The Tattooed Prof on Balancing Research, Teaching, and Service

Kevin Gannon, aka “The Tattooed Professor,” offers some thoughts on how to balance, research, teaching, and service at a small college.  The interview was conducted by Kathryn Linder, the host of Oregon State’s “Research in Action” podcast. Listen here:

Gannon talks about historiography, how to have a research agenda at a teaching college, the problem of perfectionism in sharing our research, connecting teaching and scholarship, time management, blogging and social media, twitter writing groups, and Ernie Boyer (a Messiah College alum, by the way).

Spicer Lasts Six Months

Spicer

Here is all we have at this point. From The New York Times.  I am sure we will learn more as the day and weekend goes on.  I am sure Spicer has a story to tell.

WASHINGTON — Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, resigned on Friday morning, telling President Trump he vehemently disagreed with the appointment of the New York financier Anthony Scaramucci as communications director.

Mr. Trump offered Mr. Scaramucci the job at 10 a.m. The president requested that Mr. Spicer stay on, but Mr. Spicer told Mr. Trump that he believed the appointment was a major mistake, according to person with direct knowledge of the exchange.

I am surprised he lasted this long.

Prediction: Sarah Huckabee Sanders will be next.

Public History and the Church (or why I do what I do)

Why Study History CoverIn the last few days, several folks have asked me why I get so “bent out of shape” about the likes of David Barton and the “court evangelicals.”  One noted American religious historian regularly implies on Twitter and in blog comments that I am “obsessed” with Trump.

I get so “bent out of shape” because I believe that part of my vocation as a historian is to bring good United States history to the church–both to the local church and the larger American church.  (And especially to evangelicalism, since that is my tribe).  I wrote about this extensively in the Epilogue of Why Study History: Reflecting on the Importance of the Past.  When I speak at churches–and I do this often–I see it as a form of public history.

My critique of the court evangelicals is a natural extension of my ongoing criticism of conservative activist Barton and other Christian nationalist purveyors of the past.  It is not a coincidence that First Baptist-Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress often preaches a sermon titled “America is a Christian Nation.”  In this sermon he says. among other things:

We don’t restrict people’s right to worship [they can] worship however they choose to worship.  But that doesn’t mean we treat all religions equally.  This is a Christian nation. Every other religion is an impostor, it is an infidelity.  That is what the United States Supreme Court said.

Someone can correct me, but I think First Baptist–Dallas is the largest Southern Baptist church in the world.  Jeffress is an influential figure.  He goes on Fox News and claims to represent American evangelicals.  His profile has risen immensely since he announced his support of Trump.

It’s important to remember that Jeffress’s political theology (if you can call it that) is based on a false view of American history.  And it is not very difficult to trace it to the teachings of Barton.

In the aforementioned sermon, Jeffress comments on a recent Barton visit to First Baptist–Dallas.  He then says, referencing the prince of Aledo, Texas, that “52 of the 55 signers of the Constitution” were “evangelical believers.” This is problematic on so many levels.  First, only 39 people signed the Constitution.  Actually, I think Jeffress might be referring here to the men who signed the Declaration of Independence.  Second, to suggest that most of them were “evangelicalRevised believers” is a blatant misrepresentation of history.  In fact, Jeffress doesn’t even get Barton right here.  Barton says (wrongly) that nearly all of the signers of the Declaration had Bible school and seminary degrees.  Jeffress is confused about his fake history. 🙂  But that doesn’t matter.  People in his massive congregation applaud and cheer when he preaches this stuff.

Jeffress and the court evangelicals support Trump because they want to “make America great again.”  Jeffress’s congregation even sings a song about it.  Let’s remember that “Make America Great Again” is a historical claim.  The nation is “great,” Christian nationalists like Jeffress argue, when it upholds the Christian beliefs on which it was founded.  Christian Right politics, the same politics that carry a great deal of weight in today’s GOP, thus starts with this dubious claim about the American founding. From there it can go in all sorts of directions related to immigration, race, church and state, marriage, abortion, religious liberty, etc….

