Trump’s GOP commemorates MLK after trying to disenfranchise voters in Detroit, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Atlanta

Ever since November 3–Election Day–GOP members of the House and at least ten senators tried to overturn the votes of Black men and women in Detroit, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Atlanta. Today, as Nick Visser and Amanda Terkel point out in their article at The Huffington Post, they want us all to remember Martin Luther King Jr. Here is a taste:

One hundred forty-seven Republicans in Congress voted against certifying Democrat Joe Biden as the winner of the presidential election this month. Not only did they try to overturn the election results and give legitimacy to President Donald Trump’s lies of rampant voter fraud, but they essentially tried to erase the mammoth turnout among Black voters that helped Biden win. 

Twelve days after that vote, 127 of those Republicans ― 86% ― tweeted or put out statements Monday praising the work of Martin Luther King Jr., who is perhaps best remembered for fighting racial injustice.

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. transformed America and inspired men and women across the world with his call to pursue justice and truth,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) tweeted the King quote: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” 

Boebert is a supporter of the deranged, baseless QAnon conspiracy theory that believes Trump is fighting a Satan-worshipping “deep state” of Democrats and Hollywood celebrities who are sex traffickers. 

The hypocrisy was not lost on civil rights leaders. 

Read the rest here.

As we pointed out earlier this evening, the court evangelicals did the same thing.

New video: January 6 insurrectionists pray in the Senate chamber

The New Yorker just released new footage taken January 6, 2020 from inside the U.S. Capitol. Watch the entire video here.

A group of rioters, led by Jake Angeli, the so-called “QAnon Shaman,” said a public prayer from the desk at the front of the Senate. I clipped The New Yorker video to highlight the prayer:

Watch:

Thoughts:

  • Angeli prays like an evangelical. He begins by saying “thank you heavenly father for gracing us with this opportunity….” The phraseology is clearly evangelical.
  • If you still don’t know what Christian nationalism sounds like, just listen to the way this blasphemous prayer blends American nationalism with Christian faith.
  • Angeli seems to have an elementary, albeit flawed, understanding of Christian theology. At one point he refers to a “divine, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent creator God.” The fact that this language just rolls off of Angeli’s lips suggests he has been around the evangelical block a few times.
  • He thanks God for “allowing the United States of America to be reborn.” This comes straight out of the QAnon playbook. Followers of Q, many of whom are evangelical Christians, believe that America will experience a “Great Awakening” after the evil “Deep State” is defeated. This idea of a “Great Awakening” has meshed very well with evangelical calls for a spiritual revival and evangelical claims that the First Great Awakening of the 18th century precipitated the American Revolution.

Does anyone see any similarities between Angeli’s prayer and the stuff going on here:

Big things coming at The Way of Improvement Leads Home. Consider supporting us!

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Donald Trump just got impeached for the second time. How are the court evangelicals handling it?

The days of the Trump court evangelicals are ending. Right now the big question is whether their king will make it to January 20. The House of Representatives impeached Donald Trump today. Ten members of Trump’s own party voted to impeach him, making this the most bipartisan impeachment in U.S. history. We are now waiting to see how the Senate will respond.

The court evangelicals do not usually respond to current events in real time, but there a few things to report.

The Twitter feed at the Falkirk Center at Liberty University is saying nothing about the impeachment or the insurrection. The feed is filled with tweets about free speech.

Jenna Ellis believes conservative principles are founded on God’s word. (I assume she believes “liberal” principles are not). The verses she quotes in tweet below are all about paying “evil” with “evil.” So apparently she believes that the impeachment of Donald Trump was a form of evil. Ellis wants you to think she is taking the high road here, but she is really manipulating scripture to take yet another shot at her enemies. I don’t expect to see tweets of love toward Joe Biden anytime soon.

Blessed are those who lose their Twitter and Facebook feeds for promoting conspiracy theories:

Richard Land is preaching moral equivalence:

Jim Garlow is still holding his “election integrity” prayer meetings:

Today on his Facebook page, Garlow wrote: “The House of Representatives vote. Despicable.”

Robert Jeffress is gearing-up for Sunday morning:

What does White mean by this tweet?:

Interesting:

Actually, forgiveness, redemption, and restoration begins with taking a hard look at the mistakes of the past:

Franklin Graham endorsed Mike Pence’s use of scripture last night:

About 60 the 138 House members who objected to the Electoral College count were evangelical Christians

My very conservative estimate is that sixty evangelical Christians who are members of the House of Representatives objected. I think the number is probably higher, but I can’t be sure until we take a deeper dive into the bios of these representatives. Whatever the case, I hope the list below will give you all something to talk about. If you have any additional information please send it along on my Facebook page or Twitter feed. You can also shoot me an e-mail.

And don’t forget to take the survey!

It looks like thirty Catholics also objected.

Here are the religious affiliations of all 138 members of the House who objected to the Electoral College count in Pennsylvania, Arizona, or both. Click here for the Senate.

Robert Aderholt (AL), while a member of the evangelical organization “The Family,” traveled to Romania to meet with a Holocaust denier. He has also fought to display the 10 Commandments in public schools and other public buildings.

Rick Allen (GA) once read a Bible verse to the House Republican Conference calling for the death of homosexuals. He attends evangelically-oriented Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church in Augusta.

