On Wednesday, when President Trump embraced an immigration bill that would give priority to English speakers with job skills over family members, I figured the prophets of the evangelical world would be all over him. After all, wasn’t it Jerry Falwall, Sr. who wrote in his 1980 manifesto Listen America, “The family is the fundamental building block and the basic unit of our society, and its continued health is a prerequisite for a strong and prosperous nation”?
So something was needed from the family values crowd along the lines of the statement issued by Austin Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, who chairs the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration:
The United States supports families and should not throw up obstacles to their unity. Unfortunately, the RAISE Act would have our nation turn its back on this long and storied tradition of welcoming families setting out to build a better life.
But no, as with every other Trumpian affront to their professed principles, the President’s house prophets either tell him what he wants to hear or forever hold their peace.
Which puts me in mind of the wonderful story in 1 Kings 22, where Ahab, the wicked king of Israel, is trying to get King Jehoshaphat of Judea to join him in attacking the city of Ramoth Gilead. Jehoshaphat asks that God be consulted, so Ahab calls together his 400 prophets, who tell him to go ahead, he’ll be victorious.
Jehoshaphat doesn’t want to believe them, however, and asks if there isn’t another prophet of the Lord to inquire of. There’s Micaiah, says Ahab, “but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad.”
Micaiah is nevertheless summoned, and the first words out of his mouth are, “Attack and be victorious, for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.” Ahab insists, however, that he speak the truth, and so he does: “I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd.”
“Didn’t I tell you that he never prophesies anything good about me, but only bad?” says Ahab.
But here’s the beauty part:
19 Micaiah continued, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. 20 And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’
“One suggested this, and another that. 21 Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’
22 “‘By what means?’ the Lord asked.
“‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said.
“‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the Lord. ‘Go and do it.’
23 “So now the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you.”
In other words, according Micaiah, all that prophetic encouragement was just God setting a trap to destroy the king. Ahab doesn’t buy it. He throws the prophet in prison, attacks Ramoth Gilead, and is killed.
If I were one of Trump’s’s house prophets, I’d be pondering whether all the encouragement they’re giving him isn’t actually the work of a deceiving spirit from the Lord, intended to destroy his presidency. Such as, for example, their enticement to ban transgender people from the military, a policy that is opposed by Republican senators, the Pentagon, military families, and the American people generally.
Of course, if one of those prophets stands up like Micaiah, odds are the President won’t listen to him. Which, as in the case of Micaiah and Ahab, would be all to the good.