A lot happened over Christmas break. How did the court evangelicals respond?

Earlier today, I wrote about some of the highlights of the last ten days. I mentioned the Nashville bombing, Trump’s handling of end of the year legislation, the president’s continued attempts at overturning the 2020 president election, and the support he is now receiving from at least twelve U.S. senators. Read that post here. It provides the necessary context for this post.

So what have the court evangelicals had to say since our last update on December 24, 2020?

The Falkirk Center at Liberty University, ground zero for evangelical conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election, is getting heat from the Liberty student body. As of December 30, 400 Liberty students and recent graduates have signed a petition calling for the university to close the Falkirk Center. The petition states: “We are also concerned that the Falkirk Center has become a gateway for many wolves in sheep’s clothing–people who claim Christ’s name because it is convenient for their personal or political gain.” It specifically calls out Falkirk “fellows” Eric Metaxas, Allie Beth Stuckey, Sebastian Gorka, Jenna Ellis, Ryan Helfenbein, and co-founder Charlie Kirk.

The petition is similar to what I wrote about the Falkirk Center in a Religion News Service piece on September 9, 2020.

The Falkirk Center’s social media feeds did not address the petition. They continued to double-down on abortion, church closings due to COVID-19, and “socialism.” Perhaps this tweet was meant as a subtle response to the petition:

Charlie Kirk, the founder of the Liberty University Falkirk Center, did not mention the student petition, but defended Trump’s veto of the Defense Authorization Act on the grounds that it would rename military bases named after Confederate leaders:

Kirk believes that Josh Hawley’s decision to object to the Electoral College votes is a sign of courage:

He is also attacking Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensberger for his refusal to “find votes” for Trump:

And yes, he still believes that the Democrats stole the election:

Liberty University Falkirk Center fellow and Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis was still claiming that election fraud is real:

According to Ellis, those who claim Trump lies are engaging in some kind of leftist philosophy about the definition of words:

The election was rigged and everyone who loves the Constitution knows it:

Don’t concede. Never concede:

Jenna is working for the Lord:

All she has done is part of the sovereign will of God:

And in good “Christian” form she is bragging about advancing her career as she trashes someone else’s career:

But at least she will keep speaking truth and reminding everyone that she is trending on Twitter:

Are Liberty University Falkirk Center fellows allowed to drink beer?

Another Liberty University Falkirk Center fellow, Eric Metaxas, continued to claim that “the election was stolen.” He describes the 2020 election as the equivalent of “stabbing Lady Liberty in the throat,” “murdering Uncle Sam,” and “desecrating all the young men who died for liberty over the centuries.” Metaxas believes that if Joe Biden gets inaugurated on January 20, 2021 it will be a “miracle.” Biden, Metaxas says, “was involved in one of the most wicked, treasonous acts in the history of the greatest nation in the world.” Watch here (after the five minute mark).

In other court evangelical news:

Self-proclaimed prophet Lance Wallnau is worried that Biden and Harris will “rule” America:

It is all a spiritual battle for “rulership on earth”:

On Wallnau’s Facebook page he says that we are “in the spiritual fight of our lifetime” and we are entering a week that will “change America.” His source is Trump election fraud lawyer Sidney Powell. He believes that any member of Congress up for election in 2022 should be protesting the Electoral College results on January 6. Christians must “enlarge their presence” to make sure Trump stays in office.

Court evangelical journalist David Brody believes journalism is dead.

But apparently good journalism continues to live at the Christian Broadcasting Network. This is some hard-hitting stuff from Brody:

And this:

This next tweet may be true. But it says more about evangelicals than Trump:

Brody gives a signal boost to violence on January 6:

Brody retweeted Dinesh D’Souza:

Pastor Jack Hibbs is retweeting the president:

Hibbs is also going on Newsmax in support of Trump. Just another court evangelical doing his part.

Jim Garlow’s prayer meetings for election integrity are continuing into the new year. Last week he was marching around the Georgia capital with a few followers, including Messianic Jews with shofars.

Garlow also engaged in a Twitter debate over who is the “adult” in the Senate:

Robert Jeffress continued to remain quiet on election fraud. He is back to his usual talking points about the Democrat “administration of death.” There is an interesting and ironic part of this interview in which Jeffress criticizes liberal Protestants for getting too political.

Gary Bauer is doing what Trump court evangelicals do:

Joe Biden is president-elect. What are the court evangelicals saying?

Yesterday the Electoral College made it official. Joe Biden is President-Elect of the United States.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump is still tweeting about election fraud:

So now that the election is in the books, what are the court evangelicals saying? (Let’s also remember that some of these court evangelicals are coming off a very “big” weekend in Washington D.C.)

We begin by checking-in on the Liberty University Falkirk Center gang. They are the subject of a new Politico investigation.

Saturday afternoon’s Jericho March looked like an extension of Eric Metaxas’s radio program. He may be angling for a late-night talk show gig on Newsmax.

Yesterday he did his radio show from a hotel room in Washington D.C. because he was going to Mike Pence’s Christmas party. The Liberty University Falkirk Center fellow jokingly called the party a “super-spreader” event. Not funny.

Metaxas spent close to twenty minutes talking about his “music video and his role in the Jericho March on Saturday. We learned that the video’s lyrics were written by John Smirak, a writer at court evangelical James Robison’s blog The Stream. Metaxas described the video as both “funny” and “speaking the truth.”

