My Latest Piece at *Sojourners*: Pence’s Visit to the Southern Baptist Convention

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Here is a taste:

In the last several months, the #MeToo movement has found its way to one of the largest Protestant denominations in America — the Southern Baptist Convention. While this year’s annual meeting did address issues related to Paige Patterson, the former SBC Theological Seminary president, and how women are treated in the church, the SBC leadership also decided to welcome Mike Pence, who represents a presidential administration with a long track record of degrading women in public, to their meeting. 

In May, over 3000 SBC women sent an open letter to the Board of Trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary demanding the firing of Paige Patterson.

As one of the primary architects of the denomination’s “conservative resurgence” in the 1980s, Patterson is a living legend in the SBC. But over the course of the last few months, the world that Paige Patterson created collapsed around him. 

Patterson’s indiscretions are now widely known. He made inappropriate comments about teenage girls, he told a female victim of sexual assault not to report the incident to the police, and in 2015, when a Southwestern student told Patterson that she had been raped, he said he would meet with the student alone, so he could “break her down.”

The Board of Trustees at Southwestern eventually removed Patterson from his post. He is now gone, but the problem of authoritarian and misogynistic Southern Baptist leaders remains. The Patterson case exposed the dark side of the SBC and its conservative resurgence, prompting one seminary president to declare that the “wrath of God” is now being poured out on the convention. 

Read the rest here.

Tony Perkins Praises Pence Speech at the Southern Baptist Convention and Confuses God and Country…Again

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We have already weighed-in on Wednesday’s Pence speech.

Here is court evangelical Tony Perkins on the speech:

As [Pence] touched on the country’s divided times, several in the room probably thought about the division right there in that room. Just yesterday, one SBC messenger made a motion to disinvite the vice president, insisting that, “By associating publicly with any administration, we send a mixed message to our members, suggesting that to be faithful to the gospel, we ought to align with a particular administration.”

Fortunately, wisdom prevailed, soundly defeating the ill-conceived resolution. But it is a clear indication that there are some within the church that are either too ill-informed or too focused on the headlines to understand the difference between influencing and being influenced, or – as Jesus described in John 17 – being in the world but not of it. We can’t influence if we retreat. We don’t have to agree with everything this president has said or done, and we don’t, but it is foolish and even detrimental to persecuted believers around the world to fail to acknowledge that this administration is being used to set the table for the church to do its work unhindered. The vice president, Mike Pence, is an unabashed believer who’s championing their cause in the White House. Look at the doors this administration is opening for religious liberty and free speech. Now is not the time for shutting doors – now’s the time to rush through and seize this moment of opportunity.

Read the entire piece here.

Wow! There is a lot to unpack in Perkins’s post.

  1. Perkins criticizes pastor Garrett Kell’s resolution to replace Pence’s speech with a time of prayer.  But notice how he does it.  He blames Kell (“one SBC messenger”) for promoting disunity.  Actually, if you read Kell’s resolution, it was steeped in unity–not for the nation, but for the Southern Baptist Convention.  Perkins seems confused.  The SBC meeting in Dallas was not a political event or a God and country rally.  It was a religious event.  It seems to me that “unity” at a religious event should revolve around spiritual things, not politics or nationalism.
  2. Perkins suggests that anyone who opposed Pence’s speech is “too ill-informed or too focused on the headlines to understand the difference between influencing and being influenced.”  In other words, those who opposed Pence’s speech are not smart enough to realize that they are being played by the Left, the media, or (add your favorite bogeyman here).  But let’s remember that the Trump White House asked the SBC if Pence could come and speak.  Is it possible to view this as anything but an attempt to shore-up votes among the evangelical base?  Who got played here?
  3. Perkins has the audacity to quote John 17, a passage in which Jesus prays for unity in his church.  Again, he confuses Jesus’s prayer for unity among fellow Christians with national unity.  Jesus was not praying for national unity.  He was not praying for unity in the United States.
  4. Perkins’s piece would make a great primary source for students to read in an American religious history course.  It provides an amazing example of the way that the Christian Right conflates the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of America.  Politics don’t “set the table” for the church.  God sets the table.  Perkins sees everything in political terms.  He also talks about “seizing opportunities,” a clear reference to the 2018 election.

