Trump’s unlikely Christian covenant – Anthony Zurcher

Evangelicals form a powerful voting bloc

 

 

Donald Trump loves evangelical voters, and they love him.

That much was clear on Friday, as the president basked in one standing ovation after another during his speech before the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC.

How the thrice-married New Yorker, despite his sometimes salty language, brash demeanour and documented boasts of sexual belligerency, has formed such an unlikely bond with social conservatives is a complicated question.

In the end, it comes down to power. Mr Trump has it – and, if he wants to keep it, he needs the support of the kind of social conservative activists who show up every year at the Omni Hotel to organise and preach about the need to restore Christian values in the US government.

For evangelicals, Mr Trump may be an unlikely vessel – but so far, he has delivered the goods.

“He’s not perfect, but his heart is in the right place,” said summit-attendee Teresa Ledesma, a health industry worker from Lansing, Michigan. “We believe him to be God’s champion. God needed a fighter, someone who was unapologetic. He’s gone into the lion’s den for us.”

God, flags and Merry Christmas

In his speech, the president offered a two-paragraph catechism for this newly minted alliance – a shared embrace of the “customs, beliefs and traditions that defined who we are as a nation and as a people”.

It includes protecting the “sacred dignity of every human life” (read: opposing legal abortion), observing traditional family values, defending religious freedom, honouring soldiers and law enforcement, and respecting our “great American flag”.

Mr Trump followed it with a litany of promises he said he has kept to these religious voters.

He nominated a reliable conservative, Neil Gorsuch, to the Supreme Court. He loosened government mandates that health-insurance plans include free contraceptive coverage. He eased restrictions on political activities by religious organisations. He increased restrictions on government support for international organisations that provided family planning and abortion counselling.

And, drawing some of the biggest applause from the crowds, he said “we’re saying Merry Christmas again”.

“I could see right away that there was something in him, but I didn’t believe it could be as good as it’s been,” said Clifford Rice, a lawyer from Valparaiso, Indiana, who was attending his first Value Voters Summit.

It was just two years earlier when candidate Trump, seeking his party’s presidential nomination, stood before the summit and held up his childhood bible, telling the crowd: “I believe in God. I believe in the Bible. I’m a Christian.”

A common enemy

Many were sceptical at the time, seeming more in tune with the Senator Ted Cruz, a preacher’s son from Texas, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee – an actual Baptist minister – or Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who has his own evangelical roots.

A straw poll after that year’s event had Mr Trump a distant fifth place – with only 5% of the vote.

Evident even then, however, was the anti-establishment fervour that had gripped much of the right, including social conservatives. They cheered, for instance, when they learned on the first day of the conference that House Speaker John Boehner had resigned.

Mr Trump would go on to become the voice of that anti-Washington anger and ride it to his party’s nomination – and the presidency. In fact, he would win a larger share of the evangelical vote (80%) than Republican Mitt Romney in 2012 (78%) or John McCain in 2009 (74%).

Now Mr Trump holds the highest political office in the land, but he’s not done railing against the political establishment. This time, it’s Senate Republicans who have been insufficiently supportive of his agenda – and social conservatives throwing their support fully behind him.

In an opinion piece in Breitbart News, the website of record for Trumpism, summit organiser Tony Perkins called Senate Republicans “the promise-breaking caucus”.

“We’ve been given an opportunity by God that not every generation has had; to turn the nation, to change the trajectory of this country and revive our Republican from the spiritual, moral and economic decay brought on by the radical policies of the left,” he writes.

In other words, it’s time to “make America great again” – with God’s help.

Missing from this year’s summit were any Republicans senators, in fact. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Mr Cruz, Mr Rubio and South Carolina’s Tim Scott, who were once listed on the organiser’s website as possible speakers, were nowhere to be found.

The new face of the party

Instead, the line-up was dotted with Mr Trump’s team, present and past. Senior White House aide Kellyanne Conway spoke on Friday. Former advisers Sebastian Gorka and Steve Bannon, considered the mastermind of Mr Trump’s ethno-nationalist populism, took the stage on Saturday.

One after another, they touted this administration’s efforts to advance issues dear to evangelical voters – and railed against a Washington establishment that they said was conspiring against their collective agenda.

Media captionBannon’s “war” on Republicans

It wasn’t too long ago that the leaders of this Washington establishment – the pro-trade, tax-cutting Wall Street fiscal conservatives and their big-business associates across the country – were the ones who broke bread with the evangelicals. It never was a completely comfortable alliance, and at times social conservatives groused that their issues took a back seat to other Republican concerns.

The ties held through the Ronald Reagan years, however, and appeared stronger than ever when born-again Christian George W Bush became president in 2001.

Now that Mr Trump is the top dog, however, it’s clear it was always a marriage of convenience – and if Mr Trump, for all his flaws, can deliver for them, that’s what matters. Even if it means the president is followed on the Values Voter stage by Bill Bennett, the former education secretary who has made a career of preaching the importance of personal morality on the part of US political leaders. Even if it means listening to Mr Bannon talk about kicking ass and going to war or Mr Gorka saying they would “damage” their left-wing opponents.

Mission unaccomplished

US President Donald J. Trump (R) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (L) speak to the media after meeting for lunch at the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 16 October 2017

Image copyright EPA

 

On Monday afternoon Mr Trump appeared with Mr McConnell in the White House Rose Garden and professed his “fantastic” relationship with most of the Republicans in the Senate.