Falkirk Center fellow Jenna Ellis joined her Center colleague Sebastian Gorka on his radio show. Ellis said that the Supreme Court was wrong in their 9-0 decision to throw out the Texas election fraud case. Yes, you read that correctly. Jenna Ellis told the United States Supreme Court that it does not know how to interpret the Constitution.

She also said Congress will be engaging in a “false certification” on January 6 when it meets to certify the results of yesterday’s Electoral College vote. Ellis told a group of people she describes as “Trump delegates” to storm Washington D.C. and demand that their votes be counted.

Ellis remains optimistic:

And she is “completely dedicated to God and Country”:

Charlie Kirk, the co-founder of Liberty University’s Falkirk Center, still doesn’t believe Biden won:

Lance Wallnau, who spoke on Saturday at the Jericho March, is attacking Beth Moore. But hey, at least he still thinks she is an “evangelical.” 🙂

“WIDE OPEN”:

Wallnau also has opinions on the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Texas case. Yesterday, while wandering around Washington D.C. with his daughter, he blamed the Court’s refusal to take the case on Catholic justices. If Trump had appointed evangelical justices who were “time-tested spiritual warriors” things would have been different. I knew it would only be a matter of time before evangelicals played the anti-Catholic card on Kavanaugh, Roberts, and Barrett.

Over 250,000 people watched Wallnau’s video.

Here is Jack Hibbs yesterday on his Facebook page: “Turn off Fox News and CNN people because they’re not telling you the whole truth regarding today’s electoral college.” He then embedded this tweet from a former New York City police commissioner and convicted felon:

After the Supreme Court threw out the Texas lawsuit on Friday, Allen West, the Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, wrote:

The Supreme Court, in tossing the Texas lawsuit that was joined by seventeen states and 106 US congressman, has decreed that a state can take unconstitutional actions and violate its own election law. Resulting in damaging effects on other states that abide by the law, while the guilty state suffers no consequences. This decision establishes a precedent that says states can violate the US constitution and not be held accountable. This decision will have far-reaching ramifications for the future of our constitutional republic. Perhaps law-abiding states should bond together and form a Union of states that will abide by the constitution.”

Court evangelical Tony Perkins agreed with West’s call for a secession movement:

What was Paula White praying for last night?

Franklin Graham seems resigned to a Biden victory:

I would love to know what Johnny would say to Franklin today:

Liberty University’s Falkirk Center has “pumped millions” of dollars into the promotion of Donald Trump

In September 2020, I wrote a piece at Religion News Service titled, “Reforming Liberty University in the post-Falwell era should begin with the Falkirk Center.” Earlier today, I pointed out that the Falkirk Center is now leading efforts to change the results of the 2020 presidential election. Most institutions of higher learning would be embarrassed by the fact that they host a center on campus devoted to spreading false claims of voter fraud, but Liberty seems to wear it as a badge of honor. I would love to hear how the administration of the university reconciles its support of Trump conspiracy theories with its commitment to the pursuit of higher learning.

We are starting to learn a lot more about what Liberty University and the Falkirk Center have been doing lately. According to Maggie Stevens at Politico:

  • Liberty has “Blurred the line between education and politics.”
  • The Falkirk Center claims to be a “think tank” but it has produced no peer-reviewed academic work.
  • The Falkirk Center is paying Jenna Ellis and Sebastian Gorka as “fellows.”
  • The Falkirk Center bought $50,000 worth of Trump and GOP campaign ads on Facebook.
  • Some Liberty University board members want to shut down the Falkirk Center, but they are in the minority.
  • Karen Swallow Prior, a former Liberty English professor, believes that “The Falkirk Center…represents everything that was wrong with Liberty when Jerry [Falwell] was there…It is brazenly partisan.”
  • Liberty spokesperson Scott Lamb claims that Liberty University and the Falkirk Center have “received hundreds of supportive e-mails.”
  • A Liberty University professor, Phillip Kline, appeared on the Falkirk Center podcast and “encouraged state legislatures to ignore the vote and appoint their own electors to the Electoral College, or consider blowing of the mid-December Electoral College meeting for another date.”
  • As a nonprofit organization, Liberty University is “pushing the boundaries” of its status under Section 501c(3) of the federal tax code, which forbids spending money on political campaigns.
  • In 2018, Liberty gave $2.2. million to court evangelical Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, The Heritage Foundation, and Citizens United. These payments were approved by the seven members of Liberty’s “executive board.” The rest of the board did not know about the payments.
  • The Falkirk Center took center stage on the Liberty University at the same time the university started cutting programs in the liberal arts, humanities, and divinity.

Read Stevens’s entire piece here.

Remember, not all Christian colleges are the same.

Everyone is discovering the court evangelicals!

The conservative pundits are outraged at what happened at Saturday’s Jericho March!

David French is worried that too many evangelicals have fallen for conspiracy theories.

Rod Dreher says we would be wrong to “blow off” the influence of these evangelicals who still believe Trump won the election.

Andrew Sullivan is concerned about the fusion of religion and politics.

Matt Lewis asks: “Is nothing sacred?”

Beth Moore is not really a conservative pundit, but she is still fired-up.

And we already discussed Michael Gerson.