My approach to critiquing Jeffress, the Christian Right, and the court evangelicals is structural in nature. It is fitting with my vocation as a historian.  Theologians and pastors are probably better equipped to make a direct biblical case for why Jeffress’s Christian nationalism is idolatry and harmful to the witness of the Gospel. Greg Boyd, Richard, Hughes, John Wilsey, and others have already made such a case. I encourage you to read their books.  But early American historians are best equipped at taking a sledgehammer to the foundation of Christian nationalist politics.

So yes, I do get “bent out of shape.”  Maybe I am obsessed.  Somebody has to be.  We need good American history more than ever. Christian historians have a public role to play in such a time as this.

 

Trump Evangelicals and Pickett’s Charge

Pickett

Here’s a theory.  Again, just a theory.

Yesterday I was chatting with a pastor about evangelicals who support Donald Trump. This pastor affirmed a lot of my thoughts about the generational make-up of this group. Most (not all, but most) pro-Trump evangelicals (or evangelicals who voted for Trump) who I encounter are older than I am.  This group looks back on the last fifty years and they see increased religious and ethnic diversity, changes in sexual ethics, and an ever- growing number of legal cases related to the separation of church state (think 10 Commandment monuments, “Merry Christmas” and manger scenes, prayers at football games, etc.).  They are afraid.  They are uncomfortable.  They believe America was once “great” and now it needs to be made “great again.”  They have dug in for one last stand in the culture wars. Trump can help them win.

If this generational argument is true, then the pro-Trump evangelicals, and others who live with this fear, will soon fade off the scene.  If my pastor friend is correct, and I think he just might be, younger evangelicals are less fearful, more open to diversity and immigration, and at least willing to treat those with whom they disagree on sexual ethics and marriage with dignity, respect, and civility.  They remain orthodox in their theology,  but they are not culture warriors.

With all of this in mind, the pro-Trump evangelical movement may represent a kind of last-ditch effort by the Moral Majority generation to reclaim the country in the way that they were trained to do by Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and others back in the 1980s.

Military history teaches us that final assaults are often carried out on a grand scale. Think about Pickett’s Charge–the final engagement of the Battle of Gettysburg.    The Confederate Army attempted to make one last thrust into the Union line before it was turned back once and for all.  Many historians have argued that the loss at Gettysburg sent the Confederate army on a downward spiral that eventually led to its defeat at Appomattox in April 1865.

The Trump evangelicals have found a strongman to lead them.  With control of the White House they are poised, at least for the moment, to initiate a final forward movement  for the purpose of preserving their “way of life” against the social and cultural changes that they have been fighting against for a couple of generations.

Just a theory.  What do you think?

If I am correct here, it seems like the challenge for pastors and Christian leaders is to figure out how to meet the spiritual needs of the Trump evangelicals in their churches. They need to find a way to walk beside them in their place of fear and anxiety and remind them of the “God of all comfort” and the “perfect love” that “casts out fear.”  It would be easy to just dismiss the Trump generation of evangelicals or simply tolerate them until they pass off the scene, but such a demographics-based approach would be a dereliction of pastoral duty.

Is It Time To Reconsider 81%?

Donald_Trump_delivers_remarks_at_the_Liberty_University (1)

Since I published my recent piece on the court evangelicals at The Washington Post, I have been getting a lot of mail.   Yesterday, for example, I heard from three well-known leaders of evangelical institutions/organizations/congregations.  These people are not court evangelicals.  They are part of what I would call the evangelical mainstream–the men and women who are represented best by the National Association of Evangelicals. They are all, to one degree or another, anti-Trump.  None of them voted for Trump.

All three of these leaders were greatly bothered by the popular media claim, based on polling data, that 81% of white evangelical voters pulled the lever for Donald Trump. They all insisted that the 81% number needs to be examined more fully.  These people spend a lot of time traveling throughout the evangelical world and all three of them claimed that they just don’t meet many fellow evangelicals who voted for Donald Trump.

