July 12, 2020

An open invitation to evangelical supporters of President Trump…

Today, I extend an open invitation to all conservative evangelical Christians out there who support our current president.

From your perspective as an evangelical, talk to us about President Trump’s behavior and words at the National Prayer Breakfast last week.

In order to help you feel like this is a safe and open place for you to contribute your thoughts —

The only comments allowed today are those that come from SUPPORTERS of President Trump. And there will be no follow-up posts critiquing the comments that come today.

In case anyone missed it, Donald J. Trump, in a spirit of triumph over his “enemies,” waved his acquittal headline as he walked in the National Prayer Breakfast and called his political opponents “very dishonest and corrupt people.” He claimed that they had “put themselves ahead of our great country” in ways that hurt many people, including himself and his family.

Furthermore, he attacked them in terms of their religion. In a not-so-veiled reference to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was sitting right near him, he said he does not like people who say they pray for you when they really don’t. Pelosi had said in December that she prays regularly for the president. Later, after the breakfast, in the East Room, the president said, “I doubt she prays at all.”

Referring to Mitt Romney, the only Republican who voted to convict him at his impeachment trial, the president said, “I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong.” Romney had said his faith led him to make a decision of conscience.

All of this is ironic, given that the Prayer Breakfast has always been a bipartisan affair, specifically designed to bring people together despite their differences.

Further adding to the irony, the theme of this year’s Breakfast was “Love Your Enemies.” Conservative author Arthur Brookes, who gave one of the addresses, warned that our nation faces a “crisis of contempt and polarization.” He reminded those attending that Jesus called us to love and not just tolerate our enemies. He challenged the leaders present to “show people what leadership is all about” by answering hatred with love.

President Trump’s remarks, which followed, began with these words: “Arthur, I don’t know if I agree with you.” Then he launched into his speech against his opponents and in defense of religious liberty and his record in supporting religious causes.

My evangelical, President Trump-supporting friends, how do you respond to this?

Here’s what Pastor Robert Jeffress had to say, in support of the president:

Jeffress told ABC that Trump “was completely right in what he said.”

“This president, he absolutely hates phoniness; he can smell it a mile away,” Jeffress said in a separate appearance on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends” on Friday. “The president thinks there’s something inherently phony about saying you’re praying for him when you’re working to destroy him.”

He added that “the Bible supports his skepticism,” citing James 3:10, which reads, according to the New International Version, “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.”

Pelosi, who also attended the breakfast, defended her prayers for Trump.

“He really needs our prayers,” she said after the event. “So he can say whatever he wants, but I do pray for him and I do so sincerely and without anguish, gently, that’s the way I pray for everybody else.”

Jeffress also supported Trump’s comments about not loving his enemies, saying he told Trump this week: “Mr. President, to love your enemies means to want God’s best for them, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to be unified with them. Truth divides people.”

Jeffress also criticized Sen. Mitt Romney‘s (R-Utah) vote for Trump’s impeachment. Romney, before becoming the only Republican to vote to convict Trump on Wednesday, said “God demanded it of me.”

Jeffress told ABC that Romney’s vote “seems more based on self-promotion than religious beliefs.”

Another evangelical thought differently. Michael Gerson, who has been a consistent critic of the president and his evangelical supporters, wrote: “…the president again displayed a remarkable ability to corrupt, distort and discredit every institution he touches. The prayer breakfast was intended to foster personal connections across party differences. Trump turned it into a performative platform to express his rage and pride — the negation of a Christian ethic.”

I’m wondering what you think about all of this.

You may or may not know that I myself am a “never-Trump” person. I have been flabbergasted, not only that he got elected, but that he has garnered so much support from people of evangelical faith. In fact, that has been more of a concern for me than the president himself. As a post-evangelical, it has only confirmed and reinforced my decision to say good-bye to American evangelicalism. This behavior at the National Prayer Breakfast, it seems to me, would be a red line for those who trust and follow Jesus, and who take his words seriously.

But that’s me. And that’s all I’m going to say today.