And those who regularly question my decision to cover the court evangelical phenomenon seem to be taking it seriously now. Yes, even John Wilson ;-):

I’ve been writing about this for the last four years. At this point I am more interested in who was NOT at the Jericho March on Saturday:

Franklin Graham

James Robison

James Dobson

Jentezen Franklin,

Jack Graham

Paula White

Tony Perkins

Johnnie Moore

Ralph Reed

Greg Laurie

Robert Jeffress

The more traditional court evangelicals–most of whom are not connected with the Independent Network Charismatics and similar groups– seem to be focused on the Georgia Senate race and COVID restrictions. Would they like the election results to be overturned? Sure. Do they believe that there may have been election fraud? Of course they do. But they did not want to join the folks who were on the Mall on Saturday. This branch of court evangelicalism seems to only show-up when Trump is in the house or when one of his surrogates is present. They prefer power over prophecy.

And maybe some of them really believe Biden won.

We will see what happens after the Electoral College votes later today, but right now the evangelical voter fraud movement is led by Eric Metaxas (who showed his Charismatic side on Saturday), the gang at Liberty University’s Falkirk Center (Metaxas, Charlie Kirk, Jenna Ellis, Sebastian Gorka, etc.), and the My Pillow Guy.

UPDATE (December 15, 2020, 12:41am):

Some folks on Twitter were not happy with this post. Here are a few:

These tweeters made fair points, which prompted me to explain things further. It’s never a good idea to try to “explain further” on Twitter, but I am a glutton for punishment! 🙂

Liberty University’s Falkirk Center celebrates one year of divisive, culture war politics

After Jerry Falwell Jr. resigned in disgrace as president of Liberty University, I wrote a piece at Religion News Service titled “Reforming Liberty University in the post-Falwell era should begin with the Falkirk Center.” Here is a taste of that piece:

But for many onlookers, the problems at Liberty run much deeper than a sex scandal. If the university is serious about cleaning up the mess, it will need to take a hard look at the approach to Christianity and public life that the university’s leadership has championed for more than four decades. With Falwell Jr. gone, Liberty does indeed have a chance to be a “better,” more “God-glorifying place,” but it will require serious reforms. The first step should be to close its culture war “think tank,” the Falkirk Center.

Founded in November 2019, the Falkirk Center is the brainchild of Jerry Falwell Jr. and pro-Donald Trump activist Charlie Kirk. (Its name is a portmanteau of the two men’s names.) The center operates with a “moral mission” to “go on the offensive in the name of Christian principles and in the name of exceptional God-given American liberties,” according to its website. Those commissioned to speak on behalf of the center — these men and women bear the title “Falkirk fellows”— are described as “bold ambassadors equipped with Biblical and Constitutional knowledge to speak truth to believers and unbelievers alike in every professional field and public forum.”

In a Jan. 20, 2020, article in the Liberty Champion, the university’s newspaper, Falkirk Center director Ryan Helfenbein told student writer Hattie Troutman that “if Liberty was to be in partnership with the center, it must be rooted in the Gospel and represent Liberty University’s missional values.” Indeed, the Falkirk Center has quickly become Liberty University’s voice in the public sphere. 

If you want to understand what the Falkirk Center means by “going on the offensive” or speaking “truth” in every “public forum,” you need to look no further than Falwell’s well-documented public statements over the last four years. He has tweeted an image of a blackface coronavirus mask as part of his criticism of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. Falwell claimed that COVID-19 is the result of a secret collaboration between North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un and China for the purpose of undermining the Trump presidency.

Falwell praised Trump’s comments in defense of white supremacists during the August 2017 racial unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia, and defended Trump’s boasting of sexual assault on a tape released by the entertainment show Access Hollywood. Falwell threatened a New York Times reporter in a late-night voicemail. He defended U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama after Moore was accused of molesting teenage girls.

During the Democratic National Convention, meanwhile, Kirk published tweets saying that Michelle and Barack Obama “hate America,” Bernie Sanders is a “communist,” and the Democrat Party is the party of “white liberal racists.” Two weeks ago, Kirk tweeted to his 1.8 million Twitter followers that NBA players protesting the Kenosha, Wisconsin, shooting of Jacob Blake are “morons” and the league is “a national joke and disgrace.”

Falkirk Center fellow Eric Metaxas, an author and radio host who has compared Hillary Clinton to Hitler, has suggested that those who oppose Trump are “demonic.” In 2016, Metaxas wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed claiming that if evangelicals did not vote for Trump “God will not hold us guiltless.” More recently, Metaxas said that Jesus was white,  and on the final night of the Republican National Convention, in Washington, D.C., Metaxas was caught on camera throwing a punch at an anti-Trump protester.

Sebastian Gorka, a radio host and former Trump foreign policy strategist with dubious academic credentials, also serves as a Falkirk fellow. In the last few weeks, Gorka claimed that Joe Biden was senile, downplayed the threat of COVID-19 and retweeted a conservative pundit who described the victims of Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse as “scumbags.”

Read the entire piece here.

Today Liberty University’s website is celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Falkirk Center. Read the press release here.

As you read, remember that all Christian universities are not the same.

I also want to point you to Peter Montgomery’s piece at Right Wing Watch. Here is a taste:

Among the first-year accomplishments cited by the Falkirk Center was its day-long “faith summit” called “Get Louder,” which featured Christian Reconstructionist Gary DeMar as a speaker on a panel moderated by Metaxas.

The celebratory post, written by Liberty communications staffer Logan Smith, mentioned that “Falkirk Podcast” guests have included Trump lawyer and national punchline Giuliani and Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis, who teaches that genuine Christians must adhere to a belief in a literal six-day Creation and a universe that is thousands of years old.