My exchanges with these evangelical leaders reminded me of an e-mail conversation I had the other day with a keen and relatively objective observer of the American religious scene. (I don’t know this person’s religious faith, if she/he has one at all.  My guess is that this person is not an evangelical). This observer was wondering whether or not the 81% has made pundits lazy, preventing them from digging any deeper into the polling data.

What do you think?

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.  The Court Evangelicals in Today’s Washington Post
  2.  Family Research Council Weighs-In On My “Court Evangelicals” Piece
  3.  Robert Jeffress Responds to My Washington Post Piece
  4.  This May Be The Best Thing I Have Read On Trump
  5.  David Barton Can’t Let Go Of This John Adams Quote
  6.  What Did James Dobson Tell the National Association of Evangelicals When It Invited Bill Clinton to Its “Annual Event?”
  7.  “The State of the Evangelical Mind” Conference
  8.  An African American Minister Renounces His Ordination in the Southern Baptist Convention
  9.  Why Isn’t Clarence Thomas in the National Museum of African American History and Culture?
  10. Praying for the President is Fine

Morning Headlines

New York Times: “Trump Aides Scour Mueller’s Team in Effort to Discredit”

Washington Post: “Trump’s lawyers explore pardoning powers and ways to undercut Russia investigation”

Wall Street Journal: “U.S. to Ban Tourism to North Korea, Tour Operators Say”

Harrisburg Patriot-News: “Weather predictions through fall: More heat, big storms”

BBC: “US ‘to ban travel to North Korea'”

CNN: “Trump tests the limits of presidential power”

FOX: “TEAM TRUMP SHAKEUP: Spokesman resigns, more major changes loom”

Robert Jeffress Responds to My *Washington Post* Piece

jeffress

Jody Brown, a writer at a website called “One News Now,”  asked Jeffress to respond to my recent “court evangelical” op-ed in The Washington Post.

Here is a taste:

OneNewsNow sought reaction from Dr. Jeffress, who is senior pastor of First Baptist-Dallas. He says Fea is part of a growing trend of Christians who want to withdraw from political activity.

“He is a part of this misguided, isolationist view of Christianity that basically says Christians need to isolate themselves from the culture, especially government, give up on it and just get into our holy huddles as Christians and pray nothing bad happens to us,” says the pastor.

Fea also accuses Jeffress and his ilk of a double standard: speaking out against President Bill Clinton for his lack of morals during the Lewinski scandal, but backing Trump despite similar standards. Jeffress says Hillary Clinton is hardly the standard bearer for godly morals with her support for abortion and same-sex “marriage,” to cite two examples.

“We had a binary choice [in November],” responds Jeffress. “There was only one candidate who was pro-life, pro-religious liberty, pro-conservative justices to the Supreme Court – and that candidate’s name was not Hillary Clinton.”

Fea suggests that Jeffress represents a “troubling wing” of American evangelicalism led by believers who “trade their evangelical witness for a mess of political pottage and a Supreme Court nomination.” In contrast, the pastor says he’s not trading away anything – but in fact hopes to play a role in restoring a moral core to American government and culture. “As Christians we’re not to isolate ourselves from any part of this culture, including the government,” he argues. “We’re to try to influence it for good.”

Jeffress contends that he’s in good company. Old Testament heroes Joseph and Daniel both worked with civil government to advance godly ideals.

Read the entire piece here.  Frankly, I don’t recognize the person he is talking about in the second paragraph of this excerpt.

A Historian of Dueling in Early America Uncovers a 7th Grade History Paper

Most of our readers know Joanne Freeman.  She teaches history at Yale, is a co-host at Backstory Radio, and is the author of Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic and editor of the recent The Essential Hamilton.

I am a regular reader of Freeman’s always entertaining twitter feed.  (You should be too!) Yesterday, she tweeted the first page of an essay she wrote in 7th grade.

