Perhaps some of you missed it. Iowa congressman Steve King, in an interview with the New York Times, said this: “White nationalists, white supremacist, Western Civilization–how did that language become offensive?”
King later tried to back away from the statement, but it was too little, too late. House minority leader Kevin McCarthy removed King from the House Judiciary and Agriculture Committees earlier this week and he was almost censured. King’s remarks were the latest in a long career defined by racist and nativist comments.
Not everyone is happy with what McCarthy, the House Republicans, and Congress have done to King. Right Wing Watch has brought to my attention news of a group of Christian Right leaders who are supporting King. The group is led by Janet Porter, a Christian Right activist who served as the spokesperson for Roy Moore’s 2017 Alabama Senate race. Porter is asking Christian Right leaders to sign a letter to Kevin McCarthy. Here is the text of that letter:
Dear Leader McCarthy,
We are appalled that Republican leadership would choose to believe a liberal news organization famous for their bias over an outstanding member of Congress who has served the people of Iowa and the United States honorably and faithfully for 16 years.
If Congressman Steve King believed and stood by the outrageous misquote of the New York Times, then the actions taken against him would have been warranted, but the opposite is true.
Unlike North Korea, we in the United States are “innocent until proven guilty” and hold to the principles of Western Civilization, as Rep. King so admirably does. The foundational principle begins with the self-evident truth that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” These are the principles to which Rep. King was referring and which he has championed for more than two decades of public service.
Don’t make the fatal mistake of turning the reins of the U.S. Congress over to the liberal media, allowing them to target, misquote, and falsely brand any member of Congress they wish to remove.
We call on you to do the right thing as Minority Leader: issue a public apology and reinstate Rep. King to his committee assignments. If we don’t stand with this good man against the media-manufactured assault today, none of us will be safe from it tomorrow.
The Christian Right leaders who signed this letter include:
I discuss Dobson, Strang, and Wallnau in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump.
This letter may be more revealing for the people who DID NOT sign it, including Jerry Falwell Jr., Robert Jeffress, Ralph Reed, Gary Bauer, Franklin Graham, Paula White, Johnnie Moore, Eric Metaxas, and other court evangelicals.
Daniel J. Conny’s November 26, 2018 letter to The Buffalo News sums it up pretty well:
Evangelical Christians (and other God-fearing folk) have taken to looking the other way when it comes to President Trump’s ethical and moral shortcomings. The president’s pattern of behavior is forgiven because he is unconventional but delivers on key issues.
Pastor Robert Jeffress observed that, “Evangelicals knew they weren’t voting for an altar boy when they voted for Donald Trump.”
Rather than attempt to deny or defend Stormy Daniels’ allegation that she had an affair with Trump, Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, simply said: “We kind of gave him – ‘All right, you get a mulligan. You get a do-over here.’”
In amateur golf, a mulligan is an extra stroke allowed after a poor shot. The President has been granted multiple mulligans in the case of what many religious folks have traditionally held to be guiding life principles. Some examples:
• Fidelity in marriage is to be honored. At best, Trump has a checkered marriage history. Ignore “for better or worse.”
• Honesty is a virtue. 6,000+ lies and counting.
• Do not incite resentment for individuals of another race or religion. Charlottesville. Muslim ban. “Invading” caravan. Ignore “we are all God’s children.”
• Honor the family. Trump separated children from their parents – some never to be rejoined.
While I disagree that ends justify means, evangelicals are more welcome to join my foursome the next time I tee it up. Their generosity with mulligans would help my score.
Daniel J. Conny
Here is what you can expect this Christmas at Robert Jeffress‘s First Baptist Church in Dallas:
“A Night of Christmas” at First Baptist Dallas is on December 14, 15, & 16! Join us for an incredible theatrical performance with acrobats, aerialists, spectacular percussion performance, gospel presentation, and more! Get tickets now: https://t.co/PkDT8MUo7M pic.twitter.com/MQ27PSAf6f
— Dr. Robert Jeffress (@robertjeffress) November 13, 2018
Looks like the Little Drummer Boy’s Par-rum-pa-pum-pum has transformed into a “spectacular percussion performance.” Muscular Christianity at its best (worst?).
