Ted Cruz May Face Senate Challenge from Gateway Church Wing of TX GOP

Robert Morris and Ted Cruz Wilks BrosAccording to this column from Bud Kennedy, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) may face a challenge from the religious right. Bruce Jacobson, the VP of Media and Executive Producer of James Robison’s “Life Today” television show, is considering a primary run against Cruz.
James Robison is an apostolic elder at Gateway Church. Although I haven’t seen it, I have also heard that Gateway Church pastor Robert Morris made a video in support of Jacobson. Apparently Morris stopped short of an endorsement but was viewed as giving Jacobson a boost.
Given Gateway’s financial problems, I wonder who paid for the video.
According to a Facebook thread describing Jacobson’s possible run, the opposition to Cruz comes from Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum.
If this potential revolt materializes, it would be a turn around for Robison and Morris who previously supported Cruz. Robison is on President Trump’s evangelical advisory committee and is said to have regular access to the President.
Cruz is already facing two primary challengers, Stefano de Stefano and Dan McQueen. Several Dem candidates are lined up in the primary to challenge him in the 2018 election but in Texas, the GOP primary winner will most likely keep the seat for the Republicans.
Jacobson’s challenge is reminiscent of David Barton’s flirtation with a 2013 primary challenge to Sen. John Cornyn. Barton’s Wallbuilders colleague Rick Green said Barton might run if he got enough Facebook likes.
In reading for this post, I was reminded of this line from Michael Gerson’s fine column in today’s WaPo.  Gerson said:

There is no group in the United States less attached to its own ideals or more eager for its own exploitation than religious conservatives.

Gerson then asks:

Do religious right leaders have any clue how foolish they appear?

I doubt they do, but they do. Jockeying for political power and influence is antithetical to the Gospel.
 

James Robison: Are We Going to Rip Amazing Grace from Hymnal Because John Newton Was a Slave Trader?

Gateway Church apostolic elder and member of Donald Trump’s evangelical advisory board, James Robison, today asked God if Amazing Grace should be removed from the hymnbook because John Newton was a slave trader. Although he doesn’t mention Confederate statues, in a video titled, What Must We Do When All Hell Breaks Loose, Robison appears to signal his views on removing symbols of the past. Watch:

He first asks God to release healing and asks for peace, joy, and wisdom. He quickly goes to preaching and seems to debate God over Confederate symbols. At 3:38, Robison says:

We’ve made many mistakes; we have failed throughout history, but Father to go back and root up and tear down every memory, even of those who failed but perhaps were moved to positive change. Are we going to rip Amazing Grace out of every hymnbook because John Newton was a slave trader? Are we gonna go back and attack Wilberforce because he was a member of a parliament in Great Britain that once encouraged and supported slavery? Are we gonna refuse to recognize what you did in spite of our wrong when your grace moved us to respond to your wisdom and apply it? As it has happened in our country, help us to move away from the horrors of the past and the wickedness of things that were in place far too long. And thank you for the corrections that have come and stand against all hatred, all racial tension and division. Even the sectarian, and political and partisan divide. God would you move us together to be a family.

He then prays for Christians to unite and not use the Bible as a “club.” Finally, he asks his audience to trust God for a miracle.

What Does His Prayer Have to Do with Charlottesville?

While Robison didn’t mention the Charlottesville protests, his words certainly point to that context. His prayer is unusual in that he seems to make a case to God that there is a problem with rooting up symbols from the past. The symbol at issue in Charlottesville was the statue of Robert E. Lee. Although Robison didn’t defend the Lee statue directly, it seems reasonable to think he was referring to efforts to remove the statue.
The problem is that none of what Robison prayed relates directly to the Lee statue in Charlottesville. John Newton was a slave trader but did change his mind late in life and supported Wilberforce’s effort to end the slave trade. Wilberforce and the British parliament is an even further stretch for a comparable situation. Wilberforce helped bring the slave trade to an end in Britain. Despite the Lost Cause myths surrounding Lee, he wasn’t a figure who should be honored with a tribute. In any case, Lee wasn’t a hero and didn’t end up on the right side. Perhaps, Robison has been a victim of bad history.
According to Robert Morris, the pastor at Gateway, Robison has Donald Trump’s personal cell phone number and takes his calls “two or three times per week.” Perhaps Trump’s stance on this issue has been informed by Robison and those who think like him. If so, I hope someone close to Robison can educate him about Lee and the pain those Confederate symbols cause to many African-Americans.
As for me, I continue to believe Christians should get behind the movement to remove Confederate statues and tributes from the public square and place them in museums or other locations where the evils of slavery and racism are described.

Robert Morris: President Trump Talks to James Robison Two or Three Times Per Week

Gateway Church Apostolic elder James Robison has long been known as a Christian right mover and shaker. A persistent story I hear is that Ben Carson would only endorse Donald Trump if Trump first spoke to Robison. Even if untrue, the story highlights the reputation Robison has in Christian right political circles.
Gateway Church’s founding pastor Robert Morris added to that mystique earlier today by telling his congregation that Robison and Donald Trump talk “two or three times a week.” Morris said Robison has Trump’s “private cell phone” which he uses regularly. Watch:

Transcript

I really do want you to get the book, it’s one of the most amazing books I’ve every read, and has conversations of him speaking with people you know, well-known people, Muhammad Ali, President Reagan.
And if you don’t know, I talked last week about serving on the Advisory Council.
James, though, speaks with our President probably two or three times a week, and has his private cell number, and he picks it up even when he’s in a meeting. You know, ‘I’m meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, James, can I call you back?’ But–
So, I’m very very grateful for James Robison and for his influence.