Freeman

Princeton’s Robert George Reflects on the State of United States Society

507cf-georgeRobert George, the conservative Catholic Princeton professor of jurisprudence and political philosophy, assesses the state of the country in an interview with Matthew Bunson of National Catholic Register.  He discusses civility, secular progressives, Donald Trump, republicanism, Ronald Reagan, and Catholicism.

Here is a taste:

What is most needed in American political life at this moment in history?

Courage — the courage to stand up to bullies and refuse to be intimidated.

You did not support the candidacy of Donald Trump for president. What is your assessment of his administration so far?

To say that I did not support the candidacy of Mr. Trump is the understatement of the year. I fiercely opposed it — though I also opposed Mrs. Clinton.

Like it or not, though, Donald Trump was elected president, and our duty as citizens, it seems to me, is to support him when we can and oppose him when we must. My personal policy has been, and will continue to be, to commend President Trump when he does things that are right and criticize him when he does things that are wrong.

I had urged the same stance towards President Obama, whose election and re-election I also fiercely opposed. I commended President Trump for his nomination of Neil Gorsuch, an outstanding jurist and a true constitutionalist, to fill the seat on the Supreme Court that fell vacant with the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. I have also commended him for some other judicial and executive branch appointments.

I have criticized as unnecessary his policy on pausing immigration from certain countries, and I have criticized as weak to the point of meaningless his executive order on religious freedom. Indeed, I characterized it as a betrayal of his promise to reverse Obama era anti-religious-liberty policies.

Donald Trump is not, and usually doesn’t pretend to be, a man of strict or high principles. He regards himself as a pragmatist, and I think that’s a fair self-assessment. Of course, he is famously transactional. He puts everything on the table and makes deals.

As a pragmatist, he doesn’t have a governing philosophy — he’s neither a conservative nor a liberal. On one day he’ll give a speech to some evangelical pastors that makes him sound like a religious conservative, but the next day he’ll lavishly praise Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is waging an all-out war on those who stand up for traditional moral values in Canada.

Would you comment on Trump’s speech to the Poles?

It was a good speech, and my fellow critics of the president ought not to hesitate to acknowledge that fact.

People on the left freaked out about the speech, but let’s face it: They freaked out because it was Donald Trump who gave it. Had Bill Clinton given the same speech, they would have praised it as visionary and statesman-like.

One thing you have to say for President Trump is that he has been fortunate in his enemies. Although he gives them plenty to legitimately criticize him about, they always go overboard and thus discredit themselves with the very people who elected Mr. Trump and may well re-elect him.

His critics on the left almost seem to go out of their way to make the president look like a hero — and even a victim — to millions of ordinary people who are tired of what one notably honest liberal writer, Conor Lynch of Salon.com, described as “the smug style in American liberalism.”

Read the entire interview here.

Idealism and Realism in the Writing of History

Timeless_Books

Peter Gibbon teaches education at the Boston University School of Education.  Check out his rambling piece at Humanities titled “Historians Disagree About Everything, or So It Seems.”

Do we need more idealism in our writing about the past?  Has the social history led to a depressing history void of heroes and inspiring stories?  Is Ben Franklin correct when he says “Indeed the general natural tendency of reading good history must be, to fix in the minds of youth deep impressions of the beauty and usefulness of virtue of all kinds?  Or do today’s historians, to quote Howard Zinn, “start from the premise that there are terrible wrongs all about us.”

Here is a taste of Gibbon’s piece:

All historians hope that immersion in the past will make readers more sympathetic, tolerant, and kind, that it will inculcate skills—close reading, appreciation of context, and understanding of multiple causation. Historians of the marginalized claim more. They tend to be reformers who believe that knowledge of the past can improve the present. Most historians, however, are wary of claiming too much for their craft. Skeptical of George Santayana’s claim that “those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” they doubt history’s predictive power and reject facile analogies. Contemporary historians do not see many lessons in the past. Looking back, they seem comfortable with the words irony and tragedy. For statesmen, they recommend humility.