Jodey Arrington (TX), like Josh Hawley and Mike Pompeo, is an Evangelical Presbyterian.

Brian Babin (TX) appeared on the radio show of court evangelical Tony Perkins three days after the 2020 presidential election. Babin is an active member of First Baptist Church (Southern Baptist) of Woodville, TX.

Jim Baird (IN) is a United Methodist who believes America was founded on Judeo-Christian values. His church, Gobin United Methodist in Greencastle, does not look particularly evangelical in orientation.

Jim Banks (IN) has an online MBA from evangelical Grace College in Winona Lake. He identifies as an “Evangelical Christian.”

Cliff Bentz (OR) is Catholic.

Jack Bergman (MI) is Lutheran. This is not a historically evangelical denomination.

Stephanie Bice (OK) is Catholic.

Andy Biggs (AZ) is a Mormon.

Dan Bishop (NC) attends Providence United Methodist Church and sings in the choir. It is unclear if this is an evangelically-oriented United Methodist congregation. He defines himself as a “Christian conservative.”

Lauren Boebert (CO) wrote in clear evangelical language when she recently tweeted, “I’m a Christian. So they may try to drive me to my knees, but that’s where I’m the strongest.” She became a born-again Christian in 2009.

Mike Bost (IL) organized a prayer movement for Donald Trump, which was reported on by the Christian Broadcasting Network. He may have caught COVID-19 at an event sponsored by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Mo Brooks (AL) left the Mormonism of his wife and now identifies as a “non-denominational Christian.” “Non-denominational” is code for evangelical.

Ted Budd (NC) is an evangelical Christian and a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary.

Tim Burchett (TN) is an evangelical Christian and a member of the Presbyterian Church in America

Michael Burgess (TX) is a Reformed Episcopalian. This is an evangelical, or at least orthodox, denomination.

Ken Calvert (CA) does not seem to make his faith a dominant part of his political identity.

Kat Cammack (FL) started a Faith & Pro-Life Coalition. I can’t find much on her specific religious identity.

Jerry Carl (AL) is an evangelical Christian. He helped found Luke 4:18 Fellowship, a Southern Baptist Church in Mobile.

Buddy Carter (GA) attends Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church in Savannah. It is hard to tell from the church website if this is evangelical-oriented congregation.

John Carter (TX) attends Central Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist Church in Round Rock, TX.

Madison Cawthorn (NC) is a devout evangelical who attends Biltmore Church in Hendersonville.

Steve Chabot (OH) is Catholic

Ben Cline (VA) is Catholic

Michael Cloud (TX) is a graduate of Oral Roberts University. Before he entered Congress he was the communications director at Faith Family Church, an evangelical megachurch in Victoria.

Andrew Clyde (GA) is a member of Prince Avenue Baptist Church, an evangelical megachurch in Bogart.

Tom Cole (OK) has a Ph.D in British history from the University of Oklahoma,. He attends a United Methodist Church. Perhaps it is Moore United Methodist Church. He has taught history at Oklahoma Baptist University, an evangelical Southern Baptist university.

Rick Crawford (AR) is a Southern Baptist and attends Nettleton Baptist Church in Jonesboro.

Warren Davidson (OH) is an evangelical Christian who has the support of court evangelical Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council. He has been a leader in the evangelical youth organization Young Life and attends Grace Baptist Church in Troy, OH.

Scott DesJarlais (TN) attends Epiphany Mission, an Episcopal Church in Sherwood. He does not seem to identify as an evangelical Christian. He also has an embarrassing past

Mario Diaz-Balart (FL) is Catholic.

Byron Donalds (FL) is an evangelical Christian who converted in the parking lot of a Tallahassee Cracker Barrel. He was a youth leader at Living Word Family Church in Naples.

Jeff Duncan (SC) is a Southern Baptist who attends First Baptist Church in Clinton. He believes in intelligent design.

Neal Dunn (FL) is Catholic.

Ron Estes (KS) is Lutheran

Pat Fallon (TX) is Catholic

Michelle Fischbach (MN) is Catholic

Scott Fitzgerald (WI) is Catholic

Chuck Fleischmann (TN) is Catholic

Virginia Foxx (NC) is a Southern Baptist who attends First Baptist Church of Blowing Rock.

Scott Franklin (FL) attends First Presbyterian in Lakeland. The church is PC-USA, but it seems pretty evangelical. Staff members have degrees from Fuller Theological Seminary, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Asbury Theological Seminary.

Russ Fulcher (ID) is an evangelical Christian.

Matt Gaetz (FL) is a member of First Baptist Church in Fort Walton Beach. He says he was “saved in a Baptist church.

Mike Garcia (CA) calls himself a “Christian who believes in God and Jesus as our savior” but he does not seem to make his Christian faith a central part of his politics.

Bob Gibbs (OH) is a member of Nasvhille United Methodist Church. He holds conservative positions on most social issues, but it is unclear if his church is evangelical-oriented.

Carlos Gimenez (FL) is Catholic.

Louie Gohmert (TX) is a Southern Baptists Sunday School teacher and conservative evangelical.

Bob Good (VA) is an evangelical Christian who describes himself as a “biblical conservative.”

Lance Gooden (TX) is a member of the Church of Christ, a conservative Protestant denomination that is not usually associated with evangelicalism, but shares similar convictions on social issues.

