In Iowa, It’s Time to Choose. But Whose Time Is It…?

Maggie, on the heels of your posting the Trump Twitter-rage against Iowa pastor Bob Vander Plaats, then his pointed rebuttal, I thought to add a bit of information Mr. Trump probably hadn’t considered when he let his hubris out of its cage only days before the Iowa Caucus.

There’s an old adage in politics that you not attack anyone who buys ink by the barrel. In the digital age, that translates to not attacking someone with the heft to push out millions of impressions to the most influential voting block in the state in a short period of time. Like Bob Vander Plaats.

While Trump was Twittering, Vander Plaats was busy sending a very clear message to the evangelical faithful across the state: It Is Time. Using a stirring web video, radio spots, digital and social media ads, flyers and targeted print ads, the message to both Christian caucus veterans and first timers was clear:

In the hearts of Iowa Christians, called to be salt and light, each with a duty to walk worthy of our calling, It is time.

It is time for the voice of the church to help elect a president who will lead in Godly ways, back to righteousness…and repentance…and healing.

At last count, the several week campaign — timed as voters are making up their minds — was approaching more than three million impressions, no small effort for an anticipated turnout of 150,000 caucus goers, a nearly 20 percent increase over 2012. Think of it as a million rebuttals for every one of Trump’s tweets. Continue Reading

Evangelicals: “Jerry Falwell Would Be Rolling Over in His Grave” Over Son’s Trump Endorsement

Donald Trump speaks in Reno, Nev. (photo credit: Darron Birgenheier via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Major evangelical leaders have been quick to express dismay over Jerry Falwell Jr.’s green-lighting of Trump, none more so than John Stemberger, who helped lead the victory for Florida’s marriage amendment in 2008 (and is an occasional contributor to The Pulse):

‘The late Dr. Jerry Falwell Sr. would be rolling over in his grave if he knew the son who bore his name had endorsed the most immoral and ungodly man to ever run for President of the United States,’ Stemberger said in a statement provided to POLITICO. ‘It is one thing to allow the free exchange of ideas, even bad ideas, among college students on a Christian campus. It is quite another to give a glowing endorsement-like introduction calling Donald Trump … This in no way represents the legacy of Dr. Jerry Falwell, Sr.’

And he’s not the only one. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council endorsed Ted Cruz. Peggy Nance of Concerned Women for America echoed Stemberger’s concerns. Marjorie Dannenfelser (another contributor to The Pulse) joined other pro-life women in urging pro-life voters to support anyone but Trump.

And Southern Baptist theologian Russell Moore tweeted:

Paul Dupont is the managing editor for ThePulse2016.com. Continue Reading

Trump’s Popularity Prompts Soul Searching on Religious Right

Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in New Hamsphire (photo credit: Michael Vadon, CC BY-SA 2.0)

With the Iowa Caucus less than two weeks away, Mashable reports that, “The religious right is trying to do what everyone else has failed to do: Stop Donald Trump.” And so too are other social conservatives. Most troubling, Donald Trump is leading with “values voters” even when he clearly doesn’t share their values. As the head of the Florida Family Policy Council, John Stemberger, put it:

Whether it’s public policy or personal morality, he’s all over the board and there’s an inherent untrustworthiness that comes with him. You’re talking with a man who’s bragged about sleeping with some of the most beautiful women in the world.

Baptist News concurs: “Trump candidacy will test evangelical voters.”

Other leaders on the religious right have weighed in as well. Rev. Robert Sirico, president of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion admitted that: “frankly, I cannot figure out the alleged white-evangelical attraction to Trump.”  And on the C-SPAN program, “Washington Journal,” Russell Moore, the president of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said: “Now we’re in a situation where many evangelicals, or at least professing evangelicals, are saying character doesn’t matter when it comes to Donald Trump.”