I wonder what Robison does with his influence. I suppose this is intoxicating to those ministers who have Trump’s number, but with Trump routinely peddling falsehoods, ignoring Russian attacks on the Ukraine, and waging war on the press, I can’t see much evidence of Christian influence.

No, David Barton, I Did Not Recruit Jay Richards

Cover of Getting Jefferson Right, used by permission
Cover of Getting Jefferson Right, used by permission

Although World Net Daily lists January 12 as the release date for the second edition of David Barton’s book The Jefferson Lies, it is now available on Amazon. I ordered the Kindle version and found a serious flaw within minutes of reading Barton’s response to our book Getting Jefferson Right.
Barton claims that I recruited Jay Richards to in turn recruit Christian historians to begin a campaign against Barton. That claim is not true. After reading Getting Jefferson Right, Richards approached me via Facebook message on May 14, 2012. Before that message, I did not know Richards. Here is what Barton says in The Jefferson Lies:

Throckmorton admitted that he had recruited scholars for this purpose, led by Jay Richards, a philosopher/theologian with the Discovery Institute, who, according to media outlets had asked “10 conservative Christian professors to assess Barton’s work.” Although he reported that their responses were “negative,” several of them actually refused to participate in his quest.
Barton, David (2015-12-22). The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson (Kindle Locations 133-137). WND Books. Kindle Edition.

Later in the book’s preface, Barton claims:

In fact, when Jay Richards (the speaker from the Discovery Institute who was enlisted by Throckmorton to find and recruit critics to attack my works) confronted me about what he claimed were errors in The Jefferson Lies, I repeatedly asked him if he had read the book. He refused to answer. But it was clear from his mischaracterization of my arguments that he had not read it (or at least all of it). For instance, he repeatedly asserted that I said that Jefferson was an evangelical, but as is clear in the chapter on Jefferson’s faith, I do not make that claim.
Barton, David (2015-12-22). The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson (Kindle Locations 613-617). WND Books. Kindle Edition.

In fact, Richards wrote to Michael Coulter and me on May 14, 2012 via the Getting Jefferson Right Facebook page. He thanked us for the book and offered to contact Christian journalists on our behalf. Then, on May 23, Richards wrote to say that he had spoken to two of Barton’s supporters about the historical problems in Barton’s book (see below for the identity of one of them which was revealed by Barton). The next day, Richards alerted me that he had been “commissioned” (it was unclear who did the commissioning, but it wasn’t me) to find six Christian historians to read Barton’s book, our book, and Barton’s DVD lecture America’s Godly Heritage. Richards then approached six scholars who then agreed to provide feedback. Richards did not tell me the identity of the scholars and I still don’t know all of them. The number providing some level of feedback eventually grew to ten.
According to Richards, Barton was also going to be informed that this process was happening.
Barton’s attempt to make me the one pulling all the strings is false and I think he knows it. I say this because on his Wallbuilders’ website, he tells the story differently. About one of the scholars recruited by Richards — The Masters’ College history professor Gregg Frazer — Barton says (see footnote 2):

From a hostile written review of David Barton and WallBuilders written by Gregg Frazer at the request of Jay Richards. That written critique was subsequently passed on to David Barton on August 13, 2012, by the Rev. James Robison, to whom Jay Richards had distributed it.

From Barton, we learn that Gregg Frazer was one of the historians recruited by Richards. Richards then gave the critique to Robison (co-author with Richards of the book Indivisible). Then, if Barton’s timing is correct, Robison gave Frazer’s critique to Barton on August 13, 2012, a few days after Thomas Nelson’s move to pull The Jefferson Lies from the shelves became public.
Not only is Barton’s claim about me false, the narrative he constructs appears to be designed to obscure what really happened. The Jefferson Lies was not doomed by political correctness, but rather by the deficiencies identified by conservative critics and reviewers. Conservative scholar Jay Richards came to us due to the merits of our work, not because we recruited him. In turn, Richards did not act alone in the effort to bring peer review to The Jefferson Lies. 
For some reason, those who commissioned Richards apparently did not follow through in a vigorous manner on the information they received. This is a part of the story as yet untold.
This misrepresentation of recent history is just the first of many issues from the second edition of The Jefferson Lies I will explore in the coming months.
 

Mark Driscoll Appears on James Robison's Life Today Show; Also Appears on T-Shirt

I guess moving out of celebrity status is hard.
Mark Driscoll appeared as a guest on James Robison’s show today discussing Driscoll’s  book A Call to Resurgence. The interview was tame compared to his interview with Janet Mefferd back in November 2013.  As you can see from the transcript, Robison didn’t bring up any uncomfortable issues.
In mid-March, Driscoll said he would be doing “very few media appearances, if any.” Until Easter, Driscoll’s live preaching was mostly to staff. I wonder if the Robison show was one of “very few” appearances or is the media blackout now over.
Driscoll also recently appeared on a t-shirt:

Note the “Pastor Mark Driscoll” next to Saves. At least Jesus got top billing.