Paul Gosar (AZ) is Catholic.

Garret Graves (LA) is Catholic.

Sam Graves (MO) is a Southern Baptist.

Mark Green (TN) is a Southern Baptist evangelical. He is a creationist.

Marjorie Greene (GA) is a conspiracy theorist who has a “strong Christian faith.” It is not clear if she identifies as an evangelical.

Morgan Griffith (VA) is Episcopalian.

Michael Guest (MS) is a Southern Baptist who attends Brandon Baptist Church where he teaches Sunday School and serves as a deacon.

Jim Hagedorn (MN) is a Missouri-Synod Lutheran.

Andy Harris (MD) is Catholic.

Diana Harshbarger (TN) is a Southern Baptist. She teaches Sunday School at Higher Ground Baptist Church in Kingsport.

Vicky Hartzler (MO) is a self-identified evangelical Christian.

Kevin Hern (OK) is an evangelical Christian who attends the Church at Battle Creek, a non-denominational megachurch.

Yvette Herrell (NM) attends Christ Community Church, an evangelical congregation in Alamogordo.

Jody Hice (GA) is a Southern Baptist and a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a strong Trump evangelical.

Clay Higgins (LA) holds to most Christian conservative social issues, but his religious identity is unclear apart from his self-designation as a Christian.

Richard Hudson (NC) identifies as a Christian and has been endorsed by the Family Research Council.

Darrell Issa (CA) is Eastern Orthodox.

Ronny Jackson (TX) was endorsed by court evangelical Robert Jeffress. He is a member of the Church of Christ.

Chris Jacobs (NY) is Catholic.

Mike Johnson (LA) is a Southern Baptist who attends First Baptist Church of Bossier City.

Bill Johnson (OH) sounds like an evangelical. He identifies as a Christian, a conservative, and a family man.

Jim Jordan (OH) does not seem to identify as an evangelical, but evangelicals love him.

John Joyce (PA) identifies as a Christian, but does not seem to make his faith an important part of his political identity.

Fred Keller (PA) is a member of the Reformed Church of America, a denomination that contains evangelicals but is not normally associated with evangelicalism. He attends First Reformed Church in Sunbury.

Trent Kelly (MS) is a member of Saltillo First United Methodist Church. It is unclear if this church is evangelical-oriented.

Mike Kelly (PA) is Catholic.

David Kustoff (TN) is Jewish.

Doug LaMalfa (CA) identifies as a Christian, but faith does not seem to be a central part of his political identity.

Doug Lamborn (CO) identifies as an evangelical Christian.

Jacob LaTurner (KS) is a Catholic.

Debbie Lesko (AZ) attends a Baptist church

Billy Long (MO) attends First & Calvary Presbyterian Church in Springfield. It is a member of ECO, A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians.

Barry Loudermilk (GA) is a Southern Baptist who has been endorsed by Christian nationalist David Barton. He was part of an evangelical barnstorming tour leading-up to the 2020 Georgia Senate run-off.

Frank Lucas (OK) is a Southern Baptist who attends the First Baptist Church of Cheyenne.

Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO) is Catholic.

Nicole Malliotakis (NY) is Greek Orthodox

Tracey Mann (KS) identifies as a Pietist who attends First Covenant Church in Salina. The church is a member of the Evangelical Covenant denomination.

Brian Mast (FL) is an evangelical Christian who attended church at Calvary Chapel.

Kevin McCarthy (CA) is a Southern Baptist and evangelical Christian. He attends the Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield.

Lisa McClain (MI) is Catholic.

Daniel Meuser (PA) is Catholic.

Mary Miller (IL) attends Oakland Christian Church, an evangelical congregation in Oakland, IL.

Carol Miller (WV) is a Baptist. She attends the Fifth Avenue Baptist Church in Huntington. This church is not association with the Southern Baptist Convention.

Alex Mooney (WV) is Catholic.

Barry Moore (AL) is a Southern Baptist who is a Sunday School teacher and deacon at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Enterprise.

Markwayne Mullin (OK) attends a congregation associated with the International Pentecostal Holiness Church.

Gregory Murphy (NC) identifies as a “conservative Christian.”

Troy Nehls (TX) is a graduate of Liberty University. He has encouraged Christians to carry firearms to church. He attends Faith United Methodist Church in Richmond, TX. Christianity Today has identified him as an evangelical.

Ralph Norman (SC) attends Westminster Presbyterian Church in Rock Hill. It is a member of the evangelical Presbyterian Church in America.

Devin Nunes (CA) is Catholic.

Jay Obernolte (CA) appears to be a Protestant, but he does not seem to overtly connect his faith to his political identity.

Burgess Owens (UT) is a Mormon

Steven Palazzo (MS) is Catholic.

Gary Palmer (AL) attends Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham. It is a member of the evangelical Presbyterian Church in America. He has a history with evangelical organization Focus on the Family.

Greg Pence (IN) is Catholic.

Scott Perry (PA) identifies as a Christian.

August Pfluger (TX) identifies as a “devoted Christian.”

Bill Posey (FL) is a United Methodist. He attends the Rockledge United Methodist Church. The pastor of the church trained for the ministry at evangelical Asbury Theological Seminary.

