Robert Jeffress, senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, insisted on recent episodes of his “Pathway to Victory” broadcast that “America is a Christian Nation.” Jeffress, who hosted Vice President Mike Pence for a “Celebrate Freedom Sunday” worship service on June 28, is a regular fixture on Fox News, where he relentlessly promotes President Donald Trump and denounces the president’s opponents. Pathway to Victory is aired daily on more than 900 radio stations in the U.S., according to First Baptist.
In the week between Pence’s appearance and the Fourth of July, Jeffress devoted two Pathways to Victory episodes to the theme “America at a Crossroads,” followed by episodes on July 1 and July 2 titled “America is a Christian Nation.” The overlapping content of those programs—which seem to recycle sermons Jeffress has delivered—pushed several themes:
- America was founded as a Christian nation.
- The First Amendment was designed to put all Christian denominations on equal footing, not to make Christianity “subservient” to other religions.
- Secularists and other infidels have perverted the meaning of the Constitution.
- Politics in the U.S. today is a battle between good and evil.
To buttress his case that America has always been a Christian nation, Jeffress took a page from oft-debunked religious-right pseudo-historian David Barton, cherry-picking quotes from the Founding Fathers and early court decisions. Jeffress cited an 1844 case about a wealthy man in Pennsylvania who left money in his will to start a school for orphans with the stipulation that no Christian minister could teach in the school. Some of the man’s heirs sued on various grounds; they argued in part that the prohibition on clergy teaching at the school discriminated against Christianity. The Supreme Court rejected that argument and upheld the will, saying that the prohibition on ministers as teachers did not violate the state constitution, impugn Christianity or prevent lay people from teaching the Bible. Jeffress quoted approvingly from a section of the ruling:
Likewise, the court had something to say about those who would say, ‘Well then, you’ve got to treat all religions the same.’ They said, ‘It is unnecessary for us, however, to consider what the legal effect of such a device in Pennsylvania for the establishment of a school or college for the propagation of Judaism or deism or any other form of infidelity. Such a case is not to be presumed to exist in a Christian country.”
Jeffress also cited a 1799 decision by the Maryland Supreme Court that included the assertion, “By our form of government, the Christian religion is the established religion” of the United States. Jeffress adds:
Now think about it. Seven years after the ratification of the First Amendment, this court says we have an established religion. It is the Christian religion. They understood exactly what the founders had in mind. They understood that yes, this is a Christian nation, but no one denomination is to be elevated [over] another. ‘Cause look at the second phrase. Yes, the Christian religion is the established religion, ‘and all sects and denominations of Christians are placed upon the same equal footing and are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty.’
It seems less likely that Jeffress or his religious-right allies would embrace the rest of the holding in that case, which inserted the court into a dispute over a congregation’s effort to dismiss and replace its minister.
Jeffress did discuss the letter by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists, in which Jefferson praised the First Amendment for having built “a wall of separation between Church & State.” But, Jeffress claimed, “The context of this was the elevation of one Christian denomination over another Christian denomination. Never in their wildest imaginations did Thomas Jefferson or the Founding Fathers ever believe that that First Amendment would be perverted in such a way as to try to separate our country from its Christian heritage.”
In fact, Jefferson was extremely proud of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom—widely considered a precursor to the First Amendment—and the legislative battle that prevented “Jesus Christ” from being inserted into its preamble, which made clear, in Jefferson’s words, that the law was “meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo and infidel of every denomination.”
In his broadcasts, Jeffress cited a litany of commonly voiced religious-right complaints about Supreme Court rulings, beginning with a series of 20th Century rulings that strengthened church-state separation and put an end to official prayer and devotional Bible readings in public schools. Contrasting them with the language used by 19th Century courts and politicians. Jeffress asked:
And here’s the question: What has changed? What has changed? In these 150 years, has the Constitution changed and nobody told us? Is that what happened? Of course not. What has happened is we have allowed the secularists, the humanists, the atheists, the infidels, to pervert our Constitution into something our Founding Fathers never intended. And it is time for Americans to stand up and say ‘Enough! We’re not going to allow this in our Christian country anymore.’ It is time to put an end to this.
Jeffress used two metaphors for describing the court rulings he claims perverted the Constitution. In one telling, each case was a stone building the wall of separation ever higher. In another, each case was like an explosion set in a building’s foundation to bring it down in an implosion. Roe v. Wade and the marriage equality decision in Obergefell v. Hodges were other “explosions,” he said, claiming that the country is living in that moment between the explosions and the building’s collapse: “No nation that outlaws the mention of God in the public square, that celebrates the murder of its own children, that destroys the most basic unit of society—the family—no nation is going to survive that.”
