President Donald Trump speaks before boarding Air Force One at Morristown Municipal Airport in Morristown, N.J., on Aug. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Giving thanks for Trump

A couple of days ago I got a call from the court evangelical I last spoke to over a year ago. What follows is a "rough transcript" of our conversation.

CE: Hello, Prof?

MS: Rev! It's been ages. What's up?

CE: I just want to wish you a happy Thanksgiving. And tell you what I'm thankful for this year. But I would like you to do me a favor though.

MS:  What's that?

CE: When you publish this conversation, would you mind not referring to me as a court evangelical? It's kind of demeaning.

MS: I'll think about it. But you know, if the shoe fits.... Anyway, thankful much?

CE: Yes I am. For Donald Trump.

MS: Really? Last time we talked you were off the reservation. You were bothered by all the president's men going to jail in the Russia investigation. You'd decided that Trump was Mammon, the demon of greed described in the Bible and "Paradise Lost." You were even going to preach on that.

CE: Yeah, I did. And just about half the congregation walked out. I had a whole lot of apologizing to do.

MS: So much for speaking truth to power, eh?

CE: But I also had a change of heart myself. Remember, that was before Brett Kavanaugh got on the Court. Now we've now got a real shot at reversing Roe and putting an end to legalized abortion.

MS: You think that outweighs everything else?

CE: Look, even the Catholic bishops, whose whole future depends on immigration, are still calling abortion the "preeminent" voting issue. So much for border cages. So much for the pope's pet climate change thing.

MS: Well, what about climate? Weren't you one of those who, back in 2008, pushed back against the Southern Baptist Convention's denialism by signing Jonathan Merritt's "A Southern Baptist Declaration on the Environment and Climate Change"?

CE: Yeah. But it wasn't much of a pushback. A lot of us signed that statement just to show we wanted to be part of the conversation. Look, it's not that I think the world isn't heating up. In my church we used to run the air conditioning from May to August. Now it's end of March through mid-October. You wouldn't believe the bills. The thing is, these global warmers are all about what they call anthropogenic climate change—human-caused. That totally leaves God out of the equation. The Bible teaches me that God's in charge of the Earth. I'm leaving it up to Him.

MS: Well, good luck with that. I predict you'll be running your air 12 months a year before you retire.

CE: Also, I'm really worried that we're still losing the culture war. You've heard how Chick-fil-A, that supposedly Christian corporation, won't be donating any more money to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Salvation Army. Because they're against same-sex-marriage. Poor Truett Cathy's turning over in his grave. And now J.D. Greear, the flipping president of the Southern Baptist Convention itself, is saying he prefers to call transgender people by their "preferred" pronouns.  He calls it "pronoun hospitality." I call it bullhockey. Religious liberty means never having to say you're sorry for standing against political correctness.

MS: So I take it you're not supporting the impeachment of the president.

CE: Ha ha. No I'm not. It's a coup designed to overturn the results of the 2016 election.

MS: Yep. As if overturning the results of a presidential election wasn't exactly what the Framers had in mind when they put it in the Constitution.

CE: OK, it's not much of a talking point. The real thing is, you liberals make an idol of democracy. Take a look at the Bible. There nothing pro-democratic in it—except when the Israelites ask God to give them a king and He gives them a king. Democracy is just a means to an end. The end I want is a godly society based on the Judeo-Christian value system. As long as the people of this country hewed to that system, democracy was fine, the best. But now, not so much. So we've got to put our thumb on the electoral scale—by gerrymandering, keeping ex-felons off the voting rolls, making it harder for Democrat voters to cast their ballots...

MS: And reelecting Donald Trump? 

CE: Bingo. He's the one that's been chosen to advance our agenda, by any means necessary. Thank God for Donald Trump.

MS: And I take it you're no fan of the separation of powers either.

CE: Not when our guy's president. There's no separation of powers in Heaven. Why does there have to be on Earth? Let the unitary executive's will be done.

MS: Well, Rev, I'd say "court evangelical" is too kind a name for you.

CE: Oh yeah? What name would you prefer?

MS: How about "whited sepulcher"?  

CE: How about this conversation is over?

MS: Have a nice day.

CE: You too. And the horse you rode in on.