Guy Reschenthaler (PA) identifies as a Christian.

Tom Rice (SC) is a member of Trinity Episcopal Church. It is an evangelical Anglican congregation.

Mike Rogers (AL) is a Baptist. He attends the independent Saks Baptist Church in Anniston.

Hal Rogers (KY) is a Southern Baptist who attends the First Baptist Church of Somerset.

John Rose (TN) is a member of Jefferson Avenue Church of Christ, a Churches of Christ congregation.

Matt Rosendale (MT) is Catholic.

David Rouzer (NC) is a Southern Baptist

John Rutherford (FL) is Catholic.

Steve Scalise (LA) is Catholic.

David Schweikert (AZ) is Catholic.

Pete Sessions (TX) is a Methodist. He attends First United Methodist Church in Waco. The pastor of the church is a graduate of the evangelical Asbury Theological Seminary.

Jason Smith (MO) is Pentecostal. He attends Grace Community Church in Salem.

Adrian Smith (NE) is an evangelical Christian. He attends Calvary Memorial Evangelical Free Church in Gering.

Lloyd Smucker (PA) is a Lutheran. He attends Zion Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Leola.

Elise Stefanik (NY) is Catholic.

Greg Steube (FL) is a Methodist.

Chris Stewart (UT) is a Mormon

Glenn Thompson (PA) identifies as a Protestant.

Tom Tiffany (WI) does not seem to publicly identify with a religious denomination.

William Timmons (SC) attends Christ Church in Greenville, a member of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina, a conservative branch of South Carolina episcopalianism.

Jefferson Van Drew (NJ) is a Catholic.

Beth Van Duyne (TX) is an Episcopalian

Tim Walberg (MI) is an evangelical Christian who attended Moody Bible Institute, evangelical Taylor University and Wheaton College. He is an elder at Trenton Hills United Brethren Church in Adrian.

Jackie Walorski (IN) is a Pentecostal who attends SouthGate Church (Assembly of God) in South Bend.

Randy Weber (TX) is a Southern Baptist. He attends First Baptist Church of Pearland.

Daniel Webster (FL) is a Southern Baptist who attends First Baptist Church of Central Florida in Orlando.

Roger Williams (TX) identifies as a Christian.

Joe Wilson (SC) is an Associate Reformed Presbyterian, a theologically conservative Presbyterian denomination. He attends First Presbyterian Church in Columbia.

Rob Wittman (VA) is an Episcopalian.

Ron Wright (TX) is Catholic.

Lee Zeldin (NY) is Jewish.

NOTE: I am counting churches in the Southern Baptist Convention as “evangelical.”

Sunday night odds and ends

A few things online that caught my attention this week:

Johns Hopkins University and slavery

A Trump political obituary: “Trump’s lies were different”

Substack is not a new model for journalism

Black Southern Baptist pastors on critical race theory

The GOP as the party of ideas

Elayne Allen reviews Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn’s Ars Vitae: The Fate of Inwardness and the Return of the Ancient Arts.

Dissent interviews David Roth

How the Right keeps winning

Jerry Seinfeld reads

Doing history

Clergy and elected office

White evangelicals and Trump love

Creationism and Trumpism

Why don’t college graduates return home?

Should you go back to church?

What would a new U.S. Constitution look like?

Court evangelical Eric Metaxas: Why are we talking about COVID (269K dead) when the election fraud is the new 9-11?

Yesterday Attorney General William Barr told the Associated Press that his office has “not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.” Then a DOJ spokesperson qualified Barr’s statement and Trump retweeted it:

The number of GOP members of congress acknowledging a Biden victory is growing. Today Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that he will discuss an additional economic stimulus package with “the new administration.” Texas Senator John Cornyn said that “the verdict was rendered, and I think that’s becoming clearer by the minute.” Missouri Senator Roy Blunt does not think the election was rigged. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, Nevada and Georgia have certified the election.

So how many court evangelicals are still hanging on?

Jenna Ellis, a member of Trump’s legal team and a spokesperson for Liberty University’ Falkirk Center, is not only hanging on, she’s doubling down. Here are some of her recent tweets and retweets:

Dozens:

Ellis dabbles in American history:

So much to parse here. Let me suggest a few things. First, a Trump lawyer is talking about “Truth” (with a capital “T”). Second, imagine what historians will write about Donald Trump and Jenna Ellis. Third, Jenna Ellis has not read much history of late. Most of the victors were white men. Today historians are writing a lot of good history about the oppressed and marginalized–historical actors who are definitely “worthy” of such coverage despite the fact that they did not have power when they were alive. Fourth, the Declaration of Independence does not say that truth “comes from the God of the Bible.” I”ll stop there.

Ellis and Giuliani trash William Barr’s aforementioned claim, but do it “with all due respect”:

Charlie Kirk, the founder of Liberty University’s Falkirk Center, is also doubling down on fraud claims:

Today Kirk appeared on the radio program of Eric Metaxas, his fellow Christian conspiracy theorist, court evangelical, and Liberty University spokesperson. Metaxas says that the Democrats are “domestic enemies” and compares them to the terrorist attacks on 9-11. He also wonders why so many people are talking about coronavirus (over a quarter million dead) when they should be screaming about this election fraud case. Here is the exact quote:

Not enough people are taking this seriously. This is like 9-11, but everyone goes “well, so what.” I don’t really understand how domestic enemies taking over the greatest nation in the history of the world would not be the only news show. When I hear people talk COVID restrictions I think, “are you people out of your mind, why are you talking about that. A meteor just his Washington D.C. and you’re talking about that crap.”