Will Someone Please Explain to Donald Trump That He Did Not Denuclearize North Korea

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Here is Uri Friedman at The Atlantic:

Donald Trump got little of substance out of his summit with Kim Jong Un. But that didn’t stop him from making a triumphant, demonstrably false claim about how things went. Trump declared in an early-morning tweet that North Korea’s threat to America has been somehow neutralized altogether: “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.”

In reality, Trump returned to America from the Singapore meeting having secured only a vague promise, not unlike others the North Koreans have broken in the past, about working toward the goal of denuclearization. Yet North Korea has just as many nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and nuclear facilities and personnel, and precisely as much fissile material, as before Trump and Kim shook hands and signed a document in which North Korea vowed to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”

 

Not only that, but the North Koreans have come away from the summit with a much more immediate pledge from the president to suspend U.S.-South Korea military exercises that the North has long viewed as a threat. The North Koreans may view their denuclearization commitment as a pie-in-the-sky pledge to give up their nuclear weapons once the nuclear-armed United States withdraws its protection for South Korea and ceases all hostile behavior toward North Korea. The statement they endorsed includes no details on how denuclearization will be implemented, how long it will take, or even what first moves the North will make toward that objective.

Read the entire piece here.

Mike Pence also believes that North Korea is now denuclearized.  Here is what he told the Southern Baptist Convention earlier today:

We certainly saw that in high relief over the last several days, didn’t we? Just this morning, the President returned from a historic summit with Kim Jong Un of North Korea. The President went to this meeting as, in his words, “on a mission of peace,” but with eyes wide open. And I can report, the meeting that took place was direct and honest, provocative, and productive. It resulted in a bold first step where North Korea’s leader committed to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. (Applause.)

This is what authoritarian populists do.  Trump and Pence spread false information and propaganda to rally their base in the hopes that their followers will not do the hard and difficult work of fact-checking.  It is the height of anti-intellectualism and evangelicals are especially susceptible to it.  And when people do fact-check, Trump and Pence demonize the fact-checkers as enemies of the state.

Mike Pence Delivers a Trump Stump Speech at the Southern Baptist Convention

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This, of course, is why Donald Trump picked him in the first place–to shore-up the evangelical base.

I think it is safe to say that the new president of the Southern Baptist Convention, J.D. Greear, might agree with the title of this post:

I wonder if Greear will elaborate on this tweet at some point.

Here are some more tweets from the Pence speech:

Virginia Southern Baptist Pastor: Replace Pence Speech With a Time of Prayer

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Pastor Kell in action

Here is Pastor Garrett Kell of Del Ray Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia:

I want to be clear, this has nothing to do with Mr. Pence personally.  From my understanding he is a born-again Christian man and attends one of the churches in our convention.  I think we should pray for him in his all-important service of our country.

But as a pastor that strives to grow in unity, gospel faithfulness, and mission efforts in our local churches, I have three brief concerns regarding this decision and the way it effects our churches.

The first is the unity of our church.  For many years we have been talking about loving and listening to our minority brothers and sisters.  This invitation [to Pence] does nothing to suggest that we actually listening.  Not only are many of us in this room hurt and bothered by this invitation, but also many of our minority brothers and sisters will especially be hurt by this invitation and I fear it will communicate to many of them that our political associations are more important than our associations with them.

Secondly, in regards to the clarity of the Gospel.  What binds this Convention together is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Because of that, this Convention ought to be marked by the things we share in common, not things that faithful Christians can disagree with.  By associating publicly with any administration, we send a mixed message to our members suggesting that to be faithful to the Gospel we ought to align with a political administration.  We must do all that we can to preserve the purity of the Gospel, and this invitation [to Mike Pence] works against it.  I even had a perspective member this week ask me if they needed to vote Republican in order to join our church….

Thirdly, and finally, the safety of our overseas workers.  Whether rightly or wrongly, this current administration provokes strong reactions and in some cases great hostility in many regions of the world.  I’m not here to debate those policies at all. But publicly aligning our workers with this or any administration puts our workers in unnecessary risk because of the decisions of an administration.  What is said in Washington echoes around the world and having Mr. Pence come [to the SBC meeting] further hinders our work I think.