Most people agree that Donald Trump has a talent to tap into voters’ frustration using his anti-establishment rhetoric. And many concede that there is no neat and tidy explanation that accounts for his rising popularity with Christian voters. Continue Reading

Cruz Responds to Attack on His Faith as Phony

Someone is spending $125,000 to say Ted Cruz is not an evangelical, echoing Donald Trump’s charge “not too many evangelicals come out of Cuba.” A Cruz super PAC released this video in response:

It begins with Ted Cruz meeting the pastor who converted his father to Christ. It then moves to his dad’s story, Cruz’s upbringing, and his marriage to the daughter of missionaries.

I can’t believe how silly this attack on Cruz is.

Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project. Continue Reading

Can Trump Get an Iowa ‘Amen’ With His Liberty U. Performance?

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Media coverage of Donald Trump’s recent address to Liberty University students has typically highlighted his “Two Corinthians” theological flub – as if it will mean something significant to voters in Iowa:

Trump was slightly mistaken in his Bible reference. “Two Corinthians” does not exist. He likely meant to say “Second Corinthians,” referring to the second letter of Paul to the Corinthians.

To their credit, devout Iowa Evangelicals are deeper than that. They are more likely to see “Two Corinthians” as a slightly amusing – if not disquieting – confirmation about other more troublesome statements Trump has made about his faith. In a ThinkProgress piece last September, Jack Jenkins noted:

When Frank Luntz inquired in July whether Trump has ever asked God for forgiveness, the famously confident real estate mogul answered no, saying, “I don’t bring God into that picture” before offering a questionable explanation of Christian communion. He later explained to CNN’s Anderson Cooper that this is largely because he usually doesn’t believe he’s sinning in the first place.

“Why do I have to repent or ask for forgiveness, if I am not making mistakes?” Trump said, seemingly dismissing two millennia of Christian teaching on human sinfulness.

If Evangelical Christians were skeptical of Trump’s “I am Christian” declaration of faith, his speech at Liberty and student reactions to it likely confirmed that his profession of faith is more akin to a categorical identification than it is the walking, breathing, living faith they send their children to Liberty to study and embrace. Continue Reading

Did Mike Huckabee Really Say This?

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Here’s my take on Mike Huckabee’s recent comments on evangelical leaders over at Caffeinated Thoughts:

Buzzfeed reported on an interview that former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee had with Todd Starnes on Fox News Radio.

Starnes asked him if he felt betrayed by evangelical leaders and evangelical organizations as they seem to have gravitated toward U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) or U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL).

How Huckabee responded is absolutely shocking.

“Well, certainly a sense of disappointment, and yet I do understand because, as I’ve often said, ‘I don’t go to them, I come from them,’ but because of that I do understand them,” Huckabee said. “A lot of them, quite frankly, I think they’re scared to death that if a guy like me got elected, I would actually do what I said I would do, and that is, I would focus on the personhood of every individual. We would abolish abortion based on the Fifth and 14th Amendment. We would ignore the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision.”

He continued stating that a Huckabee presidency would hamper their fundraising.

“A lot of these organizations wouldn’t have the ability to do urgent fundraising because if we slay the dragon, what dragon do they continue to fight? And so, for many of them, it could be a real detriment to their organization’s abilities to gin up their supporters and raise the contributions, and I know that sounds cynical but, Todd, it’s just, it is what it is,” Huckabee said.

Continue Reading

Huckabee: Moral Courage Comes With a Price

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Mike Huckabee appeared on a podcast with Fox News Radio’s Todd Starnes this week, where he was asked by Starnes about his inability to win the backing of many evangelical groups during his 2016 run. You can read the transcript of Huckabee’s comments below:

STARNES: Did you anticipate getting the backing early on of those evangelical conservative leaders?