Metaxas once again compares efforts at stopping supposed voter fraud to rescuing a child from a rapist. “If we don’t fight to the death” against the Democrats stealing this election, Metaxas says , “we lose our souls.”

Watch:

Earlier in the show, Metaxas goes full Alex Jones Infowars:

Lance Wallanu, known for hawking coins, is trying to sell books:

The Fourth Turning:

Court evangelical journalist David Brody is holding out hope:

Jack Hibbs, pastor of a Calvary Chapel congregation in California, retweeted this:

Interesting:

James Robison is still pushing the election fraud narrative. Here is a taste of his recent piece at The Stream:

In light of the prosperity and benevolence of our nation, respected spokesmen have said, “Second only to the birth of Jesus Christ was the birth of America.” Nothing can actually compare to the birth of Christ, but the miraculous birth of America is undeniable. In light of our present election dilemma, if truth does not prevail, the future is dismal. It can easily prove to be the certain end of hope, peace, security, stability, and life, with all the blessings freedom makes possible. Freedom as we have known it will be tragically limited, not only here at home but around the world. This does not have to happen on our watch—it must not happen!

Prior to the 2016 election, FBI agents and others within government actually set in motion methods by which they would defeat, impeach, and do whatever was necessary to destroy Trump, if and when he won the election. It’s hard to believe that some bureaucratic agencies established to help protect freedom would become agencies of a horrific assault on freedom. The individuals and agencies committed to overthrowing the election results found whole-hearted, unwavering support by what seems like 90 percent of all national media sources. They refused to report or acknowledge many undeniably positive achievements during President Trump’s entire term. It is difficult to imagine something happening like this in America, “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Commonplace Book #193

Cornel West, delineating the principal intellectual and existential sources that shaped [Martin Luther] King, aptly cites four, in order of importance: prophetic black church Christianity, prophetic liberal Christianity, prophetic Gandhian nonviolence, and prophetic American civil religion. King heard the gospel and committed himself to it in the only institution owned by black Americans. His training in liberal Christianity provided intellectual and social ethical ballast for his religious faith. His commitment to Gandhian resistance provided a method for his racial justice activism and an extra-Gandhian language for the way of nonviolence. His believe in U.S. American ideals of democracy, freedom, and equality enabled him to call the nation to fulfill these ideals. West rightly says that King embodied “the best of American Christendom” by synthesizing these sources.

Gary Dorrien, Breaking White Supremacy: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Black Social Gospel, 21-22.

Marco Rubio prepares for 2024

Today Joe Biden introduced his national security team, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Florida senator Marco Rubio is not happy with Biden’s picks:

Interesting. I’ll take “strong resumes” and “polite & orderly caretakers” any day of the week. Rubio’s appeal to the “decline” of America and “American greatness,” coupled with his disdain for the Ivy League, is his way of throwing a little red meat to Trump followers GOP voters.

As for the reference to “Ivy League schools”:

Donald Trump: University of Pennsylvania undegraduate

Mike Pompeo (Trump’s Secretary of State): Harvard Law

Steve Mnuchin (Trump’s Secretary of the Treasury): Yale undergraduate

Bill Barr (Trump’s Attorney General): Columbia undergraduate

Wilbur Ross (Trump’s Secretary of Commerce): Yale undergraduate; Harvard MBA

Alex Azar (Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services: Dartmouth undergraduate; Yale Law School

Ben Carson (Trump’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development): Yale undergraduate

Elaine Chao (Trump’s Secretary of Transportation): Harvard MBA

When “someone trying to attack American democracy heads to Gettysburg searching for a dramatic victory…”

Twitter is reporting that Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani will be in Gettysburg later today.

Here is more from Jeremy Diamond of CNN.

Nothing I can say here can top Yoni Appelbaum’s tweet:

Or Paul’ Harvey’s tweet:

UPDATE (11:22 EST): Now it looks like Trump will not be attending.

Commonplace Book #192

Today, problems in the nation and world clearly threaten well-being: depression, anxiety, fraying families and communities, addiction, and suicide rates are all evidence of this. Much can be seen as an embodiment crisis–difficulty managing being in a body and all that is brings with it–desire, instinct, urges, emotions, pain, suffering, hunger, thirst, love, loss. Platonism and Aristotelianism have historically served as influences at times within Abrahamic religions–Judaism, Christianity, and Islam–a profound point of commonality we ignore at our loss. Platonism, often the assumed but unspoken background of Aristotelianism and the other schools of thought, and such a major influence on Augustine and Christianity more broadly, as well as other world religions, points us to an element often missing in discussions of our public philosophy. Rather than stop at the good life, it sets our sights higher, on the beautiful life. But the Platonist notion of beauty is unlike that which prevails today–external, image oriented, fleeting, superficial, and illusory. Instead, beauty is a moral phenomenon, category, or reality, like the good life, only better. It is more than a call for obligation, responsibility, limits, and sacrifice, which are all well and good for those already converted to those goods–for preaching to the choir of the communally minded. A focus on the good life teaches us how to love, while a notion of the beautiful life inspires us with a vision of why.

