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.