divided. 

Though the schism has only become greater since Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault on two occasions, faith leaders were divided on his potential appointment well before then.

Here is what they have had to say:

Read the rest here.

If Kavanaugh Did It, Will Evangelicals Turn Their Backs On Him?

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh meets with Senate Majority Leader McConnell and VP Pence on Capitol Hill in Washington

Of course not.

If it turns out that Kavanaugh did sexually assault Christian Blasey Ford (or someone else), he will still have the support of many conservative evangelicals.

As Franklin Graham recently implied, the conservative evangelicals of the Christian Right will overlook Kavanaugh’s indiscretions as long as they continue to believe he will be the deciding vote in overturning Roe v. Wade or as long as he remains an originalist.  They will argue that this incident happened a long time ago and is no longer “relevant.”

Michelle Bachmann: “God is Using Trump”

Bachmann

The Huffington Post reports on what former congresswoman Michelle Bachmann said during an interview at last weekend’s Values Voter Summit. Here is a taste:

“For men, for women, for young people, for blacks, for Hispanics,” we’ve never had it better economically,” she said. “We’ve never had it better on a foreign policy level. We’ve never had a more pro-life president, a more pro-Israel president.”

Nor has there been a chief executive “who cares [more] about the religious liberty,” Bachmann, a featured speaker at the values summit, said in the interview, which aired on SiriusXM Progress.

And this:

“He has so rocked everything he’s done,” she said of the president. ’Everything he has touched has literally almost turned to gold on every level. People’s lives are better because of this one man. And I think that can’t be lost. We’ve seen an answer to our prayers from two years ago.”

Really?  Is the nation really in better shape under the leadership of a serial liar, an adulterer, a president who caters to racists and xenophobes, disrespects women, who understands “religious liberty” as a code word for the Christian Right’s agenda, and pulls the nation out of international collaborations that benefit the common good, especially on climate change?

Based on Bachmann’s providential view of the world, could we also ask if God is using Trump to punish America?

Is Evangelical Support for Trump Eroding?

Trump and Bible

Diane Ravitch shares a post from Charles Foster Johnson, a progressive pastor in Texas.  Johnson writes:

The evangelical support for President Trump is alarming for Christian ministers like me, who do not share their views and values. But, it is my sense, possibly born of my inveterate optimism, that the Evangelical coalition supporting Trump is breaking down. 

It’s an arcane nuance, but Trump only has the continued support of a certain subset of evangelicals, those of a triumphalist mentality, who feel that it is God’s will that their particular brand of Christianity has a divine right to succeed. These people have been at war with the culture for decades. They have advanced their apocalyptic brand through the peculiar grievance that the world is awful, that America is lost, and that it all should be blown up. Thus, their disdain for our American institutions, including public education.

They are found largely in middle class, suburban, megachurch demographic and religious categories. There is a detached gnosticism that marks their theology. The emphasis is not on love of neighbor, but rather one’s own prosperity and alleviation of anxiety. It bears little resemblance to the faith outlined in the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. Harold Bloom, the Yale literary critic, nailed this curious gnosticism twenty years or so ago in a book called “The American Religion.” 

But, here is some good news:  real, organic, embodied faith communities across the theological spectrum – conservative, moderate, liberal– are not falling for Trump’s toxic mythology. These are smaller, more connected congregations in rural communities, small towns, and urban neighborhoods that are highly contextualized. They are not the disembodied entertainment circuses of the megachurches. We see these congregations thoroughly involved in their neighborhoods, particularly their public schools, and internalizing the pressing human need found in the children. Yes, some of these folks voted for Trump, but they are beginning to rethink the entire program. Providentially, Donald Trump is waking up the church!

This is very optimistic, but I don’t think it is right.  I don’t have any statistical evidence.  My thoughts are based on the stories I heard from the pro-Trumpers I met this summer in eleven different cities during the Believe Me book tour.

Some white evangelicals are die-hard Trump supporters.  These are the people who backed Trump from the moment he announced his candidacy and chose him instead of Christian Right candidates like Ted Cruz or Ben Carson.  They are the evangelicals who go to Trump rallies and have Trump signs on their lawns.

