Peter Montgomery's blog

Flashback: New Trump Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway at the RNC

As part of the Trump campaign’s latest shake-up, which brought in Breitbart’s Steve Bannon as chief executive, Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway was named campaign manager. During the Republican National Convention, Conway spoke on a panel at an event organized by the American Conservative Union; her remarks there give some indication of how she views Trump and this year’s campaign. Of course, her comments were made before Trump’s recent drop in the polls.

Conway was introduced as a “pollstress” who serves on ACU’s board and as a senior adviser to Mike Pence, and she reminded people that she had also run a pro-Ted Cruz super PAC.

Conway said Obama’s rising approval rating is “not relevant” to the campaign, because his ratings on specific issues like national security and the economy were under 50 percent. “Cool is not transferable,” she said. Obama does not, she said, have a mandate from the American people for his “decidedly left-of-center agenda.” Neither, she said, does Clinton. She said most Americans are opposed to Obamacare and that as more problems emerge in the state exchanges, Republicans should be going after it hard.

Conway said there is little ideological diversity within the Democratic party and that has made its leaders disconnected from average Americans:

Where are the boll weevil Democrats? Where are the blue dog Democrats? Where are the pro-life Democrats? Where are the pro-Second-Amendment Democrats? They are gone, particularly at the federal level…When you don’t have that in your membership, in your elected officials, particularly at the federal level, you forget that the country doesn’t agree with you. And I think that’s what’s happened to the modern Democratic Party. As it has shifted leftward, completely unrecognizable from Bill Clinton’s Democratic Party ... they believe they’ve shifted in response to the country, but that’s not true.

Conway said that while Clinton has built a traditional campaign, Trump built a movement and has done a good job at making people feel like they are part of it. People believe, she said, that he’s making a sacrifice to make this run. She believed that Trump family operations like The Apprentice reality TV show and Ivanka’s clothing line have helped him tap in the cultural zeitgeist. And she praised his use of direct language, like complaining during the primary of a “rigged, corrupt system” that was robbing people of their votes.

Conway said that Trump is the first national politician in a long time to talk to people who are hurting economically. The Republican Party she said, had become “dangerously close to becoming the party of the elites,” but Trump has moved it to becoming “the party of the worker.”

“We need to be the party of the job holders,” she said, not just the wealthy job creators.

Conway said that a year or a year and a half earlier, she had said in response to a question that her major criterion for the GOP candidate was that he be “unapologetically, unflinchingly unafraid” of the Clintons and their networks—“all the king’s horses, all the king’s men, all their money, all their stock, all their lies, all their corruption, all their distortions, all their name-calling.” Trump is not afraid of them, she said, and voters find him refreshing. And they like that he “occupies rented space in Hillary Clinton’s head.”


‘God’s Guy’: 25 Religious Right Justifications For Supporting Donald Trump

As we have noted, most Religious Right leaders supported Ted Cruz in the Republican presidential primary, while Trump’s “amen corner” consisted primarily of prosperity gospel preachers (like Paula White, who says Trump is “hungry in his heart” for God) and dominionist “prophets” and “apostles.”

One of the latter, Mike Thompson of Las Vegas, said in April that this is the first time in American history that the “Apostles and Prophets are the primary driving force behind the presidential election.” Thompson said that the Lord has “bypassed the controlling spirits of both parties”—the left’s “antichrist” nature and the Religious Right’s “spirit of the Pharisees”—“and brought in one (Trump) who can topple their cushy lairs and debilitating influence.” Lou Comunale, a self-identified “analyst of news and biblical prophecy,” says “this election cycle is so unlike anything we’ve ever seen” because “God’s hand is upon Trump and the forces of evil have been trying to stop him.

Since Trump’s primary victory, most Religious Right leaders have rallied to his side, with a few notable holdouts. Some are backing Trump because, as former Obama faith advisor Michael Wear has said, “disliking Hillary Clinton is basically a supplement to the Nicene Creed for many evangelicals.” Some are justifying their support for Trump based on the political calculation that his policies and Supreme Court nominees will be more likely than Hillary Clinton’s to advance the Religious Right’s political agenda, including opposition to abortion. But there have also been a range of religious justifications offered for Trump’s candidacy. As Brian reported, so many religious leaders have suggested that Trump is, in David Barton’s words, “God’s guy,” that the Christian Broadcasting Network’s Jenna Browder recently asked him directly whether he thought God had chosen him.

Here are just some of the religious arguments made on Trump’s behalf:

1. God is using Trump to pave the way for the Second Coming

Frank Amedia, a pastor who has been serving as Trump’s “Christian policy” liaison, said that God told him personally last year that Trump would win the GOP nomination and help pave the way for the Second Coming. Amedia also suggested that only God could explain how Trump has survived all his blunders:

And the Lord spoke very clearly to me, and he said to me, ‘This man is going to win the nomination and I want you to be ready to serve my cause when I call you.’…In this instance, it’s not because Donald Trump has heralded his faith or the name of God, but the Lord has put His favor upon him, and how amazing it is that the favor of God can overcome so many mistakes, so many bumbles, so many things that otherwise we would think would destroy somebody in business, destroy them in politics, destroy them in relationships. But yet it’s very evident it was the will of the Lord to do this and here we sit now.


2. God is using Trump to get pastors to fight for religious freedom

Pastor Michael Anthony, president of Godfactor and founder of the National Week of Repentance, attended Trump’s June meeting with evangelicals and said he is convinced God is using Trump to move Christians to act to defend their religious freedom. “I think God was speaking through him at that moment, to the church, to tell us why are you being silent about the most important thing about your lives?”

