On Monday, I will post a new conversation with former The King’s College president Greg Thornbury. He is currently Senior Vice President at the New York Academy of Art in Tribeca NY, a school founded by Andy Warhol. You can watch the first interview here.
Donald Trump couldn’t make his strategy any clearer: class warfare.
The “suburban housewife” will be voting for me. They want safety & are thrilled that I ended the long running program where low income housing would invade their neighborhood. Biden would reinstall it, in a bigger form, with Corey Booker in charge! @foxandfriends@MariaBartiromo
The rule Trump rescinded required proof of compliance with the Fair Housing Act. Trump has interpreted it as a wedge to keep poor people away from the middle class. Given the intent in 1968 to stop racial discrimination in housing and Trump’s actions blow a racial dogwhistle as well.
Obviously, Trump is only president of people who like him, and among those people, the middle class and the rich. Low income people (too bad poor MAGAs) are considered invaders who make suburban neighborhoods unsafe and bother the white housewives who inhabit them. It has long been clear that Trump has distain for low income people; this just makes it transparent.
I leave this with some Scripture from James 2 –
My brothers,[a] show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?
A feature of the evangelical world since Trump was nominated and elected has been the inability of many of Trump’s evangelical supporters to see Trump’s flaws. John Fea (who will be one of my guests in a future interview) coined the term “court evangelical” to describe these evangelical leaders. Robert Jeffress, Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell are often named among these court evangelicals. Another evangelical figure which has puzzled many observers due to the strength of his dedication to Trump is Eric Metaxas.
Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.
Metaxas once attributed the quote to Dietrich Bonhoeffer but it doesn’t appear in any of his works or speeches. Instead of acknowledging this and making a public correction, Metaxas has just stopped attributing the quote to Bonhoeffer. Consequently, hundreds, if not thousands of people continue to cite Metaxas as the source of a bogus Bonhoeffer quote.
In our interview, Thornbury analyzes Metaxas, but that is not the most riveting part to me. When Greg describes his journey from evangelical college president to where he is now, I believe many evangelicals will relate. There has been pressure to adopt Trumpism as an evangelical and those who don’t go along lose social capital in that world. Students of American religious and political history will be interested in hearing about Greg’s experience. Greg was in the inner circle and describes what it was like to see conservative Christians first tolerate then venerate an unworthy President.
Trumpism is the newest theme in my 15 years of blogging but in a way it is an extension of many themes I am familiar with. The narcissism of celebrity pastors, the false history of Christian nationalism, the anti-science dogmatism of many evangelical leaders, and the single-mindedness and bias of culture warring all come together in Trumpism.
So as a new friend in this struggle, I thank Greg for his time and talents.
Gregory Alan Thornbury, Ph.D., has been a college philosophy and theology professor, dean, and president of The King’s College in New York City. In addition to several books on theology and culture, he is the author of Why Should The Devil Have All the Good Music: Larry Norman and the Perils of Christian Rock (Random House, 2018) – a critically acclaimed biography that has been reviewed by The New York Times, The New Yorker, National Public Radio, and was awarded as the most influential book in arts and culture by Christianity Today for 2019. A popular writer and speaker on philosophy, religion, and the arts, he currently serves as Senior Vice President at the New York Academy of Art in Tribeca, founded by Andy Warhol. He is also a consultant for Good Country Pictures, who is currently working on film adaptations of the short stories and novels of Willa Cather, Walker Percy, and Flannery O’Connor for film and television.
Here we are in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic and Donald Trump is going to have another indoor rally, this time in a church. If you get sick, you can’t blame anybody but yourself. In fact, as with the rally in Tulsa, you have to sign a waiver to get in.
The rally is being held in The Dream Center (a mega church), and is put on by Turning Point USA’s Students for Trump. I wonder if parents have to sign for the minors who attend.
In any case, no one is responsible. Another way of saying it is that many people are irresponsible.
Dream City Church must not be too confident that their new ionization technology to kill all the COVID-19 in the place. Hat tip to the Friendly Atheist for this item. Although the church has since taken down the video, this Twitter user has it:
A megachurch is hosting Trump’s rally on Tuesday in Phoenix. These two con-men falsely claim they’ve installed a system which kills 99.9% of COVID-19.
Earlier today, I wrote the company, CleanAirEXP, and asked for the research backing. I haven’t heard anything yet. The company has tried the technology on a surrogate virus, not COVID-19. Other companies have studied this approach and some use it on airplanes. Limited work has been done on COVID-19 in small spaces. According to a presentation posted just today on YouTube, small spaces can be neutralized, but they did not say if a large church space has been tested with people singing and yelling. The salesman for the technology suggested sneezing or coughing next to a person would allow COVID-19 to spread to people in close proximity.
Whatever the capability in this church, none of the people hosting or running the event want to be responsible for any sickness and death that come from it. I hope it obvious that no one should attend this event, even if you support Trump.
This month marks 15 years of blogging and this is my 5,000th post. I always thought it might be fun and light but this one is not. It is a lament.