Sleep in heavenly peace….
Here is what the court evangelicals are saying today:
I agree here with Jack Graham. Yes, life and liberty were on the ballot yesterday. Life in the womb and after the baby is born. Liberty for all men and women:
Pray for America. Vote your convictions. Life and liberty are on the ballot
— Jack Graham (@jackngraham) November 6, 2018
Robett Jeffress makes a prediction:
I predict that losing the House will actually INCREASE the margin by which President @realDonaldTrump wins re-election in 2020. Running against the House “leadership” of Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters will be a gift that keeps on giving for the next two years.
— Dr. Robert Jeffress (@robertjeffress) November 7, 2018
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council made a statement. He thinks that GOP victories last night were largely because of abortion. His statement also reveals that he has no interest in finding any common ground with his opponents: “We will stand with President Trump and Majority Leader McConnell in working to repel the Pelosi agenda that is at odds with the values that made America a great nation.” At least Tony Perkins is honest.
Here is Samuel Rodriguez:
— Samuel Rodriguez (@nhclc) November 5, 2018
I have no idea what Eric Metaxas and Jerry Falwell Jr. are saying. They both blocked me.
Was there a court evangelical viewing party?
— Paula White-Cain (@Paula_White) November 7, 2018
First, I am really happy that Andrew Brunson is back in the United States. Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, and others brought him home. I am happy for his family and his congregation.
I am also confident that any American president would work to bring the imprisoned pastor home. This is what presidents are supposed to do. But in our current climate evangelicals will see this as something unique to Trump and his “faith friendly” policies.
Second, I don’t have a problem with Brunson asking to pray for Trump in the Oval Office event on Saturday. The guy was a prisoner in Turkey for two years. If he wants to pray for Trump in public, let him pray for Trump. But I do have a problem with the way Trump and the Christian Right are exploiting this event for political gain. (Yet another reason why Jesus instructed us in Matthew 6:5 to pray in secret). Immediately following Brunson’s prayer, Trump, true to form, asked him about how he voted. Meanwhile, the court evangelicals are relentlessly politicizing this moment:
We should thank Pres. @realDonaldTrump & his administration for their relentless dedication to religious freedom & tough negotiations with Turkey to secure Pastor Brunson’s release today. Yet another example of “promise made, promise kept” by the Trump Administration. Praise God!
— Dr. Robert Jeffress (@robertjeffress) October 12, 2018
Third, I would now like to see the court evangelicals fight for the release of other U.S. hostages in Turkey and elsewhere.
Fourth, Michael Hirsh of Foreign Policy notes that Turkey freed Brunson, but still managed to embarrass Trump.
Fifth, at an event like this one should expect someone to promote some really bad U.S. history. In this case it was North Carolina Senator Richard Burr:
Not really. U.S was not founded as a church or Christian missionary organization. https://t.co/K1NHBx1ZWb
— John Fea (@JohnFea1) October 14, 2018
Some 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:
That @60Minutes interview with @realDonaldTrump tonight was a homerun for @POTUS . Honestly, he was making @LesleyRStahl look like a foolishly out of touch liberal reporter. Painful to watch if you like Lesley Stahl.
— David Brody (@TheBrodyFile) October 15, 2018
Hey mainstream media: remember this when experiencing migraines trying to figure out the relationship between evangelicals and @realDonaldTrump : God uses IMPERFECT people to accomplish his PERFECT will. The Bible is full of these type of TRUE stories! @CBNNews
— David Brody (@TheBrodyFile) October 12, 2018
A message from conservative evangelicals to President Trump: “STOP! We are so sick of WINNING!Brett Kavanaugh confirmed and Pastor Andrew Brunson released in one week’s time? ENOUGH!” @CBNNews @realDonaldTrump @POTUS #PastorAndrewBrunson
— David Brody (@TheBrodyFile) October 12, 2018
Hey liberal media, wrap your collective heads around this: evangelicals LOVE this president MORE and MORE each day. @realDonaldTrump has now effectively shaped the Supreme Court for at least a generation. They believe God is behind it all. They’re rejoicing tonight. @CBNNews
— David Brody (@TheBrodyFile) October 8, 2018
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:
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.