Other white evangelicals who voted for Trump in 2016 are not fans of the president,  but they are willing to overlook his character issues, his racism and xenophobia, and his disrespect for the office because he has appointed conservative judges.  They probably lost a little sleep in Fall 2016 as they contemplated their vote, but in the end they remained faithful to a Christian Right playbook that privileges abortion and the Supreme Court above all other issues.

The first group will vote again for Donald Trump in 2020.  A significant portion of the second group will also vote for Trump in 2020, especially if he continues to appoint conservative justices, defends religious freedom (as understood by evangelicals, which basically means freedom for their views on marriage), and runs against a pro-choice liberal.

I have even heard stories from some sectors that evangelicals who did not vote for Trump in 2016 are considering voting for him in 2020 because he has delivered on so many of his promises and the economy is doing well.

Believe Me 3d

The Court Evangelicals Will be Out in Force this Weekend at the Values Voter Summit

Believe Me 3dThe Values Voter Summit, an annual political gathering of Christian Right activists, will meet this week in Washington D.C.  The speaker lineup is filled with court evangelicals.  Here are the names of the conference speakers that I mentioned in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump:

Michelle Bachman

Gary Bauer

Ben Carson

Tony Perkins

Mike Pence

Lance Wallnau

Other speakers include Ben Sasse, Mitch McConnell, Mike Pompeo, Oliver North. Matt Bevin, Dean Cain, Everett Piper, Sebastian Gorka, Todd Starnes, Laura Ingraham, Bill Bennett, George Barna.

The event is sponsored by the Family Research Council, the American Family Association (who recently put out an “Action Alert” about me), American Values, Christian Healthcare Ministries, Inspire Investing, and United in Purpose.

What Will Evangelicals Do if Kavanaugh’s Nomination Fails?

Kavanaugh

An MSNBC White House correspondent believes that white conservative evangelicals will “crucify Trump” if the Brett Kavanaugh nomination fails.

Here is a taste:

MSNBC White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor said Monday that if President Trump loses his fight to put conservative Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, his religious base may lose whatever faith they have in the man many of their sect believe was chosen by God to lead the country.

“Sarah Sanders is echoing a lot of the reaction of a lot of evangelical Christians when I asked them how they support President Trump,” Alcindor said. “They say this is someone who can be used even if he’s problematic, even if he in their mind has sinned, that he can still be someone who puts forth policies that can help people’s lives.”

But in the event that Trump fails to appoint Kavanaugh to the court, where he could be the deciding vote on an number of their political goals, conservative Christians will like flee, Alcindor believed. “This is one of the number one things that evangelical Christians wanted out of this president,” she said. “They wanted a Supreme Court that was going to try to overturn Roe v. Wade, that wasn’t going to be pro-choice, that was going to be a pro-life Supreme Court.”

I don’t see it this way.  If the Kavanaugh nomination fails, Trump evangelicals will blame the liberals.  They will not blame Trump.  Trump will nominate another conservative justice off the Federalist Society or Heritage Foundation list and we will go through all of this again.  A failed Kavanaugh nomination will not weaken conservative evangelical support for the president, it will strengthen it.

Brazil is Interested in Trump and Evangelicals

Believe Me 3dBelieve Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump has garnered attention around the world.  Since the book appeared in June 2018, I have done interviews with newspapers in Norway, Netherlands, Germany, Turkey, and France.  My latest interview was with Julia Zaremba of Folhapress in San Paolo, Brazil.  This seems fitting, in light of resurgence (both spiritually and politically) of evangelicalism in Brazil.

Here is a taste of her piece (translated through Google translator) “Evangelicals support Trump in expectation of conservative judges“:

Obama’s support for same-sex marriage, a right that was recognized by the Supreme Court in 2015, did not appeal to evangelicals either. “They saw Democrat management as a threat to the country,” says John Fea, a history professor and author of “Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump” (believe me: the evangelical road to Donald Trump).

The dissatisfaction of evangelicals with the direction of American politics is not recent, Fea explains. In 1960, the Supreme Court banned reading the Bible in public schools. In the 1970s, the Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the country. More than 20 years later, Bill Clinton, a president defending the right to abortion, became embroiled in a case with his intern at the White House.

