Tag Archives: evangelical movement

Trump still manages to fool those of faith

A cruel, egotistical, unChristlike man pretending to be a person of faith is not fooling me.

The above statement comes from a friend of mine who posted it on a social media outlet. I happen to agree wholeheartedly with him.

The “unChristlike man” is none other than Donald John Trump, who offends me at so many levels I cannot even begin to list them all. So I’ll examine just this one level briefly.

The president pretends to be a man of faith only because it suits his political ambition, which he discovered shortly before he announced his presidential candidacy in June 2015.

You remember the showy ride down the escalator at Trump Tower when he declared his intention to run for president and then in virtually the next breath declared that all immigrants from Mexico were “rapists, murderers and drug dealers,” and then added that “there are some fine people, too.”

The man who once courted Democratic pols became a shill for Republicans.

Meanwhile, the guy who said publicly he’s never sought forgiveness for any sin he’s ever committed has become a darling of the evangelical Christian movement.

For the ever-lovin’ life of me I cannot fathom how that has come to pass.

People of faith with whom I am familiar have scolded me for not being more forgiving of this guy. They say everyone deserves grace, that even Donald Trump deserves empathy.

Sure. I just keep asking: When has he ever demonstrated an ounce of empathy? When has he shown the ability to grant forgiveness to anyone else? When has this individual ever acted like the man of faith with a devotion to God that he professes to be?

My friend is right. The president of the United States is a cruel egotist. He shouldn’t fool anyone. Amazingly, though, he does.

Just think, the evangelicals still love this guy

A social media meme showed up on my Facebook news feed. I thought about posting it on my blog, but decided against it.

Why? Because it contains language I don’t like using, even when it comes from other sources.

It comes from the guy who would become the 45th president of the United States. It was recorded in 2005 when he was speaking to an “Access Hollywood” personality.

He talks about wanting to “fu**” a married woman, how he “moved on her like a bitch.” He talked about this person’s “big phony ti**.” He said he could “grab her by the pu**y” because he was a celebrity.

I read that meme time and again. Each time I came away even more astounded at how the evangelical Christian movement can continue to stand by Donald John Trump.

Has this guy changed since he talked so crassly, so callously? I mean, fundamentally changed? No. He is the precisely same individual.

Absolutely astonishing.

Evangelical movement showing signs of splintering

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

If the soon-to-be-former editor in chief of Christianity Today has accomplished anything with his scathing critique of Donald J. Trump, it is that he has revealed deep divisions within the evangelical movement and its love-loathe relationship with the president of the United States.

Mark Galli wrote an editorial condemning Trump, calling for his removal from office on the grounds that he is “profoundly immoral.” Galli, who is retiring soon from his post, calls the impeachment of Trump a deal-breaker, saying that the articles of impeachment suggest a president with no moral character.

Other evangelical leaders have rushed to Trump’s defense. One of them is Franklin Graham, the son of Christianity Today’s founder, the late Billy Graham. Others have joined in as well, condemning Galli for challenging Trump, who many say has done more for the issues friendly to evangelicals than any president in modern history.

The evangelical Christian movement, therefore, is having a serious debate within its ranks that, as I see it, mirrors what is occurring across the nation along more secular/political lines.

This is a healthy development within a key Trump constituency.

I credit Mark Galli for breaking this matter open, for exposing the divide for the rest of us to witness in real time.

And yes, there is a certain irony that this debate is occurring at this holy time, as Christians around the world celebrate Jesus Christ’s birth. It might be that was Galli’s intent all along, to publish the editorial, to provoke this discussion at this time of the year.

If that’s the case, then all I can add is this: well played, sir.

I want to share the editorial with you one more time. Take a look.

Merry Christmas.

Who would have thought it? Evangelical leaders rally behind Trump

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Donald J. Trump has just received a well-deserved roasting from Christianity Today, a mainstream magazine founded by the late, great Rev. Billy Graham.

The publication calls Trump “profoundly immoral” and declared its belief that he needs to be kicked out of office.

The reaction to the magazine’s blistering critique? What did current evangelical leaders say and do? They’re standing behind Trump. They aren’t criticizing the magazine’s assertions, per se. They just want their guy to remain in office so he can appoint conservative judges to the federal bench and push policies with which they are most comfortable.

There you have it. Politics and policy mean more to these folks than the behavior, the history and the proclivities of the individual who is their champion.

According to the New York Times: The response from his leading Christian supporters was laced with animosity that mimicked Mr. Trump’s signature style, and reflected the extent to which they have moved into lock step with him, even in rhetoric.

None of this is a big surprise. Christianity Today has become almost quaint in its mainstream view of Christianity. As the editor in chief, Mark Galli, has noted, evangelical Christianity is a “diverse” group that comprises faithful believers of all stripes and political persuasions. The politically active evangelical movement doesn’t seem to mirror that big-tent view.

Franklin Graham, son of the late Billy Graham, says his father would be “disappointed” in the publication he founded. I believe he would be even more disappointed in the highly partisan posture his son has assumed, given Billy Graham’s aversion to such overt political activity.

