Mike Pompeo’s Tweet Today is a Perversion of Christianity

Mike-Pompeo-Angry

Here is the tweet:

It would be very difficult to understand this tweet apart from Pompeo’s response yesterday to the NPR reporter who claimed that the Secretary of State screamed at her, cursed at her, and belittled her expertise following an interview.  You can get up to speed here.

Pompeo accused NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly of lying to him.  Here is his full statement:

“NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly lied to me, twice. First, last month, in setting up our interview and, then again yesterday, in agreeing to have our post-interview conversation off the record. It is shameful that this reporter chose to violate the basic rules of journalism and decency.

This is another example of how unhinged the media has become in its quest to hurt President Trump and this Administration. It is no wonder that the American people distrust many in the media when they so consistently demonstrate their agenda and their absence of integrity.

It is worth noting that Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine.”

Kelly, a respected reporter, claims that she did not lie to Pompeo about anything.  She told the Secretary’s staff  in advance that she would be asking questions about Ukraine.  She also claims that Pompeo did not say that the post-interview discussion was off the record.  National Public Radio CEO Michael Martin stands by Kelly.

Notice that Pompeo says nothing in this statement about his own behavior. He does not deny that Kelly’s account of his behavior is true.  And he does not apologize for the way he treated Kelly.  Pompeo’s statement suggests that if someone (allegedly) lies to you, you have the right to respond any way you want toward that person.  What kind of Christian example is this?  Again, here is my satirical addendum from last night’s post:

Hey Christian kids, when someone (allegedly) lies to you, you have every right to scream at them, mistreat them, degrade their expertise, and curse at them.  Just follow the example of evangelical role model and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his boss Donald Trump.  Don’t listen to all the evangelical anti-Trump losers who tell you to turn the other cheek.  Just fire-back in a press release or get your public relations people to book you on Fox News.  After all, we are in the middle of the culture war.  We can’t let little things like Jesus’s words in the Sermon on the Mount get in the way when we have so much work to do in our righteous quest to restore Christian values.

Pompeo ends his statement by saying, “It is worth noting that Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine.” Here Pompeo feels the need to take one more parting shot at Kelly.  As you may recall, Pompeo pulled out a blank map and asked Kelly to identify Ukraine on it. (Who has a blank map sitting around in his “living room” just in case he needs to quiz a guest?).  Kelly claims that after she accurately identified Ukraine on the blank map, Pompeo put it away.

On this map, Ukraine is in orange and Bangledesh is in green:

Bangladesh_Ukraine_Locator

Do we really believe that Kelly, who has a masters degree in European Studies from Cambridge University in England, confused Ukraine and Bangladesh? Pompeo’s parting shot was an attempt to belittle Kelly.  This is quite fitting of the Trump administration and their GOP enablers.  When they don’t like certain questions–usually questions by women–they try to attack the intelligence of the individual asking the question.  Remember this:

And this:

And this (fast forward to the “short sentences” line at the 0:40 mark):

(Thanks to Chris Cuomo of CNN for reminding me about these videos. He ran them on his show last night).

And now we come to Pompeo’s tweet this morning.  He quotes Proverbs 10:18: “Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips and spreads slander is a fool.” Pompeo uses this verse as a weapon against Kelly.  He is saying that Kelly not only lied to him, but in doing so she showed her hatred for the Trump administration (a common GOP mantra against all critics of the president) and she is a fool.

I don’t know if Kelly lied to Pompeo.  But if I had to choose between a widely respected journalist and the representative of a presidential administration that lies endlessly to the American people, I will go with the journalist.  It is also worth noting that Pompeo’s decision to tweet a verse about lying lips is especially rich coming from Donald Trump’s Secretary of State.

Pompeo’s use of Proverbs 10:18 to attack an NPR journalist is a perversion of Christianity.  Historian Robert Caro once said, “power doesn’t corrupt, it reveals.”  Pompeo’s weaponizing of scripture here reveals what evangelical Christianity has become over the last forty years of political captivity.

 

White Evangelical Leaders Talk Trump

d2ad3-liberty-university

Sarah McCammon, our favorite National Public Radio employee (see Episode 13), talks to court evangelical Johnnie Moore, Liberty University professor Karen Swallow Prior, and evangelical social activist Shane Claiborne.

Here is a taste of their conversation:

MCCAMMON: Karen Swallow Prior, you’re at Liberty University, of course, a place where the president, Jerry Falwell Jr., is a supporter of Trump. You know, I’m curious. You spend time around millennial and even younger evangelicals. What are their priorities when it comes to interaction with politics and culture?

PRIOR: Sure. I think the students at Liberty University really reflect what’s happening with the millennial generation and in general, and that is simply that there is sort of a disillusionment and disengagement from the political process. I think some of that is born of disappointment and from the past election and just distrust of the political process in general. And I see that as probably a healthy counterbalance to the generation that I came up in. I was part of the religious right and part of the culture wars, ethos from a few decades ago where we probably did place too much faith in politics, and we’re bearing the fruit of that now. And this is just a counterbalance that I see, and it’s healthy and corrective and good.

