At the Altar of Baal: American Evangelical “Leaders” Confuse Politics for Faith

At the Altar of Baal: American Evangelical “Leaders” Confuse Politics for Faith August 29, 2018

Mark 10:42-45 AMP “Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their powerful men exercise authority over them [tyrannizing them]. 43 But this is not how it is among you; instead, whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wishes to be first and most important among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

Just meditate on those words, for a bit. Consider that the only perfect, sinless man in the history of humanity did not exalt himself. He came to be a servant, the ransom for many, because the serving is greater than being served.

Jesus had every reason to boast, but did not. For Christians, that should be the model, not only for our own lives, but in our leadership. Braggarts, profaners, adulterers, the proud and abusive are anathema to the example of Christ.

I told you about the Monday night White House dinner, where President Trump hosted about 100 evangelical “leaders.”

During that time, Trump boasted of things he has not done (like get rid of the Johnson Amendment), and attempted to whip up fears by claiming there would be violence and bloodshed in the streets, if these leaders did not get out and do their duty, to assure Republicans won the midterms.

“The level of hatred, the level of anger is unbelievable,” he said. “Part of it is because of some of the things I’ve done for you and for me and for my family, but I’ve done them. … This Nov. 6 election is very much a referendum on not only me, it’s a referendum on your religion, it’s a referendum on free speech and the First Amendment.”

If the GOP loses, he said, “they will overturn everything that we’ve done and they’ll do it quickly and violently, and violently. There’s violence. When you look at Antifa and you look at some of these groups — these are violent people.”

While recognizing that the Antifa movement is a movement of thugs and should be labeled domestic terrorism, what Trump is pushing here is ridiculous.

I wanted to revisit this issue and bring you more from Monday night, because I’m so convinced that those who are supposed to be leaders of Christianity in America are very much now turning a blind eye to their faith, in order to gain access to political power.

Luke 20:46-47 NLT “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. 47 Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be severely punished.”

Along with the president and Vice President Pence were well-known evangelical figures, such as Franklin Graham, James Dobson, Robert Jeffress, and Greg Laurie.

Some of the other lies pushed (and gobbled up without question by the attendees, grateful just to be included in this cult meeting):

The president went on about how his administration has taken several steps to protect religious liberty for conservatives who object to things like abortion or gay marriage, his administration’s pro-life victories and how the administration has spoken out about worldwide religious persecution.

If by “pro-life victories” he means continuing to funnel big tax bucks to Planned Parenthood, ok. Sure.

As for speaking out against “worldwide religious persecution,” that is easy. Anyone can say a word against it.

George W. Bush, as president, traveled to China and prayed with house church leaders, openly, and called on the government to stop their oppression of Christians and let them worship, without fear of persecution.

Trump has pushed the notion that his executive order that basically called for lawmakers to look the other way, should houses of worship in America choose to act as campaign headquarters for a specific candidate was the same as ending the Johnson Amendment. To him, that’s a win.

Meanwhile, let’s forget that politics is a divisive subject, and not at all Kingdom-focused. What happens when pastors start pushing their politics from the pulpit, rather than the Word of God, and then their witness and work for the community suffers, due to dwindling numbers?

It’s a risk they take to honor man over God.

And speaking of honoring man, that’s really all Monday night was about. It wasn’t to honor the evangelical leaders. It was to give them a chance to lay offerings of praise at the orange altar of Baal.

This is what Trump wants from everyone, and it is disgusting that so-called Christian leaders are the ones willing to give it to him.

“The support you have given me has been incredible but I really don’t feel guilty because I have given you a lot back — just about everything I promised,” Trump said. “As one of our great pastors just said, ‘Actually, you have given us much more than you have promised.’ And I think that is true.”

Shorter Trump: I deserve your praise.

If you’re a Christian, or even if you’re not. That statement should shake you.

There is no grace or modesty in Trump, and these “leaders” took everything he said, unquestioning, because the meal was lavish and for the mere price of their witness, they get to say they had dinner with the president.

Before the dinner, Trump met privately with a small handful of evangelical leaders and their wives including Texas megachurch pastor Jack Graham, Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell Jr. and the American Association of Christian Counselors’ Tim Clinton. Florida televangelist Paula White and her son also reportedly joined the small gathering.

Also at the event:

Other notable evangelicals who attended the meeting include Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, conservative radio host Eric Metaxas, televangelist Kenneth Copeland, megachurch Pastor Jentezen Franklin, Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Ralph Reed, Maryland Bishop Harry Jackson, San Diego megachurch Pastor Jim Garlow, former Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd and Hispanic evangelical leader the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez.

Take note of these names. They’ve rendered their good deeds to mere rags. Treat them, accordingly.