3. Trump could make America worthy of God’s blessing

The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins was a big Ted Cruz backer and has publicly been a somewhat reluctant supporter of Donald Trump. He told radio host Sandy Rios that Trump has made plenty of mistakes, but that if he “walks in that grace that is available” and surrounds himself with good people, he could “cast a vision that moves America back to the country that honors God again and therefore would be a recipient of His blessing.”

4. Trump would make America friendlier to Israel

Many conservative evangelicals have embraced a theological approach to Middle East policy, interpreting Bible verses to suggest that in order to enjoy God’s blessing, America must unconditionally support the Israeli government. Says Pastor John Hagee, head of Christians United For Israel, “we have a mandate from the Bible and that mandate is to be supportive of Israel and the Jewish people.” Even though Trump said earlier this year that he would be “neutral” regarding the Israel-Palestine dispute (a position he later backed away from), right-wing leaders have long denounced Obama as an enemy of Israel. The Times of Israel notes that Hagee, “has all but endorsed Trump by name.” Indeed, Hagee told his viewing audience that God would hold them accountable for their vote, saying, “I’m not going to vote for the party that has betrayed Israel for the past seven years.”  Hagee has complained that “three million evangelicals did not vote in the past election,” saying “God forbid that happen again. We are going to storm the voting booths of America this time around.”

5. Trump will make Christianity more powerful

Trump himself has made this pitch to Religious Right leaders, pledging at a closed door meeting with hundreds of Religious Right leaders in June that he will do away with the legal ban on churches doing overt electoral politicking, which Trump said “has taken a lot of power away from Christianity and other religions.” The Atlantic’s Emma Green said his proposal “would make churches the new Super PACs.” Trump mentioned his pledge to do away with the “Johnson Amendment” in his acceptance of the Republican nomination, and it was also the focus of his remarks at an August gathering in Orlando organized by the American Renewal Project’s David Lane, a Christian nationalist political operative. “I’m going to choose to believe that Donald Trump can be one of the top four presidents in American history,” Lane said in an email to 100,000 pastors. Lane is reportedly planning to spend $18 million “to mobilize evangelical voters in battleground states to support Trump and the rest of the GOP ticket.”

6. God likes ‘strongman’ rulers

Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress, one of Trump’s strongest Religious Right allies and a member of the campaign’s evangelical advisory board, declared that it is “biblical” to support a “strongman” to lead the government. Jeffress said he would run “as far as possible” from a candidate who said he would govern according to the principles of the Sermon on the Mount. “Nowhere is government told to forgive those who wrong it, nowhere is government told to turn the other cheek. Government is to be a strongman to protect its citizens against evildoers. When I’m looking for somebody who’s going to deal with ISIS and exterminate ISIS, I don’t care about that candidate’s tone or vocabulary, I want the meanest, toughest, son of a you-know-what I can find, and I believe that’s biblical.”

7. Trump has a ‘mantle of government’ anointing

Seven Mountains advocate Lance Wallnau declared that "God has given this man an anointing for the mantle of government in the United States and he will prosper!" Wallnau has dedicated a section of his website to explaining why “Trump is the guy that God is going to use.” The term “mantle” in the Bible referred to an outer cloak, and is frequently used metaphorically by apostolic Christians to mean a spiritual “covering” or authority, also called an anointing.

8. Trump has an ‘Elijah mantle’

Wallnau: "Donald Trump's got this like Elijah mantle on him.” In the biblical book of 2 Kings, the prophet Elijah passed both his physical cloak and spiritual authority to his disciple Elisha when Elijah was taken to heaven in a flaming chariot. The reference to Elijah’s mantle is another way for Wallnau to express his belief that Trump is carrying out a divine mission. Elisha also seems to have had a Trumpish temperament when it comes to accepting criticism; the Bible reports that when some boys jeered at him and called him Baldy, he called down a curse on them and two bears came out of the nearby woods and mauled 42 of the boys.

9. Trump has a Cyrus anointing

“Donald Trump is more prophetic than people think,” Wallnau has said. “There is a Cyrus anointing on this man. He is like a Reformer in secular garb." In a video posted on his Facebook page following a meeting between Trump and religious leaders, Wallnau recounted telling Trump that he would become the 45th president of the United States because he has a "Cyrus anointing" upon him as proclaimed in Isaiah 45, referring to the Persian king who freed the Jews from captivity. “And I believe God had put His hand on you as a Cyrus to be a governor and that the Bible talks about this critical 45th chapter, as the 45th president, it is the decisive moment in American history for leadership,” Wallnau said. He has also explained his Cyrus theory in an interview with Steven Strang.

Jeremiah Johnson also compared Trump to Cyrus in Charisma last year, delivering this message from the Holy Spirit:

Trump shall become My trumpet to the American people, for he possesses qualities that are even hard to find in My people these days. Trump does not fear man nor will he allow deception and lies to go unnoticed. I am going to use him to expose darkness and perversion in America like never before, but you must understand that he is like a bull in a china closet. Many will want to throw him away because he will disturb their sense of peace and tranquility, but you must listen through the bantering to discover the truth that I will speak through him. I will use the wealth that I have given him to expose and launch investigations searching for the truth. Just as I raised up Cyrus to fulfill My purposes and plans, so have I raised up Trump to fulfill my purposes and plans prior to the 2016 election...