In conclusion, I would like us to consider Romans 14:19: “So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.”  Which is the reason I would like us to reconsider this invitation because brothers and sisters right now there is a world filled with people who are going to hell and what we need to be about is the Gospel, and anything that can distort that I think is a step backward and not a step forward.  Thank you.

At this point, Grant Ethridge, the “chairman of the committee on order of business,” took the microphone.  Here is what he said:

Thank you Mr. President.  First of all dear brother I want you to know I love and respect you.  I hear what you are saying in your concern.  And I am personally very sensitive to the issue that you have raised.

I pastor in a city that is 53% African American.  Praise God–to his Glory–our church has moved from being an all-white, Republican church to a church that is multi-generational, multi-ethnic, and multi-site.  So again, I hear your concerns and I am very sensitive to it.

I want the messengers to hear the heart of our committee.  Our program recognizes and honors local, state, and national leaders.  Let me be clear: the Southern Baptist Convention aligns itself with no political party.  Our loyalty is to King Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  You need to know that the White House reached out to us.  Our president, Dr. Steve Gaines, asked me to follow-up on the opportunity. Our interim president of the EC Agi Boto asked me to handle this specific matter.

So in keeping with our SBC history, we have had many government official to address our convention.  We have many other government officials who will be addressing the convention today and tomorrow.  So as in keeping with what the precedent has been in the past, I have sought to carry out my duties in a Christ-honoring way.  Since we’re Baptists the Bible is our final authority for faith and practice, I will let the word of God speak for and to us.

1 Timothy 2:1: “First of all I urge that petition, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made for everyone, for Kings and all those who are in authority.” Verse three says “this is good and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.

Romans 13:1 says “let everyone submit to the governing authorities.  Titus 3:1 says “Remind them to submit to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to slander no one, to avoid fighting, to be kind, always showing gentleness to all people.”

I Peter 2:17 for me really sums it up. Honor everyone.  Love the brethren.  Fear God.  Honor the emperor, or some of your translations will say honor the King.  In Act 25:11, Paul even said I appeal to Caesar. So as a committee, we feel to not show hospitality to those in authority would be a bad testimony for Southern Baptists.

On a personal note, if President Obama’s White House had contact us and I was chairman of this committee, we would have exercised the same judgement and welcomed them to the Southern Baptist Convention.

The word of God is clear about our response to all governments, from Rome to the U.S., from Caesar to the President and I believe we respect the position regardless of whether or not you supported or voted for the person.

Therefore we strongly urge the messengers to extend a biblical Christ-like welcome to the Vice President of the United States.  Thank you.

You can judge for yourself what to make of these statements, but I have two very quick thoughts:

  1.  Rev. Ethridge made a pretty compelling biblical case for opposition to the American Revolution and the philosophy that the American Revolution rests upon.
  2. When he says that he would extend the same welcome to Barack Obama, I don’t believe him.  Sorry.  I cannot see that happening.  The same goes for Hillary Clinton.
  3. Why don’t red flags go up when the Trump administration asks to send a surrogate to the Southern Baptist Convention.  Didn’t anyone thing that the administration was using and manipulating them for political gain?  Was this even raised among the committee Ethridge leads?

Watch the entire thing go down here.

Can the Southern Baptist Convention Think of Any More Ways to Shoot Itself in the Foot?

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The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has announced that Vice President Mike Pence will be speaking tomorrow at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center in Dallas as part of the denomination’s annual meeting.

At a time when the SBC needs to get its house in order, heal wounds, and discuss how it can move forward together, convention leadership has decided to welcome the chief surrogate of one of the most divisive presidential administrations in recent memory.  What are they thinking?

Anyone following religious news in the last several months knows that the #metoo movement has found its way to the largest Protestant denomination in America.  In May, over 3000 SBC women sent an open letter to the Board of Trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary demanding the firing of Paige Patterson, the seminary president.

As one of the primary architects of the denomination’s “conservative resurgence” in the 1980s, Patterson is a living legend in the SBC. He and his supporters managed to purge the SBC of those who did not believe in biblical inerrancy, a view of the Bible that teaches that the Old and New Testaments, as they were originally written, contain no errors in matters of faith and science.  The conservative resurgence also championed “complementarianism,” a reading of the Bible that teaches male “headship” in marriage, the family, business, and the church.