We do not need to agree on the precise contours of the beautiful life, only that the beautiful life is what we should strive for. An ongoing public conversation must take place as the way of working out what that means as new events occur. If we cannot agree that is better to be good, living among others will not be possible except by force, manipulation, or coercion. Everyone need not agree on the details, but we must agree on the need for good ends: justice, human dignity, and the inviolability of the human person. Ideas animate moral principles with a vision of the beautiful. The conversation about these philosophies serves as a bulwark against manipulation because it creates an expectation of inwardness, determining one’s inner life by tilting it toward the good.

Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn, Ars Vitae: The Fate of Inwardness and the Return of the Ancient Art of Living, 342-343.

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?

Most popular posts of the last week

Here are the most popular posts of the last week at The Way of Improvement Leads Home:

  1. Study: White Evangelicals are “cultural others” and the culture wars are getting worse
  2. James Dobson: God “gave America a spiritual reprieve” in the Trump era”
  3. Rudy Giuliani and his team make their case for election fraud. Court evangelical Eric Metaxas live-tweets
  4. Megachurch pastor Andy Stanley says Trump evangelicals have hurt the church’s ability to reach people outside the church
  5. What a Donald Trump concession speech might look like
  6. Some court evangelicals are still on board the sinking ship
  7. Why is Amy Coney Barrett’s Christian faith off limits, but Raphael Warnock’s Christian faith is fair game?
  8. Court evangelical: Kamala Harris has a “Jezebel spirit” and is a satanic “chameleon” secretly working as an Obama surrogate”
  9. What does the Bible say about the Antichrist?
  10. In today’s court evangelical roundup we learn “the Left has always hated Thanksgiving”

Out of the Zoo: Traditions

Annie Thorn is a junior history major from Kalamazoo, Michigan and our intern here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home.  As part of her internship she is writing a weekly column titled “Out of the Zoo.” It focuses on life as a history major at a small liberal arts college. In this dispatch, Annie writes about a Messiah University history department tradition.—JF

Some of my fondest college memories are from Christmas caroling with Messiah University’s history club. We history majors gather on a cold December night, pile into cars with packets of Christmas carols in hand, and weave our way through the greater-Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania area on our way to visit each of our professor’s houses. After singing a few tunes on their doorstep, they invite us in and serve an array of hot drinks, baked goods, and sweets. We chat about our semesters, meet our professor’s spouses, and pet their dogs. They ask whose houses we’ve been to already, and where we’re going next. It’s a beloved tradition, cherished by many, and I hope it continues for a long time.

For a few different reasons, the history club’s Christmas caroling tradition had to take a pause this year. Due to Messiah’s altered schedule this year we won’t be on campus between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I suppose we could have sung “Silent Night” on our professors doorsteps in mid-November, but it wouldn’t have been the same. On top of this, COVID restrictions–which advise against singing in groups and gathering in each other’s houses–added a few more obstacles. We didn’t want to nix our tradition altogether, so we had to be creative. Instead of Christmas caroling, we planned our own little Thanksgiving parade. My friend Chloe, the current president of the history club, planned the event and advertised it as “Thanks-giving back to the professors.” 

Our little caravan wasn’t much when compared to the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade. We didn’t have giant balloons or fancy costumes or marching bands, and we had to keep our numbers small and spread out to maintain social distance. But we did have home-made gifts, colorful signs, determined spirits, and grateful hearts.

Like any other year, we wove through Mechanicsburg and stopped at each professor’s house. At each stop we got out of our cars, held up our signs at the end of our professor’s driveways, and cheered. Some professors waved and thanked us from their windows, while others came outside to chat from six feet away. A few of them requested we sing a Thanksgiving song, and when we couldn’t think of one we laughed and promised that our Christmas caroling would be extra special next year. Some professors still served us sweets, this time prepacked and individually wrapped. I joked that the coffee mugs we dropped off (signed by several history majors) would be worth a lot of money if one of us becomes famous someday. For those few minutes, things almost felt normal again. Even in the midst of all the craziness and change around us, we still found a way to show our professors that we care.

With COVID cases on the rise, schools shutting down and the holidays rapidly approaching, the traditions we love will undoubtedly look a little different this year. History club Christmas caroling may have been the first holiday tradition I’ve had to change, but it certainly won’t be the last. In the next few months my family will have to make tough decisions about gathering with our loved ones. I haven’t seen my grandmother since the summer, but visiting her in the middle of COVID’s second wave could pose a significant risk to her health. As much as I long to go back to church and see all the friends I’ve missed for months, my family might have to have our own candlelight Christmas Eve service at home. We usually head to the cinema to see a movie every Christmas day, but I suppose this year we’ll cook our own popcorn, dim the lights, and pretend our television is about fifty times larger than it is. 

There’s no doubt that a lot of our holiday traditions might have to change this year. But at the same time, a lot will stay the same. COVID-19 may change our family gatherings and our New Year’s Eve parties, but it will never change how much we care about the people we love. It may modify our Thanksgiving dinner, but it will never take away our ability to be grateful for the blessings that we still have. It may alter our church services, but it will never separate us from the love of Christ, Emmanuel, whose birth we celebrate during this season. We can still celebrate him, give thanks and shine his light to our loved ones who are struggling. Our traditions may change, but our love doesn’t have to–we might just have to be a little more creative.