Still, the editorial is worth reading. It is worth studying. It is worth heeding. It’s a beaut.

Yep, it’s personal through and through

I want to acknowledge what I am sure is patently obvious to readers of this blog.

It is that my intense opposition to the presidency of Donald John Trump is visceral. It is rooted deep within my gut. It roils constantly as I watch the president go through each sickening day of his time in office.

I wish I could identify a specific policy or set of policies that have angered me so intensely. I cannot. The man doesn’t govern on a metric defined by policy standards, principles, a core set of values.

I am not entirely sure why I am sharing these thoughts today. Perhaps I just feel the need to get a few things off my chest.

Donald Trump’s inability to acknowledge mistakes is one thing that troubles me deeply. He told us once he never has sought forgiveness, which according to the way many of us were brought up is a fundamental tenet of Christianity; yet the evangelical movement follows this guy through the wall, over the cliff, out the window … you name it.

Trump vowed to act “presidential” once he took office. He does not do anything of the sort.

He doesn’t exhibit a scintilla of compassion, empathy, human kindness, authentic sorrow even in the face of horrific tragedy. Wildfires destroy a California town and he blames it all on Democratic politicians and their “failed” forest management policies. Mass shootings destroy the lives of innocent victims and the president doesn’t say a word about how to curb the scourge of gun violence. The Earth rumbled under the feet just recently of residents of southern California and I have yet to hear a word from the president about helping them recover from the physical damage and the emotional trauma they are suffering.

Donald Trump cannot tell the truth. His lying is incessant, relentless and pathological. He lies when he need not do so.

He uses language to define his domestic political opponents one doesn’t normally hear from presidents of the United States. He recently referred to the San Juan, Puerto Rico as a “despicable” human being. OK, so he calls a fellow American citizen despicable but still kowtows to the come-on offered by a truly despicable tyrant, Kim Jong Un. I do not get that.

Donald Trump’s presidency has been a disaster at almost every level I can conjure up. I want it to end no later than Jan. 20, 2021. I want him out of “my” house. I want him to disappear from the public stage, although I am acutely aware that is far from likely to occur no matter when he walks out of the Oval Office for the final time.

Yes, it is personal.

What Bible is Franklin Graham reading?

The Rev. Franklin Graham inherited the mantle of his late, great father, the Rev. Billy Graham, in preaching biblical doctrine as pitched initially by Jesus Christ.

I do not deny Franklin Graham’s influence on the nation’s evangelical movement. However, I have to wonder which version of the Holy Bible empowers him to say:

That a Democratic candidate for president, Pete Buttigieg, should “repent” for his “sin” of being gay, and that it’s OK to throw his support behind Donald Trump, who has cheated on all three of his wives and who has acknowledged that his celebrity status enables him to grab women by their pu***.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Franklin Graham in 2000 when he came to Amarillo for a series of “crusades” at Dick Bivins Stadium. He came across as a pleasant man and we had a cordial visit. I recall asking him about his political activism and he spoke forthrightly about his support for politicians who espouse their Christian faith.

However, the man’s support of Donald Trump continues to perplex me. He looks past this president’s lengthy life prior to becoming a politician, a life that has included an endless array of behavior, conduct and lifestyle that spits in the face of the holy figure he purports to worship.

Juxtaposed with that we hear Rev. Graham suggest that “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg must repent because he is an openly gay man who also happens to be faithful to his husband. Graham recently cited the Old Testament passage that calls for gays to be put to death, for crying out loud. He also did not mention that Jesus called on us to love everyone unconditionally.

Buttigieg’s presidential campaign has caught fire in recent weeks. He has emerged from a no-name, unknown Midwest mayor to become a legitimate contender for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Many conservatives, though, are focusing on his sexual orientation.

Franklin Graham is one of them.

Perhaps this matter illustrates one of the beauties — or curses, if you choose to call it that — of the Bible. We are free to interpret it any way we wish. We can take certain passages and mold them to suit our own bias.

I choose to draw a different interpretation from the Bible that Franklin Graham and I both read.

As for his support of the serial liar, philanderer, pu*** grabber Donald Trump . . . well, that’s his call. It doesn’t make sense to me.

What if Obama had done all this?

Someone put this out on Twitter — I don’t remember who it was — but I’ll offer it here just to get the discussion going.

What do you suppose would be the reaction from the evangelical Christian movement had Barack Hussein Obama had done the following:

Produced five children with three wives; cheated on all three of his wives; talked openly to a TV interviewer about being able to grab women by their private area; mocked a journalist with a physical disability; said a U.S. senator and former Vietnam War prisoner was a “war hero only because he got captured”?

They would be understandably enraged, yes? Of course they would.

Donald John Trump says and does all of that — and more, I reckon — and they’re silent. They stand with him. They pray for him and wish him success as he seeks to make America great again.

Go figure.

Evangelical support of POTUS remains a mystery

I am shaking my head. Hard. I cannot believe how this particular president has managed to do the seemingly impossible: retain the support of the nation’s Christian evangelical movement.

