Category : President Donald Trump

(R+P) Gene Zubovich–The Christian Nationalism of Donald Trump

Without a clear stand on questions of nationalism, religious groups sway from one extreme to the other with the changing times, unable to offer much resistance to the general mood of the country and the machinations of politicians. That was certainly the case during the Cold War, as religious folks celebrated America and its war against godless communism. Many of the same churches changed their tune in the 1960s, when widespread protests took place against the Vietnam War.

The fight goes on even today. In thinking about Christian nationalism, I am reminded of a visit I made to a North Carolina church in 2006. It held about 500 people, and it had two large screens on either side of the pulpit. The service was just before the Fourth of July and sounded much like Trump did in his Independence Day address. The pastor reminded congregants that the United States was founded as a Christian nation. Then the choir began singing:

“Off we go into the wild blue yonder / Climbing high into the sun / Here they come zooming to meet our thunder / At ‘em boys, Give ‘er the gun!”

It was the “U.S. Air Force” song and as it played, a veteran walked between the pews toward the pulpit waiving the Air Force flag and the two screens played footage of bombers dropping ordinance on Iraqi targets during Operation Desert Storm. The scene repeated for the Army, the Navy, the Marines, and finally the Coast Guard. After the nationalist display, the service ended with a few hymns, including, without any obvious irony, “Down by the Riverside” (“I’m gonna lay down my sword and shield down by the riverside / Ain’t gonna study war no more”).

I imagine that ten years later, in the age of Trump, the president enjoys widespread support at this church, since he enjoys broad appeal with white evangelicals across the country. And I imagine the minister would cheer the president’s militaristic rhetoric. In retrospect, it’s easy to see how the Christian nationalism I witnessed in 2006 paved the way for today’s politics.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Office of the President, Politics in General, President Donald Trump, Religion & Culture, Theology

(NYT Op-ed) Akhil Reed Amar–A Liberal’s Case for new Supreme Court Justice Nominee Brett Kavanaugh

In 2016, I strongly supported Hillary Clinton for president as well as President Barack Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Merrick Garland. But today, with the exception of the current justices and Judge Garland, it is hard to name anyone with judicial credentials as strong as those of Judge Kavanaugh. He sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (the most influential circuit court) and commands wide and deep respect among scholars, lawyers and jurists.

Judge Kavanaugh, who is 53, has already helped decide hundreds of cases concerning a broad range of difficult issues. Good appellate judges faithfully follow the Supreme Court; great ones influence and help steer it. Several of Judge Kavanaugh’s most important ideas and arguments — such as his powerful defense of presidential authority to oversee federal bureaucrats and his skepticism about newfangled attacks on the property rights of criminal defendants — have found their way into Supreme Court opinions.

Except for Judge Garland, no one has sent more of his law clerks to clerk for the justices of the Supreme Court than Judge Kavanaugh has. And his clerks have clerked for justices across the ideological spectrum.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, President Donald Trump, Senate, Supreme Court

(Washington Post) ‘What’s next?’ Muslims grapple with Supreme Court ruling that they believe redefines their place in America

“For all my life, I’ve felt that this is my country,” said [Ramy] Almansoob, a 34-year-old structural engineer who was born in the United States and raised in Yemen, returning in 2015 to the suburbs of Washington to build a new life for his family. “We all knew that the United States is the place where you have freedom, and that’s what I always had in my mind. It’s not how it used to be.”

Almansoob applied to bring his wife and daughters to the United States a few months before Trump took office in January 2017. The ban, which seemed to echo Trump’s campaign call “for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” quickly followed. And after two amended versions and a number of court battles, the Supreme Court in December allowed for the temporary implementation of the ban on Yemenis, Syrians, Iranians, Somalis and Libyans.

Now the court has upheld the policy, a decision that added permanence to the sentiment among many American Muslims that the government views and treats them differently from other Americans.