“Trump is a comfort to evangelicals, who are no longer as anxious as ever,” says Fea.

The difference from the predecessors, he says, is that Trump really “fights for the causes” of the group and is seen as a “strong man.” Among white evangelical voters, more than 80 percent voted for Trump in the 2016 election.

The expert says, however, that support for a man who is “adulterous and who often lies” can harm the image of the Gospel. “By making a deal with Trump, they have turned almost to a lobby group that uses the president to get what they want,” he says. “From the standpoint of the Christian belief system, this is problematic.”

Read the entire piece here.

Chris King: “the case study of whether faith is a deal killer in the modern Democratic Party.”

Gillum and King

Andrew Gillum, the African-American progressive mayor of Tallahassee who recently became the Democratic nominee in the upcoming Florida gubernatorial race, has chosen a running mate.  His name is Chris King.  He is a thirty-eight-year-old white evangelical Christian who was raised in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, was active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in high school, joined Campus Crusade for Christ at Harvard, and once worked with progressive evangelical Jim Wallis.  He is currently an elder at the non-denominational Summit Church in Orlando.

Over at The New Republic, Mark Pinsky and Loraine O’Connell report on Gillum’s choice of King.  Here is a taste:

Chris King wasn’t the person most Florida liberals expected Andrew Gillum to name as his running mate in the state’s gubernatorial race. A white, evangelical Christian who made a fortune buying up dilapidated Florida apartment complexes after the 2008 crash and refurbishing them as affordable housing, the Winter Park businessman had run against Gillum in the Democratic gubernatorial primary earlier this summer—and lost spectacularly, finishing fifth in the primary, with less than 3 percent of the vote.

His religion might have had something to do with his loss. King has called himself “the case study of whether faith is a deal killer in the modern Democratic Party.” But Florida, like many states, has a highly secular Democratic base that dominates the primaries. With the evangelical community nationally so firmly aligned behind the conservative right, the mere fact that King, who had never run for office before, was an evangelical, and a proud one at that, may have hindered his chances.

Evangelicalism might have held King back in the Democratic primary, but in a statewide general election, his ties to the Christian community could be an asset, and Gillum’s decisions of late suggest he understands that. Gillum himself is Baptist, and in August he spoke to supporters outside the Bethel Church in Richmond Heights, the South Dade neighborhood where he grew up. Apart from than his numerous visits to African American churches and appearances with black preachers, Gillum did not explicitly raise religion, nor, for the most part, did his opponents or interviewers. Still, his choice for lieutenant governor suggests that he will lean into it in his quest to win the governorship.

Since Gillum named him his running mate, King has insisted that “this is not a political marriage—this is not a marriage of convenience.” Regardless, it makes strategic sense. Barack Obama carried Florida with help from the young white evangelicals in the state. They may not be the voters who decide the primaries, but they are an important and often overlooked demographic in general elections within Florida and throughout the South. With King on the ticket, Gillum can craft a campaign message that mixes evangelicalism and left policies—a powerful combination that could provide a path forward for Democrats looking to win back seats in the Sun Belt.

Read the rest here.

The Court Evangelicalism of Robert Jeffress: A Guide

jeffress

Stephen Young of the Dallas Observer has assembled some of court evangelical Robert Jeffress greatest hits.   Here is a taste:

First Baptist Dallas Pastor Robert Jeffress deserves some credit. Motivations, politics and decency aside, he picked the right horse way back in the summer of 2015 when he decided to back then-candidate Donald Trump’s nascent presidential campaign.

For his trouble — Jeffress frequently worked “Make America Great Again” into invocations and Trump rallies and shows up to lay hands on the president whenever the news calls for that sort of thing — the pastor has achieved a kind of celebrity. He’s on Fox News almost weekly and gets exponentially more news attention than he did in the good old days, back when he was accusing President Barack Obama of paving the way for the Antichrist or proclaiming that the Catholic Church was an example of the genius of Satan.

Jeffress has also carved out a niche as the president’s personal excuse Rolodex.