I’ll start this rant, though, with a word of praise for Donald Trump. I am thrilled that he and his administration were able to obtain the release of an American pastor held captive in Turkey for the past two years. Andrew Brunson is a free man and the president insists the United States gave away nothing — not a thing — to secure his release from the Turks.

Leaders praise Trump

Brunson went to the White House to thank the president. The men prayed in the Oval Office. I am delighted he is home, a free man once again. Congratulations belong to the president and his team.

***

But then comes the strange endorsement of Trump from religious leaders who continue to sing the man’s praises, even though they know of his myriad indiscretions, his serial philandering, his abuse of women, his hideous public rhetoric about how he has never sought forgiveness for his sins.

Televangelist and Trump adviser James Robison said this: “He wouldn’t be our Sunday school teacher necessarily but he’s doing a great job of leadership.  I love him so much I can hardly explain it.”

Necessarily, Rev. Robison? Do ya think?

How in the name of all that is holy did this president pull this off? Sure, he has made some policy pronouncements that have stoked joy in the hearts of evangelicals. He recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; he sought to ban transgender Americans from serving in the military; Trump has been able to seat two conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court.

I just cannot get past the man’s lengthy history of decadence and behavior that used to send chills up the spines of the most faithful among us. No longer, or so it seems.

Evangelicals are willing to give him a pass because he is so effective at pandering to their wishes.

Baffling. In the extreme!

Evangelical support still baffles

I remain a befuddled American patriot.

Donald J. Trump’s support among religious conservatives simply takes my breath away. I cannot fathom it. It’s real. I hereby concede that it’s solid and unbending.

The former Republican presidential candidate once boasted during the 2016 campaign that he could “shoot someone on Fifth Avenue” and not lose any votes, “believe me.”

You know what? I damn near believe him.

I had a private message exchange with a family member of mine. He’s a Trump supporter. He’s a young man of deep religious faith. He said he didn’t vote for Trump in 2016, but acknowledged that the president has earned his support because of his support for judicial candidates who will make abortion illegal, which is my family member’s threshold issue.

Fine. That’s his call.

What still baffles me is how anyone can presume that Trump actually believes in anything on an ideological level. He once was a pro-choice Democrat on the issue. Then he became a pro-life Republican. He’s also wavered, throwing his support behind Reform Party candidates. He’s all over the pea patch.

Does he believe in anything? Does he stand for anything? Does he possess any core values, other than the values associated with self-enrichment?

The Rev. Franklin Graham — one of the nation’s leading evangelical leaders — says the president’s philandering is no one’s business. His behavior with the porn star and the Playboy model don’t matter, according to Rev. Graham. But this man once said that Bill Clinton’s behavior was clearly the nation’s business.

Donald Trump has managed to do the near impossible. He has managed to redefine what one once considered to be deal-breaking episodes in a politician’s life. Telling a TV interviewer that he could grab a woman by her pu***? Hey, no sweat, man. His bragging about his marital infidelity? Big deal, dude. His declaring that he’s never sought forgiveness, which is a fundamental Christian tenet? Pfftt!

So, the president trudges on through these questions about corruption. All the while he conducts a scorched-Earth retreat policy that lays waste to the media that report on it. He calls the media the “enemy of the people.” He lays waste to the reputation of others who seek to find the truth.

It’s all OK with those on the far right, the members of Trump’s “base.”

Color me baffled.

Don’t try to predict what God intends

Don’t you just love it when evangelists try to predict what’s on the mind and in the heart of The Almighty?

This little video snippet suggests two points to me.

One is that no one — no matter how godly he claims to be — should try to predict what God is going to do, or how he’s going to act if you do something that displeases him.

The other is that it’s perilous to meld spiritual matters into political ones, particularly when they involve the current president of the United States of America.

The video here is of Jim Bakker, the once-famous televangelist who’s pitching something called the “Trump Prophecies.” He says something about how Americans should be wary of what God will do if they go against the president’s agenda, his purpose in leading in the country — whatever the heck that all means.

Trump is doing God’s work on Earth, Bakker seems to suggest.

How does this guy know these things? Earth to Bakker: God’s work defies humankind’s meager, fallible ability to make bold predictions.

That’s why he’s God and none of us mere mortals — and that includes Jimmy Bakker — are not. Got it? Good!

My second point simply is that it continues to baffle me to the max why certain evangelical leaders remain faithful to Donald John Trump Sr. Can anyone out there point me to an example of how this man ever demonstrated a commitment to the Lord’s teachings prior to his being elected president of the United States?

This guy says things about women that should flummox evangelicals. He politicizes a speech at the Boy Scout Jamboree, injecting politics into an event aimed at paying tribute to the kindness and good work of the Boy Scouts of America. He continually demonstrates a level of narcissism and self-aggrandizement that run absolutely counter to the way Jesus lived during his brief time on Earth.

But these evangelicals love this guy!

Go figure, man.

If you can comprehend this, then y’all are far better individuals than I ever thought of being.