Patterson was a master political operator.  Along with Paul Pressler, a Houston judge who shared Patterson’s views, inerrancy and complementarianism became official SBC doctrines.

Once the conservatives gained power, Patterson ruled with an iron hand.  Those who disagreed with his views lost leadership positions in churches and seminaries.

But over the course of the last few months, the world that Paige Patterson created has collapsed around him.

Earlier this year, a recording surfaced of Patterson saying that he advised female victims of domestic abuse to stay with their husbands.  Then a video emerged showing Patterson, while preaching a sermon, describing the physical appearance of a teenage girl in an inappropriate manner.

These accounts led other Southern Baptist women to come forward with their own their stories.  When Megan Lively, a former student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary during the Patterson’s time as president, was sexually assaulted on campus, Patterson told her not to report the incident to the police.  In describing her meeting with Patterson and his self-proclaimed “proteges,” Lively said the men “shamed the crap out of me.”

In 2015, when a Southwestern student told Patterson that she had been raped, he said he would meet with the student alone, so he could “break her down.”

The Board of Trustees at Southwestern eventually removed Patterson from his post and stripped him of his retirement fringe benefits, including a large home on the Fort Worth campus

Patterson is now gone, but the problem of authoritarian and misogynistic Southern Baptist leaders remains.  The Patterson case exposed the dark side of the SBC and its conservative resurgence.  Albert Mohler, the authoritarian president of Southern Seminary in Louisville and another architect of the conservative resurgence, declared that the “wrath of God” is now being poured out on the convention.

On June 6, Former SBC president Ronnie Floyd, fearful that his beloved denomination was falling apart over the Patterson affair, pleaded with his people via Twitter: “Southern Baptists: Refuse disunity within our ranks!  There is nothing biblical or godly relating to creating disunity.”

Apparently, few are listening to Floyd, one of Donald Trump’s court evangelicals.  If they were listening, they would not have invited Mike Pence to their convention this week.

By welcoming Mike Pence to Dallas, the convention is sending a message to its members and the rest of the world that it does not really care about healing its wounds.  The opportunity to entertain the Vice President of the United States was obviously just too good for the SBC to pass up.  Healing and repentance will need to wait for another time.

Politics divides Christians.  It always has.  Southern Baptists should know this better than most. The convention was founded in 1845 when Baptists in the South split with Northern Baptists over the most contentious political issue of the age:  slavery.

Anyone who watched SBC leaders bickering and fighting in 2016 over whether to support Donald Trump can testify to the divisive power of politics.  Just ask Russell Moore, the president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.  He almost lost his job for opposing Donald Trump.

Rather than directly confronting the way it has treated women in the past, the SBC has chosen to welcome the chief surrogate of a presidential administration with a long track record of degrading women in public.

Instead of Pence, the SBC should have invited Carly Fiorina, Megyn Kelly or Heidi Cruz—all victims of Donald Trump’s misogyny.  But that would never happen.   If they were given a major platform at the SBC meeting it would undermine the doctrine of complementarianism.

In a statement on Monday, outgoing SBC president Steve Gaines said that Pence’s speech on Wednesday will “express appreciation to Southern Baptists for the contributions we make to the moral fabric of our nation.”

Oh the irony!

Mike Pence Will Visit the Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention

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This morning I was talking to a reporter about this week’s annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention.  The reporter asked me if I thought the Southern Baptists will make some kind of resolution about Donald Trump or any of his policies.

I said I thought that it was highly unlikely that the convention would dabble in politics since it is so divided on whether or not Trump is good for America.  I told the reporter that the convention has enough problems to deal with in the wake of the #metoo and #sbctoo movements and, if they are wise, they would steer clear of politics.   I thought they might take the advice of former Southern Baptist president Ronnie Floyd:

I was apparently wrong.  The convention just announced that Mike Pence will be attending the meeting.

Here is a taste of a report from the Baptist Press:

DALLAS (BP) — Vice President Mike Pence will address the Southern Baptist Convention on Wednesday (June 13).