It also placed the Falkirk Center firmly on the side of right-wing evangelicals who believe that conversations about social justice and racism within the church are dangerous, evil, and enemies of the Gospel. The article quotes a Liberty University parent praising Falkirk for “drawing attention to leftist thinking that is attacking the Church.”

“The Falkirk Center fills a need deeply felt during this time of increasing wokeness and social justice inside the church, calling Christians and pastors to return to the true doctrine of God’s Word,” said Grant May, one of a growing number of Falkirk Center ambassadors from across the country, according to the Liberty blog post. “The center has inspired and encouraged me during the rising fad of cultural Christianity to truly dive into the Word and remember what Christ’s commands for the Church were, not modern-day pastors’ advice on how to be culturally relevant.”

The post also celebrates that the Falkirk Center “has consistently encouraged churches and pastors to defy” pandemic “lockdown orders.”

The anniversary blog post included no mention of the Falkirk Center’s co-founder Jerry Falwell, Jr., the university’s disgraced former president. The Falkirk moniker is a fusion of Falwell’s name and that of cofounder Charlie Kirk, who heads the right-wing youth organizing project Turning Point USA, as well as a reference to the battle of Falkirk, memorialized in the movie Braveheart.

Read Montgomery’s entire piece here.

Liberty University is now the bastion of evangelical Trumpism.

Friday morning court evangelical roundup

It was another crazy day in Trump land. Yesterday the news was focused on Trump’s potential pardons. There is speculation that he is preparing pardons for his children before they have been convicted of any crimes. Some say Trump may even try to pardon himself. Last night on CNN, journalist Bob Woodward told the story of Gerald Ford’s habit of carrying a portion of the text of Burdick v. United States in his wallet. Ford argued, based on this Supreme Court decision, that the acceptance of a pardon (in this case Richard Nixon) is the equivalent of a confession of guilt.

Trump’s election fraud claims reached a new level of craziness yesterday when he delivered a 45-minute video speech filled with unsubstantiated claims. Some cable networks refused to show the video because it was so full of lies. The Trump team released the video on the same day that William Barr’s Department of Justice said that there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

Trump will be gone on January 20, 2021, but a lot of us are wondering how much damage he will do between now and then. When Biden takes office on Inauguration Day, the court evangelical phenomenon will end. But as of today, many of Trump’s most ardent evangelical supporters are still fighting. Let’s check in:

The Falkirk Center at Liberty University remains the evangelical epicenter of election fraud conspiracy theories.

Yesterday Falkirk Center fellow Eric Metaxas talked with fellow conspiracy theorist Dinesh D’Souza. As I wrote yesterday, Metaxas seems to think he is a modern-day William Wilberforce or Dietrich Bonhoeffer (the subject of his two most well-known biographies). The only problem with this analogy is that slavery (in the case of Wilberforce) and Nazism (in the case of Bonhoeffer) were real evils.

Religion News Service has a piece on Metaxas titled “How Eric Metaxas went from Trump despiser to true believer.” It includes quotes from Paul Glader, Phil Vischer (of Veggie Tales fame), David Dark, and David French. We learn about Metaxas’s forthcoming autobiography and his desire to host a Dick Cavett-like talk show on FOX.

Metaxas’s fellow Falkirk Center spokeperson, Trump attorney Jenna Ellis, is the subject of a pretty scathing New York Times article. Here is a taste of Jeremy Peter’s and Alan Feuer”s reporting:

But a review of her professional history, as well as interviews with more than a half-dozen lawyers who have worked with her, show that Ms. Ellis, 36, is not the seasoned constitutional law expert she plays on TV.

In many ways, that makes her ideal for the role she has now fashioned for herself: She is a star player in the president’s theater of grievance and denial whose lack of relevant experience with the legal questions at hand has had no apparent bearing on her ability to present herself as someone of great authority.

Since she graduated law school in 2011, nothing in her record in the courtroom — limited mostly to appearances in state court as a prosecutor or as counsel for clients charged with assault, prostitution, theft and domestic abuse — shows any time spent litigating election law cases.

She holds herself out as an expert on the Constitution based on her self-published book and her teaching of pre-law classes to undergraduates. She has never appeared in federal district or circuit court, where most constitutional matters are considered, according to national databases of federal cases, and does not appear to have played a major role in any cases beyond her criminal and civil work in Colorado.

Read the rest here.

Ellis responded to the article, including quotes included in the story from former “jealous” colleagues:

Falkirk Center co-founder Charlie Kirk:

Another Liberty University Falkirk Center spokesperson, Sebastian Gorka, believes that Trump provided “evidence” of fraud during his video speech yesterday:

In other court evangelical news:

Lance Wallnau may just have more followers than all the Liberty University Falkirk Center spokespeople combined. The other day he was on a Kenneth Copeland program with a few other self-professed prophets:

Tony Perkins is praising evangelical turnout for Donald Trump. Did anyone expect anything different? Perkins is also talking to a Grove City College professor on apparent voter fraud in Pennsylvania.

Court evangelical Eric Metaxas compares his fight against voter fraud to the courage one needs to stop a heavily-armed man who is trying to murder his child

The election was seventeen days ago. A lot of Donald Trump’s court evangelicals are moving on to other things. Ralph Reed, for example, is now focused on the upcoming Georgia senate run-offs. Robert Jeffress is upset about COVID-19 restrictions.

But others are doubling-down on voter fraud conspiracy theories.