Jeffress is more concerned with his theocratic agenda–an approach to American culture driven by fear, the raw pursuit of power, and a nostalgic longing for an age that is long gone or may never have existed in the first place–than he is the good of the nation. He is a cancer spreading over our democracy.
Why else would he describe the Kavanaugh nomination as an example of “good” triumphing over “evil?” In Jeffress’s world view, “evil” is the product of Satan and his minions. The Dallas pastor has no interest in finding common ground. He only wants to demonize his opponents and divide the country. This is what culture warriors do. They claim to be patriots, but they are not.
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:
Some of you are familiar with Steven Strang’s book God and Donald Trump. (See this Religion News Service piece). Strang is editor of Charisma, a magazine that covers the Independent Network Charismatic movement (INC) and other Pentecostal and Charismatic movements (and claims a circulation of 275,000).
I wrote about Strang and his book in my own Trump book, Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump. Here is part of what I wrote:
Strang’s book on the 2016 campaign, God and Donald Trump, provides the best introduction to this wing of court evangelicalism and its apostles who prophesied Trump’s election. The book is endorsed by evangelicals on the Christian Right inside and outside the INC movement, including Michelle Bachman, Kenneth Copeland, Robert Jeffress, and Mike Huckabee. In telling the story of the campaign from the INC perspective, Strang claims Trump is a Christian because he opposes abortion, defends religious freedom, and believes in the “American Dream.” Strang seems to relish the anger displayed by anti-Trumpers in the wake of the election, and his book reads like a Trump victory lap. He accepts Trump’s claims of election fraud, attacks Trump’s critics for their “divisiveness,” labels Trump’s opponents “demonic,” defends Fox News, and proclaims Trump a “spiritual remedy for America.”
Over at Right Wing Watch, Peter Montgomery calls our attention to Strang’s new and forthcoming book, Trump Aftershock: The President’s Seismic Impact on Faith and Culture in America. Here is a taste of his piece:
“Trump Aftershock” will be out on Election Day, November 6, but the promotional campaign for the book is well underway. Strang’s public relations firm says the book “will uncover the unreported facts while objectively helping readers understand what the nation’s most unlikely and unconventional president has accomplished, including 500 accomplishments in the first 500 days of the Trump presidency.”
Strang is also using his section of Charisma’s website to promote the book. In an August 23 post, he tells readers that the book “is no puff piece.” But if the introduction and first three chapters are any indication—they’re available now to readers who pre-order the book—the tome goes well beyond puffery in its portrayal of Trump as God’s instrument, doing battle against the evil forces of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and George Soros—as well as “fake news” from the secular media, swamp-dwellers, and deep state.
Indeed, the available sections suggest that the book will be an unabashed love letter to Trump. “I believe Donald Trump was raised up by God at this pivotal time in our history,” Strang writes. “There were political expressions of the changing mood of the country. But I believe spiritually something was happening. Christians were praying for things to change, and the New York real estate tycoon was actually an answer to prayer.”
In a second post from Montgomery, we learn that Trump Aftershock is endorsed by Robert Jeffress, Mike Huckabee, and Alveda King.
Here is part of Jefffress’s endorsement:
We need more voices like Stephen’s who are unafraid to speak the truth. Don’t believe the lies of the mainstream media. Get the facts from trusted Christian sources like Stephen Strang, Charisma News and books like this. Our president is shaking things up. He needs our support. It’s time for all of us to become informed, stand united, and call for an end to the witch-hunt investigations, fake news and hateful rhetoric of those whose agenda is to bring an end to this president and turn our great nation away from God.
Click here to learn about another evangelical view of Trump.
I wonder what theologian Roger Olson thinks about this?
In case you have not heard, Donald Trump is having a big dinner right now for evangelical leaders. It looks like a court evangelical extravaganza.
Click here to see what court evangelical Robert Jeffress is saying about it at the Christian Broadcasting Network. Jeffress makes it all sound like a political calculation. We need Trump and Trump needs us.