So I mentioned that this wasn’t so much to honor those evangelical leaders for their part in making an abusive, profane, hateful, adulterous, and unrepentant man an idol for the American Christian church. Jack Graham noted that the mic was open, so these pastors and evangelical icons could come lay their crowns at the feet of the king.

“They were getting up and saying what we appreciate and care about, expressing our faith and our love. It was very similar to a meeting that you would have at a church,” Graham said, adding that it was like a testimony meeting. “With that many preachers and Christian leaders in the room, we believe the spirit of God was very present. Scripture was shared, verses were given to the president. The truth was delivered and love was delivered.”

“We need to maintain our vigilance in the upcoming days. The concern is that this is a spiritual warfare, this is a battle and ultimately battle is won on our knees,” Graham said. “It is very clear, we voiced to the president that we need to pray, pray for him, pray for our country.”

I’m all about praying for our country and praying for our leaders, but to do it in this context, I have a hard time believing this was the spirit-filled event they would have us believe.

Focus on the Family big wheel, Dr. James Dobson, was also eager to give breathless praise for the mobster-in-chief.

“I have served five presidents in the past 38 years and this was perhaps the most exciting event in that time,” Dobson said. “The president spoke first and thanked us generously for the support we have given to him and his Administration since his inauguration. At least 15 ministers and leaders then rose to thank Mr. Trump for keeping his promises during the campaign and since his inauguration.”

“Great appreciation was expressed for defending the sanctity of human life, for preserving religious liberty, for the quality of judges appointed, for his defense of Israel, for his support of the military, for ending the Johnson Amendment that had denied the church freedom of speech, and many other issues for which we are grateful,” Dobson added.

So much bull. He didn’t end the Johnson Amendment and the Johnson Amendment was meant to keep politics out of the pulpit. Pastors shouldn’t have to be told that. The day the Sabbath is just another day to push worldly solutions over teaching the Word of God – the day we’re called to keep holy, in honor of God – that is the day you can surely proclaim that the Father’s face has turned away from this nation.

“Many in attendance pledged their intention to help get out the vote for the midterm elections. There were heartfelt prayers for the president and the first lady, and also for Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, who were also in attendance. It was a moving and encouraging gathering, I think for the invitees and also for our president.”

You’ve lost your mind, Dobson.

And no, whatever you do, don’t assume this meeting was to distract from the really awful week Trump had last week, as Graham pointed out.

“I know some are saying that given the events of last week, the president is just trying to get his boys together. This has been planned for a minimum of six weeks,” Graham said, admitting that the event was “timely” given the “very tough week last week.”

“In providence in the plan of God, this was planned weeks ago,” Graham said. “Tonight was the night and it was a very special night with a very special leader and his wife with some great people in that room who are working hard for our churches and our communities.”

No. It was a lot of leaders more concerned with power than their witness to the world.

The chaff is being separated from the wheat, and no one should question why there is so little ground being won by American evangelicals. The so-called leaders have forgotten that there is an eternal life after this one. Creating cults for the purpose of exalting a man is not a soul-winning strategy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Steven Andrew

    I can’t think of one, single redeeming characteristic that Trump has. He’s not a genocidal monster, so he’s not in the same ugly class with Hitler or Stalin. But outside of that, he doesn’t have one single decent trait on Earth. He’s not particularly good at anything, in fact he’s terrible at most things this job requires, and he’s so conceited and arrogant and clueless that it’s hard to believe it’s not some kind of performance art.

  • GotMyLoveGlassesOn

    I agree.

  • Ellen Elmore

    It is so sad to see these former powerful Christian leaders lose their credibility because of their idol worship of Trump. Trump is a self-serving, crude, narcissistic, ego-maniac, who is a pathological liar, a serial cheater and abuser of women. And these Christian leaders are still willing to support him. Power is an addiction and they are hooked on Trump.

  • GotMyLoveGlassesOn

    The Bible talks about a period of falling away…

  • Polarbearpapa

    Their worship of the golden calf will bring many to judgment …

    I refuse to follow the words or actions of these leaders…

    I pray for my brothers and sisters all across America who do not understand why their leaders have deserted them to follow after a mere man …I pray they do not lose faith in Our Heavenly Father and our precious Savior Jesus because of these people …

  • GotMyLoveGlassesOn

    There needs to be revival in the American church.

  • IllinoisPatriot

    Before there can be a revival, there has to be a recognition that the Church has fallen to idolatry and sinfulness and that a revival is necessary.

    I think Trump is proving the need for a revival. Those that recognize the need and that the Church has fallen will be the ones that will revive the Church.

    Those that follow Trump into sinfulness will be unmasked and will become irrelevant – with no credibility with which to subvert the coming revival.

    It’s all in God’s hands – the only hands I trust to hold my future and that of my country.