Thoughts on Samuel Alito’s recent speech to the Federalist Society

Some say Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito got too political in his recent speech to the Federalist Society. Others say his speech merely repeated arguments he has made in formal Supreme Court decisions.

Both sides of this debate are correct.

Watch:

Several of you have asked me to comment on the speech. So here goes:

First, Alito’s lecture defends free and open public discourse. He wants a country in which we respect “rational, civil speech on important subjects even if we do not agree with what the speaker has to say.” I appreciate Alito’s use of the word “rational” here. We should respect free speech that is based on facts, truth, and good science. This kind of speech is essential to the health of the republic, but we are not doing a very good job at supporting it. (Again, I point you to the statement on free speech published recently at Harper’s).

Second, Alito is correct to suggest that “tolerance for opposing views” is in “short supply” in the “broader academic community.” I completely agree with this. Some of us experienced this intolerance over the summer when we dared to suggest that the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic (SHEAR) mishandled a paper presentation by historian Daniel Feller.

Third, Alito argues that the pandemic has “resulted in previously unimaginable restrictions on individual liberty.” It is hard to argue with this as a statement of fact. We have had to curb our liberties in order to stay safe. But unlike Alito, I do not see a major problem with this. I think one can make a strong case from American history that there are times when we have placed duty over liberty and the common good over individual rights. The pandemic is one of those cases.

Fourth, Alito takes a shot at the progressive commitment to “expertise.” He is especially upset with the way governors use executive power to enforce pandemic restrictions that reflect what the scientists (experts) are telling them. If I understand him correctly, he believes that legislative bodies, not governors, should make decisions about COVID-19 restrictions.

Fair enough. But in a pandemic like this one it seems as if governors, in consultation with scientific experts, should be the primary decision makers. I am going to sound like an elite founding father here, but I wonder if we really want legislative assemblies–the people– making decisions in a pandemic, especially if they are not in close contact with experts who know how to handle such situations. If some of these state legislatures got their way back in March and April 2020 it is likely that even more people would have died from this virus. I am thankful for the work of governors such as Andrew Cuomo, Gretchen Whitmer, Mike DeWine, Tom Wolf, and Phil Murphy who are leading their respective states through this major health crisis. Let’s remember that these governors are also elected officials.

Fifth, Alito is worried about the future of religious liberty in the United States. He is right to do so. Alito offers three cases that concern him: Little Sisters of the Poor vs. Pennsylvania; Stormans, Inc. v. Wiesman (Ralph’s Pharmacy); and Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (Jack Philips).

The Little Sisters of the Poor should be allowed to do whatever they want to do with their healthcare plan. If they refuse to provide contraception to their employees because of deeply-held religious beliefs, they should be permitted to do so under the First Amendment.

I am also sympathetic to Alito’s position (and Clarence Thomas and John Roberts) in the Ralph’s Pharmacy case. If I owned a pharmacy I would have a moral objection, because of my pro-life beliefs, to selling morning-after pills.

What about the Masterpiece Cakeshop Case? (The Court defended cake maker Jack Philips with a 7-2 decision on narrow grounds that did not get to the heart of the real religious liberty issues at stake). For me there seems to be a difference between selling an abortifacient and baking a cake for a wedding. But I realize other Christians might think differently and I want to respect their right to do that.

All of Alito’s religious liberty arguments in his Federalist Society speech make sense to me. I appreciate how he understands these issues in the context of efforts to create a more “inclusive” or pluralist society. John Inazu’s Confident Pluralism is the best book I have read on the subject. In terms of legislation, I recommend taking a look at the Fairness for All Act.

Sixth, Alito connects his thoughts on COVID-19 restrictions to his thoughts on religious liberty issues. Over the last several months religious conservatives have complained that Nevada allowed casinos to stay open, but limited the number of people permitted in churches. I am once again with Alito here. Why were casinos privileged over churches? I would argue, contra John MacArthur, that both should have been closed or restricted.

Seventh, Alito argues that COVID-19 restrictions have curbed free speech. He predicts that anyone who says “marriage is a union between one man and one woman” will soon be labeled a bigot. I am not aware of cases where the free speech of someone who believes in traditional marriage has been threatened, but I am sure there are examples out there. (It is also unclear how Alito’s concerns about this issue are related to COVID-19). I hope Alito’s prediction here is wrong, but I don’t think it is.

It is worth noting that not all people who believe in traditional marriage are homophobic or oppose the legality of LGBTQ marriages. (In the same way, people can be pro-life on abortion and still care about women’s health or even oppose the overturning of Roe v. Wade). Most defenders of traditional marriage want society to respect the rights of institutions–churches and schools come immediately to mind–whose members have deeply-held religious views on the matter.

All of this makes me wonder if someone who upholds a traditional view of marriage could land could land a job at public or non-religious college or university today. Probably not. I also imagine that my general support of Alito in this post would eliminate me from consideration for such a position at a college or university. I made a similar suggestion in this 2016 piece at Aeon. But I digress…

In the end, I am persuaded by much, but not all, of what Alito had to say in this speech.