The announcement of Pence’s 11 a.m. address to messengers and invited guests at the June 12-13 annual meeting in Dallas was made by SBC President Steve Gaines and Grant Ethridge, chairman of the convention’s Committee on Order of Business, in a joint press release today (June 11).

“We are excited to announce Vice President Mike Pence will be attending this year’s SBC annual meeting to express appreciation to Southern Baptists for the contributions we make to the moral fabric of our nation,” Gaines said.

Southern Baptist leaders estimate the number of messengers from the convention’s cooperating churches may approach 11,000 with an additional 4,000 invited guests on the final day of the two-day convention.

“It’s an honor to welcome Vice President Pence,” Ethridge said. “While the Southern Baptist Convention aligns itself with no political party, our program recognizes and honors local, state and national leaders in keeping with 1 Timothy 2:1–2

Read the entire piece here.  The Southern Baptist Convention continues to shoot itself in the foot.

Mike Pence Tells Pastors to “Share the good news of Jesus Christ.”

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Yesterday Mike Pence appeared before a group of court evangelicals and Christian nationalists and exhorted them to “share the good news of Jesus Christ.”  Here is a taste of a Christian Broadcasting Network piece on Pence’s appearance at the Watchman on the Wall Conference:

In a last second surprise appearance before a pastors conference in Washington DC, Vice President Mike Pence outlined how the Trump administration has championed causes important to the evangelical community and implored them to continue to, “share the good news of Jesus Christ.”

“Other than the service of those who wear the uniform of the United States especially our cherished fallen, the ministries that you lead and the prayers that you pray are the greatest consequence in the life of the nation,” the vice-president told those attending the 2018 Watchman on the Wall conference sponsored by the Family Research Council.

“Keep preaching the good news. Keep preaching in season and out of season as the Bible says. Always be prepared to give a reason for the hope that you have,” he continued.

So just what did Pence mean by “the good news of Jesus Christ?”  Here are some possible options:

  • Go ye into all the world and proclaim Donald Trump as God’s anointed messenger sent to restore America to its Christian roots.
  • Go ye into all the world and proclaim that America was founded as a Christian nation.
  • Go ye into all the world and continue to teach people to live in fear rather than hope.
  • Go ye into all the world and proclaim and peddle nostalgia for some of the darkest moments in American life.
  • Go ye into all the world and proclaim the right not to bake cakes for people you don’t like.
  • Go ye into all the world and proclaim the need to fight for your rights.
  • Go ye into all the world and proclaim the need to elect the right candidates in the next election.
  • Go ye into all the world and proclaim the need for victory in the culture wars.
  • Go ye into all the world and proclaim that the man in the oval office is a serial liar.
  • Go ye into all the world and proclaim the need to call immigrants rapists and murderers.
  • Go ye into all the world and proclaim and defend that guy who said that there were “good people” on both sides in Charlottesville.
  • Go ye into all the world and proclaim support for a politician who has committed adultery with a porn star and Playboy playmate.

Unfortunately, the real message of the Gospel–the “good news”–has been corrupted in the minds of so many Americans because of Mike Pence, Donald Trump, and the kind of people who gathered at the “Watchman on the Wall” event.  These men and women have exchanged the Gospel for political power and at the very least have funneled the “good news” through the lens of partisan politics.  Their gospel is Christian nationalism and it is best preached with a healthy dose of fear, power, and nostalgia.

And as long as we are at it, let’s name some of the names of the people who spoke at this event:

Kay Arthur

Michelle Bachmann

David Barton

Lt. Gen. William Boykin

Jim Garlow

Bishop Harry Jackson

Josh McDowell

Tony “Mulligan” Perkins

Todd Starnes

George Will: Mike Pence is “Horrifying”

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Hey George Will, why don’t you tell us what you REALLY think about Vice President Mike Pence?

