The Tweets Tell A Story

Once again, court evangelicals (partisans swooning before political leaders) are embarrassing fellow believers everywhere. Just follow the Twitter feeds and feel the cringe factor.

First, Melissa Moore flinched upon Robert Jeffress’ lecture to 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, the pigtailed Swedish kid who spearheaded a world-wide climate strike. Jeffress, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas and prominent Trump apologist, dismissed her with a reference to Noah’s flood (see Genesis 6-9): “Somebody needs to read to poor Greta (the Bible) and tell her the next time she worries about global warming, just look at a rainbow …” (God’s covenant sign that the Almighty will never totally flood the Earth again — which, incidentally, no reputable climatologist is predicting).

Often, critics riff off such comments and ask, “Why do all Southern Baptists …?” But notice. Melissa Moore is the daughter of the irrepressible Beth Moore. She usually leaves the sassing to Mom, but not here: “Where are The Discernment bloggers when you need them? I would welcome outrage from pretty much any SBC [Southern Baptist Convention] entity over this nonsense from FBC Dallas Senior Pastor.”

The takeaway: Embedded in this tweet is a more complicated portrait of our religious landscape. Moore’s evangelical roots drill just as deep as Jeffress’. She’s unimpressed with his “nonsense.”

 

Another tweet portrays mindless Trump swooning — until we look deeper. Franklin Graham seems to have rinsed his brain of any critical thinking as he weds the Gospel to the GOP.  The president has been caught red-handed in a foreign government shake down as he battles for a second term, but no matter. It’s all a lefty conspiracy: “The socialist Democrats’ message to the United States of America is: 1. We’re going to take your guns, & 2. We’re going to impeach your president. Pray that God would change the hearts of Democratic leaders in Washington & that they would see the dangerous road we’re on.”

I’ll pass up Graham’s name-calling (“socialist Democrats”), inaccuracies (the vast American majority simply wants sensible gun regulation), and his hints of an NRA Jesus. Just view his feed. Many pastors and leaders were incredulous. Perhaps the Grahams and Falwells give sad testimonies: The era of evangelical dynasties should never have begun.

Graham is almost as near-sighted as Ralph Reed. Reports  tell of a soon-to-be-published book in which he says evangelical Christians are morally obliged “to enthusiastically back” the serial lying, adulterous president. The timing’s awkward. Trump virtually invited a Turkish attack in what can only be described as a betrayal of America’s Syrian Kurdish allies, who paid a heavy price while gutting ISIS of its Caliphate.  He tried to back-pedal in one of his strangest tweets yet:

It seems Turkey was unimpressed with Trump’s “great and unmatched wisdom” (who talks like that?). The warplanes dropped their bombs this week amid artillery barrages and invading troops.

I only mention Trump’s debacle to highlight Pat Robertson’s curious statement. He was “appalled” by the commander-in-chief’s decision to withdraw US troops from northern Syria: “The President of the United States is in great danger of losing the mandate of Heaven if he permits this to happen.”

Many snidely dismissed Robertson’s assumption of Trump’s divine mandate, which is tempting: Why would God bless an abusive, adulterous, serial-lying outlaw president and curse Obama? But cavalier dismissals blind us to the intriguing implications: Will white, right-wing court evangelicals back away from Trump over the president’s betrayal? Even Congressional Republicans are outraged. Will they finally mouth the words, “We’ve been played”?

Probably not, but one never knows.

 

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About Charles Redfern

Charles Redfern is a writer, activist, and clergyman living in Connecticut with his wife and family. He's currently writing two books, with more in his head.

View all posts by Charles Redfern

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