HUCKABEE: Well, quite frankly, of course I hoped for it and never took it for granted, but I’ve also lived and swam in this evangelical soup long enough to know that it’s not always very predictable because it’s not always about the principles and the convictions sometimes. It’s about really more of self-preservation for the organizations. And I hate to be so blunt, but quite frankly I’ve seen this before, where they went with not the person who best represented their views, their values, or a commitment to their causes, but they went in the area of convenience and who they thought might win. And I remember back in ’08, there were several major evangelicals who said, ‘Well, I think you’re a better fit for us politically. We believe you would fight for our cause. But we think candidate X is going to win’ – in many cases they thought it was Romney – and they said ‘We just want to make sure we have a seat at the table.’ So having a seat at the table, they thought, was more important than actually owning the table.

Continue Reading

Three Questions Evangelicals Should Ask About Trump

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

We are experiencing something extraordinary in American politics: A man who has never held public office appears to have become a force of nature this election cycle, and he is achieving this, according to polls, with no small amount of support from evangelical Christians.

The really puzzling thing is that Donald Trump defies every stereotype of a candidate you would typically expect Christians to vote for.

How much does the average evangelical Christian supporting Trump know about his history? Very little, it would seem. Many are content to follow the no-nonsense persona, rather than dig into Trump’s past record.

Trump professes to be a Christian and says the Bible is his favorite book. While we should not judge a man’s heart or motive, we can and should evaluate his words and actions.

Therefore, there are three questions I believe all evangelical Christians should ask themselves before supporting Donald Trump for President.

1) What is known about Trump’s personal life and morality?

[…]

Read the full article at CNN Politics.

John Stemberger is President and General Counsel of Florida Family Action. Continue Reading

Trump’s Second Massive Fail Attacking Cruz

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Donald Trump is a master communicator. But it’s becoming clearer he just doesn’t understand evangelicals, or deeply principled conservatives, which is why his attacks on Ted Cruz not only fail, they rebound back against Trump.

The first fail was Trump’s very strange attack on Cruz’s temperament — which Cruz beat back with one light-hearted tweet.  Not only did it fail to make a dent, it reminded Iowa voters which guy’s temperament seems like a little bit of a problem — and it’s not Cruz.

Now at an Iowa rally on Tuesday, Trump launched a second veiled missile against Cruz, just as weird as the first one: “Just remember this. You got to remember in all fairness, to the best of my knowledge, not too many evangelicals come out of Cuba.”

In the first place, Iowans showed in 2012 they are happy to vote for a good Christian Catholic like Rick Santorum. In the second place, evangelicals love converts. In the third place, this veiled attack is just going to remind evangelicals how much they like Ted Cruz’s evangelical pastor dad, and the fact that his evangelical conversion is what brought him back to his wife and family — evangelicalism is the reason Ted Cruz did not grow up fatherless.

Two swings and two big misses for The Donald against Cruz.

Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project. Continue Reading

Franklin Graham’s Call To Arms

Evangelist Franklin Graham (photo credit: Rachel James via Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

An extraordinary statement was issued last week by a renowned leader of Christian evangelicals, Reverend Franklin Graham. His statement should be considered as a thunderclap to the Republican Party.

The GOP is already at loggerheads with its more populist economic supporters in the Tea Party. It has been unable to recreate the kind of message that Ronald Reagan delivered, which brought millions of blue collar workers back to the party’s banner.

Its relationship with social conservatives has been strained over bad judicial nominations, the lack of real resistance to the revolutionary change in the definition of marriage and, most recently, the funding of Planned Parenthood.

More and more lifelong Republicans are calling themselves conservatives first and Republicans second — if at all. I’ve heard from several friends in the past week who have switched their party registration to independent.

And now Franklin Graham, driven over the edge by the omnibus bill, which significantly increased spending and failed to defund Planned Parenthood, has announced that he too is leaving the GOP. Here is his statement:

Shame on the Republicans and the Democrats for passing such a wasteful spending bill last week. And to top it off, funding Planned Parenthood! A Huffington Post article called it ‘a big win for Planned Parenthood.’ I call it a big loss for America. After all of the appalling facts revealed this year about Planned Parenthood, our representatives in Washington had a chance to put a stop to this, but they didn’t.

Continue Reading