Will pulls no punches in his recent column at The Washington Post.  Here is a taste:

Last June, a Trump Cabinet meeting featured testimonials offered to Dear Leader by his forelock-tugging colleagues. His chief of staff, Reince Priebus, caught the spirit of the worship service by thanking Trump for the “blessing” of being allowed to serve him. The hosannas poured forth from around the table, unredeemed by even a scintilla of insincerity. Priebus was soon deprived of his blessing, as was Tom Price. Before Price’s ecstasy of public service was truncated because of his incontinent enthusiasm for charter flights, he was the secretary of health and human services who at the Cabinet meeting said, “I can’t thank you enough for the privileges you’ve given me.” The vice president chimed in but saved his best riff for a December Cabinet meeting when, as The Post’s Aaron Blake calculated, Pence praised Trump once every 12 seconds for three minutes: “I’m deeply humbled. . . . ” Judging by the number of times Pence announces himself “humbled,” he might seem proud of his humility, but that is impossible because he is conspicuously devout and pride is a sin.

Between those two Cabinet meetings, Pence and his retinue flew to Indiana for the purpose of walking out of an Indianapolis Colts football game, thereby demonstrating that football players kneeling during the national anthem are intolerable to someone of Pence’s refined sense of right and wrong. Which brings us to his Arizona salute last week to Joe Arpaio, who was sheriff of Maricopa County until in 2016 voters wearied of his act.

Noting that Arpaio was in his Tempe audience, Pence, oozing unctuousness from every pore, called Arpaio “another favorite,” professed himself “honored” by Arpaio’s presence, and praised him as “a tireless champion of . . . the rule of law.” Arpaio, a grandstanding, camera-chasing bully and darling of the thuggish right, is also a criminal, convicted of contempt of court for ignoring a federal judge’s order to desist from certain illegal law enforcement practices. Pence’s performance occurred eight miles from the home of Sen. John McCain, who could teach Pence — or perhaps not — something about honor.

Henry Adams said that “practical politics consists in ignoring facts,” but what was the practicality in Pence’s disregard of the facts about Arpaio? His pandering had no purpose beyond serving Pence’s vocation, which is to ingratiate himself with his audience of the moment. The audience for his praise of Arpaio was given to chanting “Build that wall!” and applauded Arpaio, who wears Trump’s pardon like a boutonniere.

Read the entire piece here.  Ouch! We could probably write a similar piece about Pence as a spokesperson for evangelicalism.

The BBC on the White House Bible Study

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Ralph Drollinger is #35

We have written about the Bible study in the White House here and here.  Now the BBC has a piece on it and its leader, former UCLA basketball player Ralph Drollinger.

Here is a taste:

Every Wednesday, some of the world’s most powerful people meet in a conference room in Washington DC to learn about God.

The location can’t be revealed – the Secret Service won’t allow it – but the members can.

Vice-President Mike Pence. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The list goes on.

In total, 10 cabinet members are “sponsors” of the group. Not everyone attends every meeting – they are busy people – but they go if they can.

Meetings last between 60 and 90 minutes, and members are free to contact the teacher after-hours. So who is the man leading the United States’ most-influential bible study?

Step forward Ralph Drollinger, a seven-foot tall basketball pro turned pastor. Or, as the 63-year-old describes himself: “Just a jock with some bad knees.”

Read the rest here.

Who Do Evangelicals Trust on Politics?

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A recent poll has found that almost fifty percent of evangelicals say a Donald Trump recommendation would make them more likely to vote for a candidate.  Meanwhile, fifty-four percent of evangelicals said a Hillary Clinton endorsement would make them less likely to vote for a candidates.

Here is the list of evangelicals’ most-trusted celebrity endorsers:

  1. Donald Trump
  2. Mike Pence
  3. George W. Bush
  4. Paul Ryan
  5. Barack Obama
  6. Michelle Obama
  7. Oprah
  8. Joel Osteen
  9. Bernie Sanders
  10. Jerry Falwell Jr.

Here is the list of evangelical’s least-trusted celebrity endorsers:

  1. Hillary Clinton
  2. Kim Kardashian
  3. Nancy Pelosi
  4. Bill Clinton
  5. Kanye West
  6. Barack Obama
  7. Michelle Obama
  8. Beyonce
  9. Ellen DeGeneres
  10. Bernie Sanders

Kate Shellnut has a story on this survey at Christianity Today.  Read it here.