But Jeffress doesn’t want his audience to despair. “No, this is not depressing as long as you understand our purpose as Christians. If you understand our purpose as Christians, there’s never been a better time to be alive and living in America than right now.” Christians, he said, are meant to push back against evil. And since God designed government to be a “restrainer of evil,” he said, “when we elect government officials, we are determining the moral and spiritual direction of our country.”
Jeffress is not subtle. Citing the candidates’ different positions on abortion, he portrayed the 2016 election between Trump and Hillary Clinton as a battle “between good and evil.” And he said that’s true of politics in the U.S. today. “If you don’t hear another word I say this morning, hear this: what we’re facing in this country is not a battle between Republicans and Democrats. It is a battle between good and evil, between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan,” he said. “That’s exactly what is at stake in this country.”
On the recent broadcasts, Jeffress talked about his church’s $135 million, six-block campus in downtown Dallas, which he said is debt-free. He repeatedly asked people to contribute money to a $575,000 matching campaign to “replenish the arsenal” and expand his program’s reach before a July 5 deadline. First Baptist received between $2 million and $5 million in federal coronavirus relief funds, according to records released recently by the Trump administration. Jeffress also promoted his most recent book, “Praying for America,” which urges people to vote for “God-honoring candidates.”
The Christian-nation version of the U.S. founding promoted by Jeffress and Barton has been widely challenged by historians, including evangelical Christians like John Fea, author of “Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?”
This article was first published at Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission.
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Caitlyn Jenner’s Campaign Announcement ‘Landed With a Thud’: MSNBC
As Republicans push ahead with their long-shot bid to unseat Gov. Gavin Newsom in a recall election, former Olympian and transgender celebrity Caitlyn Jenner filed the paperwork to challenge him as a Republican — but on MSNBC, reporter Scott Cohn noted that her controversial candidacy is already flailing in the water.
“What are folks saying about her candidacy?” asked anchor Alex Witt.
“Well, Alex, we know who’s not saying anything so far. Caitlyn Jenner’s daughters, Kylie and Kendall, have not had any comment. Neither has ex-wife Kris Jenner or any of the Kardashians,” said Cohn. “But there are other indications that the idea of a Gov. Caitlyn Jenner is not taking off. She is presenting herself as a ‘compassionate disrupter,’ in her words, and one of the things she thinks she can disrupt is some of the traditional political calculus here in California, running as a socially liberal, fiscal conservative. Well, that, at least in the early going, appears to have landed with a bit of a thud.”
“Equality California is the state’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group,” said Cohn. “They tweeted right away yesterday, ‘Make no mistake, we can’t wait to elect a trans governor of California, but Caitlyn Jenner spent years telling the LGBTQ+ community to trust Donald Trump.’ They say they will take a hard pass. And that may be the least of Caitlyn Jenner’s worries. She broke with President Trump back in 2018, but there’s also just the issue of the demographics in this state. It is deeper and deeper blue every year, and experts point to the recall campaign and the signatures that have come disproportionately from Republican pockets in the state, think Fresno, San Diego, Orange County. They say that as a Republican, Caitlyn Jenner does not have the math on her side.”
Image via Shutterstock
‘Unhinged’: Texas Republican Dan Crenshaw Mocked for Calling Companies Opposing Voter Suppression ‘Fascism’
Republican U.S. Congressman Dan Crenshaw of Texas is getting roundly criticized and mocked after attacking the growing number of major corporations publicly opposing voter suppression laws, like Georgia’s, and calling their statements and actions “fascism.”
Republicans increasingly are tossing around terms like “socialism,” “communism,” “cancel culture,” and “fascism” without using them properly or even, as some on social media charged Crenshaw with, not even knowing what they actually mean.
Dictionary.com defines fascism as “a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.”
Elements of that sound far more like former President Donald Trump than companies speaking out against anti-democracy laws.
On Fox News Wednesday night Crenshaw claimed these companies are “venturing into territory that they don’t understand, that they that they don’t know that they know nothing about.”
These companies, from Major League Baseball to Delta to Coca Cola, and more, are denouncing voter suppression, and they have very large legal teams to help them understand these laws.
“In an attempt to what – this is what I call the phenomenon that that’s going on, it’s it’s progressive fascism, because what is fascism?” Crenshaw asks. “Well, it’s the it’s the it’s the regimentation of the economy, of society, and it’s the forced suppression of of your opposition. That’s what’s happening right now. The Democrats have successfully captivated the institutions, you know, pop culture, Hollywood, our education institutions and now our corporations into their own woke agenda,” Crenshaw charges.
