Court evangelical Robert Jeffress quotes Micah 6:8 and applies it to election fraud

Justice for Trump!

About one hour ago, Robert Jeffress told Lou Dobbs on Fox News that the 2020 presidential election is “far from over.” Jeffress said the God requires Christians to “act justly, and that includes in elections as well.”

Watch:

Micah 6:8 says: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

And in other court evangelical news this evening:

Paula White is hosting another prayer meeting right now.

Ralph Reed is focusing on the upcoming Georgia Senate run-offs:

Earlier today Jim Garlow hosted another election fraud prayer meeting:

Court evangelical journalist David Brody is retweeting Trump’s press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. He retweeted all these McEnany tweets:

Biden is winning Michigan by more than 130,000 votes. Yet Charlie Kirk of Liberty University’s Falkirk Center demands a recount:

Charlie Kirk does not seem to understand that a lot of Americans live in cities:

He is also getting pretty desperate:

And what is a court evangelical roundup without Eric Metaxas? In this video he not only claims that there was election fraud, but that the Democratic Party deliberately planned it. “When the smoke clears,” Metaxas says, “Trump will be re-elected as president.”

In this interview, Metaxas and his guest John Smirak go after Rick Santorum and The National Review for questioning Trump’s claim of election fraud. Smirak says that never-Trumpers are just Republicans who want to be invited to “liberal’s cocktail parties where there might be some cute girls.” Watch:

On Joe Biden’s Evangelical Outreach

BIden 3

There are many white evangelicals out there who do not want to vote for Donald Trump, but they also refuse to vote for Joe Biden because they are worried about Supreme Court justices, abortion, and religious liberty. I know these people exist because they e-mail and message me regularly–almost every day.

At some point between now and Labor Day, I will try to write a post or publish something on whether or not an evangelical case can be made for Joe Biden. Stay tuned. But in this post I am writing more as a political observer.

David Brody’s reporting on the Biden outreach to evangelical Christians recently caught my eye. You can read it here.

I am not really sure what this outreach will look like. John McCarthy, the deputy national political director for he Biden Campaign, says that white evangelicals should be “open to Joe Biden’s message.” Why? Because Biden wants to build a “more fair and just society” that includes addressing climate change, racial injustice, and immigration reform. The Biden campaign is also conducting “listening sessions” with evangelical pastors and women. So far that’s it.

As Michael Wear points out in the Brody’s piece, the Hillary Clinton campaign did very little to attract white evangelical votes in 2016. Here is what I wrote in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump:

Though Clinton would never have come close to winning the evangelical vote, her tone-deafness on matters of deep importance to evangelicals may have been the final nail in the coffin of her campaign. In 2015, when a conservative pro-life group published videos showing Planned Parenthood employees discussing the purchase of the body parts and the fetal tissue of aborted fetuses, Clinton said, “I have seen the pictures [from the videos] and obviously find them disturbing.” Such a response could have helped her reach evangelicals on the campaign trail, but by 2016 she showed little ambivalence about abortion, or any understanding that it might pose legitimate concerns or raise larger ethical questions. During the third presidential debate, she defended a traditional pro-choice position and seemed to dodge Fox News host Chris Wallace’s question about her support for late-term abortions. There seemed to be no room in her campaign for those evangelicals who didn’t want to support Trump but needed to see that she could at least compromise on abortion.

Clinton was also quiet on matters pertaining to religious liberty. While she paid lip service to the idea whenever Trump made comments about barring Muslims from coming into the country, she never addressed the religious liberty issues facing many evangelicals. This was especially the case with marriage. Granted, evangelicals should not have expected Clinton to defend traditional marriage or promise to help overturn Obergefell v. Hodges, but she did not seem willing to support something akin to what law professor and author John Inazu has described as “confident pluralism.” The question of how to make room for people with religiously motivated beliefs that run contrary to the ruling in Obergefell is still being worked out, and the question is not an easy one to parse. But when Hillary claimed that her candidacy was a candidacy for “all Americans,” it seemed like an attempt to reach her base, not to reach across the aisle. Conservative evangelicals were not buying it.