A few quick observations:

  • Joel Osteen is the only minister who made the top ten.
  • Evangelicals trust Oprah more than ministers to offer them political advice.
  • The Obamas and Bernie Sanders are on both lists.
  • Evangelicals do not take political advice from Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, Beyonce, and Ellen, but the fact they they made the “least-trusted” list shows that they are clearly obsessed with these celebrities.

Mike Pence’s Failure

Kim Yong Nam, Kim Yo Jong, Mike Pence

AP photo

Mike Pence’s behavior last night at the Opening Ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics raises a few questions.

In case you missed it, Pence was sitting in the same diplomatic box with Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.  Pence did not acknowledge the North Korean diplomat and refused to stand when the unified Korean team marched into the stadium.

I guess there might be good political reasons to avoid shaking hands and greeting the North Korean delegation.  Frankly, I don’t know how these diplomatic things are supposed to work.  But Pence is also a Christian–and likes to make a big deal about that fact.  I would think that an evangelical Christian would make every effort to make a real human connection with his enemy, especially if she was seated only a few feet away.

Pence dehumanized Kim Yo Jong and the North Korean delegation.  He placed his global politics over an acknowledgement of basic human dignity.

Is Donald Trump the Most Pro-Life President in American History?

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Mike Pence thinks so:

Vice President Mike Pence told tens of thousands of pro-life activists gathered in D.C. that President Trump is the “most pro-life president in American history.”

In his remarks to the 45th March for Life, which were broadcast live via satellite from the Rose Garden, the vice president said the U.S. Supreme Court launched the pro-life movement 45 years ago when it created a constitutional right to abortion in Roe v. Wade.

“A movement that continues to win hearts and minds,” Mr. Pence said. “A movement defined by generosity, compassion and love, and a movement that one year ago tomorrow inaugurated the most pro-life president in American history, President Donald Trump.”

He touted Mr. Trump’s pro-life accomplishments, including “preventing taxpayer dollars from funding abortions overseas” and “nominating judges who will uphold our God-given liberties enshrined in the Constitution of the United States.”

“This president has been a tireless defender of life and conscience in America,” he said. “And today, President Trump will do even more to defend the must vulnerable in our society.”

This means nothing.  Trump has done nothing yet to limit abortions in America.  Let’s see how significantly abortion declines during his presidency and then we can talk.  Abortions have been declining in America since 2006.  Let’s see if Trump can keep it going.  (Of course you want to define “pro-life” in a way that includes the protection of human life outside the womb, we need to have another conversation).

So far, Barack Obama appears to be the most pro-life president in American history since Roe v. Wade.  In fact, abortions shrunk every year Obama was in office.

What Does Donald Trump REALLY Think About Evangelicals?

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Here is a taste of Jane Mayer’s very revealing long-form New Yorker essay on Vice-President Mike Pence:

“Trump thinks Pence is great,” Bannon told me. But, according to a longtime associate, Trump also likes to “let Pence know who’s boss.” A staff member from Trump’s campaign recalls him mocking Pence’s religiosity. He said that, when people met with Trump after stopping by Pence’s office, Trump would ask them, “Did Mike make you pray?” Two sources also recalled Trump needling Pence about his views on abortion and homosexuality. During a meeting with a legal scholar, Trump belittled Pence’s determination to overturn Roe v. Wade. The legal scholar had said that, if the Supreme Court did so, many states would likely legalize abortion on their own. “You see?” Trump asked Pence. “You’ve wasted all this time and energy on it, and it’s not going to end abortion anyway.” When the conversation turned to gay rights, Trump motioned toward Pence and joked, “Don’t ask that guy—he wants to hang them all!”

Read the entire piece here.

This reminds me of the late David Kuo‘s 2007 book Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction in which he suggested that George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove manipulated evangelicals to support Republican candidates.

Do You Expect Me to Believe that Mike Pence Did Not Know the 49ers Would Kneel?

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Apparently the President of the United States and the Vice-President of the United States plotted to pull a political stunt at yesterday’s Colts-49ers game.

