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Daniel Burke has it covered at CNN. He talked to Franklin Graham, Peter Wehner, Warren Throckmorton, Michelle Margolis, and your truly.
The most revealing part of this article is when Burke asked Graham to respond to Christians who think Trump hurts the church. Burke writes: “Asked how he would answer critics who say that Trump and his evangelical allies are actually a threat to the church, Graham declined to engage the question. ‘I wouldn’t even answer a person like that. I don’t think it’s valid at all.'”
This is yet another example of the current divide in American evangelicalism. Graham is incapable of understanding that there are people who share his faith and also believe Trump is damaging the witness of the Gospel. And if such people do exist (and they do), he seems to suggest that he has nothing to say to them because they are wrong.
Here is a taste of Burke’s piece:
Because of his charity work and family name, Graham carries immense influence over American evangelicals, said John Fea, author of “Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump.”
“What he says politically is going to sway how many American evangelicals vote and pray.”
But Fea is among the evangelicals critical of Graham’s pro-Trump prayer event.
The historian notes that Graham ended his Facebook post with a dark biblical warning about the array of spiritual forces aligned against contemporary Christians.
“That’s a code verse,” Fea said. “It sends a clear message to his followers that there is something at work here beyond politics. He’s saying that America is under spiritual attack and equating the attacks on Trump with that.”
Graham said he doesn’t agree with all of Trump’s policies and that God commands Christians to pray for their secular leaders. “If he’s a good President, it benefits every American of every race and gender.” Still, Graham acknowledged that Trump has been an especially attentive patron to his evangelical base, calling him the “most pro-Christian President in my lifetime.”
But other evangelicals have noted the obvious: That Trump’s actions as President have not, and likely will not, benefit everyone.
Read the entire article here.
..And yet, precisely on the question of religion as an instrumental good, there is real cause for concern about Mayor Pete. His insistence that “Christian faith is going to point you in a progressive direction” is a bright-red flag, and ought to worry Christians regardless of their politics.
To say that Christianity points you in a progressive direction is in effect to say that Christianity and progressivism are synonymous. They aren’t. Neither are Christianity and conservatism. Christianity stands apart from and in judgment of all political ideologies; it doesn’t lend itself to being put in neat and tidy political categories. That doesn’t mean that at any particular moment in time a Christian ethic won’t lead people of faith to more closely align with one political and philosophical movement over another. But the temptation, always, is to politicize faith in ways that ultimately are discrediting.
Read the entire piece here.
Wehner’s piece is similar to the argument of James Davison Hunter in To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World. Hunter calls out both the Religious Right and the Religious Left for turning to electoral politics to advance their missions. He offers another way defined by “faithful presence.”
Here is his tweet:
Mr. Trump was emotionally/psychologically unwell when he became president. His condition is clearly worsening. He’s becoming more volatile, erratic and unstable. At some point he’s going to blow apart. When he does it’ll create a crisis. This won’t end well. Pray for our country.
— Peter Wehner (@Peter_Wehner) August 19, 2018
This was the title of a symposium held recently at Holy Trinity Parish in Washington. The event was sponsored by the Georgetown University Institute of Politics and Public Service and the Georgetown’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life. Speakers included John Carr (Georgetown), Jocelyn Kiley (Pew Research Center), E.J. Dionne (Washington Post), Peter Wehner (Ethics and Public Policy Center), and Joshua DuBois (former director of White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships).
Here is a taste of an article on the symposium published by Catholic News Service:
Representing the conservative side was panelist Peter Wehner – a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and director of its Faith Angle Forum, and a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush and the co-author of City of Man: Religion and Politics in a New Era.
“I do think Democrats have a problem with religion,” Wehner said. “It’s a party that’s increasingly secular.”
Dionne, who often supports progressive causes in his columns, countered by saying, “Democrats are not a secular party. Most Democrats are part of a religious tradition.”
Wehner noted that the Democratic Party remains a minority party, with Republicans controlling the White House, both houses of Congress, and a majority of governorships and state legislatures, but he added that he thinks Democrats will likely take control of the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2018 mid-term elections.
Read the entire piece here.
Peter Wehner is an evangelical Christian and a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He is a leading anti-Trump conservative. Wehner has served under Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush.
You may recall that we addressed the court evangelical hypocrisy yesterday.
Conservative evangelical public intellectual Peter Wehner has been anti-Trump from the start. In his recent piece at Religion News Service he calls out the Christians I have called the court evangelicals and connects their rise with changes taking place in American Christianity.
Here is a taste:
We’re at a hinge moment in the public witness of American Christianity.
The evangelical Christian movement in America is being compromised and discredited by the way prominent leaders have associated themselves with, first, the Donald J. Trump campaign and now, the Trump presidency. If this is allowed to define evangelical attitudes toward political power, the public witness of Christianity will be undermined in durable ways.
I say this recognizing that the last election involved difficult choices upon which reasonable and well-intentioned people disagreed. I understand the argument of those who believed that Mr. Trump was the better of two bad options, whose policies would do less damage to the country than Hillary Clinton’s.
But the worry is that now that the election is over and there is no binary Trump-Clinton choice, many evangelical Christians have lost the capacity to hold the president accountable when he transgresses norms, violates principles and acts in malicious ways. In fact, they have become among his most prominent and reliable public defenders.
Either by their public defense of Trump or their self-indicting silence, certain prominent evangelicals — including Franklin Graham, Eric Metaxas, Jerry Falwell Jr., Robert Jeffress, Ralph Reed and James Dobson — are effectively blessing a leader who has acted in ways that are fundamentally incompatible with a Christian ethic.
Read the rest here.