Joe Biden is not Hillary Clinton. In other words, white evangelicals do not hate Biden. (Christians are not supposed to hate, but it really seems like they hate Hillary. I’ve heard this over and over again from those I met on the Believe Me book tour). Biden is now doing just as well, if not better, than Obama with white evangelicals. One could make a case that the Biden campaign does not need to have a white evangelical outreach plan. As long as he doesn’t do anything stupid (which is definitely possible for Joe) that might rile up white evangelicals, he will get more white evangelical votes in 2020 than Hillary in 2016.

But if Joe Biden’s team is interested in making serious inroads among white evangelicals who voted for Trump in 2016, he will need to do several things:

On abortion: Biden lost his chance to win over most white evangelicals on this issue when he reversed his position on the Hyde Amendment. But he can still win some white evangelicals, or at least make them more comfortable with a Biden presidency, if he talked openly about abortion and how his policies on poverty and racial injustice might contribute to the continued lowering of the abortion rate in America. (The high abortion rate among African Americans, for example, is directly related to systemic racism and poverty).

Right now, when Biden talks about abortion, he does so in order to convince his Democratic base that he is pro-choice. This was his strategy during the Democratic primary season. But what if he talks about abortion from the perspective of his Catholic faith and his personal opposition to the practice? This would require him to say that the number of abortion needs to be reduced in America. He could easily make such a case and still defend Roe v. Wade. Senator Bob Casey Jr. made a similar case against Rick Santorum in the 2006 Pennsylvania Senate election. Such an approach would also give Biden a chance to contrast his views on race and poverty with those of Trump. Biden should not only address abortion when people ask him about it, but he should make it a campaign issue. And yes, I know this is wishful thinking.

Biden also needs to articulate a more nuanced view of religious liberty, especially as it relates to institutions who uphold traditional views on sexuality. Most of the debate on religious liberty today lacks complexity. I would encourage Biden to read Inazu’s Confident Pluralism. He may also want to think about the Fairness for All legislation. Again I know this is a long shot. There will be too much pressure for Biden to follow party orthodoxy on this issue.

An appeal to racial justice, climate change, and immigration will attract some white evangelicals in 2020. But most of these will be the white evangelicals (16%) who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. If the Biden campaign wants to ignore my suggestions (above) on abortion and religious liberty, and focus its evangelical outreach solely on race, climate, and immigration, they will need to do a much better job connecting these issues to biblical faith. I am not confident that Biden can deliver on this front in the way that Obama and Hillary Clinton did in 2008 when they visited Messiah College and Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church.

The Game Is Not “On” For Santorum and Huckabee in 2016

Rick and Mike have tracked large numbers of evangelicals in previous presidential elections.  But not in 2012.  David Gushee, a professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University, turns to his Facebook followers for an explanation.

Here is a taste:

I posed this question to my online community, which includes a significant number of actual conservative evangelicals, as well as numerous close observers of American politics. Here are their several most cogent explanations, with my comments following.

–“Cruz and Carson tap into a sense of resentment much more so than Huckabee and Santorum.” Me: I can see that with Cruz, less so with Carson, at least most days. But yes, I don’t think anger and resentment are the native language of either Huckabee or Santorum.

–“Huckabee and Santorum are has-beens who have run before” and failed. Me: Yes, fresh faces do seem to do better in American politics. See: Bush, Jeb. But see: Clinton, Hillary.

–“Pro-life orthodoxy is necessary but not sufficient for the values voter today.” Me: Yes, I get that; Huckabee and Santorum basically have only the social conservative agenda, and this election’s social conservatives want more than that. This is a very important development, I think.

–“Ben Carson, because he’s black. Supporting Carson could therefore ease racial tensions…and ‘prove’ that there are no diversity problems within the Republican Party.” Another person suggested that the same kind of thing was happening with Cruz, vis-a-vis being Latino. Me: Now that’s a fascinating idea. I do think that most white evangelicals want to feel good about their anti-racist commitments, that the bad old days of racism are fully overcome. But does that really explain the success of Carson and Cruz among white evangelicals?

Read the rest here.

From the Archives: Education for a Democracy

How did Jefferson understand the idea of an “informed citizenry?”

I originally published this piece in March 2012 when I was writing my Patheos column “Confessing History.”  I loved writing that column and still stand by most of what I wrote.