(2) More from @robertjeffress : “President Trump is the most pro-life, pro-religious liberty, and pro-conservative judiciary president in history which is why evangelicals continue to support him enthusiastically.” @CBNNews @realDonaldTrump @POTUS @WhiteHouse
— David Brody (@TheBrodyFile) August 27, 2018
Court evangelical Johnnie Moore is there:
So many people are asking me about the dinner tonight Celebrating Evangelical Leadership @WhiteHouse. Over six weeks ago, the President & First Lady issued invitations to about 100 evangelical leaders for a dinner at the White House (1 of 2)
— Johnnie Moore ن (@JohnnieM) August 27, 2018
to thank the evangelical community for their invaluable contribution to American life and in particular for their selfless service to communities, nationwide. That is the purpose of dinner. (2 of 2)
— Johnnie Moore ن (@JohnnieM) August 27, 2018
Court evangelical Gary Bauer is there:
I am at the White House right now with a 100 faith leaders having dinner with President Trump and the First Lady. We are here encouraging him in the brutal fight he is in against the left. Anything you want me to tell him?
— Gary L Bauer (@GaryLBauer) August 27, 2018
Court evangelical Jack Graham is there:
This evening Deb and I are attending a dinner at the White House with @POTUS and @FLOTUS @mike_pence and members of the cabinet to celebrate the contribution evangelical Christians are making to American life. The influence and voices of believers is massive
— Jack Graham (@jackngraham) August 27, 2018
Court evangelical Greg Laurie is there:
It is my privilege to be at The White House for a special dinner for a Evangelical leaders. pic.twitter.com/3vzwJsSv9a
— Greg Laurie (@greglaurie) August 27, 2018
So are James Dobson, Jentezen Franklin, Samuel Rodriguez, and Ronnie Floyd:
In attendance tonight at The White House evangelical dinner: Dr. James Dobson, Pastor Greg Laurie, Jentezen Franklin, Rev. Sam Rodriguez, Pastor Jack Graham, Dr. Ronnie Floyd. @CBNNews @POTUS @realDonaldTrump
— David Brody (@TheBrodyFile) August 27, 2018
Court Evangelical Eric Metaxas is yucking-it-up with fellow court evangelical Mike Pence (more on Metaxas in my next post. Stay tuned)
It also looks like court evangelical Tony Perkins got an invitation:
— David Brody (@TheBrodyFile) August 27, 2018
Trump finally said something nice about John McCain. I guess he did not want to come across as an unforgiving man with court evangelicals in the room:
Pres Trump gives remarks about Sen McCain’s passing at White House dinner tonight with evangelical leaders. pic.twitter.com/8tiZgRS9bo
— WBZ | CBS Boston News (@wbz) August 27, 2018
Court evangelical Darryl Scott is there:
Back to DC today for meeting regarding Urban Revitalization, then dinner with Potus tonight. Great things are on the horizon.
— Dr.Darrell Scott (@PastorDScott) August 27, 2018
It wasn’t very hard to learn which evangelicals came to the White House tonight. Many of them proudly tweeted to their followers and congregation as they relished in the power of the court and solidified their celebrity.
Some of you may be wondering what I mean by the term “court evangelical.” I wrote a an entire chapter about these Christians in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump. That chapter builds off of several shorter pieces, including:
“Trump threatens to change the course of American Christianity,” Washington Post, July 17, 2017
The term “court evangelical” has even made it into the Urban Dictionary.
Perhaps the court evangelicals should go back to their hotel rooms tonight and read 2 Samuel 12. (There is a Gideon Bible in the drawer). Nathan was one of King David’s court prophets. In other words, he had a “seat at the table.” When David committed adultery with Bathsheba and then arranged for her husband, Uriah, to be killed on the battlefield to cover up David’s sins, Nathan rebuked his king. He told David the story of a poor man whose beloved “little ewe lamb” was stolen by a self-centered rich man who had plenty of lambs but wanted the poor man’s only lamb to serve his guests. When David’s anger “was greatly kindled” against the rich man in the story, Nathan said to the king, “You are the man!”
Will there be a Nathan in the room tonight? Somehow I doubt it.