Note: In February Johnson said his prophecy had been misunderstood and that it did not mean Trump would become president, simply that it provided “prophetic insight and direction for the body of Christ,” something Johnson also said about the prophetic dream he had in which the Holy Spirit told him, “Marco Rubio is carrying a Thomas Jefferson anointing for this generation. He will break the back of tyrants and restore the patriotic spirit in America.” It must be said, the Holy Spirit gives Johnson a lot of messages about Republican politicians, telling him in May that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is “my Esther of the hour.”

10. Trump has a ‘breaker anointing’

Trump “Christian policy” adviser Frank Amedia told Steven Strang that there is “a skirmish going on” in the “heavenlies” right now that “is the beginnings of the preparation of the way of the coming of the Lord.” As part of this preparation for the Second Coming, he said, a “breaker anointing” has taken place, giving Trump the power to break up “established norms” that have not served the “Kingdom of God.” Amedia said, “I perceive that Donald Trump has been raised up with that breaker anointing to just begin to crush all of the strangleholds that have been placed upon this country.”

11. Trump is a divine ‘wrecking ball to the spirit of political correctness’

Wallnau has said God told him specifically that Trump is “a wrecking ball to the spirit of political correctness.” Mike Thompson “says that the Lord began speaking to him around 2005 about certain spirits attempting to control America,” writes Lou Comunale, who adds, “PLEASE NOTE: The spirits that he identifies below [Jezebel and Pariseeism] are manifested in the land through Political Correctness!

12. God has picked Trump to ‘beat down the walls of the New World Order’

Rick Wiles aired his “Trunews” radio show from a Trump rally in Kissimmee, Florida, in August. Wiles was excited about Trump accusing President Obama and Hillary Clinton of having founded the terrorist group ISIS (this was before Trump described the comments as sarcasm). “Donald Trump is telling the truth: Obama and Clinton are behind ISIS. This is what ‘Trunews’ has said for years,” Wiles said, adding later in the show, “It’s like he’s a battering ram, it’s like God has picked him up and used him as a battering ram to beat down the walls of the New World Order.”

13. Trump is fulfilling a 2011 prophecy that he will fight Satan

In April, “Trunews” host Rick Wiles invited self-proclaimed prophet Mark Taylor on to his End Times news program to discuss “his amazing 2011 prophecy that Donald Trump has been marked by God to lead America.” Taylor, a retired firefighter, explained that God told him that Donald Trump will be the next president and that anyone who criticizes him will be struck down, explaining that God has been preparing Trump for his entire life to become an extraordinarily successful president who will fight Satan. “The kingdom of darkness is attacking this man like never before,” Taylor said. “God is using this man—he’s not rattling the gates, because when you rattle the gates you don’t make entry—this man is literally splitting the kingdom of darkness right open.”

14. Trump is fulfilling a 2012 prophecy that he will bulldoze the White House

In January, Lou Comunale published a YouTube video (which now has more than 400,000 views) promoting a videotape he uncovered of late “prophet” John Paul Jackson interpreting a woman’s dream in 2012. A key element in the dream was a big bulldozer going “right through the White House just like it was a deck of cards.” “Only when you look at it now,” says Comunale “does it look like he’s actually talking about Donald J. Trump in the White House.”

15. Trump is a ‘baby Christian’

James Dobson said in June that Trump, having recently come into “relationship with Christ,” was now “a baby Christian” who “appears to be tender to things of the Spirit.” Dobson said, “I know the person who led him to Christ. And that’s fairly recent.”

16. Trump is like Jesus (and Martin Luther King and Jerry Falwell)

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. is one of Trump’s strongest supporters on the Christian Right. When he introduced Trump on campus in January, Falwell compared Trump to his father, who was proud to be “politically incorrect,” and to Jesus and Martin Luther King, who said radical and unpopular things that upset the religious and political establishment.

17. Trump is like King David

During the primaries, Falwell responded to evangelicals who were critical of his endorsement by saying it’s wrong to be worried about electing the “most righteous” candidate. “God called King David a man after God’s own heart even though he was an adulterer and a murderer,” Falwell said. “You have to choose the leader that would make the best king or president and not necessarily someone who would be a good pastor. We’re not voting for pastor-in-chief. It means sometimes we have to choose a person who has the qualities to lead and who can protect our country and bring us back to economic vitality, and it might not be the person we call when we need somebody to give us spiritual counsel.”

18. Trump is like Saul/Paul

At Liberty Counsel’s “The Awakening” conference in March, televangelist James Robison literally screamed at participants that they must vote even if Trump was not their preferred candidate.  Robison said he hoped that people who are close to Trump, like Falwell and Jeffress, will lead him to a “road to Damascus experience” like that described in the biblical story of Saul, who persecuted Christians but who became Paul the evangelist after an encounter with the risen Jesus. For the world to see God transform someone “who so obviously needs changing,” said Robison, would demonstrate God’s power even more effectively than if the Religious Right had been able to play kingmaker and get their preferred candidate the nomination.

19. Trump is like Samson

Anti-Islam extremist Walid Shoebat has decried Trump critics as “scum” and mocked Fox News’s Megyn Kelly as a “Delilah” sent by Trump’s enemies to try to take him down. “I thought that while this Samson (Trump) sinned, he must have God’s blessings since he is destined for a purpose.” Shoebat said Trump’s rejection of the GOP’s “autopsy report” was a sign that perhaps “God finally intervened.” Samson and Delilah are another scriptural reference, this time from the book of Judges. Samson was a warrior granted super-human strength by God; his unshaven hair was a sign of his commitment to God. But the duplicitous Delilah badgered him into revealing his secret and shaved his head while he was sleeping, allowing him to be captured by the Philistines. God eventually granted him the strength to bring down the pillars supporting the Philistines’ temple, killing himself and thousands of them. 