This week, as the water in which the president’s political future sits begins to simmer, if not boil, Jeffress has been back in action. Monday, he attended a special dinner for Trump’s evangelical supporters at the White House before making the rounds again on Trump’s behalf.

Starting with two examples from this week, here are Jeffress’ best, or worst, excuses for the president:

1. Jeffress explains why evangelical support for Trump isn’t wavering, despite Trump’s former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen admitting in federal court that Trump was aware of and helped direct payments before the 2016 election to two women with whom he had affairs.

“Well, it’s really not that hard to figure out when you realize he is the most pro-life, pro-religious liberty, pro-conservative judiciary in history, and that includes either Bush or Ronald Reagan. I think that is why evangelicals remain committed to this president and they are not going to turn away from him soon,” Jeffress told Fox News Monday night after the meeting. “We have to understand these are still allegations against the president, so I’m not going to judge the president on these things. But even if they were true, some of these allegations, I mean, obviously, we don’t support extramarital affairs, we don’t support hush-money payments, but what we do support are these president’s excellent policies.” 

Read the rest here.

And here is an even more extensive list of Jeffress’s greatest hits.  Just scroll down.

Or you can find our take on Jeffress in this book:

Believe Me 3d

When “Christ’s Kingdom is just another demographic in the US electorate”

Trump court evangelicals
Reformed theologian Michael Horton reflects on a lot of the same themes I wrote about in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump.  Here is a taste of Horton’s Christianity Today piece, “What are Evangelicals Afraid of Losing?“:

And yet, swinging from triumphalism to seething despair, many pastors are conveying to the wider, watching public a faith in political power that stands in sharp opposition to everything we say we believe in. To many of our neighbors, the court chaplains appear more like jesters.

Something tremendous is at stake here: whether evangelical Christians place their faith more in Caesar and his kingdom than in Christ and his reign. On that one, we do have everything to lose—this November and every other election cycle. When we seek special political favors for the church, we communicate to the masses that Christ’s kingdom is just another demographic in the US electorate.

Let’s face it. Liberal and conservative, Catholic and Protestant, have courted political power and happily allowed themselves to be used by it. This always happens when the church confuses the kingdom of Christ with the kingdoms of this present age. Jesus came not to jump-start the theocracy in Israel, much less to be the founding father of any other nation. Even during his ministry, two disciples—James and John—wanted to call down judgment on a village that rejected their message, but “Jesus turned to them and rebuked them” (Luke 9:54–55). He is not a mascot for a voting bloc but the savior of the world. He came to forgive sins and bring everlasting life, to die and rise again so that through faith in him we too can share in his new creation.

Read the entire piece here.

Court Evangelicals and “Secular Hedonism” in the Oval Office

Court evangelical dinner

Bill Leonard, the southern Baptist church historian, reflects on evangelicals in the White House and the current state of evangelical politics.  Here is a taste of his piece at Baptist News Global titled “Birthrights and Bibles“:

In Living Faith (1996) former President Jimmy Carter recalls this White House encounter: “A high official of the Southern Baptist Convention [SBC] came into the Oval Office to visit me when I was president. As he and his wife were leaving, he said, ‘We are praying, Mr. President, that you will abandon secular humanism as your religion.’ This was a shock to me. I didn’t know what he meant. I am still not sure.” Carter, who taught Sunday school at Washington’s First Baptist Church while president, also remembers that in his 1976 run for the White House, “the evangelist Jerry Falwell condemned me because I ‘claimed’ to be a Christian.”

Some four decades later certain conservative Christian leaders, including Jerry Falwell Jr. and J.D. Greear, president of the SBC, paid another visit to the White House for a “state dinner” hosted by Donald Trump, a president whose politics they strongly support, but whose life of secular hedonism they seem willing to overlook. Indeed, some 100 of the ministers in attendance signed a Bible that they presented to the president, with an inscription that reads: “History will record the greatness that you have brought for generations.” (Greear later released a statement defending his decision to attend the dinner, reaffirming his desire to depoliticize the SBC, and noting that he did not sign the Bible.)

Read the entire piece here.