I want to hear ONLY from supporters of President Trump in this semi-Open Forum.

Maybe you will defend his remarks and his stance, or maybe you will find them indefensible. Perhaps they do represent a “red line” for you that forces you to reconsider your support. Or maybe you think there are other, more important factors to consider.

At any rate, I will moderate closely today to make sure that you have complete freedom to express your views without any arguments from those who do not support President Trump.

I urge commenters who do not support the President to exercise restraint and just pay attention to what others are saying, no matter how strongly you may disagree.

And that includes me. My stance today is to be a listener only.

Now it’s your turn. Go.

Comments

  1. senecagriggs says

    C.M., Trump is consistent – He is who he always has been.

    I, as an Evangelical, do not believe he is a true follower of Christ.

    His theological beliefs reflect his spiritual status. – LOST
    ___________

    [ Personal beliefs about past few President. ]

    Not a believer: George H. Bush, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama.

    A believer: George W. Bush

    Unsure: Reagan.

    CURRENT Democratic candidates: I don’t think any of them are believers.
    ____________

    BOTTOM LINE: For me, hold nose and vote for Trump or simply Do Not Vote. Those are the two options.

    • I don’t vote for Presidents based on their faith. I find President Trump to be too thin skinned, ego-driven, a bit narcissistic. I don’t believe he is a Russian colluder. I wouldn’t point to him as a role model for my children.

      That being said he has been championing things that are important to me as a conservative even if he doesn’t fit that definition.

      – He is appointing conservative judges
      – He is fixing bad trade deals
      – He has spoke up for the unborn
      – He has done what he said he would do from a military perspective even though I believe he would rather handle it from a diplomatic/business standpoint.
      – He is dealing with ILLEGAL immigration as best he can (sorry folks – we have not allowed people to just walk in here since the early 1800s for many a good reason).

      I might consider a democrat if there were candidates that came anywhere near what is important to me.
      Instead they stand up for:
      – Open borders (or at least how they present things would reflect that)
      – Universal Medicine with no good plan to pay for it.
      – The right for homeless to take over cities instead of working on the issue upstream
      – Legalizing drugs
      – Raising the minimum wage to a livable wage (was never meant to be a livable wage)
      – Paying off school debt instead of dealing with the issue upstream.
      – Supporting socialist ideas and allowing member of their party who have these leanings to drive the party platform.

      I guess you could say Trump is like Cyrus to many Christians… although as a Catholic I don’t think in those terms.

      My thoughts….

  2. senecagriggs says

    A side note: not everyone who claims to be an Evangelical is a follower of Jesus Christ. Evangelicals are not actually monolithic.

    FOLLOW THE MONEY – an interesting article on Church attenders and giving. I think if you want to know the depth of commitment for a Christian, check his/her giving record.

    https://pushpay.com/blog/church-giving-statistics/

  3. senecagriggs says

    C.M., you sure you don’t want to let the “progressive-commie-pinko-Imonkers” opine; say after lunch? grin

  4. Burro (Mule) says

    I find it hard to consider myself a supporter of the current President. At best I support a subset of his policies and remain ardently grateful that Victoria Nuland is not the Secretary of State.

    He dies seem to have been working overtime to turn himself into a Sean Hannity listener’s ideal candidate, false piety and all. I think the real issue everybody has with Trump is that he has held up a mirror to America and we don’t like what we see. We’ve always been a nation of hustlers, real estate sharpies, salesmen, and Shoeshine-and-a smile guys. At least, that’s who we have historically rewarded. Someone like Slick Willie who can do it unconsciously and link it to our nobler impulses when it suits him is tolerable. Someone like Trump whose self interest is naked and unashamed, and who coarsens everything he touches is not, but underneath, they’re pretty similar.

    He also has pretty much given the lie to the pretense that black folk and white folk are learning to get along under the tutelage of the woke crowd. It’ll probably lead to violence on the macro scale but on the micro scale it could lead to some genuine repentance and change.