 

So let’s get this straight:

  1. These two guys are spending their time discussing how to use the NFL player protests on racial inequality for their own political advantage.  This is grandstanding at its worst.
  2. Does Pence really believe that these NFL protests are about the American flag or the national anthem?
  3. Pence knows how to take orders.  He is the court evangelical of all court evangelicals.  I would love to know if the United States or Donald Trump has ever done something that would force him to choose his identity as a Christian over his patriotism.
  4. Pence made all the Indianapolis Colts fans come early to the stadium and go through extra security when he knew darn well that he would be leaving before the start of the game.
  5. It is likely that Pence spent well over $200,000 in taxpayer money to pull off this stunt.
  6. Please, please, please don’t tell me that Trump and Pence “want to bring this country together” when they pull stunts like this.
  7. Hard-core Trump supporters who practice the religion of patriotism will love this stunt.  Even worse, I know evangelical Christians who claim to worship a God who transcends national identities who will cheer this stunt.  When these people see the image I have posted above their chests will swell and their hearts will beat faster.  Patriotism is not wrong, but the kind political anger they feel–the same kind of anger expressed during their “lock her up” chants at Trump rallies–is sinful.

Here is Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star:

INDIANAPOLIS – North Korea and its nukes can wait. The White House has declared war on the NFL. And on the First Amendment.

Two weeks after President Trump decreed that NFL players who kneel during the national anthem should be fired, Vice President Mike Pence walked out of Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday after about 20 members of the San Francisco 49ers knelt during the anthem. The 49ers were in town to play the Indianapolis Colts.

Pence was in town to upstage Peyton Manning.

What, you think he didn’t know the 49ers would kneel on Sunday? Pence knew. The 49ers are the one franchise, the only franchise, that have had at least one player kneel before every game since Colin Kaepernick was the first to do it in the 2016 preseason. Kaepernick played for the 49ers, of course. Last week, following Trump’s unpatriotic assertion that he would fire someone for exercising their First Amendment rights, more than half the San Francisco roster knelt.

Pence knew.

Hell, the media members that follow Pence were told before the game not to bother leaving their vans and enter Lucas Oil Stadium, according to a tweet from NBC News Vaughn Hillyard. They wouldn’t be there long, because Pence wouldn’t be there long. Trump, as Trump is wont to do, took credit in a tweet for Pence’s walkout by saying he’d asked Pence to leave if anyone knelt.

This was planned.

Read the rest of the piece here.

No Mike Pence, Jefferson Did Not Say That

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Over at Time, Olivia Waxman offers some tips on how to avoid making the same mistake Mike Pence did the other day on Fox & Friends when he claimed that Thomas Jefferson said “Government that governs least governs best.”

Here is a taste of her post:

Jefferson was a skilled writer — he was the author of the Declaration of Independence, after all — but the ability to sum up his worldview in one sentence was not one of his “many talents,” as Berkes puts it. A sentence that seems to encapsulate his whole philosophy is likely the work of someone else.

On the other hand, Ben Franklin was, which can make his fake quotations particularly difficult to dope out. “He tended to be quite pithy [and] he tended to be quite concise, which is not something that was typical of the other people in that Founding generation, so that’s not helpful,” says Kate Ohno, associate editor of the Franklin Papers. For him, it’s the subject matter (or anachronistic word choice) that can be a giveaway. “He was an intellectually curious guy who was interested in everything, but he tended to focus more on the practical than the theoretical. He tends to address specific problems that he sees in society.”

But there are always exceptions, Ohno adds; for example, in a volume she’s editing at the moment is the Franklin quote, “I am of opinion that there never was a bad peace, nor a good war,” which defies the specificity rule.

And that’s all the more reason to think twice about a great quotation.

So how can you find what the Founding Fathers really said? Searching the Founders Online (the National Archives’ online database of their papers) is a good place to start.

Read the entire piece here.

Mike Pence May Be the Court Evangelical of All Court Evangelicals

Here is Mike Pence’s commencement speech at Grove City College:

Pence gave Grove City graduates a lesson on leadership

  1.  Leadership requires character
  2.  Leaders must be servants of others
  3.  Leaders must be courageous.  Courage will always lead to criticism

After laying out these three principles of leadership Pence said:  “You don’t need to any further than a friend of mine as an example of leadership and perseverance. The 45th President of the United States of the America, President Donald Trump.  (Applause)

I need to add Pence to the list.