  • Jessie Collingsworth Yao

    The ‘cult’ has taken over . Woe to those who call themselves Christian and most certainly leaders off the flock who have fallen into this Trump Hell. God is watching and He is not pleased. Judgement will come . Ellen Elmore summed it up well in her comment.

    One of your best articles Susan.

  • GotMyLoveGlassesOn

    Thank you.

  • Brandon

    A prayer breakfast that includes some of those attendees would best be held sans prayer.

  • chemical

    He’s not particularly good at anything, in fact he’s terrible at most things this job requires…

    I half agree. Trump is particularly good at demagoguery. He riles up the rabble pretty well, and gets them to the polling stations.

  • Roger Morris

    American Evangelicals jumped into bed with Trump in an attempt to maintain their waning power, prestige, and hegemonic influence and control in American society. History will show that, in fact, getting entangled with Trump was the catalyst for the complete demise of American Evangelism. And not a moment too soon.

    Siding with Trump has unmasked Evangelicals as gullible, self-serving, blind followers who will credulously believe any tripe from the plainly worst example of a corrupt narcissist, as long as he pleads that he is ‘one of them’ and will give them what they want.

  • SemperFi56

    There you go again Susan, another wonderful truthful article

  • SemperFi56

    True. God will not be mocked

  • Widuran

    Trump has a big head and I understand the article and he does blow his own TRUMPet

    But to be fair he has advanced some Christian principles and more so then Hilary would of.

    Defunding Planned Parenthood was an excellent move. Calling Islamists Radicals is correct. Moving the Israelie US embassy to Jerusalem is right. But I agree he has done many things wrong and the Evangelical Church must be very careful.

    We must pray for the Trump Administration to come to true repentance and faith in Christ. Things will then improve even more.

  • rreese

    He defunded PP? When?

  • Widuran

    The administration did nothing?

  • Cecil Lewis

    This is a true statement. I am still stunned some of my brothers in Christ support him still. I saw a truck with Jesus fish and a trump sticker…. “Sad”

  • PuzzledinPeoria

    Wow. What a laserlike statement of truth. I am shocked at a couple of names who were there. I thought they had more sense. It all boils down to this: If a Democrat possessed the type of character and behaved as Trump does, these evangelicals would be turning themselves inside out. Idolatry of a person and idolatry of power are still idolatry. This is the most biblical description of this bizarre phenomenon I have read to date.

  • stanmoody

    As for Dobson, are we just now finding out? “Focus on Jesus, and you will find the family

  • Silverwolf13

    Planned Parenthood prevents more abortions than it provides, through offering contraceptive care and prenatal care. By contrast, “pro-life” crusaders are hypocrites who promote policies that will reduce contraceptive care, sex education, and prenatal care, thus increasing the number of abortions but driving it underground so that they can feel holy.

    And have you noticed the number of “pro-life” groups that campaign against air and water pollution that causes birth defects and spontaneous abortions (miscarriages)? Neither have I.

    “Pro-life” groups almost all support the Republican Party, despite the fact that the court that decided Roe v. Wade had a majority of Republican appointees, as every Supreme Court since. For four years during the GW Bush administration and during the Trump administration, Republicans have controlled the Supreme Court, the presidency, and both houses of Congress, yet there has never been any legislation to ban abortions even introduced. Are “pro-lifers” just stupid for continuing to back a party that has repeatedly shown that it has no interest in the legislation they supposedly want? No, because the “pro-life” movement is solely about political power and has nothing to do with the survival of fetuses.

  • gimpi1

    I have to say, from an outsiders perspective, the way religious celebrities are fawning over the Trump administration gives new meaning to the phrase, “tarnishing your witness.” Honestly, I would have trouble taking anyone seriously as a moral authority, spiritual teacher or honorable person, if they pandered to Mr. Trump and applauded while he lied. Can people understand that? How can I expect to hear some spiritual truth about from those who care so little about factual truth? How can I look for lessons about kindness from people who support casual cruelties and bullying? What are those of us on the outside looking in supposed to think?

  • Jen Rockwell

    I’m not sure who you are Susan Wright or who you think you are but I rebuke your article in the Name of Jesus. You are not speaking truth and, while I think you should tread lightly when speaking out against these evangelical leaders, I don’t even take them into account when I can tell you that your article is riddled with opinions that make my spidey senses tingle. My spiritual gifting is discernment and I’m firing on all cylinders after reading your article.