Back in June, I wrote a post about the 150th anniversary of the founding of First Baptist Church in Dallas, the congregation led by court evangelical Robert Jeffress. In that post I referenced Tobin Grant’s 2016 Religion News Service piece on the long history of racial segregation at First Baptist. Daniel Silliman’s piece at Religion Dispatches is also worth a look.
Here is the 150th anniversary video that the congregation has been promoting:
A few comments:
Rather than taking a hard look at its past, First Baptist-Dallas has whitewashed it.
I thought about this June 2018 post a couple of weeks ago when I had the privilege of teaching the Adult Faith Formation class at St. Paul’s Episcopalian Church in Richmond, Virginia. St. Paul’s occupies and amazing building in the heart of Richmond. It is located across the street from the Virginia State Capitol and adjacent to the Virginia Supreme Court. The church was founded in 1844.
During the Civil War, when Richmond served as the Confederate capital, both Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis worshiped at St. Paul’s. After the war, the church used its windows to tell the story of the Lost Cause. It is often described as the “Cathedral of the Confederacy.”
But unlike First Baptist-Dallas, St. Paul’s decided to come to grips with its racist past. In 2015, the church began its “History and Reconciliation Initiative” (HRI) with the goal of tracing and acknowledging the racial history of the congregation in order to “repair, restore, and seek reconciliation with God each other and the broader community.” I encourage you to visit the HRI website to read more about the way St. Paul’s is trying to come to grips with the darker sides of its past.
Public historian Christopher Graham, who co-chairs the HRI when he is not curating an exhibit at The American Civil War Museum, invited me to Richmond to speak. He is doing some amazing work at the intersection of public history and religion.
When I think about St. Paul’s, I am reminded of Jurgen Moltmann’s call to “waken the dead and piece together what has been broken.” It is also refreshing to see the words “repair” and “restore” used in conjunction with the word “reconciliation” instead of “Christian America.”
Southern Baptists, and American evangelicals more broadly, may immediately conclude that they have little in common theologically with St. Paul’s Episcopalian Church in Richmond and can thus dismiss the congregation’s history-related efforts as just another social justice project propagated by theological liberals. But this would be a shame. They can learn a lot from this congregation about how to take a deep and honest look into the mirror of the past.
As I wrote about last week, Rev. Robert Jeffress, a leading court evangelical, recently said that Donald Trump’s moral indiscretions and character problems are not unlike the moral indiscretions and character problems of Ronald Reagan. Conservative evangelicals supported both presidents.
Days after the news broke that President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen had audio of Trump discussing a payoff to a woman with whom he’d allegedly had an affair, one of Trump’s top evangelical allies came to the president’s defense — with an insult to former President Ronald Reagan. Robert Jeffress, the pastor at the megachurch First Baptist Dallas, told Fox News’s Ed Henry that Trump’s adultery made him no worse than Reagan.
“The reason we supported President Reagan was not because we were supporting womanizing or divorce,” Jeffress told Henry. ”We supported his policies. … We’re not under any illusion that we were voting for an altar boy when we voted for President Trump. We knew about his past. And by the way, none of us has a perfect past. We voted for him because of his policies.” (Reagan has never been publicly accused of being unfaithful to his second wife Nancy Reagan, but some biographers have said that he was something of a lothario in Hollywood during his years an actor and that he cheated on his first wife, Jane Wyman. In 1991, he was also accused of sexual assault by actress Selene Walters four decades prior.)
Read the rest here.
I am eager to hear from Christian Right folks. Do Trump and Reagan belong in the same category when it comes to morality and character (or lack thereof)?
As I said this morning on CNN (no video available yet), it doesn’t matter what Trump did with Karen McDougal or whether or not he is lying about it. As long as Trump keeps appointing Supreme Court justices like Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch and continues to give lip service to religious liberty (as understood by conservative evangelicals) he will have the support of evangelicals.
This kind of thing should thus no longer surprise us:
I have not yet heard Jeffress compare Trump’s lack of morality to Ronald Reagan’s indiscretions. Interesting. Actually, I think there are comparisons we can make between Reagan and Trump. For example, evangelicals in pursuit of political power got into bed with both of them. It wasn’t a good idea then (just ask Cal Thomas) and it isn’t a good idea now.