Read the rest here.  It would have been nice to see these folks talk to each other.  For example, Shane Claiborne is planning a “Red Letter Revival” this weekend in Lynchburg, the home of Liberty University.  Swallow teaches at Liberty.  Moore used to work for fellow court evangelical Jerry Falwell Jr.

What Happens When You Tweet the Declaration of Independence in the Age of Trump?

This.

Apparently Trump supporters are worried the the “liberals” at National Public Radio are trying to foment a revolution by tweeting the words of the Declaration of Independence.

There are a lot of things to say here, but I will refrain for now.  It does seem clear that some of those upset with the words and phrases tweeted did not realize that these were the words of the Declaration of Independence or did not care to do the simple research that would confirm this.  As a historian and educator this worries me the most.

 

Donald Trump and Pickett’s Charge

trump-civil-war

While I was at Regent College in Virginia Beach this weekend for the biennial meeting of the Conference on Faith and History I attended a Donald Trump rally. (More on this in a future post).  After the rally I talked with Sarah McCammon, a reporter for National Public Radio, about Trump’s visit to Gettysburg earlier in the day.

Listen here:

https://www.npr.org/player/embed/499067575/499077129

A little backstory.  When I met Sarah in the “press pen” at the rally I was with my friends and fellow historians Susan Fletcher and Jay Green.  Sarah was eager to talk to Susan for a future story she is doing on women and evangelicals.  Stay tuned for that story.  Susan did a great job speaking about her identity as an evangelical woman and her distaste for Donald Trump.

Following the interview Sarah and Susan (and Sarah’s young son) chatted a bit more and really hit if off.  Susan was going to be in Virginia Beach for an additional day following the conference and was looking for something to do.  Sarah graciously invited Susan for coffee and offered to show her around town on Sunday.   I hope they had a great day.

National Public Radio: "Reconsidering the Pilgrims, Piety, and America’s Founding Principles"

I am happy to have contributed to Tom Gjelten’s piece at the NPR blog.  Here is a taste:


Historians, however, have disputed the extent to which the Pilgrims can be counted as among America’s founding fathers.
“This is one little pocket of colonial America,” says John Fea of Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Penn. He has written widely on America’s early religious history.
“It’s hard to make the same argument if you’re studying Virginia or Pennsylvania or the Carolinas or Georgia,” Fea says. “We’ve taken that New England model and extrapolated from it over the last 200 or 300 years into some kind of view of the nation as a whole.”
Fea notes the absence of any reference to the Bible in either the Declaration of Independence or the U.S. Constitution.
“There are a lot of arguments that say, ‘This was just in the air. The Bible would have influenced their construction, even though it’s never mentioned,'” he says. “But as a historian, I need a smoking gun. Maybe they left it out because they deliberately wanted to leave it out.”

Barton on NPR

As many of you know, NPR did a feature this afternoon on David Barton.  Barbara Bradley Hagerty did a good job of trying to bring balance to the piece and balance a cacophony of different commentators, including Barton.  I was one of those commentators.  So was Warren Throckmorton, Ray McMillian, and Mat Staver of Liberty University (who said that Barton could defeat any historian in the country in a debate over America’s Christian origins).

Here is a taste of the companion web piece:

The idea that Jefferson was a civil rights visionary appalls the Rev. Ray McMillian, pastor of Oasis Church in Cincinnati.

“Thomas Jefferson hated African-Americans,” McMillian says. “He hated the color of our skin. He talked about how inferior we are, in both mind and body.”

McMillian is president of Cincinnati Area Pastors, which is boycotting the publisher of Barton’s book, Thomas Nelson Publishers. He says by “whitewashing” Jefferson — and all the other slaveholding founders, for that matter — Barton is rewriting history to make it palatable for Christians today.

“All in their hearts they’re saying, ‘If we could just go back there, America would be right,’ ” McMillian says. “Right for who?”

Not for blacks, not for women, not for Native Americans, he says — only for white men.

The story was fair and accurate, but I am still convinced, as I argued in Was America Founded as a Christian Nation: A Historical Introduction, that these issues are complex.  The question of whether or not the United States is a Christian nation cannot be solved in a handful of radio sound bites.  

I spoke to Hagerty on tape for over an hour and my thoughts were boiled down to a few 10 second bites.  Oh well.

Tomorrow: David Barton on "All Things Considered"

Just a heads up: 

The NPR radio program “All Things Considered” is scheduled to run Barbara Bradley Hagerty’s piece on David Barton tomorrow.  I contributed to this piece, but I have no idea how Hagerty will use the one hour interview I did with her. (She also interviewed Barton and Warren Throckmorton for the piece). Stay tuned.  I am told the segment will run sometime after the show begins at 4:00pm and I understand that there will be a substantial web piece as well.