Eric Metaxas, radio host and spokesperson for Liberty University’s Falkirk Center, had Lance Wallnau on his show today to talk about “the prophetic.” Wallnau, who was recently selling “King Cyrus coins” on the Jim Bakker Show, is hawking his new book. He claims that God told him that there would be problems with mail-in balloting and he reads a passage from his book to prove it. The book was published in October 2020 and Wallnau claims that God spoke to him about this in September 2020. Of course the narrative of possible election controversy due to mail-in balloting was all over the news for most of the summer of 2020. Anyone reading the news could have made such a “prophecy.”

Metaxas believes that the “voter fraud” against Trump is “Satanic” and “wicked.” He wants to “die fighting” against voter fraud. Then Metaxas compares his fight against voter fraud to the courage one needs to stop a heavily-armed man who is trying to rape or murder his child. Wallnau then re-ups on his prophecy that Trump will win this election. Metaxas agrees.

Watch:

In other court evangelical news:

Here is Liberty University Falkirk Center spokesperson Sebastian Gorka:

Liberty University’s Falkirk Center spokesperson and Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis on Mitt Romney:

Liberty University Falkirk Center spokesperson Charlie Kirk wants more rallies. As I wrote earlier this week, we are seeing a new Lost Cause.

Lance Wallnau is still pushing the “Trump as King Cyrus” narrative:

Christians are not supposed to hate, but they hate the Clintons. Here is court evangelical journalist David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network:

Tony Perkins still believes the election has yet to be decided.

Jack Graham also believes the election has yet to be decided:

Conservative evangelicals and Catholics are holding a “Jericho marches” in capitol cities every day until the Electoral College votes in December. Pro-Trumpers will march seven times around the city and pray, and expect God to give Trump a victory in the same way He gave the Israelites a victory over the pagan city of Jericho. Will they blow horns?

Court evangelicals on night 3 of the GOP convention

Court evangelicals prayer

Here is what the Bible-believing, born-again Christians who support Donald Trump are saying today:

Let’s start with the Liberty University Falkirk Center crowd:

Charlie Kirk believes that the Democrat concern over racial unrest and racial justice is politically motivated:

He is still denying the existence of systemic racism. How many more incidents have to happen before he sees a pattern?:

The NBA players boycotting for racial justice are morons:

And this:

Can Jenna Ellis point to one “God-given right” enshrined in the Constitution? The Constitution never mentions God:

As I wrote earlier today, Pence actually “stands firm” on the heretical fusion of Christianity and American nationalism:

Here is Sebastian Gorka of the Falkirk Center:

And this:

Court evangelical journalist David Brody has a partial list of court evangelicals who will be at Trump’s acceptance speech tonight:

The list includes Johnnie Moore, Jenetzen Franklin,Paula White-Cain, Tim Clinton, Greg Laurie, Samuel Rodriguez, Eric Metaxas, Gary Bauer, Jack Graham, Harry Jackson, Cissie Graham Lynch, and Ralph Reed.

Trump hasn’t even given his speech yet and Robert Jeffress is already calling it “historic”:

As expected, Jeffress was pretty excited about Mike Pence’s speech last night:

Johnnie Moore, the court evangelical who describes himself as a “modern-day Dietrich Bonhoeffer,” wrote a piece at Religion News Service in defense of Trump.

Mike Pence tried to quote the New Testament Book of Hebrews last night. He replaced “Jesus” with “Old Glory. Pastor Jack Graham loved the VP’s manipulation of the Bible for political gain:

Ironically, earlier in the day Graham tweeted this:

Yes, but is Franklin Graham proud of his niece Jerushah?

Night four of the RNC convention begins very soon.

What happened to Liberty University’s original “Falkirk fellows”?

Liberty Mountain

When Jerry Falwell and Charlie Kirk founded Liberty University’s Falkirk Center they appointed several “fellows” to speak on behalf of the Center’s mission and purpose. According to the Center’s website, the Falkirk Center was created to:

…go on the offense in the name of Christian principles and in the name of exceptional, God-given American liberties.

Accomplishing this end requires more than adding noise to the echo chamber. It requires an army of bold ambassadors equipped with Biblical and Constitutional knowledge to speak truth to believers and unbelievers alike in every professional field and public forum. This includes Christian leaders and influencers—of all ages and backgrounds—defending, explaining, and sharing their beliefs on all platforms and sectors of society.

Thankfully, we don’t have to render ourselves powerless as the left misguides our young people. Much like Wallace’s struggle for freedom, we need brave, tenacious, passionate fighters to prevail in our war to save the greatest nation on earth. The Falkirk Center will remain on the front lines of this war. And we believe, like the passionate freedom fighters that courageously charged into the breach before us, we will eventually see victory.

The first group of fellows were:

Erika Lane Frantzve: She was Miss Arizona USA.  I am not sure what qualifies her as a “fellow” at a think tank.

Josh Allen Murray: He apparently was a winner on the ABC reality show “The Bachelorette.”

Antonia Okafor Cover: She runs a non-profit organization that teaches women how to use guns and advocate for their Second Amendment rights.

David Harris Jr.: He is the author of a book titled Why I Couldn’t Stay Silent: One Man’s Battle as a Black Conservative

Jaco Boovens: Runs a film company

As of today, Murray, Cover, and Booyens are no longer associated with the Falkirk Center. Does anyone know what happened? Why did they leave? Perhaps a religion journalist might want to follow-up.

Harris Jr. continues to tweet on behalf of the Falkirk Center. So does Frantzve.