20. Trump is like Churchill and Lincoln

Wallnau again: “When God wants to move in history, he doesn’t always pick the favorite evangelical.” He explained that God brought Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill to power at crucial moments in history, and that God is now raising up Trump for our time. He knows this, Wallnau said, because God told him so.

21. Trump is like George Washington

Wallnau again, citing the apocryphal story of George Washington supposedly surviving in battle despite his coat and hat being riddled with bullet holes thanks to the protection of God, told Trump that he too is being protected by God. "You've said things and done things that should have put the equivalent of a bullet in your coat," Wallnau said that he told Trump, "but they've passed through you because of the anointing. God is really watching over you.”

22. Trump is like Oscar Schindler

“The thing is, Trump’s supporters know that Trump is an Oscar Schindler, who did not mind bribing the Nazis to get to do what is good,” says Walid Shoebat. “No President can get elected without playing the game. They know that like Obama, who said he ‘loves Israel’ to only gain votes, Trump has to kiss dogs to get to the seat of power. Smattering of moderate-to-liberal policy positions he will gain the votes from democrats. Just as Obama did it, Trump will do the same trick.”

23. 2016 is a battle between good and evil

In June, Jeffress declared of the 2016 election, “This is not a battle between Republicans and Democrats. It’s a battle between good and evil, righteousness and unrighteousness, light and darkness, and I think it is time for people who say they are conservative Christians to get off the fence and go to the polls and vote their convictions.” Jeffress said that unlike President Obama, who he said “hates” conservative Christians, Trump will be a “true friend in the White House” and “appoint conservative justices to the Supreme Court.” Said Jeffress, “This isn’t about partisan politics. This is about good and evil.”

24. Hillary Clinton is motivated by the spirit of the Antichrist

American Family Association radio host Bryan Fischer declared in August that Hillary Clinton must not be allowed to become president because she is driven by a “profound anti-Christ impulse.” Said Fischer, “Hillary Clinton is motivated by the spirit of the Antichrist because she is against Christ, she is against Christianity, she is against the free exercise of the Christian faith, she doesn’t want the Christian faith to be a part of the public square, to influence public policy in any way, she is against everything that Christianity stands for…She is an opponent of all that is good and right and noble.”

25. God doesn’t want a woman president

In July, white nationalist radio host James Edwards questioned if women should be allowed to vote and suggested that as a woman, Hillary Clinton should not be president because women can’t even be “the ruler of the house under God’s law.” Bryan Fischer said essentially the same thing this month, arguing that there is “a pretty good biblical case” that women should not be entrusted with political leadership.

Bonus: Oops-Not-Cruz-Anointing

Televangelist Kenneth Copeland joined Trump’s Evangelical Executive Advisory Board in June, even though Copeland had declared earlier that Ted Cruz had been “called and anointed” by God to be the next president. (Of course Cruz’s father thought the same thing.)

Happy Birthday, Phyllis Schlafly!

Today is the 92nd birthday of Phyllis Schlafly, the godmother of the right-wing movement in America. Schlafly broke onto the national scene with “A Choice Not an Echo,” her 1964 book making the case for Barry Goldwater, and she solidified her leadership with her successful campaign against the Equal Rights Amendment. Decades later, she helped rally right-wing opposition to President Obama, hosting a “How To Take Back America” conference during his first year in office. She’s still hard at work, leading Eagle Forum and publishing her Phyllis Schlafly Report newsletter, whose June issue argued for putting Trump’s wall—“and yes, Mexico will pay”—in this year’s Republican platform. Mission accomplished.

It hasn’t been the happiest year for Schlafly, who has been embroiled in a power struggle with a group of Eagle Forum board members, including her own daughter. She also lost a trademark lawsuit against her nephew, who makes Schlafly beer.

On the other hand, Schlafly was an early and ardent backer of Donald Trump, standing up for him in the primaries against many of her Religious Right allies and Eagle Forum colleagues. At this year’s Republican National Convention, Schlafly hosted a “Life of the Party” event celebrating that the GOP has been officially anti-abortion since 1976; she told attendees that she endorsed Trump after he pledged loyalty to a pro-life platform. Party attendees were given copies of the most recent of her more than two dozen books, “How the Republican Party Became Pro-Life.” It’s a short paperback that feels as if it was thrown together after having Schlafly tell war stories about her GOP platform battles over the years.

Schlafly spends most of the book recounting stories of pro-life activists’ efforts to strengthen and protect anti-abortion language at every Republican convention since 1976. It includes the successful resistance led by Schlafly, Ralph Reed, Bay Buchanan and Gary Bauer to Bob Dole’s efforts to soften the anti-abortion language in 1996. (I was in San Diego with a People For the American Way team covering that convention; Reed was gleeful about demonstrating his power to humiliate Dole, which may well have contributed to his November defeat.)

After the quick march through convention history, Schlafly moves into a denunciation of “judicial supremacy,” calling on Republicans to repudiate the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. She also calls for nullification of 2015’s marriage equality ruling:

When supremacist judges presume to rewrite portions of our law, most especially if it is a law that we have had for millennia such as our law defining marriage, it’s time for the American people to speak up and say “No” just as Abe Lincoln did when supremacist judges ruled that blacks could be considered another man’s “property.” … All Americans must use every tool in the political process to reject judicial supremacy and return to government by “we the people.”

