For the better part of three years, the religious right has mounted what can only be described as an attempt to bully Americans into bowing down to Donald Trump. They claim that since God put Trump in office, those who oppose him are being played by the devil. But as evidence mounts that Trump indeed tried to use the power of his office to bully and intimidate a political rival, it has become clear this campaign is removed from reality. We’ve seen it in prominent fundies’ responses as Democrats move towards impeaching Trump.
For instance, last week, Bill Taylor, the senior American diplomat in Ukraine, told congressional investigators that he believed Trump intended to withhold military aid from Ukraine unless Kiev opened an investigation into former vice president Joe Biden. Hours after that testimony, Rick Wiles warned that Democrats risked being hunted down if they succeeded in impeaching and removing Trump. Two days later, with Taylor’s testimony still dominating the headlines, Perry Stone suggested that Democrats pressing for impeachment may be possessed by demons.
Earlier this week, senior National Security Council official Alexander Vindman testified that he had heard the now-infamous call between Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. Vindman believed that Trump’s demand that Zelensky open an investigation into Biden were grossly inappropriate, and was concerned enough to alert NSC lawyers. Hours after that testimony, Hank and Brenda Kunneman tried to prophetically “hush” the impeachment drive.
All of this, and other anecdotes, has led this writer to wonder–does the religious right consider banning abortion, rolling marriage equality, and other issues near and dear to their hearts so important that they must go all in for this unfit, unqualified, and potentially criminal president? After all, the nation’s so-called moral guardians made what can only be described as a Faustian deal with Trump when he made clucking noises they liked on social issues.
Well, now we may have our answer. On Tuesday, a virtual who’s-who of religious right leaders gathered at the White House to pray over Trump. In the days since then, several of them have taken to TV and social media to claim that by impeaching Trump, Nancy Pelosi and her radical socialist mob are directly attacking them.
One of the attendees, Johnnie Moore, a former assistant to Jerry Falwell, bluntly told Fox News that he was firmly behind Trump because he believed Democrats were “trying to impeach me and my values.” Along similar lines, Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, claimed that he and other evangelicals take the impeachment push “very personally because they’re going after our values.”
The drumbeat continued on Thursday. Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, who famously declared Trump would get a “mulligan” for his past depravities as long as he gave the religious right what it wants, took to Twitter to pronounce the impeachment drive an attack on conservative values.
Megachurch pastor turned religious right activist Jim Garlow was even more blunt on Facebook a few hours later.
And to close out the week, Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas and a member of Trump’s evangelical advisory board, stopped by “Lou Dobbs Tonight” on Friday to drive the point home further. Watch here.
Jeffress told guest host David Auman that a recent poll from the Public Religion Research Institute showed a whopping 99 percent of Republican-leaning white evangelicals oppose impeaching Trump.
According to Jeffress, the reason for this otherworldly support is simple–social conservatives believe that “never in the history of America have we had a president who was a stronger warrior for the Judeo-Christian principles upon which this nation was founded” than Trump. For that reason, Jeffress argued, social conservatives see the impeachment effort as “an effort to impeach our own deeply-held values.”
Well, that’s interesting. So if impeaching Trump amounts to impeaching evangelical values, do those values include using the power of your office to attempt a politically motivated investigation of a potential rival for your re-election bid? And to those values include attempting to enlist a foreign power in such ham-handed bullying? Apparently so, judging by the fundies’ being willing to remain all-in for Trump.
And do those values include bribing the Senators who will vote on whether to remove Trump from office? That’s essentially what Trump is doing, according to Politico. Apparently the Trump campaign is using its donor network to funnel money to the war chests of Republican Senators facing competitive contests in 2020. When former Bush 43 ethics counsel Richard Painter saw this, he hit the ceiling.
It should also be noted that bribery is explicitly named as an impeachable offense in the Constitution.
Let there no longer be any doubt. The religious right apparently considers its pet social issues so important that it is willing to go all in for a president who believes he can run this country like a mobbed-up business at best and a full-fledged crime syndicate at worst. If they believe impeaching him amounts to impeaching their values, then they deserve to go down with him.
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