“It has put me in the position of second-class citizenship,” said Abrar Omeish, a Libyan American in Virginia who recently ran for a spot on the school board in Fairfax County.

Civil rights and religious advocacy groups across the country reacted to the court’s decision Tuesday in a passionate uproar.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Immigration, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Donald Trump, Supreme Court

(DP) At Princeton, Prominent South Baptist Russell Moore argues politics has altered US evangelicalism

“God does not need the evangelical movement; the evangelical movement desperately needs God,” Moore said.

Moore explained that there is conflation between the evangelical church and politics in modern America.

“So often in 2018 America, evangelicalism is associated more with Iowa caucuses than the good news of Jesus Christ,” Moore said.

He defined evangelicalism as “the link of renewal and revival movements which unite historic, conventional orthodoxy with the necessity of personal conversion and evangelism.”

Additionally, Moore said he believes that any true evangelical movement must be focused upon the Cross.

“An emphasis on the Cross is one of the hardest thing to maintain in any Christian group, and that includes American evangelicalism,” Moore said.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, President Donald Trump, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Salvation (Soteriology)

(Washington Post) Dozens of evangelical leaders meet to discuss how Trump era has unleashed ‘grotesque caricature’ of their faith

As evangelicalism has grown without any formal hierarchy, it has formed tribes often driven by celebrity pastors, authors and artists. Evangelical leaders of institutions have been having conversations about how to address an evangelical identity crisis, said Rich Mouw, former president of Fuller Seminary, but most of these gatherings are small.

“There’s a real pastoral problem right now that in any given congregation that it’s a topic you can’t talk about,” Mouw said. “I don’t think it’s fear. I think it’s genuine pastoral perplexity about how we deal with this.”

Other invited leaders at this week’s gathering include Mark Labberton of Fuller Seminary, Ed Stetzer of Wheaton College, Jo Anne Lyon of the Wesleyan Church, Harold Smith of Christianity Today and Gabriel Salguero of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, President Donald Trump, Religion & Culture

(Atlantic) Michael Gerson–on President Trump and the Evangelical Temptation

Evangelicals also have a consistent problem with their public voice, which can be off-puttingly apocalyptic. “We are on the verge of losing” America, proclaims the evangelical writer and radio host Eric Metaxas, “as we could have lost it in the Civil War.” Franklin Graham declares, a little too vividly, that the country “has taken a nosedive off of the moral diving board into the cesspool of humanity.” Such hyperbole may be only a rhetorical strategy, employing the apocalypse for emphasis. But the attribution of depravity and decline to America also reflects a consistent and (so far) disappointed belief that the Second Coming may be just around history’s corner.

The difficulty with this approach to public life—other than its insanely pessimistic depiction of our flawed but wonderful country—is that it trivializes and undercuts the entire political enterprise. Politics in a democracy is essentially anti-apocalyptic, premised on the idea that an active citizenry is capable of improving the nation. But if we’re already mere minutes from the midnight hour, then what is the point? The normal avenues of political reform are useless. No amount of negotiation or compromise is going to matter much compared with the Second Coming.

Moreover, in making their case on cultural decay and decline, evangelicals have, in some highly visible cases, chosen the wrong nightmares….

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, History, Office of the President, President Donald Trump, Religion & Culture

(Time) Oprah Winfrey and Donald Trump Promote the Same Populist Theology

Oprah Winfrey’s public image could not be more different from Donald Trump’s.

While the longtime talk show host is famous for getting her guests to open up emotionally, Trump’s signature move on The Apprentice was firing contestants, who often left the boardroom crying.

But beneath their vastly different images, Winfrey and Trump share the same populist theology. Both preach a gospel of American prosperity, the popular cultural movement that helped put Trump in the White House in 2016.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Movies & Television, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Donald Trump, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(ACNS) Archbishop of Canterbury intervenes in Anglo-American diplomatic Twitter row

In a rare political intervention, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has explicitly criticised the US President Donald Trump for retweeting anti-Muslim videos posted by a British far-right extremist group. Archbishop Justin said “it is deeply disturbing that the President of the United States has chosen to amplify the voice of far-right extremists.” The UK Prime Minister Theresa May also criticised the US President, but was slapped down by Mr Trump, who told her to “focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism.”