Historians battle over the nature of history, the uses of history, and different interpretations of the past. They, along with teachers, publishers, and parents, also argue about how history is depicted to young people—whom they all agree are ignorant of the nation’s past. Progressive historians are opposed to myths and legends that nations have always used to unify and uplift themselves. In Founding Myths: Stories That Hide Our Patriotic Past, Ray Raphael reminds us that Paul Revere did not ride alone, that some soldiers at Valley Forge threatened mutiny and deserted, and that some American slaves fought for the British. Raphael is opposed to mythical history because it romanticizes war and emphasizes single causes, privileges individuals, and slights collective actions.

Not so, say traditionalists. History is about collective memory and national identity, which build unity and pride, encourage gratitude and civic engagement, and validate sacrifice in defense of our nation. “Romanticizing our past is something to be cultivated, rather than to be ashamed of,” argues Robert Kaplan. Ironically, one of the most effective defenders of mythological history was Charles Thompson, secretary to the Continental Congress, who decided to write secret memoirs of the American Revolution. He burned his account and his notes, giving this explanation: “I could not tell the truth without giving great offense. Let the world admire our patriots and heroes.”

Such unparalleled access to our past, such a comprehensive and realistic portrait of our founding, stimulates conflicting interpretations and raises a number of questions. Can this or any history compete for the attention of busy, future-oriented, materialistic America devoted to social media? Do Americans understand that history is not just facts adding up to an agreed-upon narrative but rather a never-ending debate? Does this in-depth, inclusive history make its way into textbooks in schools, or do these books still portray a mythical, triumphant past, as James Loewen claims in Lies My Teacher Told Me? Should history build character and patriotism as Ben Franklin and Washington Irving hoped or should teachers concentrate on skills and citizenship?

Read the entire piece here.

More Cowbell in the “Swamps of Jersey”

Some context from Backstreets.com:

Check out this rare acoustic version of “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)” performed live on Boston’s late, great WBCN-FM on April 9, 1974. Bruce Springsteen introduces his backing musicians (shortly after the “percussion solo” that begins around the 3:50 mark) as follows: “Now on the saxophone we got Clarence Clemons, on the accordion Danny Federici, on the tambourine Mr. Dave Sancious, and on the — let me hear the cowbell! — and on the cowbell, Mr. Garry Tallent!”

Rosalita!

The founders “worried incessantly” about “irrational actors in a government premised on rationality”

founders

Sarah Swedberg teaches history at Colorado Mesa University.  In her recent post at Nursing Clio she explores the views of the founding fathers on emotional stability and instability.

Here is a taste:

In this country, anxieties about the mental stability or instability of our leaders can be traced back to the earliest years of the republic. The founding generation worried incessantly about the possibility of irrational actors in a government premised on rationality. In opposition to ratification of the Constitution, George Clinton fretted that it would be difficult to guard against the “unbridled ambition of a bad man, or afford security against negligence, cruelty, or any other defect of mind….”

As the United States emerged from the American Revolution, Americans agonized about the possible failure of their experiments in government. The new systems that arose during and after the war emphasized the social compact, linking the individual and government explicitly. As the 1780 Massachusetts Constitution stated: “The body-politic is formed by a voluntary association of individuals: it is a social compact, by which the whole people covenants with each citizen, and each citizen with the whole people, that all should be governed by certain laws for the common good.”

More:

In 1789, in the First Congress, as members of the U.S. House of Representatives sought to understand the nature of the checks and balances within their new government, Congressmen debated whether the President should have the power to remove Department heads from office. Insanity played no small part in this debate. Theodore Sedgwick of Massachusetts asked: “Suppose, sir, a man becomes insane by the visitation of God, and is likely to run our affairs; are the hands of government to be confined from warding off the evil?”