  • nanajahn

    some of the comments – NO rants here are unbelievable !!! Ellen Elmore did you come up with all those accusations on your own or get much help from msm ? Silverwolf most PP facilities do not provide cancer screenings or other testing, pre-natal care etc. PP was started as a means to eliminate people of color. Read some of Margaret Sanger’s writings – all about eugenics. Now PP is all about $$ from abortions to the selling of whole babies to dissecting them to sell their parts – heinous !! What you obviously do not know is that the court decision to pass R v. W was based on perjured testimony. Until her death a year ago Norma McCorvey expressed regret about being pressured by a group of left feminists zealots. Plz get informed. Much of the responsibility for the state of our nation falls in the laps of “Christians” who sat in their pews – never registered & never voted. The 2012 election less than 1/2 of “evangelicals” were registered to vote & fewer than half of then voted. So we ended up with 4 more years of obama – probably the greatest fraud ever perpetrated on this country. The number of Christians who voted for Clinton both times is appalling – Ellen, you can add all the derogatory names you attached to the President to Clinton + a multitude more – pedophile is a Huge one – how many trips to Orgy Island ??? So would you rather have had HRC as President ? If you say, yes, then you are truly lacking in awareness & knowledge. Sadly most of you are condemning what you do not know & are babbling without fact. The Evangelical – Pentecostals pastors meeting with him, talking to him, praying for & with him Do Not Worship him. He is seen as a person who can be reasoned with and be willing to reverse some horrific anti-Christian trends from past admins. Does it trouble you that he had all the muslim prayer rugs & junk removed/purged from the White House and that they have weekly Bible studies that he, the Cabinet & other senior staff attend ???? Right, you probably didn’t know !!! Do any of you know his spiritual history ??? Oh, you probably didn’t think he had one. Here’s a verse that may apply well to him – ” raise up a child in the way he should go & when he is old, he will not depart from it “. Thank you, God, that Everyone is Redeemable in your eyes !!! Sad other “Christians” don’t agree.

  • Chorbais Dichault

    The article says the mixing of religion with right-wing politics is tantamount to idolatry. That case could be made, but it would apply equally to the mixing of religion with left-wing politics. So, all those Progressive (read: Marxist) Christian columnists here on Patheos are just as guilty as the Christian supporters of Trump they criticize.

    Now, it may well be that the teachings of Jesus are a better fit with left-wing than right-wing politics; I personally think that is so, for many of the sayings attributed to him sound very Commie-Lefty. However, a mixture of religion with politics is still a mixture, even if the fit is good. The words about motes and planks in one’s eyes, also attributed to him in the NT (though they have precedent in the Jewish sources), come to mind.

    What will it be, then? Worldly temptations whether of Left or Right, or the call of the 1st-century Hippie-Guru to pursue a “kingdom not of this world”? The two sides of the same coin have opted for this world…

  • RebeccaSusanWright

    These are men. They are not gods.
    Yeah. My ‘Spidey sense’ is tingling here, too.
    And you may think your spiritual gift is discernment, but if you can approve of what went on here – likely because you’re a Trump fan and think that what he says about what he deserves is true – then you need to see if you can get an exchange on that gift, because it’s malfunctioning.

  • RebeccaSusanWright

    He hasnt defunded Planned Parenthood. I’m not sure why people keep saying that, even though the man just signed a bill that would give them half a billion dollars of taxpayer money.

  • RebeccaSusanWright

    NO!
    The massive spending bill they just passed provided a half a billion to PP.
    That money would have been much better spent on funding community health centers or pregnancy centers.

  • RebeccaSusanWright

    Personally, I rejected Hillary Clinton in 2016 for the same reason I rejected Trump – lack of character so grave that it was appalling to my Christian sensibilities.
    There were no ‘Muslim prayer rugs’ or anything of that sort ‘purged’ from the WH, because they were not there. You’re getting all your info from conspiracy sites and memes online and then regurgitating them as fact.
    Trump also never attends those prayer meetings at the WH. He only calls those pastors in when he needs a photo-op, in order to further hook the gullible rubes.

  • Widuran

    That is far too much money to this vile organisation. If true.

  • nanajahn

    Amazing how you can make presumptions about someone. I don’t know any “conspiracy” sites & am not regurgitating anything. There was a Muslim prayer room in the WH. The President does attend Bible studies. Did you know in God’s eyes that Everyone is redeemable ? For He would that none (includes the President & his family) would perish. Perhaps it would do well for you to encourage people to pray for him rather than be harshly judgemental. Where were you when black pastors, leaders & their lemmings were bowing at Obama’s feet ? His “pastor” said he was conflicted about his religion. Maybe that’s why he wore a ring that said in Arabic, allah is god & allah is great. I have no interest in further chat with you.

  • Martin

    Wow. Jennifer, it’s just tragic that you feel such a sense of power and discernment but show almost as clearly as possible the opposite. True followers of Christ are to be salt and light. Speaking out against those who claim to lead while actually following, and following a person who has clearly demonstrated values and beliefs contrary to biblical teaching, is exactly what we should be doing.