The original tweets were posted by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First, a minority political party with virtually no support in Britain outside its estimated 1,000 followers. In a 2014 parliamentary by-election in the Rochester and Strood constituency, Fransen received just 56 of the 40,065 votes cast. She is currently awaiting trial in Belfast on charges of using “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour” and in Kent for inciting racial hatred.

She and her followers have stormed mosques and carried out what they call “Christian Patrols” – marching in paramilitary-stule uniforms carrying a large cross in areas of the UK populated by people who – either themselves or through their ancestors – have roots in south-Asian countries. She claims to be Christian but it is not known if she attends any church. Her actions and those of Britain First have been condemned by Christian leaders from across the denominational spread.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, --Social Networking, Archbishop of Canterbury, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Office of the President, President Donald Trump, Religion & Culture

(CNN) Some Evangelicals urge more action from Trump against alt-right

A group of prominent evangelical Christians is calling on President Donald Trump to take further steps to condemn white supremacists — specifically those in the alt-right — following the August white nationalist demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one woman dead.

letter that has been circulating privately among a coalition of pastors notes Trump’s efforts to denounce the white supremacists, but urges the President to go further in condemning the alt-right “by name.”
“This movement has escaped your disapproval,” the letter, obtained exclusively by CNN, reads. “We believe it is important for this movement to be addressed, for at its core it is a white identity movement and the majority of its members are white nationalists or white supremacists. This movement gained public prominence during your candidacy for President of the United States. Supporters of the movement have claimed that you share their vision for our country. These same supporters have sought to use the political and cultural concerns of people of goodwill for their prejudiced political agendas. It concerned many of us when three people associated with the alt-right movement were given jobs in the White House.”
Initial signers of the letter include Southern Baptist Convention President Rev. Steve Gaines, former SBC President Rev. Fred Luter and the Rev. T.D. Jakes, a mentor of Trump’s top spiritual adviser, Rev. Paula White. One member of Trump’s informal Evangelical Advisory Board, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, also signed the letter.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, President Donald Trump, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

White House opioid commission to Trump: “Declare a national emergency” on drug overdoses

The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis issued a preliminary report on Monday stating that its “first and most urgent recommendation” is for the president to “declare a national emergency under either the Public Health Service Act or the Stafford Act.”

“With approximately 142 Americans dying every day,” the report notes, “America is enduring a death toll equal to September 11th every three weeks.”

The commission, led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, states that the goals of such a declaration would be to “force Congress to focus on funding” and to “awaken every American to this simple fact: if this scourge has not found you or your family yet, without bold action by everyone, it soon will.”

Read it all and see also this report which says nearly 40% of Americans use opioids to manage pain, according to a federal government study, with deaths more than quadrupling between 1999 and 2015.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, Office of the President, President Donald Trump

(National Affairs) Alan Jacobs–When Character No Longer Counts

These leaders have replaced a rhetoric of persuasion with a rhetoric of pure authority — very like the authority that Trump claims for himself. (“Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.”) Consequently, their whole house of cards may well collapse if the Trump presidency is anything other than a glorious success, and will leave those who have accepted that rhetoric bereft of explanations as well as arguments. Presumably the most fervent supporters of Trump will argue (as Trump himself will argue) that his failures have occurred because others have betrayed him, have rejected the man that God raised up to rescue America, but this will require the replacement of the Cyrus analogy with another one yet to be determined. We can only hope that no one compares a failed Trump to an American Jesus betrayed by American Judases.

If all this sounds like a strange fantasyland of narrative, an imaginative world of what members of the Trump administration have taken to calling “alternative facts,” that’s because it is just that. The larger, and longer-term, effect of accounts like this is to encourage Christians to abandon the world of shared evidence, shared convictions, and shared possibilities, and such abandonment is very bad news for Christians and for America.

