Above from left to right: Robert Morris, Paula White, Melania Trump
A reader sent some photos of the dinner which document some in attendance which I have not seen on other lists. The most comprehensive account thus far I have seen has been put together by professor Andy Rowell (see the link below)
As yet another indicator of how far into the alt-right Eric Metaxas has drifted, here is a recent love tweet to British nativist Katie Hopkins.
Sweet @KTHopkins is my hero. What she says is true of Trump voters in America. If elites dislike the results of elections and think they can overturn them by any means necessary, we have the end of republican democracy & self-government & freedom. Please make a note of it. Selah. https://t.co/Kwp2GrRm67
In no universe should Katie Hopkins be called sweet or be anybody’s hero.
She lost her radio show after tweeting that a “final solution” was needed for Muslims.
In 2015, she advocated euthanasia for the elderly in nursing homes, telling interviewer Michael Buerk that she would deploy “euthanasia vans” if she ruled the world. According to Metaxas’ hero:
“We just have far too many old people.” Did I know that one in three NHS beds was being blocked by the elderly and demented? A third of our hospitals filled up by people who don’t even know they’re there? She’d soon put a stop to that. “It’s ridiculous to be living in a country where we can put dogs to sleep but not people.” Her solution? “Easy. Euthanasia vans – just like ice-cream vans – that would come to your home.” After they’d finished in the hospitals, presumably. “It would all be perfectly charming. They might even have a nice little tune they’d play. I mean this genuinely. I’m super-keen on euthanasia vans. We need to accept that just because medical advances mean we can live longer, it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.”
Regarding Metaxas’ tweet, I don’t know what he refers to by removing Trump by “any means necessary.” Numerous people have called for impeachment, but this is a Constitutional means and well within our republican government.
Metaxas’ devotion to Trump has taken him to some dark places when he considers a person like Katie Hopkins “sweet” and a “hero.”
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Social media is ablaze with outrage over Donald Trump’s answer to a question about who he believes regarding Russian meddling in the 2016 election. In short, he said he has confidence in Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats but he believes Putin. Watch:
Asked if he believes US intel agencies or Putin about Russia's interference in the 2016 election, Trump immediately starts pushing debunked DNC & Hillary conspiracy theories.
Let it sink in what Trump told the world. Russia mounted a cyberattack on the U.S. and he still sided with Putin. His rambling, tangential response deflected the question and yet still placed him in defense of Putin’s “strong denial.”
Ronald Reagan is dying many more deaths somewhere today. For an American president to cozy up to a former KGB agent, blame America for our poor relationship, and then to throw U.S. intelligence under the bus is collusion in real time. No need to prove anything covert. In my opinion, it just happened on the world stage.
Some readers may disagree. Let’s discuss.
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UPDATE: On the 15th I received a letter from Mike Kelly’s office in response to an email I sent asking the same questions as in this post. See the letter here.
Today, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders repeated Donald Trump’s false claim that there is a law that requires children be removed from their asylum seeking parents at the U.S. border. Watch:
Sarah Sanders: “It is very Biblical to enforce the law.”
Bible: “Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people.”
Because I couldn’t find a law nor has anyone supporting the policy cited a specific law, I called my representative Mike Kelly (R-PA). The fellow who answered the phone (I didn’t get his name) said he would help me find that law. As he searched for it, he engaged in a bit of discussion with me about people illegally crossing the border. However, my question was about those presenting for asylum with children together as a family.
After searching and talking for about 10 minutes, Rep. Kelly’s staffer concluded that there is no law requiring the separation of children from their parents. He indicated that the practice fell within the jurisdiction of the border agencies and immigration officials and ultimately the Trump administration.
Thus, according to the office of my Trump supporting Republican representative, President Trump and Sarah Huckabee Sanders are deceiving the American people by saying there is a law which they are simply enforcing.
How low can Sanders and company go? Today she invoked the Bible after Jeff Sessions also did to justify this awful policy. Watch the video above to the end.
In one way, I am glad that Kelly’s office acknowledged that there is no law requiring the Trump administration policy. However, on the other hand, it is discouraging to know that Rep. Kelly must silently know that the story being sold to the American people is false.