  5. Some quotes from his talk:
    “As everybody knows, my family, our great country, and your President, have been put through a terrible ordeal by some very dishonest and corrupt people. They have done everything possible to destroy us, and by so doing, very badly hurt our nation. They know what they are doing is wrong, but they put themselves far ahead of our great country.”
    Uncharitable at best. Determining motives of others – not nice. But he does have a right to state his opinion about badly hurting our nation. Many people agree with him, as well.

    “Nor do I like people who say, “I pray for you,” when they know that that’s not so.”
    Again, uncharitable. But I don’t like it when people do this either. Nor when they use prayer request time to share gossip. But, none of us know whether or not Nancy P prays for him or not. She might. She might not. She might be saying it for political reasons. I am not aware of her making statements like this before (I pray for our leaders…). Many politicians do, though, bring up faith at opportune times. She, as far as I know, has never been known as a woman of strong faith. Charity, though, would say we take her words at face value and accept them as true.

    “We know that our nation is stronger, our future is brighter, and our joy is greater when we turn to God and ask him to shed his grace on our lives.”
    Sounds good to me.

    “As I said on Tuesday in the House Chamber, “In America, we don’t punish prayer. We don’t tear down crosses. We don’t ban symbols of faith. We don’t muzzle preachers.” We don’t muzzle pastors. “In America, we celebrate faith, we cherish religion, we lift our voices in prayer, and we raise our sights to the Glory of God.” ”
    I’d like to think this is true – at least for the most part. Are we perfect at this in America – no. Are we better than just about any other country? emphatically yes!

    “Yesterday, our administration launched the International Religious Freedom Alliance, the first-ever alliance devoted to promoting religious liberty. It was something. Really something. (Applause.)
    More than 25 countries have already joined our campaign. ”
    Promote religious liberty with 25 other countries – sounds good.

    “All of us here today reaffirm these timeless truths: Faith keeps us free. Prayer makes us strong. And God alone is the author of life and the giver of grace. ”
    No argument from me on any of these.

    “We’re declaring that America will always shine as a land of liberty and light unto all nations of the world. ”
    Sounds good to me.

    “This morning, let us ask Father in Heaven to guide our steps, protect our children, and bless our families. And with all of our heart, let us forever embrace the eternal truth that every child is made equal by the hand of Almighty God.”
    Won’t argue about these words either.

    So, yes, there were some uncharitable things said – very likely directed at individuals. He spoke with certainty about their motives – something which no one can really know. Those were not right.

    And yet, there were some very strong things said about turning to God, protecting religious liberty, identifying God as the author of life, and more.

    In fact most of the talk was of the latter type.

    Overall – I agree with much of what he said and can get behind it. Some of the comments were unnecessary, uncharitable, and un Christlike.

    I’ll close with a quote from DT : “This morning, let us ask Father in Heaven to guide our steps, protect our children, and bless our families.”

  6. I didn’t vote for Trump because I thought he was a good Christian just like I wouldn’t vote for Clinton, Obama, Biden, etc. because they claim to be. I voted because of policy in immigration, taxes, employment, trade, etc. I don’t care for his personality and tweets but I do think our country is in much better shape. Hell, the Democrats can’t even count votes in that huge population of Iowa. Biden can call people all the names he wants and challenge fat people to a push-up contest but no one says a thing. All you people have gone off the rails with your anger and angst. Goodbye to imonk which is nothing but a political blog anyway . The only time I will check in is to see the tears when Trump easily wins re-election running against the best of the worst. Nobody says anything about our government spying on individuals and campaigns or basing impeachment on I heard a friend say in the next toilet he heard about something. What exactly were the charges against Trump. Why didn’t the Dems list any laws broken ? You want a real crime? Biden and his son. The Russians stealing the election. Hell just have the Dems count.

    • Stbndct –
      I agree with what you say. My vote was based on issues and not who was thought to be the better Christian.
      IMonk has become too much of a political blog since DT. And the selective quoting – usually very one sided in opinion – gets tiresome.

      I check in only on occasion anymore. Sad as this once was a place that helped me through some dark church times.