While Sedgwick wanted the President to be able to act quickly, Congressman James Jackson of Georgia disagreed. He took the argument further, stating that it was possible that the President might suffer from “an absolute fit of lunacy,” and continued that “although it was improbable that the majority of both houses of Congress may be in that situation, yet is by no means impossible.”

Read the entire piece here.

More on David Barton’s Use of That John Adams Quote

Barton Quote

Yesterday we did a lengthy post showing how Christian Right activist David Barton manipulated a John Adams quote to make it sound like Adams supported the idea that America was founded as a Christian nation.

Barton is up to his old tricks here.  He is being deliberately deceptive. He seems to have no problem manipulating the past in this way to promote his agenda.

After I published my post, Southern Methodist University historian Kate Carte Engel took to twitter to give her take on Adams, Christianity, and the American founding.

Here it is:

Morning Headlines

New York Times: “Citing Recusal, Trump Says He Wouldn’t Have Hired Sessions”

Washington Post: “Trump blasts Sessions over recusal from Russia probe” 

Wall Street Journal: “Trump Urges GOP to Seek Agreement on Health Measure”

Harrisburg Patriot-News: “Lawmakers mull opening ‘satellite casinos’ in an attempt to balance the state budget”

BBC: “Find ‘rewrites’ Australian human history”

CNN: “John McCain faces his greatest battle”

FOX: “‘I’VE BEEN THROUGH WORSE’ McCain tells Senate pal he’ll be back”

Correspondents Wanted: 2017 SHEAR Conference in Philadelphia

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Are you heading to Philadelphia this weekend (July 20-23) for the 39th annual meeting of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic?  I will not be at the conference, but I would love to have some attendees share their conference experiences at The Way of Improvement Leads Home.

What am I hoping for out of these posts/reports? Frankly, anything. Let the spirit move you. I would love to get general observations, reports on sessions you attend, job market updates, or any other kind of stuff you might have the time or inclination to write about.

Feel free to be as creative and journalistic as you want. If at all possible I would like to get some stuff as the conference is going on, but general summaries would also work as long as you can get them to me by July 24.  Feel free to write as few or as many posts as you would like. I will try to get stuff posted here in real time (or thereabouts) during the conference.

Though we can’t pay you for writing (maybe some day), we can introduce you, your writing, and your online presence to about 4500 readers a day.  Others choose to write under a pseudonym so they can be more honest.  Either way is fine.

If you are interested, shoot me an e-mail at jfea(at)messiah(dot)edu and we can get the ball rolling.  In the meantime, check out our posts from other conferences to get an idea of what some of our previous correspondents have done:

2016 Organization of American Historians

2016 American Historical Association

2015 American Historical Association

Some Historical Perspective on Our Health Care Debate (and Another Plug for the Podcast)

TomesI know our patrons are eagerly awaiting the drop of The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast patrons-only episodes.

I am happy to announce that our first such summer episode, which focuses on Civil Rights Movement tourism, will be available on Sunday.  If you are a patron, stay tuned for more directions.  I am sure you will be hearing from our trusty producer very soon.

Not a patron of the podcast?  It’s not too late to get these special episodes and all the other great perks that come with being part of our support community (including books and mugs!). Click here.

Whether you are a patron or not, I encourage you to go back and check out Episode 22–“The History of American Healthcare.”  Our guest on this episode is Nancy Tomes, Professor of History at Stony Brook University (SUNY) and author of the Bancroft Prize-winning book Remaking the American Patient: How Madison Avenue and Modern Medicine Turned Patients into Consumers.  Tomes’s book and interview provide some much needed historical perspective on what is going on in Washington D.C.  right now.

The Tomes interview is representative of the kind of history interviews you will get every other week at The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast.

“Court Evangelicals” and Daniel, Joseph, and Cyrus

Cyrus

Cyrus, King of Persia

As I posted earlier today, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council criticized my recent Washington Post piece.  In the course of the critique, he made his own biblical argument against my “court evangelical” idea.