The book includes a short afterword by Kristan Hawkins, presidents of Students for Life, who calls Schlafly “a great American hero” and celebrates that, thanks to Schlafly and “her army,” there is today “no national Republican candidate who dares be anything other than pro-life!” The final 70 pages of the book, more than half its total length, is devoted to an appendix of anti-abortion and anti-marriage-equality references in Republican platforms and resolutions and excerpts from the 2012 platform.

Earlier this year, Schlafly urged Republican senators to hold firm in refusing to consider a Supreme Court nominee “until we have a Republican who will appoint somebody of the nature of Scalia,” telling her interviewer that the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency made her “scared to death.” Republican senators have done as she asked, and Schlafly got her wish in Cleveland with a solidly right-wing platform and the nomination of Donald Trump. But given what current polls suggest that November will bring, she may want to do her celebrating now.


Is Hillary Clinton The Antichrist Or An Illuminati Witch? Jennifer LeClaire Is Just Asking

That provocative question headlines a new Jennifer LeClaire column for Charisma, which promotes what she calls a “documentary” titled “Hillary Clinton – The Antichrist Or the Illuminati Witch?” LeClaire writes:

I don't believe Hillary is the Antichrist, but the fact that so many people are utterly convinced is telling. The chatter continues. One thing is clear, believers are paying close attention to the signs of the times—including the rise of the Antichrist.

The video, though, does offer some shocking info about Hillary. Check it out for yourself.

“Documentary” is a far too generous term for the incoherent 22-minute mash-up of right-wing, Hillary-hating news clips, interviews and voiceovers that appears on the "End Of The World" YouTube channel.

Disappointingly, the video doesn’t directly address the question of whether Clinton might be the Antichrist. It does recycle conspiracy theories like Clinton’s supposed plan to confiscate everyone’s guns and talks about “that sexual relationship with Huma Abedin that is whispered about in the dark corners of Washington.”

The video includes snippets from Benghazi hearings, attacks on Planned Parenthood and its founder Margaret Sanger, right-wing news coverage of the Clinton’s email problems, and old news clips about the Whitewater scandal. It includes bits of video and audio from some recognizable speakers like Dick Morris, Robert Novak, Phyllis Schlafly, Glenn Beck and Ben Carson. Oddly, it ends with a number of somewhat endearing clips of Clinton gamely dancing with celebrities during speaking appearances like Ellen DeGeneres’s television show.

The most inflammatory comments seem to have been snagged from an Infowars video featuring Larry Nichols, who is identified by Infowars as a former “Clinton machine insider.” Nichols says of Hillary Clinton, “she’s an animal.” He says that when the Clintons were still in Arkansas, Bill told him that Hillary would go to Los Angeles once a month with a group of women to be “part of a witches’ church.”

This is the “documentary” that LeClaire writes is “demanding answers.” What is the question exactly?

Trump Campaign's Latest (?) Easily Refutable Lie

Donald Trump and his campaign lie so frequently that a headline reporting “the latest” is likely to be out of date by the time it's posted. But it is still somewhat remarkable that the campaign tells unnecessary lies that are so easily refuted by publicly available factsa phenomenon we have noted about other right-wing leaders we monitor like “historian” David Barton.

In a Friday morning email from the Trump campaign, which begins, “I’m amazed at the lies the liberal media spews day after day,” Trump lists a number of accomplishments that he says show that “we continue to prove them wrong.” One of the bullet points is this:

  • Pulling off an incredible Republican National Convention, with much higher viewership than the Democrats’ disastrous convention

Some aspects of this might be debatable. Many would agree that the Republican convention was “incredible,” though I suspect not for the same reasons as Trump.

The post-convention polls, which have moved solidly toward Hillary Clinton, seem to undermine the idea that the Democrats’ convention was “disastrous.” In fact, as the Washington Post reported, “A majority of respondents, 51 percent, said they were less likely to vote for Trump after seeing his convention”—the only time that’s ever happened according to data going back to 1984.

What is indisputably false is the claim that the Republican convention had “much higher viewership” than the Democrats. In fact, as it has been widely reported, Democrats drew millions more viewers than Republicans on three out of the four nights, and overall. It’s true that more people watched Trump’s final-night speech than Clinton’s, but that wasn’t good news for Trump, because more people disliked the speech than liked it

NOM To Its Supporters: You're Pathetic

The latest fundraising email from the National Organization for Marriage is not a happy one; it starts with a graphic of the U.S. Capitol and the text, “This is pathetic.”

 The chastising letter from NOM President Brian Brown complains:

NOM began our critical Summer Membership Drive on July 22nd. We're now three weeks into our drive — the halfway point — and we have only received 256 contributions from our members. We're only 17% toward our goal of receiving 1,500 membership contributions of at least $35.

That is pathetic.

Brown goes on to complain that with only a 17 percent participation rate, NOM can’t convince courts to uphold anti-gay “religious liberty” laws, fight President Obama’s “dangerous gender ‘identity’ agenda,” or “lobby the next President and the US Senate to only appoint and confirm Supreme Court justices who will reverse the illegitimate and anti-constitutional ruling redefining marriage.”