      Obama 2014 prayer breakfast:
      “Today, we profess the principles we know to be true. We believe that each of us is “wonderfully made” in the image of God. We, therefore, believe in the inherent dignity of every human being — dignity that no earthly power can take away.”
      This from a person (and political party) that presses for abortion on demand up to delivery (and some even after) and more recently assisted suicide at end of life. So much for “inherent dignity.” Does / did Obama really believe this stuff and then act in ways that oppose it? Was he just trying to make political points?
      Nary a word on this blog about the other side being disingenuous.
      Don’t even have to go back to Obama (or others).

      What about Nancy Pelosi and her ripping up the state of the union speech? Perhaps Imonk will have a similar question about this or the decorum of other national democrats (you mentioned several) – I doubt it, but who knows.
      Nancy P in the spirit of humility and reconciliation for our country tore her copy of the SOTU speech. Punidits all over the country were quick to note this was a strong statement for her base (or maybe as an example similar to OT prophets rending their garments on account of truth being destroyed 🙂 ).
      Now she isn’t President, but she is #3 in line. Her words and actions speak for all democrat voters just like DTs for all republican voters – right?

  7. AF, if you are interested in a blog for all Christians that speaks without a political agenda but a Christ agenda try Richard Beck. Michael never would have let his blog get hijacked by the constant Trump comments. Read any article entry and it quickly starts a Trump discussion. I need help with my faith and walk with Christ not an MSNBC commentary. There are a few self important people who respond 24/7 to share their supposed wisdom in a most uncharitable manner. They are going through withdrawal right now but can resume full on tomorrow. At least they will only be speaking to themselves since anyone conservative has left.

  8. This blog is a shell of what Michael Spencer intended it to be. Michael wanted it to be an oasis in the wilderness, a safe place where all who were weary and confused could come and share their their frustrations with the church. This place resonated with so many people, including myself, because a man shared his fears, his doubts and completely exposed himself about what he was missing and what he thought the church was missing. Where are the modern day heart-healing posts like “I have my Doubts”? It seems this whole place has regressed into posts like this one, “I hate Trump, please tell me why you like him.” Who the hell cares? In one post it says, “I am not a cultural warrior”, then there are other posts which continually criticize one political party and the other party gets justified and not criticized in what they do because simply “I am a never-Trump” person. You can’t be both. I personally don’t like Donald Trump or his antics. I voted for Trump mainly because Hillary Clinton hung four US citizens out to dry and just let them die.

    This used to be a place of healing. Now, it’s just another place to argue and be divided.

    • +1000

    • I would concur with this. This place seems more a place of provocation and anger than it used to be. Christ unifies, politics divides.

      This is why, at the men’s fellowship group I facilitate Saturday mornings, I’m quick to squash any and all political topics. And the group polices itself, too, meaning I’m not always the only one having to say, “We’re not going to go there today!”

      (As facilitator, I’m also keenly aware of the makeup of the group, which is about 50-50 typical evangelical Republican and more moderate Democrat. So to give voice to one group means that half the group is gonna get bent out of shape.)

      Not sure I’ve seen that balance here in a while, or a recognition that allowing one side to be overly vocal means disenfranchising another group of readers.

      • Since you raised the subject and my reply has nothing to do with critiquing POTUS supporters, please allow me to respond to the criticisms of the blog.

        First, politically-oriented posts are just a small part of what we post on the blog. Always have been, always will be.

        Second, I could certainly moderate much more rigorously. I hear that critique and accept responsibility.

        Third, you have to admit that we have never been in a time of polarization like we’re in now. And evangelicals seem to have taken a strong stance for one side. Michael Spencer saw nothing like this in his days of blogging and it’s difficult to know exactly how he would have responded. He may well have written much more about than we do today. I do know that he saw himself as a post-evangelical, that he saw evangelicalism collapsing because of, in part, focusing on gaining political power, and I’m pretty sure sentiments like those expressed by Pastor Jeffrey’s above would have made his blood boil.

        • Fair rebuttals, especially #2 and 3.

        • I do agree with the posts however even when the post isn’t political the usual cast of characters makes it about Trump 80% of the time.

