Peter Montgomery's blog

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 GetReligion.org 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.

Being Febreze In A Stinky World: Dominionism At Pre-RNC Prayer Rally

The Response, a day-long event pitched as a nonpolitical time to pray for the country and for Christian unity, came to Cleveland the weekend before the Republican National Convention. The first Response rally served as the unofficial kick-off to Rick Perry’s 2012 presidential bid; subsequent rallies have been hosted by Republican Govs. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Pat McCrory of North Carolina.

Like other Response rallies, the one in Cleveland was sponsored by Christian-nation advocate David Lane and emceed by “apostle” Doug Stringer. And like the others, the day featured music and individual and communal prayers divided into alliterative thematic sections: Revelation; Repentance (personal and corporate); Reconciliation; Revival; Reformation; and Refreshing. If you have six hours or so, you can watch the whole thing online.

Stringer said at the beginning of the rally, as he did in conference calls with clergy in the weeks before the event, that its purpose was nonpolitical and that it was intended to unite Christians across lines of race and denomination to pray for the church and the country. But given the time and place of the gathering, the ideological worldview of its organizers and the content of many of the prayers, it is impossible to take the “nonpolitical” claim seriously.

David Lane believes that the U.S. has a mission to advance the Christian faith and he is organizing to elect leaders who support his Christian-nation vision. Stringer is associated with Seven Mountains theology, which holds that all the “mountains” of culture, or spheres of influence in society — education, family, government, media, arts & entertainment, business, and religion — are meant to be run by the right kind of Christians.

It is true that much of the rally was not overtly political. I don’t believe anyone mentioned Donald Trump’s name from the stage, though I doubt I was the only one who thought of him when Stringer said that God is “repelled” by pride and arrogance. Some people prayed for racial reconciliation and for the church to be more welcoming of the stranger and for people to take orphans into their homes. But there was an undeniable political context to Stringer’s declaration that “there is a battle for the soul of our nation.”

“Our private actions have public consequences,” he said, declaring more than once that “every kingdom, every principality, every dominion, every authority must bow its knee to the Lord Jesus Christ.”

A number of speakers echoed Seven Mountains rhetoric, and some were tasked with praying for specific mountains. For example, one person prayed for the media, asking that God “remove those who stir strife and divide.” Others prayed for revival to sweep through the military and college campuses, leading to the rising of a generation “that will not accept compromise.” One prayer leader said “the devil is destroying our families” and called for “male and female marriage” to be established in the land; more than one speaker prayed for husbands to love their wives and for wives to be submissive to their husbands. 

The event itself had the feel of an extra-long service at an evangelical megachurch: big stage; rocking worship teams with great singers and musicians; song lyrics projected on a video screen; some people dancing, some kneeling, some prostrate on the floor. The event’s structure, with music and themed sections, worked to create an emotional roller coaster, taking people down into introspection and grief at their and the nation’s sin and brokenness and then up to a triumphant and celebratory victory over sin; the music ranging from quiet and tender to driving dance beats and then back again.

Introducing the section on corporate repentance — not in the sense of corporations but in the collective sense of the sins of the church and the country  Stringer cited 2 Chronicles 7:14, the Bible verse that is now ubiquitous at Religious Right events: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (New International Version). According to Stringer, the "my people" part of the passage suggests that Christians need to repent and clean up their own act if they are to have any hope of transforming the culture. Among examples speakers gave of “the church” prostituting itself was the acceptance of “moral licentiousness and moral looseness” as well as the existence of legal abortion and human trafficking.

Part of the design of The Response was that no speakers were introduced by name; Religious Right leaders and elected officials were mingled with local pastors and youth. Among the recognizable national figures were anti-gay activist Jim Garlow and anti-abortion activist Janet Porter. Porter could not stick with the “nonpolitical” program; she mentioned anti-abortion language in the Republican platform and made a push for her as-yet-unsuccessful effort to get a so-called “heartbeat bill” through the legislature in Ohio:

In the state where the motto is ‘With God all things are possible,’ we decree that today. In the city that joined together, that said that life begins at the moment of conception in a platform, in Cleveland, Ohio, that saw the end to hope deferred with a victory, I speak victory to life, victory to those fighting for life, victory to the heartbeat bill, which has passed the Ohio House of Representatives, has been blocked in the Senate. We say, ‘Remove the obstacles, God!’ No more hope deferred! No more delay!  We thank you for victory. And we say God, ‘do it again, do it again in Jesus’ name.’

Another speaker prayed for public officials who are "men and women of the church" and asked that God "grip" the hearts of those who are not so that they might live and legislate "according to a biblical worldview":

And the other government leaders that God has put there, we must pray constantly that the Lord would grip their hearts and compel them and they would come to know him as his personal savior that they too might live according and legislate and be leaders and speak according to a biblical worldview, that they would know the savior and know the truth and live it out.

It is essential that our laws and policies continue to reflect the truth of the Judeo-Christian principles and values that God himself has established in this nation. So let’s pray for our leaders right now. Father, pour out your Holy Spirit on the leaders of this nation for those that know you Lord Jesus, let them not lean on their own understanding but let them turn to you that you would direct their paths, Holy Spirit.

Father, those that do not know you, God we ask that you would pour out Lord, that their hearts would be open, the scales would fall off, and they would see the truth. Father, we ask that thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven, in America as it is in heaven, in Cleveland as it is in heaven. God, we ask that you, Holy Spirit, that we our government leaders we would love what you love, we would hate what you hate, and that our hearts would be for you alone...

Stringer said that even unbelievers would benefit from a world in which evangelical Christians had greater influence over government and culture. Religious leaders often cite the biblical injunction for Christians to be “salt and light” in the world; toward the end of The Response, Stringer proposed a new metaphor:

Those of us who’ve overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony have an opportunity in the midst of a world that stinks to be a fragrance of the kingdom of heaven…We live in a stinky world, but we’re called to be that Febreze, that sprayer of the fragrance of heaven. Wherever there’s stink we want to spray the presence of God. 

Jim Bakker: If Trump Loses, Supreme Court Will Shut Me Down

Charisma magazine is highlighting an exchange between televangelist and noted survivalist huckster Jim Bakker and Ramiro Peña, senior pastor of Christ the King Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, that took place on Bakker’s show last week.

While asking Peña a question about the future of the Supreme Court, Bakker said that he believes his TV ministry will be shut down unless Donald Trump wins the presidential election:

If Donald Trump isn’t elected, do you envision America to look good, bad or ugly? What will it look like, say, four years from now if we do not change the court? I know what the last eight years — we have seen the greatest deterioration. I’m afraid if we have another four years we will not even be able to function. I believe that they’ll shut me down. I believe they’re gonna shut anybody outside the church, all religious activity down. What will America look like if we don’t get on the right track?

Peña responded:

Let me speak to the church for just a moment. Just hear me, church. If we don’t elect Donald Trump president, we’re going to end up electing someone who we absolutely know will put justices on the Supreme Court that will be pro-abortion, that will be pro-gay-marriage, that will rob us of religious liberty, will continue to take away and wear away at our right to bear arms. That is the kind of jurist who will be on the Supreme Court and on the federal bench…

Peña noted that Trump has released a list of potential Supreme Court nominees that was vetted by the Federalist Society, and said that if he is elected Trump would have the opportunity to name at least three, and maybe as many as five, justices to the high court:

He has said he will appoint pro-life justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. So on that point, if for no other reason, even if you don’t like some of the things that he has said or done, for that point alone, for the sake of the Supreme Court, and the future of our nation that Pastor Jim is talking about, that’s why I am so convinced that he must be elected the next president of the United States.

 

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