Brown, who recently gloated about NOM’s role in defeating a Missouri Republican state legislator who had voted against a constitutional amendment protecting anti-LGBT discrimination, fumed that unless his supporters start forking over cash, “It means that gutless, turncoat legislators who have betrayed marriage with their votes may get away with their treachery.”

Brown just doesn’t understand—he can’t imagine!why people would be unenthusiastic about continuing to support NOM's anti-gay activism:

I really don't believe — I just can't imagine the thought — that NOM's members have quit fighting for the institution of marriage as a union between man and woman. And yet, only 256 of you have responded with an urgently needed membership contribution during this critical period.

I'm going to be blunt: we need 1,500 people to step up with a membership contribution of at least $35 in order to raise the $52,500 we're short so far this year. Without that type of response, we'll have no choice but to lay people off, cut programs and stop pursuing some of our most important work.

Regardless of what kind of response NOM’s shaming email brings in, Brown will have plenty of anti-equality work to keep him busy, as he recently became president of the World Congress of Families, a network of organizations dedicated to resisting LGBT equality and preserving anti-gay discrimination around the world. 

Right Wing Promoting Clinton Conspiracy Theory On Murdered DNC Staffer

Kyle reported on Wednesday that Glenn Beck appeared to be promoting a new conspiracy theory that a murdered Democratic National Committee staffer was killed to keep him from exposing Hillary Clinton emails, or possibly in retaliation for his already having done so. The conspiracy theory, being fanned by Wikileaks’ Clinton-hating Julian Assange over the objections of the victim’s family, is getting wider circulation among right-wing activists.

Today, William Murray’s Government is Not God PAC sent an email with the headline, “Who Had DNC Staffer Killed?” His email linked to a WND story that suggested the staffer was just another victim of the “Clinton machine.”

“Three people with tangential connections to Bill and Hillary Clinton have died in unusual circumstances over the last few weeks,” the article says, “sparking a renewed interested in the so-called 'body count' of people who allegedly got in the way of the ‘Clinton machine.’"

There’s more:

Is there something to the talk of a growing body count, or is it all just in the minds of "conspiracy nuts" who intersect with reality only on rare occasion?

The question was raised in a commentary Tuesday by Rachel Alexander at Townhall.

She cited the recent deaths of Democratic National Committee worker Seth Rich on July 10; Shawn Lucas, who helped serve the DNC with a summons in a fraud allegation, on Aug. 2; and John Ashe, the former president of the United Nations General Assembly, on June 22, just before he was scheduled to begin pretrial meetings "involving shady financial dealings regarding a former Clinton crony."

"Since the Democratic National Committee emails were leaked a few weeks ago, three people associated with the DNC have all been found dead under what could be questionable circumstances," Alexander wrote. "Some – including Bernie Sanders supporters – suspect the Clintons were behind the deaths, just more episodes in the alleged ‘Clinton body count' dating back to the 1990s. 

The WND story cites an earlier story by The Political Insider that claims “46 people who were close to the Clintons have died during their 3 decades of political power,” adding, “That number should give us all pause.”

The idea that the Clintons have routinely had people killed has circulated on the right since at least the earliest days of the Bill Clinton administration, when Jerry Falwell used his Old Time Gospel Hour to hawk videotapes suggesting Clinton was involved in drug smuggling and murder.

Donald Trump has joined in, calling the death of former White House aide Vince Foster “very fishy” and saying “there are people” who bring it up because they think Foster was murdered. As we have reported, Donald Trump is an avid promoter of conspiracy theories, and his followers tend to believe them.  

Desperate Donald Trump Seeks Stronger Support From Christian Nationalists

As his poll numbers plummet, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is doing everything he can to boost enthusiasm for his candidacy among Religious Right leaders and the conservative white evangelical voters who make up an important part of the GOP’s political base.

Trump promised the hundreds of conservative evangelical leaders he met with in June that he would make the Christian Right more politically powerful by doing away with legal restrictions on overt politicking by churches. This week Trump will reportedly be pushing that plan as he heads down the well-trod path to the far corners of Christian nationalism

Trump’s outreach has already gone well beyond Bible-waving and not-very-convincing scripture-quoting. He let Religious Right leaders write an anti-LGBT party platform and he's promised them the Supreme Court of their dreams. He picked as his running mate Mike Pence, an anti-abortion extremist who was the Religious Right’s favored 2012 presidential candidate before he decided to run for governor instead. Trump has even suggested that somehow he’d make people say “Merry Christmas.”

Now, according to news reports, Trump will be joining former foe Marco Rubio and a bevy of anti-gay speakers at a Rediscovering God in America event in Florida this week sponsored by David Lane’s American Renewal Project. Lane has been organizing these political matchmaking sessions for two decades, bringing Republican politicians together with evangelical pastors who Lane hopes will transform their churches into conservative voter turnout machines. Jerry Falwell Jr., Trump’s biggest evangelical booster, reportedly “played a key role in initiating” the appearance in Orlando. 

What is the vision of America that David Lane is pursuing, with Donald Trump and Marco Rubio’s help?

Lane believes that the United States has a covenant with God to advance the Christian faith.  He denounces pluralism, secular government and court rulings upholding the separation of church and state. He wants the Bible to be used as the primary textbook in public schools. He is wildly anti-gay and has demanded the impeachment of judges who rule in favor of marriage equality.

Lane could be drawn to Trump’s for-him-or-against him approach to politics, which fits nicely with Lane’s no-compromise worldview. He wrote last year that “there can be no reconciliation of opposites, particularly the spiritual and the secular. Therefore we need to establish if America is a pagan or Christian nation and get on with it – the sooner the better.”