What is required of serious religious believers in a pluralistic society is the ability to code-switch: never to forget or neglect their own native religious tongue, but also never to forget that they live in a society of people for whom that language is gibberish. To speak only in the language of pragmatism is to bring nothing distinctive to the table; to speak only a private language of revelation and self-proclaimed authority is to leave the table altogether. For their own good, but also for the common good, religious believers need to be always bilingually present.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Donald Trump, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(Globe+Mail) As our Northern Neighbors See us-The Trump administration is at war w/ itself, +Trump loves it

Why Can’t He Be Our President?” is the question Rolling Stone slapped on the cover of their most recent issue, featuring Justin Trudeau. Given who’s currently occupying the White House, leading an administration powered by a combustible mix of chaos and malice, the headline is understandable. No, it’s inarguable. The editorial sentiment would have been the same if America’s northern neighbour were led by Andrew Scheer or Tom Mulcair or anyone, really, other than the current President.

Yes, Donald Trump has yet to appoint his horse to the Senate. Then again, we’re only one-eighth of the way through his first term.

Mr. Trump made his name as a builder, but his presidency has so far been more of a demolition project. Sometimes he’s swinging a wrecking ball at adversaries. Sometimes it’s allies. Sometimes it’s his own administration, his own agenda and his own reputation. Sometimes it’s all of the above.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Canada, Ethics / Moral Theology, Office of the President, President Donald Trump

(WSJ DS) Betting markets started pricing in a small but rising probability that Donald Trump could lose the presidency

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, President Donald Trump, Psychology

(NYT Op-ed) Robert Jones–Are we Witnessing the Collapse of American Identity?

The profoundness of the American experiment, …[Chesterton] argued, was that it aspired to create “a home out of vagabonds and a nation out of exiles” united by voluntary assent to commonly held political beliefs.

But recent survey data provides troubling evidence that a shared sense of national identity is unraveling, with two mutually exclusive narratives emerging along party lines. At the heart of this divide are opposing reactions to changing demographics and culture. The shock waves from these transformations — harnessed effectively by Donald Trump’s campaign — are reorienting the political parties from the more familiar liberal-versus-conservative alignment to new poles of cultural pluralism and monism.

An Associated Press-NORC poll found nearly mirror-opposite partisan reactions to the question of what kind of culture is important for American identity. Sixty-six percent of Democrats, compared with only 35 percent of Republicans, said the mixing of cultures and values from around the world was extremely or very important to American identity. Similarly, 64 percent of Republicans, compared with 32 percent of Democrats, saw a culture grounded in Christian religious beliefs as extremely or very important.

These divergent orientations can also be seen in a recent poll by P.R.R.I. that explored partisan perceptions of which groups are facing discrimination in the country. Like Americans overall, large majorities of Democrats believe minority groups such as African-Americans, immigrants, Muslims and gay and transgender people face a lot of discrimination in the country. Only about one in five Democrats say that majority groups such as Christians or whites face a lot of discrimination….

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Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Office of the President, President Donald Trump, Psychology, Religion & Culture

President Trump’s Interview w/ Washington Bureau Chief Michael Scherer on Truth+Falsehoods


Mitch McConnell has said he’d rather you stop tweeting, that he sees it as a distraction.
Mitch will speak for himself. Mitch is a wonderful man. Mitch should speak for himself.
But you don’t see any problems caused by these kinds of controversies. Does this, when we are talking in the press about whether the president was wiretapped or not, is this good for you or bad for you?
Probably neither. Probably neither. What I said, look I said, Donna Brazile had information, and she had information on Hillary’s debate questions. I said why didn’t Hillary apologize. Donna Brazile just admitted that that was right. I said the election was rigged against Bernie, a lot of people agree with that one, a lot of people hated the statement when I made it.

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Posted in Media, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Donald Trump