“The Republican Party is very, very unified,” he said.

A more sincere expression of the president’s feelings about Republicans in Congress probably came earlier in the day, in comments to reporters during a presidential cabinet meeting.

“I’m not going to blame myself, I’ll be honest,” he said. “They’re not getting the job done.”

If the Values Voter Summit is any indication, evangelical voters largely agree.

And when mid-term primaries and the general election roll around next year, a lot of Republican politicians who once counted on the support of social conservatives could come to the unpleasant realisation that the party they once knew has been remade in Mr Trump’s image.

 

SOURCE

Kent school cuts ties with Christian group after parents’ complaints

Group of parents say children have been given hateful messages in assemblies and lessons led by charity CrossTeach

St John’s Church of England primary school in Tunbridge Wells. Photograph: Google Maps

 

A primary school in Kent has cuts its ties with a Christian group after parents complained of religious extremism and claimed children had been distressed by comments about gay marriage and a demonstration of “God’s power” in assemblies.

Dan Turvey, the headteacher of St John’s Church of England primary school in Tunbridge Wells, told parents in a letter that he was ending invitations to the charity CrossTeach to lead school assemblies and take lessons, after what he called a campaign by parents.

The group of parents said they had been raising concerns for several months, and that the school had failed to address a string of complaints.

Incidents included a harvest festival assembly in which a CrossTeach guest speaker attempted to demonstrate “the destructive power of God” by smashing a model boat.

One parent claimed her son had been told last week that “men can’t marry men”.

The group of parents said in a statement: “We recognise and respect the school’s Christian values but think there is a brand of Christianitythat is abusing that respect. The basis of [our] complaint relates purely to concerns over the welfare and safeguarding of children who we believe are being exposed to potentially damaging ideology.”

One parent with a child at the school, who did not wish to be identified, said: “The fact that the school didn’t care or do anything about it is unbelievable. We have tried to engage with them but they weren’t really interested. What we don’t like is the hateful messages that have been given to our children.”

Turvey said the parents believed CrossTalk and others from St John’s church had an “extremist set of beliefs” but said he had not heard extremist views being expressed at the school.

“After careful consideration I have decided that we will end our regular commitment to CrossTeach and that they will no longer lead assemblies or take lessons,” Turvey told parents in the letter sent on Monday.

He said he was “deeply saddened” to take the step. “They do not deserve the tarnishing of their good name and allegations of extremism that have taken place over the last few months,” Turvey said in his letter. He said the group would still be allowed to run voluntary after-school clubs.

CrossTeach failed to answer requests for a response. Turvey told the Guardian: “Things we’ve read and heard from parents … we don’t recognise them. It’s clear there’s been some misunderstanding.”

As a faith school, St John’s has more leeway to promote the Church of England and Christianity to pupils. But faith schools must still adhere to Department for Education guidelines regarding fundamental British values, including equality and non-discrimination in matters such as gay marriage, as well as respect and tolerance for other faiths.

In recent years several Muslim faith schools have been penalised by the DfE and Ofsted for failing to respect British values, while some non-faith state schools

have been cited for failing to adequately prepare pupils for life in modern Britain.

In his letter to parents, Turvey bemoaned the influence of social media on the school during the campaign by parents.

“It is my view that the use of social media can be destructive and counterproductive. In this case I believe that the damage caused by the use of this media will take a very long time to repair,” he said, adding that it was clear “relationships have been soured and trust eroded” at the school.

Turvey told parents: “The past few months have been stressful, tiring and a distraction from our focus,” with the school facing an Ofsted inspection and financial difficulties.

 

 

SOURCE

 

New Music: Emem Washington – In The Name Of Jesus 


Singer, Author, Attorney and Speaker, Emem Washington releases “In the Name of Jesus” off her “Rebirth” album for free download.

The song “In the Name of Jesus” talks about the potency of the name and  Emem goes further to explore the possibilities of what is obtainable in the name of Jesus.

Emem Washington whose music is predominantly Urban slows down the pace to deliver a Contemporary style of Gospel, thereby delivering a spirit-filled worship through her declaration of belief in the name of Jesus.

The US based Gospel singer & coach for the overlooked/underestimated hails from Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. She recently released her debut album, “Rebirth” (available on iTunes & other music outlets), which is an eclectic Christian and inspirational album with “something for everybody”.

Emem draws her inspiration from her own story reminding her audience that, no matter what their current situation looks like, their story is not over.

With a B.S in Biology, a Juris Doctorate in Law and an LL.M in Intellectual Property and Information Law, Emem is not your average singer/songwriter. She uses her multi-faceted passion to to serve God and humanity encouraging others to learn how to thrive no matter where they are, and to realize that they are not too old (or too young) to fulfill their God-given dreams.

She documents her experiences and feats on  ememwashington.com, where she has a FREE gift – “10 Ways To Uplift Your Life (No Matter How Down You Are Right Now)” – for you!

Listen & Download

DOWNLOAD

Get “Rebirth” (Album) on:

iTunes

Amazon

VIDEO: Jahdiel – Just Like You


Jahdiel comes to you this time with the outstanding and amazing video of her popular single “Just Like You“. The songJust Like You makes us to understand that we are made in the express image of God and we are one with Him. As you watch and enjoy this video may it bring to mind the finished works of Christ and who we are in Him.

Don’t forget to subscribe to her YouTube channel, like and share this amazing song and video with your friends and loved ones. Happy viewing. God bless you

Watch video below