Trump’s complaint that politicians are “selling Christianity down the tubes” speaks to Lane’s belief that Christians are facing persecution in the United States. On a 2014 trip to Europe he organized for a group of pastors from swing states and presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, Lane drew a comparison between 1930s Nazi Germany and modern-day America.

Lane says America’s descent into secularism and other evils is not only the fault of judges and politicians, but also pastors who don’t preach aggressively enough. He has complained, for example, that there was “not a peep from the Christian church” in response to the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, when he says the church “should have initiated riots, revolution, and repentance.”

As a political operative devoted to getting conservative pastors more engaged in politics, Lane must be thrilled by Trump’s pledge to help churches become more powerful by allowing them to use their tax-exempt contributions as political weapons. Perhaps Lane sees Donald Trump as the answer to this question he once posed: “Who will wage war for the Soul of America and trust the living God to deliver the pagan gods into our hands and restore America to her Judeo-Christian heritage and re-establish a Christian culture?”

Polls suggest that Trump is already doing well among white evangelical voters. But Lane told Bloomberg News that Trump cannot count on endorsements from Christian leaders, and that he needs the kind of direct outreach to pastors that he will be doing in Orlando to “produce a ground game.” Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody, continuing his pattern of acting as Lane’s virtual press agent, gushed that Trump’s plan to show up for Orlando’s Pastors and Pews event shows that he is “well on his way to striking evangelical gold.”

Oak Initiative Wonders If Satan Is Behind The 'Never Trump' Movement

The latest missive, or “Oak Leaf,” from the dominionist Oak Initiative is a scolding “Message to the Never Trump Voters!” from Rick Warzywak, head of Transformation Michigan and state co-director of the Michigan Oak Initiative. Warzywak chastises, “If even the Supreme Court was the only issue to vote for him that should be enough — the  future of your children and grandchildren are at stake. He has given us his pro-life constitutional sound [sic] nominations!”

The Michigan Oak Initiative sponsored a three-day event in June with the theme “America Hanging in the Balance  Election 2016,” which featured the Family Research Council’s Jerry Boykin, a founding board member of the Oak Initiative, as the keynoter.

Warzywak, who identifies himself as a supporter of Ted Cruz and Ben Carson, peppers Never Trump conservatives with a long, long series of questions, among them:

What has Donald Trump personally done to you to not vote for him? Have you picked up an offense from someone? Why are you so critical of this man? … Do you consider him your enemy? Do you believe he hates you; has he cursed you; has he spitefully used you; do you have bitterness in your heart toward him? How should one respond if you are a Christian conservative?

Warzywak uses these questions as set-ups for Bible verses about loving your enemies and forgiving those who have done you wrong. (Of course, Donald Trump’s personal theology is a little different, as he told Liberty University students in 2012: If someone does you wrong, you’ve got to “get even!”)

Warzywak warns, “Accusations, slander, and criticism is what nurtures division, especially in the body of Christ,” and suggests that Never Trump conservatives may be being led astray by Satan: “As a Christian have you ever considered that the enemy of our souls may be deceiving and using those who have hardened their hearts against Trump?”

He never explains why all these same questions might be asked about people who have hardened their hearts against Hillary Clinton, whose Christian faith is well-known, which is also the case with running mate Tim Kaine. Warzywak does say he will continue to pray that Hillary Clinton’s “eyes would be opened,” though he says she and President Obama “have chosen to harden their hearts it appears.”  But he has more hope for Trump, who may be “a babe in Christ.” Writes Warzywak, “With Donald Trump I can see a veil being lifted and his eyes being opened. If we diligently pray for him and stop the accusations, the Scripture below will manifest because he is open to a biblical worldview paradigm.”

Warzywak has more than a few questions for those who say they will vote their conscience:

1.    Does my conscience stand for a conservative pro-life U.S. constitutionally-based Supreme Court (Trump gave us a list of pro-life constitutionally sound judges that he would nominate)?

2.    Does my conscience allow a candidate to take office who would most assuredly nominate liberal judges that would impact my children and grandchildren’s lives for the next forty years (look at Trump’s nominations)?

3.    Does my conscience agree with restoring the rule of law and order in our nation (Trump will restore that)?

4.    Does my conscience agree with protecting Christian liberties, our freedom of speech, and eliminating the 501(c)3 tax status so pastors could speak freely (Trump said he would do all of these)?

5.    Does my conscience realize that our present open borders is allowing in gang cartels, ISIS, and Muslim extremists that endanger all American lives, including my own family possibly (Trump understands)?

6.    Does my conscience allow NO vetting of refugees from nations who are predominantly Muslim (Trump will vet and stop this illegal immigration—Hillary will not and increase immigration)?

7.    Does my conscience see radical Islam as a threat and realize it must be addressed? (According to Ret. Lt. General Jerry Boykin a Cruz campaigner said we must vote for Trump and has Generals advising Trump.)

8.    Does my conscience see the plight of people in our inner cities and jobs needed to bring hope back to all minority groups (policies of last eight years have failed)?

9.    Does my conscience support police, our military, and border agents who need our help and they overwhelmingly support Donald Trump?

10.   Does my conscience realize that Common Core in our educational system is detrimental to our children (Trump would eliminate)?

11.   Does my conscience see that Obamacare is destroying our health care system in America (Trump will repeal and reinvent new strategy)?