Eventually Patheos moved away from individual columns in favor of blogs.  The editors moved me over to a new blog (at the time) called The Anxious Bench, where I stayed for several months before deciding to leave in order to focus more attention on The Way of Improvement Leads Home.

Much of what I wrote below found its way into my Why Study History: Reflecting on the Importance of the Past.  I still think it is relevant today in light of recent cuts to the humanities in college and K-12 education.

Here we go.  Again, from March 2012:
GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum made news recently when he called Barack Obama a “snob” for saying that all Americans should get a college education. He supported his attack on the president with the now popular refrain, “college is not for everyone.” Some Americans, he said, might be better suited for vocational training, community college, or apprenticeships.
It took only a few hours for pundits to figure out that Obama had basically said the same thing in a recent State of the Union Address, but in the world of presidential politics Santorum’s remarks probably scored some points among the conservative faithful.
But let’s consider the position taken by Santorum and Obama on this issue. Are the President and the former Senator correct in asserting that a liberal arts education is not for everyone? Maybe another lesson from the founding fathers is in order.
Most of the founders did not trust the uneducated masses. Many of them believed that common people, because of their lack of education, were not fully equipped for citizenship in a republic. Thomas Jefferson said that a “well-informed citizenry is the only true repository of the public will.” When Thomas Paine published “Common Sense,” a 1776 pamphlet that proposed a new American government based on the “common sense” of ordinary people, John Adams called it a “poor, ignorant, malicious, short-sighted, crapulous mass.” Jefferson wrote in his Notes on the State of Virginia (1782) that “government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone.”
Were the founders right? The debate will continue, but the founders now have some psychological research on their side. David Dunning, a psychologist at Cornell University, and Justin Kruger, a former Cornell graduate student, have found that incompetent people are unable to judge the competence of other people or the validity of their ideas. And their study implies that most people are incompetent. Dunning and Kruger conclude that “very smart ideas are going to be hard for people to adopt, because most people don’t have the sophistication to recognize how good an idea is.” They add: “To the extent that you are incompetent, you are a worse judge of incompetence in other people.”
Moreover, Dunning and Kruger have found that most people think too highly of their ability to understand complex ideas. They are self-delusional about their own knowledge. Even when they are judged by an outside evaluator as being poor at a particular task, they claim that their performance was “above average.”
If Dunning and Kruger are correct, then what does this say about American democracy? Perhaps the founders were right after all.
The founders believed that because people were ignorant by nature, and thus incapable of understanding what was best for the common good, education was absolutely essential to the survival of the American republic. This is why Jefferson founded the University of Virginia, the nation’s first public university. This is why George Washington, in his 1796 message to Congress, called for a national university that would teach the arts and sciences.
When the founders talked about education, they did not mean vocational training or apprenticeships. While this type of training was certainly important, they also wanted a citizenry trained in government, ethics (moral philosophy), history, rhetoric, science (natural philosophy), mathematics, logic, and classical languages, for these subjects made people informed and civil participants in a democratic society.
In other words, the founders understood that a liberal education was important to the democratic-republic they were building.
Now I realize that all of this might sound rather elitist. As the product of a working class family, it has always sounded elitist to me. I am the first person in my family to get a four-year degree. I have thus long appreciated and respected those who work with their hands. Our society needs carpenters and history majors, mechanics and sociologists. My brother is a plumber. My other brother is an interior trim contractor. My father was a general contractor and now, in his retirement, he is about to start working at Home Depot. Indeed, Santorum and Obama are right when they say that not everyone should get a four-year college education. In order for our economy to function we need people who are trained in professional schools, vocational schools, community colleges, and apprenticeships.
But is the kind of training necessary for a service-oriented capitalist economy to function the same kind of training necessary for a democracy to flourish? It would seem that the study of history, literature, philosophy, chemistry, politics, anthropology, biology, religion, rhetoric, and economics is essential for producing the kind of informed citizen necessary for a democracy to thrive. Democracy requires what the late Christopher Lasch called “the lost art of argument”—the ability to engage unfamiliar ideas and enter “imaginatively into our opponent’s arguments, if only for the purpose of refuting them.” The liberal arts teach this kind of civil dialogue. The founders knew what they were talking about.
Here’s a thought: What if all Americans were required to take two years of post-secondary liberal arts training? Many high school teachers do excellent work in teaching liberal arts subjects, but others do not. The incivility of our culture wars and the toxic nature of our public discourse suggest that more training in these fields is needed. Our students need information, but they also need to learn how to critique an argument, speak clearly and with respect to those with whom they differ, and entertain opposing beliefs in a benevolent fashion. I would even suggest that this training should take place after a person reaches the age of 30, when citizens are more aware of the practical benefits of the liberal arts in their daily lives.
But let’s not stop there. What if we also required American citizens (who are able) to do two years of physical labor—on a construction site or a road crew or a farm or someplace else? Such a requirement would give us all a deeper respect for the virtues of work. It would connect us to the land. It would teach us humility. It would be good for our bodies. It would teach us to work—literally—together. Jefferson, the same founding father who called for an informed citizenry, also said that “those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God.”
We should be worried about our democracy. We have replaced reasoned argument and debate with shouting matches. We need education—a liberal arts education rooted in the social sciences, hard sciences, and especially the humanities—to help cure our societal ills. We have proven that we can educate people for a capitalist economy, but we may have lost the founders’ original vision of education for a democracy.