The list of fellows now includes Eric Metaxas, Jenna Ellis, Darrel B. Harrison, Sebastian Gorka, and David Brat. I don’t know much about Harrison, but the other four are more high-profile culture warriors with bigger platforms.

My sources tell me that the Liberty University Board of Trustees is meeting today. Will its members address the Falkirk Center and its brand of gutter politics? What they decide to do with the Falkirk Center will speak volumes about how the board understands Liberty’s future. Here are just a few tweets from the last 48 hours. All of them come from current Falkirk Center fellows:

Retweeted by Sebastian Gorka:

Eric Metaxas recently said that Kamala Harris is an “evil protean figure” and agreed with a guest who said that she has a “Jezebel spirit.”

All of these people speak on behalf of a Center run by Liberty University, a self-identified Christian college.

What are the court evangelicals saying about day 3 of the DNC convention?

Trump Court Evangelicals 2

Last night we heard from Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, Barack Obama, and Kamala Harris. So what are the court evangelicals saying?

Johnnie Moore, the man who describes himself as a “modern-day Dietrich Bonhoeffer“:

Moore tweeted the above Bible verse while Barack Obama was speaking last night.

On Monday night, as the DNC was talking about “rising up” for social, economic, environmental, and racial justice, Moore tweeted this:

It is worth noting that Psalm 20 also says “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”

This is unrelated to the convention, but one court evangelical will no longer have a TBN television show.

Charlie Kirk continues to represent the Falkirk Center at Liberty University:

How long will Liberty University allow this to go on? Charlie Kirk will continue to spew this kind of stuff as long as evangelical churches, schools, and Christians give him a platform.

Here is Liberty University Falkirk Center fellow Sebastian Gorka:

Court evangelical Lance Wallnau is on the Eric Metaxas Show. Wallnau claims that he prophesied the idea of “Trump derangement syndrome” He continues with his “Hillary 2.0″ theory about Kamala Harris. He once again claims that Harris is a “chameleon” with a “Jezebel spirit” who has been “vetted” not by Biden, but by the devil. Metaxas calls her an “evil protean figure.” He adds that if Biden wins in November it will be “the end of America.”

At the end of the interview, Wallnau and Metaxas engage in some serious “America as a New Israel” language. Metaxas says that we have abandoned God’s “covenant” with America established by the Pilgrims. in 1620 and the patriots in 1776. This is all very bad American history and theology, but it’s the kind of message Metaxas (along with David Barton) has been pitching for a long time now. Take a look at my review of his book If You Can Keep It.

Why Liberty University should close the Falkirk Center, and why it probably won’t happen

Liberty_University_LaHaye_Student_Union_IMG_4121 (1)

If you want to understand what a university values, consider the kinds of centers and institutes they have on campus. Most centers and institutes are extra-curricular in nature and are designed to bolster the ideas and values that define the mission of the school that sponsors them.

I wrote a bit about this in an earlier post comparing Liberty University to my own institution, Messiah University.  For example, Messiah University was founded by a small Protestant denomination called the Brethren in Christ Church (BIC). The BIC draws from three Christian traditions–Anabaptism, Pietism, and Wesleyanism. These traditions have a long history of promoting peace, social justice, women’s ordination, personal holiness, and service. Because of these commitments:

  • Messiah University has a center for Anabaptist, Pietist, and Wesleyan studies that promotes issues related to peace, reconciliation, heart-felt conversion, and personal and social holiness.”
  • Messiah University has a Center for Public Humanities with a mission to promote the study of the humanities and “partner with our broader community in meaningful inquiry, conversation, and action.”
  • Messiah University has a center devoted to the work and legacy of former U.S. Commissioner of Education and Messiah graduate Ernest L. Boyer. The Boyer Center “advances educational renewal for the common good.”
  • Messiah University has a center called The Collaboratory for Strategic Partnerships and Applied Research.  This center has a mission to “foster justice, empower the poor, promote peace and care for the earth through applications of our academic and professional disciplines.”

Liberty University, on other hand, was founded by cultural warriors. The school came of age with the rise of the Christian Right. Evangelical students started attending Liberty because they or their parents were enamored by Jerry Falwell Sr.’s vision of a school that would serve as an extension of his Moral Majority.

Today, in the wake of Jerry Falwell Jr.’s temporary removal from the presidency of Liberty, a narrative has emerged suggesting that Falwell Jr. somehow took the school in a direction that was different from the good old days of Falwell Sr. There may be some truth to this, but the narrative as a whole is false.

Jerry Falwell Sr. may have been more pious than his son, but his public statements and positions were just as scandalous. During apartheid, Falwell Sr. thought that Desmond Tutu was a “phony” and those fighting racism in South Africa were communists. He distributed The Clinton Chronicles, a documentary claiming that Bill Clinton was connected to the supposed murder of Vince Foster. Falwell Sr. blamed the September 11 attacks on abortionists, “pagans,” feminists, and “the gays and the lesbians.” And we could go on.

The Falwell legacy was in good hands with Jerry Jr. Little about the Falwell family approach to “Christian” politics has changed over the years. Just compare Jerry Sr.’s “greatest” hits with those of his son.

American culture, however, has changed. Add social media and the Internet to the mix and it becomes more difficult for Falwell Jr. to get away with the stuff his father did. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t tried.

So let’s get back to the Falkirk Center, the place that seems to most reflect the Liberty brand.

According to its website the Falkirk Center is

Rooted in compelling, enduring, absolute truths, our principles transcend generational divides and withstand cultural trends. As the creeds of secularism are proving tenuous and unsatisfying to millions of Americans, there has never been a better time to fill this void and amplify these truths.