A former foreign service officer who served in North Korea while Kim Jong-Un’s father ruled is skeptical of President Trump’s claim that “there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.” David Lambertson who worked as American liaison to the Korean Economic Development Organization in North Korea told me that the threat is over only in Trump’s “imagination.”
Early yesterday, President Trump congratulated himself in this tweet:
Just landed – a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea. Meeting with Kim Jong Un was an interesting and very positive experience. North Korea has great potential for the future!
Lambertson spent five years as a part-time KEDO representative and was also an ambassador to Thailand during his career. He was in North Korea as a part of the project negotiated during the Clinton administration with Kim Jong-Il, the father of Kim Jong-Un. In exchange for a promise of halting North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, a consortium of nations agreed to build a nuclear power plant in North Korea. Eventually, the project ended without a completed plant and without the promises being kept by North Korea.
Lambertson told me that Trump returned from his summit with Kim Jong-Un “with very little of substance to show us.” Moreover, Trump gave up a couple of “substantive points, namely the halt to ‘provocative war games,’ and simply the elevation to world statesman of the world’s worst dictator.”
Making a comparison to the Iran treaty, Lambertson said that the meeting was “the beginning of a ‘process,’ we are told–one that will bear close watching.” He added that “every milestone along the way needs to be looked at carefully and skeptically.”
Lambertson said “we should be thankful” that “tensions with North Korea are lower than they were” but added, “until there is actual, verifiable progress toward denuclearization, we should keep our enthusiasm under control, despite Trump’s bloviating.”
The North Korean nuclear threat has not disappeared, except perhaps in the President’s imagination.
Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations concurs with Lambertson:
.@realDonaldTrump claim there is no longer a NK nuclear threat patently false. The summit changed nothing. Worse yet, overselling the summit makes it harder to keep sanctions in place, further reducing pressure on NK to reduce (much less give up) its nuclear weapons and missiles
Former Director of the Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub thinks the pardon might be a signal to Trump’s former associates now under indictment.
Imagine if Nixon had been waiting with a stack of pardons for his Plumbers to return from the Watergate break-in. A president may not be above the law, but he has the power to put his henchmen above the law. That’s what Trump is telling Manafort & others with the D’Souza pardon.
Dinesh D’Souza was convicted of one of the crimes Michael Cohen is under investigation for, campaign finance fraud. Impossible to view this as anything other than a “stay strong“ message from Trump to Cohen, especially given the timing. https://t.co/rtjNnF73wy
For some reason, Christians are celebrating this pardon. I understand we are all guilty of various things and in Christ, we are pardoned but our rejoicing isn’t to be gloating over others. The prosecutors did their jobs and the precious rule of law that Republicans go on about has been set aside. I agree with the first tweeter above, this appears to be an abuse of power and if Karma is indeed a bitch, there may be a day of reckoning in November.
Trump Really Thought it Through
There are no words to describe the lunacy of how Trump decided to pardon D’Souza.
The title of this post summarizes what I get out of this Tony Perkins interview with Politico. Tony Perkins is the head of the Family Research Council which claims to promote family values. Because FRC has historically called for politicians to exemplify family values, Perkins gets a lot of questions about his support for Trump. This exchange between Perkins and reporter Edward-Isaac Dovere is especially revealing:
Evangelical Christians, says Perkins, “were tired of being kicked around by Barack Obama and his leftists. And I think they are finally glad that there’s somebody on the playground that is willing to punch the bully.”
What happened to turning the other cheek? I ask.
“You know, you only have two cheeks,” Perkins says. “Look, Christianity is not all about being a welcome mat which people can just stomp their feet on.”
Shorter Perkins: when Christian teachings don’t get you want you want, then try something else. As I understand Perkins here, there is a limit to Christianity. You can follow it so far, but when it doesn’t work to get power in the situation, you resort to whatever tactics might be necessary. Otherwise, the unthinkable might happen: Christians might lose political power.
Christianity? What Christianity?