12.   Does my conscience see a need to preserve our second amendment as it was designed to stop oppressive government (Trump said he would protect—endorsed by NRA)?

13.   Does my conscience favor Socialism/Globalism or freedom (Hillary is a pure progressive socialist and globalist)?

14.   Does my conscience value having a Christian on the Presidential ticket and Christians advising the President (Pence and a Christian advisory team has been assembled)? Hmmmmmmmmmmm

15.   Does my conscience allow me to judge another person’s heart (Trump) when the Bible says only God looks at the motive and intents of the heart?

Warzywak is a close associate of Lou Engle and organized one of Engle’s “The Call” rallies in Detroit in 2011 to target the Muslim population in nearby Dearborn and the rest of the state. Warzywak is “Prayer Strategy Coordinator” for one of Engle’s projects, the “Moravian Night Watch.” The project recruits teams of people around the country to sign up for time slots between midnight and 6:00 a.m. when they will gather by conference call to pray for a Great Awakening and divine intervention for the nation.

A website about the project’s statement of purpose praises the International House of Prayer movement for promoting a global prayer movement around “the bridal paradigm” emphasizing “lovesick adoration for Jesus” and “the surrendered posture of the heart to God’s love as such” — which the Moravian Night Watch website calls “primarily a feminine mode of prayer.” That needs to be balanced, they say, with a more “aggressive” and “masculine” form of “contending” prayer:

Other dimensions of prayer are also vital, including more masculine expressions that wield the authority of Christ for the sake of war against dark powers, bringing transformation to society by breaking through in heavenly dimensions…Contending prayer is focused and aggressive. It realizes there is a mission and mandate to prayer, conflict to overcome, battles to engage, and victory to secure. This is done in a spirit of humility (not elitism!) and submission (not fleshly domination!) to advance the kingdom of God on earth.

Gay American Pastor Expelled From Russia: 'Get Religion' Says What’s The Story?

The website has been around in various permutations for more than a decade, providing a home for conservative-leaning criticism of mainstream media coverage of religion and, more specifically, news coverage that misses or ignores the importance of religion to a story. “The press…just doesn’t get religion,” is the site’s tagline, a quote from journalist and political analyst William Schneider. But a recent post by contributor Jim Davis seems to fall solidly in the “not getting it” category.

In a post about a gay American pastor who was detained by police and expelled from Russia, Davis writes that the Associated Press “blows a minor incident into a major issue.” Davis may be trying a little too hard to strike a snarky tone. Here’s how his story starts:

Don’t read this yet. Get yourself a chair. Put down that cup of whatever you're drinking.

The Associated Press reports that  Dun-dun-DUNN! — Russia doesn't like gays. And especially pro-gay-rights churches.

I know, right? That might have knocked your socks off.

AP learned this terrible truth as a missionary of the Metropolitan Community Church was arrested, then ordered out of Russia. Try to get through this without fainting...

The Associated Press story strikes me as a pretty straightforward recounting of what happened to Jim Mulcahy, an American pastor with the gay-friendly Metropolitan Community Churches. According to the story, Mulcahy was sitting around a table with friends when four uniformed police showed up at the door, took the teacup out of his hand, and took him to the police station, “threatening to handcuff him if he refused to cooperate.” He was ordered out of the country on vague charges of engaging in unspecified religious activity (according to the story, police had said they heard he was planning to conduct a wedding for a gay couple).

Davis responds: “What? They took his teacup? The threatened to cuff him? The monsters!”

If I were unexpectedly arrested in a foreign country, denied access to important medication, and ordered out of the country, I don’t think the experience would feel like a big joke. I don’t know Davis but I expect the same would hold true for him. But Davis goes on with a tone that suggests Mulcahy should have known that the Russians don’t like gays, and so he shouldn’t be surprised at what happened to him. And he says AP is making a mountain out of a molehill.

OK, maybe I've been a bit cavalier with this. I wouldn't be amused if, say, a Jew or Baptist were arrested just for trying to practice their faith. I fully get the right for freedom of expression for everyone, including those with whom I disagree.

Still, on a scale of religious persecution, the Mulcahy-Samara story rates somewhere below a 2. Cloddish cops, stringent laws, a flinty judge, those are all there. But shootings, hate speech, mass expulsions – or throat cuttings, as happened to an elderly priest in France yesterday – this story doesn't come close. I suspect that if it weren't about gays, it might not have gotten AP's attention at all.

This comparison doesn’t make sense. It’s not as if the extensively-covered killings he mentions were ignored by the AP so they could run with Mulcahy’s story. In fact, what got the AP’s attention was that “the arrest was filmed by state-controlled channel NTV, whose reports often take an especially truculent, pro-Kremlin stance.” That suggests the arrest was staged to provide an anti-gay and anti-American propaganda boost for the Russian government. That makes it newsworthy, especially since strongman Vladimir Putin is participating in a mutual admiration society with Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.

The AP story doesn’t ignore the religion angle, reporting on Russia’s growing intolerance of free expression by LGBT people, and on new restrictions on public expression of religion by any churches other than the Russian Orthodox Church, which is closely aligned with Putin's government.

As we have noted before, many American religious conservatives have been willing to overlook Putin’s crackdown on dissent, free speech and religious freedom because they admire his anti-gay policies and his defense of “Christian civilization” against the secular democracies of Western Europe.  

To paraphrase Davis, if this story were about the arrest and expulsion of an American pastor who wasn’t a gay man, I suspect Davis and Get Religion wouldn’t have been so dismissive of it.

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