Upcoming generations are falling victim to the teachings of secularism, primarily because they’re not learning America’s exceptional foundational ideals within the public education system. Further, attacks on religious freedom have caused them to abandon their Christian roots in droves. So, it’s no coincidence that as young people’s acceptance of traditional values declines, depression and anxiety are reaching record highs. Young people are hungry for fulfillment and truth like never before. And, right now, the only option for them is the siren song of secularism promoted by the far left.

Today we have a tremendous opportunity to provide our youth—and all Americans—an alternative to the left’s unfulfilling and outright dishonest attempt to provide a purposeful life. We also have an opportunity to provide clarity to a passionate, yet confused, generation of believers in Jesus Christ.

Jerry Falwell Sr. would have agreed with every word of this.

And then comes the culture war piece:

The function and the moral mission of the Falkirk Center is to go on the offense in the name of Christian principles and in the name of exceptional, God-given American liberties.

Accomplishing this end requires more than adding noise to the echo chamber. It requires an army of bold ambassadors equipped with Biblical and Constitutional knowledge to speak truth to believers and unbelievers alike in every professional field and public forum. This includes Christian leaders and influencers—of all ages and backgrounds—defending, explaining, and sharing their beliefs on all platforms and sectors of society.

Thankfully, we don’t have to render ourselves powerless as the left misguides our young people. Much like Wallace’s struggle for freedom, we need brave, tenacious, passionate fighters to prevail in our war to save the greatest nation on earth. The Falkirk Center will remain on the front lines of this war. And we believe, like the passionate freedom fighters that courageously charged into the breach before us, we will eventually see victory.

So what does this mission look like in real life? Yesterday, we included several tweets from the Falkirk Center’s “bold ambassadors.” Read them here.

Today we heard more from these “bold ambassadors.”

Here is Charlie Kirk, the co-founder of the Falkirk Center:

Here is Falkirk Center “fellow” Jenna Ellis:

Ellis is also promoting a Kamala Harris birther controversy. (Trump did not deny this in today’s press conference). She retweeted this today:

And what would hateful Christian Right culture war rhetoric be without an occasional biblical quotation:

I guess Ellis does not realize that Malachi 1:11 comes in the midst of a passage in which the prophet Malachi rebukes Israel for dishonoring God and defiling his name.

Here is Falkirk Fellow Darrell B. Harrison:

Eric Metaxas is also a Falkirk Fellow. Today, on his Facebook page, he promoted an article defending Jerry Falwell Jr.  This, I might add, is the first time I have seen any court evangelical come to Falwell’s defense since he was put on indefinite leave.

Meanwhile, Falkirk Fellow Sebastian Gorka is trying to discredit Kamala Harris by claiming that she had slaves in her family history.

I don’t know if this true, but it hardly disqualifies a person from running for Vice President. If it is true, and if these tweets get to the level to which Harris needs to address them, all she needs to do is admit it and reject slavery. This would distinguish her from the Trumpers who want to defend monuments to Confederate generals and deny that systemic racism is a problem.

Gorka and D’Souza are perfect examples of what Christian Right politics has become. Namely, do everything possible to smear and degrade your enemy even if it means digging-up stuff from 200 years ago. I can imagine the conversation in the Falkirk Center ZOOM staff meeting this week: “Let’s do our part to take Harris down, even if we have to peddle in half-truths that besmirch her character.”

Yes, I realize that this “politics as usual,” but is this really the kind of politics Christians should be involved with?

Another Liberty University Falkirk Center fellow, David J. Harris, is also promoting birtherism:

David Brat, a fellow at the Falkirk Center and former Virginia congressman, plays to white evangelical fears:

It is doubtful that the Falkirk Center will disappear because its pronouncements are so deeply embedded in the history of Liberty University. It is worth noting again that the
acting president is an old-school, Falwell Sr loyalist who came of age with the Liberty University founder in the 1980s.

In the end, if the Board of Trustees does decide to end the Falkirk Center, it will represent a major break with the history of Liberty University. It would be the equivalent of  Messiah saying that it no longer thinks a center to promote peace, justice, service, and reconciliation reflects the values of the university and thus must be eliminated.

Trump Will Speak at the Value Voters Summit on Saturday

Trump evangelical

Christian Broadcasting Network has the scoop.  Trump will join the following speakers at the Omni Shoreham Hotel: Gary Bauer, Bill Bennett, Sam Brownback, Sebastian Gorka, Dana Loesch, Mark Meadows, Eric Metaxas, Oliver North, Tony “Mulligan” Perkins, Dennis Prager, Steve Scalise, and Todd Starnes.

I was also interested to see that David Muselman, a student at evangelical Taylor University, will speak.  He defended Mike Pence’s visit to Taylor last May.

There are also a host of breakout sessions and breakfasts:

  • Columbia International University, an evangelical Bible school (formerly Columbia Bible College), will host a breakfast on Friday morning.  Speakers at this event will include CIU president Mark Smith and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum.  You may recall that Smith was recently accused of covering-up his son’s sexual harassment when he was president of Ohio Christian University.  I have never known Columbia International University to be a such a politicized institution.  Smith appears to have taken it in this direction.
  • Todd Starnes will sign copies of his recent book in the wake of his firing from Fox News.
  • Other sessions include: “Speech, Sex, and Silenced Parents: The Darkening Landscape of American Education;” “Two Paths to Becoming a Young Conservative Influencer;” “Why Christians Should Support Israel;” “The Progressive Assault on Christian Freedom of Conscience;” “How Conservatives Can Win in 2020.”  If future historians want to see how evangelical Christians have influenced the Republican Party and vice-versa, they should read the proceedings of these sessions.