To be fair, Jeffress does make a good point about anti-Trump evangelicals when he says “they can’t reconcile [President Trump] with their faith.”
Does anyone else see a realignment taking place in American evangelicalism?
The ideas and proposals I put forth in the last section of this piece I just published with History News Network are very important to me. Thanks for considering them and sharing the piece with those who may need to read it. I had hoped to publish this with a Christian, evangelical or conservative media outlet, but could not find any takers. I am thankful to Rick Shenkman for running it.
If the Christian Right, and by extension the 81% of evangelical voters who use its political playbook, are operating on such a weak historical foundation, why doesn’t someone correct their faulty views and dubious claims?
But countering bad history with good history is not as easy as it sounds. David Barton and his fellow Christian nationalist purveyors of the past are well-funded by Christian conservatives who know that the views of the past they are peddling serve their political agenda. Barton has demonized Christian intellectuals and historians as sheep in wolves’ clothing. They may call themselves Christians on Sunday morning, but, according to Barton, their “world view” has been shaped by the secular universities where they earned their Ph.Ds. Thanks to Barton, many conservative evangelicals do not trust academic and professional historians—even academic and professional historians with whom they share a pew on Sunday mornings.
Read the entire piece here.
Yesterday, court evangelical Robert Jeffress talked to Fox News Radio about his Freedom Sunday service. (The interview is only about four minutes long).
A few points:
I am not sure what was worse–watching Jeffress’s historical incompetence from the pulpit of First Baptist-Dallas or watching thousands of people in the pews cheering him on and waving their American flags.
This is pretty clear:
When it comes to public policy, Jeffress seems to privilege Romans 13 over all the verses on compassion, love, welcoming the strangers, and caring for children.
I wrote about this today at Religion News Service.
Here is a taste:
(RNS) — The United States is facing a crisis in “family values.” This, however, is not the kind of crisis we often hear talked about by the evangelical wing of the Republican Party. Rather, it stems from the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance border policy that separates families at the U.S.-Mexico border.
A few of President Trump’s evangelical advisers who visit the White House and discuss policy matters with him — I describe them as the “court evangelicals” — have condemned the policy that separates children from their parents. But most others have failed to criticize it publicly. Their general silence sheds light on how conservative evangelical leaders have come to define and limit “family values” in the past 40 years.
Franklin Graham, head of Samaritan’s Purse and prominent Trump supporter, called the policy of separating families “disgraceful.” Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, who has expressed his disagreement with Trump on immigration in the past, signed a letter of evangelical leaders criticizing the policy. And Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, this week called the policy “heartbreaking and tragic.” Even still, most court evangelicals have not publicly addressed the crisis. If the separation of children from their families is not a family values issue, then what is?
We don’t know if these leaders are counseling Trump behind the scenes, but as the national outcry has risen against the policy, some of the prominent court evangelicals seem to be fixated on other topics.
James Dobson, the leader most responsible for the Christian right’s “family values” agenda, tweeted last week: “Dear God, no matter what our family circumstances, let us never waver from our charge as parents. Help us to be worthy of Your trust in us to lead and love our kids.” Fair enough, but how do you fulfill your parental responsibilities when the federal government is taking your kids away from you?
Read the rest here.
Franklin Graham has called Trump’s policy of separating families at the border “disgraceful.” Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference opposes the policy. Most anti-Trump evangelicals, such as Russell Moore, oppose the policy, but with the exception of Graham and Rodriguez, the court evangelicals have still said nothing.
One court evangelical is even in the midst of a fight with the city of Dallas over a billboard advertising his sermon “America is a Christian Nation.” How oblivious can one get? There is a significant moral crisis happening on the Mexican-American border and Robert Jeffress is mad because a Dallas billboard company took down his sign announcing that America is a Christian nation. Christian nation?
If you think that this immigration mess is going to result in the court evangelicals breaking with Donald Trump, don’t hold your breath. Most court evangelicals do not place immigration very high on their “pro-life” and “family values” radar. Immigration policy is not a major theme in the political playbook they inherited from the Christian Right of the 1980s.
No matter what Trump decides to do about the border, the court evangelicals will stay with him.