          • That’s fair, Stbndct. And I will take responsibility for laissez-faire moderating.

            • Mike, It’s sad when you state no talk of Trump and yet people are so disrespectful of your wishes. Even one commentator who thinks he is above it all will not say Trump but try and be cute and say the one we are not allowed to say. What a child.

            • I think the job of moderator on this site is well and evenly handled. The faith based articles are really well done and have value. The other articles that get the comments going are at least revealing and well handled given the different points of views. So I come here often , sometimes find a rare gem but even when it is secular and with disagreement I enjoy it. I like the laissez-faire attitude in the marketplace of ideas. I enjoy hearing the other side of what I believe.

        • Yes, fair points. And I certainly don’t presume to know Michael better than you. I don’t, never met him. I just know what his posts and a lot of your own have done for me. I wish it was more those type posts. It’s gotten to the point of trying to argue abortion with the other side. You’re not going to change each other’s minds and you just end up pissed off. So what’s the point.

    • rhymeswithplague says

      +10,000

  9. +1

  10. While expressing gratitude for people in the room, Trump appeared to go off-script at the end to make a point that sometimes religious Americans “hate” people.

    “I’m sorry, I apologize. I’m trying to learn,” he said, appearing to return to the question posed by Brooks. “When they impeach you for nothing, you’re supposed to like them? It’s not easy, folks. I’m doing my best.”

  11. rhymeswithplague says

    Thank you, olbaldy, for finding those “off script at the end” remarks of the President at the prayer breakfast. I saw them once and once only on a Facebook post and then never saw or heard them again. I vacillate a lot on whether DT could possibly be a Christian. Those final remarks of his give me a small glimmer of hope.

  12. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/11/09/how-the-faithful-voted-a-preliminary-2016-analysis/

    As posted before the above break down of voting percent of self Id people of faith shows the Democrat Clinton in 2016 lost in every group except Jewish and Mormon compared to 2012 Obama. Trump got 3% more of the oft cited white Christian evangelicals than Mormon Romney, almost all of the 3 percent were people who usually do not vote. Part of the narrative of the election night and the following days was somehow give the entire credit of Trumps election to the evangelicals. What are not the other groups not cited for supporting Trump. All fair in politics but this is basically a raw political decision to move some evangelicals from Trump. When liberals praise men of faith like Romney and quote the Bible you know something is going on. Trump won on issues. hard to believe I guess

  13. With a job that puts me in front of people across the political spectrum I’ve heard a lot of emotional comments about Donald Trump, religion, and ethics; most see him as either David-like or Nabal-like, with little middle ground. However, I’ve notice a slight shift in the conversation recently. The tendency to allow disgust and contempt to invade our daily interactions with others is now being regularly discussed in books, on blogs, in articles and even in sermons. “Love Your Enemies” by Arthur Brooks, Richard Beck (as mentioned above), and even Andy Stanley’s sermons in recent weeks all address prioritizing unity over politics. While the shift is small, I’m encouraged more now than at any time over the last three years.

    Specific to CM’s post, I’ve read several articles on the topic and this article by A.J. Nolte is the best I’ve seen: thebulwark.com/why-did-evangelicals-flock-to-trump-existential-fear/

    From the article:
    “Counterintuitively, the fact that Trump is bellicose, bombastic, insulting, and lives according to a code at odds with evangelicals’ beliefs actually made him more attractive as an ally, not less. “Evangelical nice” is a real thing, and like all good satirical characters, there’s a solid core of truth in The Simpsons’ depiction of Ned Flanders. That made evangelicals unlikely to see one of their own as capable of defeating an existential threat. But Trump embodied the opposite values, and he seemed determined to fight the people they were fighting.”