Did You See Santorum and Pataki Square Off on the Kim Davis Case?

This has to be one of the more spirited exchanges of the GOP debates last night.  It came during the so-called “undercard” debate.  Here is Rick Santorum and George Pataki on the Kim Davis case:

Pataki is right here.

Santorum is making an argument based on natural law and God’s law.  He is free to make these arguments and he is free to try to convince others to join him in making these arguments.  But the United States was not founded as a nation based upon God’s law.  Of course it is possible to make the law of the Bible or “God’s law” the law of the United States, but such a change must take place through the ballot box, through the amendment process, or through other means that conform to the principles of a democratic society.

As for Martin Luther King, Santorum is correct when he says that King made an argument from the Birmingham jail based on natural law, theology, and the founding principles of the United States. But it required political action–from the Supreme Court (which is indirectly elected by the people), the Congress (elected directly by the people), and several Presidents (elected indirectly by the people through the Electoral College)–to make the hard work of civil rights activists the law of the land.

And I think I will take a pass on Santorum’s Columbine reference.  I’m not sure I understand the analogy.

John Kasich Invokes the "City on a Hill"

John F. Kennedy invoked the phrase in a speech to Massachusetts General Court in January 1961 before he headed off to Washington D.C. to be inaugurated President of the United States.

Ronald Reagan invoked the phrase in the 1980s.

I am sure George W. Bush used the phrase at some point.
Rick Santorum used it a lot during his 2012 presidential campaign.
And now Ohio Governor John Kasich has adopted the phrase.  He described the United States as a “city on a hill” when he announced his candidacy in July.  Last night, at the CNN GOP presidential debate at the Reagan Library, he introduced himself by saying that he wanted to “lift Americans, unify, give hope, grow America, and restore it to that great, shining city on a hill.”
Of course the phrase “city upon a hill” comes from John Winthrop’s 1630 “A Model of Christian Charity.” (It came from Matthew 5:14 before that).  It was delivered aboard the Arbella as it sailed to America with English men and women of Calvinist faith who were often referred to as “Puritans.” Winthrop would eventually help to found the colony of Massachusetts Bay and serve as its first governor.  
Winthrop and his fellow Puritans wanted to build a society in North America that was based upon the teachings of the Bible, as they interpreted it.  He realized that the Anglicans of England would be watching such an attempt to build a Bible-based society.  Massachusetts would thus be like a “city upon a hill” because the eyes of English Protestants would see both its successes and its failures.
Kennedy, Reagan, Bush, Santorum, and now Kasich, have applied this term in a way that is usually described as American exceptionalism–the idea that American democracy and ideals should be spread throughout the world and the United States should serve as an example in this regard for other nations to follow.
Santorum and Kasich (and to a much lesser extent Reagan and Bush) have argued in one form or another that the United States was founded as, or somehow needs to be, a Christian nation.  It is thus hard not to interpret their use of this phrase without connecting it in some way to their Christian nationalism.
I will be watching Kasich to see how he uses this phrase over the course of the next weeks and months, assuming he stays in the race for that long.  But it is worth noting that while Reagan described America in its current state (in the 1980s) as a “city upon a hill,” Kasich said that we need to restore America to that “great, shining city on a hill.”