Perkins wrote:

John Fea, a professor at Messiah College, took aim at the president in a Washington Post column earlier this week called “Trump Threatens to Change the Course of American Christianity.” He starts by labeling the White House’s religious base as “court evangelicals,” his term for “a Christian who, like the attendants and advisers who frequented the courts of monarchs, seeks influence through regular visits to the White House.” When I hear the phrase “court evangelicals,” I think of Scripture’s Daniel, Joseph, and others who brought their faith into the presence of the king — people who God strategically placed to influence leaders for the benefit of an entire nation. But Fea doesn’t mean it as a compliment. 

I am getting some nice feedback on Perkins’s use of these Bible characters.

Here is one comment I received:

I find it fascinating that Perkins references Daniel, a captive in a hostile government’s court and Joseph who was sold into slavery by his brothers as forerunners to today’s evangelical sycophants. Neither chose to live in the court of the king but rather had the experience thrust on them. Daniel didn’t kowtow to the norms of the kingdom but rather and put his life on the line for what he believed was right before his God. Daniel spoke truth to power with words and actions.

Here is another:

…Daniel and Joseph didn’t set out to gain power or turn the government to make Egypt/Persia worship Jehovah. And neither Daniel nor Joseph (or Moses, Nehemiah, etc.) gave their bosses the impression that they were blessed. No sycophantic praises sung in those courts.

And another:

Daniel also offers the single most important prayer of repentance found in Exilic literature, then counseled non-resistance to imperial violence; bizarre, though I guess it fits for their Babylonian sensibilities which led many of these CE’s to describe DT as Cyrus

The Cyrus comparison is interesting.  Richard Mouw referenced it in his recent post at Religion News Service titled “Comparing Trump to two biblical kings.”

And even if we discount Trump’s professions of religious faith,  we still have the Cyrus example to consider. The Persian ruler was one of the few pagan rulers in the Bible to get high praise. The Bible even refers to him as God’s “anointed” servant….

And what we know about King Cyrus is that he purposely undid the brutal policies that his predecessor, Nebuchadnezzar, instituted against the captive Jewish people, a minority group in his kingdom. The prophet Daniel had given clear instructions to Nebuchadnezzar about what God required of a pagan ruler: “Therefore, O king, may my advice be pleasing to you. Break away from your sins by doing what is right, and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps your prosperity will be prolonged” (Daniel 4: 27).

But Nebuchadnezzar refused to listen, and instead he engaged in some self-aggrandizing boasting: “Is this not the great Babylon that I have built for a royal residence by my own mighty strength and for my majestic honor?” (Daniel 4: 30).  So, as the biblical story goes, God punished Nebuchadnezzar and later raised up Cyrus. And Cyrus got it right.

Mouw also writes: “… is [Trump] living up to the standards set by the pagan King Cyrus?… The time is ripe now for evangelicals to conduct a job performance review in this regard. I have my Bible handy whenever Mr. Trump’s evangelical supporters are ready to get started!”

The Cyrus example was also brought to my attention recently by a pastor of a church affiliated with the Charismatic Movement.  Apparently the prophecies of a man named Kim Clement (he died on November 23, 2016) is getting a lot of traction among charismatics and, according to this pastor, may be behind some of Trump’s support in this community.  As the story goes, Clement predicted a Trump presidency in 2007. Read all about it here.  (Bill Gates is also part of Clement’s prophetic message).

Another charismatic leader, Lance Wallnau, has made direct references to Trump as Cyrus.  Glenn Beck’s new website The Blaze covered Wallnau’s views here.  Wallnau posted this video to his Facebook page in October 2015.  Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network also covered Wallnau.

Many of these charismatic court evangelicals follow a Facebook page called “The Elijah List.”

We need to do more work here, but I wonder how much these prophecies have influenced some of the Court Evangelicals.  I am sure there are scholars out there who are working on this community.  I would love to hear from them.