Let’s see how the court evangelicals are handling Trump’s loss

The election was ten days ago. Joe Biden was the winner. After January 20, 2021 the court evangelicals will no longer have access to the court. Let’s see how they are handling things.

Eric Metaxas is still doing prayer meetings. He won’t say that he and his group is praying for signs of voter fraud that would give Trump a victory in the election, but that is essentially what is happening at these meetings. The guy with the red, white, and blue shofar will apparently be there. Metaxas continues to say that Fox News is in the Biden camp. He claims he was not allowed to talk about his “Donald the Caveman” books because there is a character in the book named after George Soros and Soros is now working with Fox News to remove Trump. You can’t make this stuff up. You can watch here.

Metaxas is also promoting this piece on his Facebook page.

I honestly don’t know what to make of this tweet from one of the most divisive court evangelicals. James Robison is the guy who believes Satan brought coronavirus to America to prevent Donald Trump from leading a spiritual revival in the country:

Jack Graham is holding out hope:

Back in 2016, Graham was pretty certain about God’s will in the election. Why wait when God has spoken?:

Is Paula White giving advice to the nation here?:

Gary Bauer is going down with the ship:

Robert Jeffress seems to be moving on. He is now talking about religious liberty and a recent speech by Samuel Alito:

How should we interpret such “hope” in the context of Jeffress’s public rhetoric on Fox News and elsewhere? Frankly, I am not sure what Jeffress is talking about here. I may have had a clearer sense of what he would have meant 10 or 15 years ago, but no longer.

Jim Garlow still sees this election as a “cosmic clash” between “good and evil.”

Jack Hibbs is demanding a recount in California:

Lance Wallnau is hoping and praying for a Trump victory:

He is also hosting a Facebook show called “The plot to steal the presidency.”

Wallnau is also a fan of patriotic education. He sees it as a “mental health” issue:

Court evangelical and founder of Liberty University’s Falkirk Center Charlie Kirk just put postal workers in the bullseye. He did the same thing to Harvard professor Danielle Allen:

I honestly don’t know what the Falkirk Center at Liberty University means when they say “proclaim the Gospel.” I am assuming “proclaim the Gospel when you vote” means voting for Donald Trump.

Out of the Zoo: Wonder Woman

Annie Thorn is a junior history major from Kalamazoo, Michigan and our intern here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home.  As part of her internship she is writing a weekly column titled “Out of the Zoo.” It focuses on life as a history major at a small liberal arts college. In this dispatch, Annie writes about her reaction to the Biden-Harris victory.—JF

My adolescence was defined by superhero movies. The first Avengers was released when I was twelve, which was followed by at least two new Marvel films every year after that. Whenever a new superhero movie would come out, some kids would go out late on a school night to see it. Out of respect for future movie-goers, classmates were usually careful not to share spoilers too loudly. Other peers, whose excitement wore through their spoiler-alert filters, were not quite as careful. My freshman year of high school, our homecoming week was even superhero themed. All throughout school, “Who’s your favorite superhero?” was a failsafe conversation starter. Likewise,  “Who’s the hottest Avenger?” was a contested debate among friends and at sleepovers. 

Out of all the superhero movies that came out when I was in high school, Wonder Woman–the one with Gal Gadot that was released in 2017–might be my favorite. I actually cried watching it for the first time. There’s one scene in particular, in the middle of the movie, that made me emotional. It shows Diana (Wonder Woman), decked out in armor, charging through World War I-era no man’s land. As I watched her jump in and out of trenches, stop bullets with her bracelets and shout instructions to the other good guys, I remember smiling and weeping and feeling tingly all at the same time.  I had no idea a movie–much less an action movie–could affect me in such a way. But then again, in all my 17 years of life and out of all the superhero movies I had watched, this was the first one I had seen that was all about a woman. Diana was not simply a love interest, a side character, or an afterthought. She was the hero. She wasn’t stuck in the background–she took center stage. She didn’t need someone to save her–she was the one saving the day.

Last week, Kamala Harris was elected as the first female Vice President of the United States. As far as I know, Harris is not secretly a superhero. She doesn’t wear bullet-stopping bracelets or red white and blue armor. She doesn’t carry around a lasso that forces people to tell the truth, as useful as something like that might be in Washington D.C. Yet at the same time, seeing Kamala address the nation last weekend had a huge and lasting impact on me. She thanked all the women who fought for equality, the girls who secured our right to vote, and tears began to form in my eyes. A feeling of gratitude and determination bubbled up in my stomach when a few seconds later she said,  “While I may be the first woman in this office, I won’t be the last.” The whole time, I couldn’t stop smiling.

I had no idea that such a short address from a Vice President elect could affect me in such a way. But then again, I am the product of many generations of American women who have been silenced, oppressed, and pushed to the side. We have never, not in 250 years, seen another woman like us hold one of the nation’s highest offices. For once in our country, a woman wasn’t confined to the background. Kamala wasn’t waiting for someone to save her–she was ready to take action. Her simple presence on stage reminded me that as unsurpassable as they may seem, barriers are not dead ends.

A quarter of a millennium is a long time to wait for a female Vice President–much longer than the 17 years I had to wait to see a blockbuster movie all about a female superhero. And girls like me will have to wait even longer for a woman to become president. But until that day comes, and as we continue to make more progress, we will celebrate this victory.