To me, this is another example of an evangelical leader changing Christianity to fit the requirements of being a Trump follower. Today, it is Perkins; often it is Franklin Graham, most days it is Jerry Falwell, everyone’s favorite fallen angel. After Trump’s indecorous reflections on third world nations earlier this month, Jerry Falwell went out with an defense – Trump was being presidentially authentic. Columnist Jonah Goldberg was having none of that.
Falwell, in a riot of sycophantic sophistry, not only wants to argue that whatever a president does is presidential but also seeks to elevate the idea that authenticity is its own reward. This is contrary to vast swathes of conservative and Christian thought. A person can be authentically evil, crude, bigoted, or asinine. That is not a defense of any of those things. I’m no expert, but my understanding of Christianity is that behavior is supposed to be informed by more than one’s “authentic” feelings and instincts. Satan is nothing if not authentic.
We live in a time when some of our Christian leaders model how Christian leaders act when they believe Christianity has failed as a practical matter. “You know, you only have two cheeks,” Perkins said. Once you’ve turned both of them, it must be time to move on to some other approach.
And nearly every day, we see evidence that they have moved on.
Trying to defend President Donald Trump’s comments preferring immigrants from Norway over Haiti, El Salvador and Africa, First Baptist Church of Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress told the Washington Post that race is an acceptable reason for the government to discriminate in immigration.
According to reporter Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Jeffress told her that the U.S. has the right “to restrict immigration according to whatever criteria it establishes, including race or other qualifications.” He claimed that there isn’t anything racist about such restrictions.* I would like to hear an explanation for that. What else besides racial prejudice would lead the U.S. to prefer whites over non-whites? I would like to hear Rev. Jeffress’ answer to that question.
Jeffress’ blatant defense of racial discrimination is reminiscent of opposition by other Southern white men to the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. INA struck down immigration quotas and increased immigration from Africa, Latin America and Asia. INA was opposed by those who wanted to maintain discrimination in immigration policy. Essentially, the policy prior to 1965 favored European immigration with limits on people coming in from elsewhere in the world. Now in 2018, Trump’s preference for white Norwegians over dark skinned Africans and Jeffress’ defense of his position sound like the same rhetoric used by opponents of the INA in 1965.
One of the most vocal opponents of INA was Senator Sam Ervin (D-NC). During Senate hearings on the bill, Ervin expressed that race and country of origin should be used in immigration discrimination. Ervin said:
The people of Ethiopia have the same right to come to the United States under this bill as the people from England, the people of France, the people of Germany, the people of Holland. With all due respect to Ethiopia, I don’t know of any contributions that Ethiopia has made to the making of America.
He wasn’t alone in his views.
As Tom Gjelten documents in his book A Nation of Nations, Spessard Hollard (D-FL) asked during debate on the bill:
Why, for the first time, are the emerging nations of Africa, to be placed on the same basis as are our mother countries – Britain, Germany, Scandinavian nations, France, and the other nations from which most Americans have come?
Without the profanity, Ervin and Spessard raised the same questions in 1965 as Trump and Jeffress are raising now. Why do we want these people from Africa? We should have more people from Europe.
Blinded by the White
A sign of white privilege is the distortion of reality it promotes. Ervin and Spessard seemed oblivious to the fact that citizens in their states had African heritage. As Gjelten points out in his book, “In the 1960 census, Americans of African descent out-numbered Scandinavian Americans by a margin of two and a half to one, and there were more African-Americans in the United States than there were Americans whose origins lay in Italy, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, and Switzerland combined.”
Apparently, as Gjelten notes, Ervin and Spessard didn’t consider African nations as “mother countries.” Of course, that is absurd. One would have to look at U.S. history through the lens of white privilege to think people with African heritage have made no contributions to American life and culture.
Some of Trump’s defenders have said Trump just said what some people are thinking when he expressed his preference for Norwegians over people
from “shithole” countries. Perhaps some white people are thinking those things, but a look at the history of the Civil Rights struggle shows that some people always have. In the 1960s, those views were shown the door legislatively. Now they are front and center in the White House, with evangelical religious leaders to defend them.
As a religious advisor to the president, Jeffress claims that the United States has the right to engage in racial discrimination in immigration policy. His evangelical peers should not let that stand without condemnation. Racial discrimination was evil in 1965 and it is evil now, wherever it occurs. There is no national interest in that kind of evil.