  14. To follow up on my post above about the “other” groups of people of faith who support Trump. I know this is the post evangelical site but no where do I see Catholics who voted for Trump asked to explain their vote. I do not see the group of people of those who are not religious who voted for Trump called to explain and justify their position. I do not see where the Hispanic Catholics who voted for Trump justify their decision , same with the non evangelical Christians have to defend and explain secular, humanistic Trump. Trump is a “Christian” like the majority of Americans. Trump accomplishments are easy to find and stand for review. Could the 16 million evangelical voters elected Trump alone? Of course not. The evangelicals voted Catholic Kennedy in 1960, they voted for unchurched Reagan and Mormon Romney based on the issues and who politically represented them and give them a seat at the table. Are we to vote on religion observance or on political issues? No one but Trump could have defeated the Democrat, Republican, big business, neo con and bureaucratic establishment but loud, profane, attacking, coarse but human Trump. Look at how the Democrats and allies destroyed their now hero Romney, they gave him no points for being a person of deep personal fait in 2016 and trashed him. God will use who God will use, can a person say that or is only Romney types able to inject a faith based message into their decision making. There is a steady drum beat going on to get the progressive , “thinking educated” religious leaders of the evangelicals to lead their deplorable members to not vote for the secular Trump , who is not as good as them as he is so coarse etc. He does not act like a Christian should. I think the Trump voter all across the spectrum know the full force of the establishment is going to work to get rid of Trump. The Dems will get Bloomberg in a brokered convention as they know the center will determine the election. No better representative of Christian values than any of the Democrat candidates who are better than the ungodly Trump. If this is a morality election there is no one than the pious can vote for. Our theocracy type of government is being threatened by the pagan Trump who does not “act” like a good Christian should according to the ruling elites, who know best.

  15. Not sure that I’m qualified to comment, as I’m not a US voter, and I’m more fascinated by Trump than pro-Trump.

    But your question touches on something I was musing this morning, so I’ll take that as a prompt.

    The other day, I heard an interesting and thought-provoking quote: “There’s no moral virtue in feeling sorry for someone”. This made me think, because a lot of our current culture is about “being seen to care”.

    I think what the quoted person was getting at is what ultimately counts (as Keith Green sang, sorry, yes I am that old) “is what you did – or didn’t – do”.

    And I applied that thought – in reverse – to Trump. He “talks a lot of shit” (totally different ‘musical’ quote: must watch: https://youtu.be/ferZnZ0_rSM), including lots of stuff which I don’t think any Christian would want to have to defend. But he does appear to have tried to do what he said he was going to do during the election. And as far as dead bodies are concerned, his track record compares very favourably with his predecessors. I found it very hard to take seriously the prissy Democratic and media hyperventilation over the assassination of Qasem Soleimani. Killing people is not nice, but a short and sharp cutting off of the head seems preferable to starting a new war.

    But as I say, these are the observations of a distant uninvolved bystander.

    • Another thought: beyond what he says, I also find the blustery grandstanding of Trump … distasteful, but is that un-American, or unchristian? Or un-Christlike? Any more un-Christlike than (say) Kirk Franklin (who’s music I love) or any other ‘Christian musician’ prancing around on stage and puffing up his chest?

      Probably showing my cultural prejudices: Not drawing attention to oneself is inculcated from an early age on the other side of the Pond.

      • –> “I also find the blustery grandstanding of Trump … distasteful, but is that un-American, or unchristian? Or un-Christlike?”

        Un-American or Un-Christlike or not, it feels “un-Presidential.” That said, since you’re from the other side of the Pond, is what you’re seeing here between the two political factions (Reps and Dems/President and Congress) more in line with what you see happen in Parliament? Seems to me I’ve seen Parliamentary hearings devolve into craziness, but that never seemed to be the case in the USA. Maybe our political culture is just becoming more like yours…?

        • Touché, lots of posturing and theatrics going on there too; but most people don’t take any notice.

  16. Long Absent says

    I’m late to the party here, but as a Trump supporter I’ll throw in my two cents. I echo the sentiments of most who posted above and I think those sentiments reflect most of the notorious 81%; Trump is no Christian, but he is highly effective and he is a better alternative than anyone else running for the job. When Jesus runs for office I’ll vote for Him. Until then I’ve got to pick between “The best of the worst.” But above all we need to take Paul’s advice and pray for our leaders.