“This is fascism, right, and they use cancel culture as a tool to impose their fascism on us, and so they’re always using this in these anti this ‘Anti Fascist’ labeling against the right, but they’re the ones who actually engage in the tactics and it’s time we expose that. That’s really what’s happening here and we should see it for what it is.”
GOP Rep. Dan Crenshaw compares corporations criticizing Republicans’ voting restrictions to “fascism.” pic.twitter.com/f9ggouQ8ne
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) April 8, 2021
Many disagree with Crenshaw’s claims, and mocked his lack of understanding and ignorance about society and the right – and the duty – these companies have to criticize unjust laws.
Everything is fascism to Crenshaw & his ilk – except the actual fascism they share seating with.
— Adam Henry Carrière (@CarriereHenry) April 8, 2021
Dan Crenshaw thinks cancel cultural is fascism. https://t.co/ofp6ckqOOJ
— Jake A Snider, Esq. 🇺🇸🧢 (@JakeASnider1) April 8, 2021
Dan Crenshaw uses the term ‘fascism’ like others within his party use ‘socialism’ and ‘communism’. None of them have a clue what these terms actually mean.
They’re simply angry that the world has evolved past them, leaving them in their bigoted boggy mire. https://t.co/aPff54nrOj
— Bryan 🇺🇸 (@swimmerbr78) April 8, 2021
Does Dan Crenshaw know what fascism is?
— The Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) April 8, 2021
“My name is Dan Crenshaw, and I don’t know what the word ‘Fascism’ means.”
— Max Burbank (@max_burbank) April 8, 2021
Fascism doesn’t mean what Dan Crenshaw thinks it means. He might want to look up the definition of terms, before he uses them. Fascism is much more akin to the agenda as manifested by the previous guy, and Crenshaw himself. https://t.co/OOrYmpJXhB
— M’Lynn Hartwell 🏳️🌈🎼 (@mlynn_hartwell) April 8, 2021
This is unhinged. https://t.co/3HYYJoOv2E
— David Corn (@DavidCornDC) April 8, 2021
Dan Crenshaw couldn’t pass a 4th grade history class. He thinks his tag words woke, cancel, fascism on his sound bites for FOX News makes his sound cool. It shows his ignorance. He is a disappointment, his state and family are so ashamed. The great state of Texas deserves better.
— Danielle Candela (@DanielleCandela) April 8, 2021
@DanCrenshawTX either doesn’t know what the word fascism means or, more likely, just knows that FoxNews viewers don’t know the definition of fascism. It’s just a buzzword evoking a boogeyman.
Crenshaw also screams “cancel culture” while Trump demands boycotts of US companies.🙄
— Only The Truth (@TantumVero) April 8, 2021
Fascism is a far-right form of government in which most of the country’s power is held by one ruler and nationalism is promoted at all costs…
Who in recent history does that remind you of and how often did Crenshaw support that guy? 🤔 https://t.co/ZagQAR7AOC
— Alexander Marks (@AlexMarksNV) April 8, 2021
Fuck you, Dan Crenshaw. Fascism is limiting the voice of the body politic.
Instead of suppressing the vote…why not earn it? If your policy is costing you votes…maybe you should examine your policy. https://t.co/t7vQz4EtsW
— Legbreaker (@Legbreaker4) April 8, 2021
Meaning: A political philosophy that exalts nation and often race above the individual. An authoritarian & nationalistic right-wing system of Government.
Poor Rep. Crenshaw seems confused. He thinks the “Democrats” act like Facists.
— Karen Farber (@Farbeka) April 8, 2021
Republicans pass a law. Private companies don’t like the law, so they speak out against it. Republicans cry “fascism.” https://t.co/xGqxb64GpO
— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) April 8, 2021
NBC White House Correspondent Says Gun Safety and Voting Rights Are ‘Far-Left Issues’
NBC White House correspondent Shannon Pettypiece this week asserted that gun safety reform and voting rights are “far-left issues.”
Pettypiece made the remark during a discussion on MSNBC about Democrats’ efforts to move voting rights legislation forward.
According to the reporter, White House officials are “spending a fair amount of time on outreach to Joe Manchin.”
“What’s an issue that a moderate Democrat like Joe Manchin would like? Infrastructure,” she observed. “So, you know, the White House is not moving hard into these far-left issues.”
“Certainly, they say they support the Voting Rights Act,” Pettypiece continued. “Certainly they say they would like to see gun reform legislation but are they heavily engaging to get those items next on Congress’s agenda? Not necessarily at this point.”
“It seems from what I’m told that President Biden’s instincts might be closer to to Joe Manchin’s than they are other members in the Democratic Party at this point,” she added.
Watch the video below from MSNBC.
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