Tomorrow we remember Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy. King, Jr. lamented the silence of the white church during the fight for civil rights. The church should not be silent now.
*I confirmed this conversation with Washington Post reporter Sarah Pulliam Bailey. Jeffress told Bailey that the United States has the right to restrict immigration according to whatever criteria it establishes. She then asked him, “Would you include race?” He said, “Whatever criteria we deem necessary.” She asked him a direct question about race which he agreed to.
I don’t even know if I am allowed to write that at Patheos. I guess we will find out.
By now, most of my readers will have heard that Donald Trump yesterday expressed preference for Norwegian immigrants over Haitian and African immigrants. The original report came from Josh Dawsey in the Washington Post. When discussing immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti and Africa, Trump reportedly said, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” According to the Post and Reuters, he then said we should take more immigrants from Norway.
Earlier today he denied saying those words, but Senator Dick Durbin — who was in the meeting — confirmed that he said those words and more. Others in the meeting have confirmed it and White House staff have not denied it.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, issues the following statement: “Every single person is created in the image of God. Without exception. Therefore, as it pertains to immigration, we must provide a legal avenue, with rigorous vetting, that enables individuals from both Norway and Nigeria, from Holland and Haiti, to come to our nation if they embrace our values, commit to self-reliance and to enriching our collective American experience. “In addition, and with great due deference, I believe that the comments attributed to our president can best be described as wrong, inappropriate, and hurtful. Why? Because when God looks at these nations, He sees His children.”
### Rev. Samuel Rodriguez is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, executive producer of The Impossible with 20th Century Fox, and bestselling author of “Be Light.” He has been named by CNN and Fox News as “the leader of the Hispanic Evangelical movement” and TIME Magazine nominated him among the 100 most influential leaders in America. The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference is recognized and identified by Time Magazine, New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Christianity Today, Charisma Magazine, NBC, Telemundo, Univision, Fox News, CNN, and a number of additional media outlets, publications, and periodicals as America’s largest and most influential Hispanic/Latino Christian organization with 40,118 certified member churches in the United States and chapters in Latin America.
President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention Russell Moore tweeted a comment which can only be taken as opposition to the president’s comment.
The church of Jesus Christ is led by, among others, our brothers and sisters from Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. They are us.
Wilberforce and Bonhoeffer biographer Eric Metaxas just can’t bring himself to find fault with Trump. I just can’t imagine Bonhoeffer reacting this way.
If @POTUS said that word, it's lamentable. But it's certainly not racist. Have we lost all perspective on what real racism is? And when Reagan called the U.S.S.R. an "evil empire" was he saying the PEOPLE were evil? Can't we please leaven our outrage w/some context & perspective?
He doesn’t seem to understand why his fans are upset with him.
The extraordinary nastiness & vileness of the comments being directed at me on Twitter right now only proves what I'm saying. People are in love w/feeling morally superior & w/hating & dehumanizing those they accuse of hating & dehumanizing. Did Jesus not say "Love your enemies"?
Eric, it’s racism when he equates the people of a country with their systems of government. People from Haiti and Africa? Not welcome. Norway? They’re welcome! What’s the difference? Think ethnicity and skin color.
Thabiti Anyabwile at The Gospel Coalition takes a negative view of Trump’s comments. He talks about his immigrant family. A quote:
On the drive home from our family meeting last night, I learned that in the Oval Office, that hallowed ground of American political power and aspiration, President Trump reportedly made racist and troublesome comments regarding immigrants and their countries of origin. My family.
I’m a pastor, not a politician. But I am a pastor of particular people with diverse and rich backgrounds. They contribute to our church family in indescribable ways. They are our church family. My job is to shepherd them, which means I am to feed them, lead them, and protect them.
As a shepherd, I cannot abide the comments our President makes regarding immigrant peoples and their countries of origin. I cannot leave them alone to hear racist barbs, evil speech, incendiary comment, and blasphemous slander against the image and likeness of God in which they are made.
Ed Stetzer has a nice column on the comments at Washington Post.
I will add reaction as I find it.