Yesterday evening in Washington, D.C., Donald Trump told a Rose Garden audience that he had deployed the National Guard to disperse crowds and stop violence. It wasn’t clear at that moment but his order was being carried out as he spoke. Not far away in Lafayette square near St. John’s Episcopal Church, peaceful protestors populated the area. Around 6:30pm, the Guard began actively pushing the assembly from the area with shields, tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash grenades. Once the area was cleared, Trump walked to the same area with an entorage of officials for a photo op holding a Bible in front of St. John’s church. In short, Donald Trump ordered force on peaceful protestors so he could get a picture using religious images.
This is a frightening new low. There wasn’t an effort to hide it. Ample eyewitness accounts and video exist. This was a power play. Apparently, Trump and his advisors believe his base — including white evangelicals — will fall in line.
Below, I have posted video and various accounts and reflections on the event.
The following is a portion of an eyewitness account of the event from Gina Gerbasi (click the link to read her entire post):
Around 6:15 or 6:30, the police started really pushing protestors off of H Street (the street between the church and Lafayette Park, and ultimately, the White House. They started using tear gas and folks were running at us for eyewashes or water or wet paper towels. At this point, Julia, one of our seminarians for next year (who is a trauma nurse) and I looked at each other in disbelief. I was coughing, her eyes were watering, and we were trying to help people as the police – in full riot gear – drove people toward us. Julia and her classmates left and I stayed with the BLM folks trying to help people. Suddenly, around 6:30, there was more tear gas, more concussion grenades, and I think I saw someone hit by a rubber bullet – he was grasping his stomach and there was a mark on his shirt. The police in their riot gear were literally walking onto the St. John’s, Lafayette Square patio with these metal shields, pushing people off the patio and driving them back. People were running at us as the police advanced toward us from the other side of the patio. We had to try to pick up what we could. The BLM medic folks were obviously well practiced. They picked up boxes and ran. I was so stunned I only got a few water bottles and my spray bottle of eyewash. We were literally DRIVEN OFF of the St. John’s, Lafayette Square patio with tear gas and concussion grenades and police in full riot gear. We were pushed back 20 feet, and then eventually – with SO MANY concussion grenades – back to K street. By the time I got back to my car, around 7, I was getting texts from people saying that Trump was outside of St. John’s, Lafayette Square. I literally COULD NOT believe it. WE WERE DRIVEN OFF OF THE PATIO AT ST. JOHN’S – a place of peace and respite and medical care throughout the day – SO THAT MAN COULD HAVE A PHOTO OPPORTUNITY IN FRONT OF THE CHURCH!!! PEOPLE WERE HURT SO THAT HE COULD POSE IN FRONT OF THE CHURCH WITH A BIBLE! HE WOULD HAVE HAD TO STEP OVER THE MEDICAL SUPPLIES WE LEFT BEHIND BECAUSE WE WERE BEING TEAR GASSED!!!!
“An ally of all peaceful protestors” said Donald Trump in his speech; an ally unless those protestors get in the way of his photo op.
The caption to the next video reads: “It began with Attorney General Bill Barr standing with his hands casually in his pockets, not wearing a tie, surveying the scene at Lafayette Park across from the White House, where several thousand protesters had gathered for more demonstrations after the police killing of George Floyd.”
Here is another eyewitness account which was posted as a comment on court evangelical Johnnie Moore’s fawning description of Trump.
I was there. Trump is a coward. This is what he did to clear the street. Sent a militarized police after peaceful Americans.
The bishop of the diocese of the St John Church, Miriam Budde, reacted with condemnation of Trump’s action.
Tonight President just used a Bible and a church of my diocese as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus and everything that our church stands for. To do so, he sanctioned the use of tear gas by police officers in riot gear to clear the church yard. 1/1
We are followers of Jesus. In no way do we support the President’s incendiary response to a wounded, grieving nation. We stand with those seeking justice for the death of George Floyd through the sacred act of peaceful protest.
To use the Bible in a photo op, after clearing peaceful protestors from Lafayette Park with, The Hill reported, “tear gas and smoke bombs hissing” so he could walk to a church, was simultaneously unhelpful to the current situation and at odds with the message of that Bible.
Former political editor at Christian Post, Napp Nazzworth took Johnnie Moore to task:
Johnnie, my goodness, how did you become so out of touch? Firing teargas into a crowd of peaceful protesters so you can use the Holy Word of God as a political prop is the act that hinders our national healing, not those trying to bring awareness of injustice.
So this is a lament. I recall similar worries, although in a much younger mind and body, in the 1960s. I had a youthful optimism then and while I am still hopeful that our institutions will hold, I am more realistic now. We must all rehearse our rights and remind each other about them. I hope Trump’s base will see through this and turn lament into change.
UPDATE: Trump’s court evangelicals are out in force to spin Trump’s photo op.
NEW: Johnnie Moore, Informal Evangelical Advisor to @realDonaldTrump Admin with blunt words for Episcopal & Catholic Archbishops: “…they were part of the problem today, not the solution.” Says they were, “spreading misinformation” like China & Iran. Read Full statement pic.twitter.com/eZKRbf5Dj6