2 final comments:

  1. This will be a court evangelical-fest
  2. The evangelicals who attend this will return home very afraid.

Hey Eric Metaxas, Please Stop Using Ethnic Slurs About Italians So Cavalierly

Watch this Salem Radio love-fest between Eric Metaxas and Sebastian Gorka:

Most readers of the blog know Metaxas.  He is a court evangelical, author, and host of the Eric Metaxas Show on Salem.  Gorka’s brief and controversial stint as a Trump adviser landed him a radio show on the Christian network.

In this exchange, Metaxas and Gorka are discussing CNN anchor Chris Cuomo’s recent profanity-laced outburst toward a man who was harassing him on a family vacation.  The CNN celebrity took offense to this man calling him “Fredo,” a reference to the weak Corleone brother in The Godfather.

Cuomo claimed that “Fredo” is an ethnic slur against Italians.  I am half-Italian and grew-up around a lot of Italian family members, but I have never heard the name of the late John Cazanale‘s character in The Godfather used as a slur–ethnic or otherwise. So on this point, Metaxas and Gorka are probably correct.

But Metaxas does not stop there.  He says, “you would think that someone had called him [Cuomo] a ‘no-good guinea, wop;’ and even that’s funny in this day and age.”

I am sure Metaxas will think I am a snowflake for saying this, but calling an Italian-American a “guinea” or a “wop” is NOT funny–not even in “this day and age.”  For many Italian-Americans, especially those of a certain generation, these terms still open-up old wounds.  Perhaps Metaxas should study some Italian-American history. 

Let me be clear.  We Italian-Americans now enjoy white privilege. Today, the words “guinea” or “wop” do not have the sting that they once had.  Things have changed over time for Italian-Americans.  I would thus never equate the discrimination Italian-Americans have faced with the the plight of African-Americans in our history.  (Although I know many Italian-American political conservatives who would make this kind of moral equivalence argument).

But many of us have also sat at the feet of elders who told us stories about the prejudicial treatment they once faced.  Some of these stories are not pretty.  A few of these elders are still alive.  Some of their wounds have not completely healed.

Italians No

It is also worth noting that Metaxas appears to defend Tucker Carlson’s recent “white supremacy is a hoax” line.

At one point in the conversation Metaxas says, “In America, we have the freedom to say stupid things.” Yup.

Salem Radio “has unambiguously encouraged their radio hosts to be as pro-Trump as possible”

Gorka

Sebastian Gorka

Salem Radio, the home of conservative talk hosts Hugh Hewitt, Lou Dobbs, court evangelical Eric Metaxas, and others, is in negotiations with “MAGA rock star” and former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka.  Here is a taste of the Daily Beast report:

Perhaps more salient a factor than his age, however, is that the former Trump aide is an unabashed booster and staunch defender of the president—and Salem Radio is interested in more talent like him and fewer dissenters and Republican squishes.

Multiple sources tell The Daily Beast that in the Trump era, Salem has unambiguously encouraged their radio hosts to be as pro-Trump as possible. This trend also extended as far back as the 2016 presidential campaign, according to private Salem messages obtained by CNN earlier this year.

An idea being pitched around Salem Radio is to have Gorka replace nationally syndicated host Michael Medved, a veteran of conservative media who happens to be a vocal on-air critic of President Trump. According to sources, Medved’s three-year contract expires at the end of the year and the long-time radio host intends to continue going on-air for the duration of it.

Some people familiar with the internal deliberations predict a wider dismissal of Trump skeptics, perhaps similar to Salem Media-owned RedState.com’s “purge” of its prominent anti-Trump writers earlier this year. One source described the current Salem Radio atmosphere and chatter as clear indicators of an incoming pro-Trump “coup,” while others simply hope for the best.

Read the rest here.

The Salem Media Group also runs evangelical Christian talk stations around the country.  I wonder if they are applying their pro-Trump emphasis to these stations as well.

Sebastian Gorka and “Courtier Culture”

Gorka

I like the way Michael Vlahos, a professor of strategy and war at Johns Hopkins, uses the idea of “courtier culture” to describe the role that Sebastian Gorka played in the Trump White House.  Reminds me a bit of the court evangelicals.

Here is a taste of his piece at The American Conservative

The courtier culture in Washington, the imperial city, is not recognized for what it is. It is sensed by all, while called out by none. Yet the courtier culture is the managing class for all foreign and domestic policy, and the lubricant of all palace intrigue. The invidious intimacy of the courtier ethos was curiously laid bare in the Aug. 25 exit of a loud anti-courtier courtier: Sebastian Gorka.  

Was ever such a short-lived, minor retainer like Gorka accorded such an extravagant send-off? True, he was fêted in rebuke rather than bon mot, yet the farewell remains, notwithstanding, a tribute of a kind. I am sure Gorka feels insulted and injured, and not without cause. Yet his departure actually represents something of an achievement.

Courtiers with larger followings and longer legs, after all, found him profoundly worthy of insult, and surely, their need to inflict injury is a mark, however unintended, of deep respect. All those bilious column inches expended on a man of little influence and zero role in the intrigues of palace chambers! How does that happen?

Read the rest here.