Of course this raises even more questions.  Does he want to “restore” America to the way it was in the 17th century, at the time Winthrop first used the phrase?  Or does he want to “restore” America back to the way it was in the Reagan era?  Of perhaps he wants to “restore” America to the age of the Founding Fathers or the 19th century or the 1950s? Inquiring minds want to know.

Rick Santorum on Pope Francis

In case you have not heard, my former Senator and 2012 presidential candidate Rick Santorum is now a film executive.  He is the CEO of EchoLight Studios, a Christian movie studio based in Dallas.  In a recent interview with Elizabeth Tenety at The Washington Post, Santorum has some interesting things to say about Pope Francis.  Here is a taste:

Tenety: I want to talk a little bit about your church and Pope Francis. 2,000 years after the birth of this baby, of Jesus, the leader of the Catholic Church is one of the most influential human beings on Earth. What do you make of the ecstasy around Pope Francis?
Santorum: I love the fact that Pope Francis is out there talking about the beauty of the faith and what the faith is for, as opposed to what the faith is against. I think that’s a positive thing to have him focus on how the church can be involved and alive in the world today, and in a positive way. I think he just does it differently. I think John Paul II did the same thing, but it was just a different style. John Paul II was an amazing communicator, and he was an actor. He had that gift of that commanding presence and his great theology and sort of reclaimed the space. Francis is just a simple man who identifies with the average person out there much more — not that John-Paul II didn’t identify, but [Francis is] sort of with them as opposed to someone that they could look up and see as this great figure in history, which John Paul II was. This is someone who’s just, rides the bus with them, and that’s just a little different.
Tenety: In some of his most widely-covered remarks, Pope Francis talked about a need for Catholics to not talk about issues like gay marriage,  contraception and abortion ‘all the time.’ I’m wondering as a Catholic and a politician who has talked a lot about those issues, what did you hear when he said that? What did that mean to you?
Santorum: I think it goes back to the point I just made, which is he didn’t say not to talk about it, he didn’t say we’re going to change our opinion about these things, but we need to talk about the beauty of what love is. We have to talk about the beauty of how important and powerful human intimate interaction is and what it means, as opposed to going out and just focusing on what we’re against as opposed to what we’re for. I think that’s the message that I think he’s been very, very effective in getting out and not be sort of pulled into the talk about, ‘This is what we’re against.’
Having said, that I think this is what some people don’t quite grasp, [the pope is] not backing away from the perspective of what is true and what is good, but at the same time he’s not highlighting the differences, he’s focusing on areas where we can find agreement.
Tenety: As an activist on those issues, do you find yourself reinterpreting how you’re talking about those issues, how you’re engaging with them in a new way?
Santorum: Yeah, for example, one of the things I’ve done, and again, not necessarily been highlighted by folks in the media, which is, I spent more time, I don’t do a lot of pro-life speeches in pro-life groups, except one. I talk a lot to crisis pregnancy centers, which are centers out there who are meeting the needs of women who are in crisis. And you know what, they meet those needs, they try

to help them, and they do it unconditionally. In other words, they’re there to help whether they have the baby or don’t have the baby.

If they don’t have the baby, if they decide to have an abortion, you know what, they’re just as there, they’re there to love them and support them with counseling if they need it and support if they need it. That to me is the message, which is, ‘Look, here’s what we believe in, here’s what we think is right, here’s what we think is best, but our job is not to force you into doing anything, but just simply share that truth with you and accept you and love you, because that’s what God would want us to do is to be there and to love unconditionally.’ That, to me, is the right approach, it’s what motivates me. I probably do, probably, 10 banquets a year, or maybe even more, talking to crisis pregnancy centers. That’s the message I give to them. I say ‘You are the right message of the pro-life movement, which is you’re there to show God’s love, you’re there to accept the mom and the dad in a difficult situation and love them and support them no matter what they do.’
Tenety: So like the Catholic Church seems to be rethinking its approach to social issues, the Republican party seems to be recalculating as well. Do you think that times have changed on issues like gay marriage and abortion, or not? How would you advise Republicans to engage on those issues going forward?’
Santorum: I think that what Pope Francis is doing really makes a lot of sense for Republicans, which is, ‘we don’t need to change what we believe in.’