Evangelical leaders who met privately and prayed with President Donald Trump in the White House Oct. 29 are using bully pulpits to portray Democrats’ impeachment efforts as an attack on conservative values.
“Evangelicals understand that the effort to impeach President Trump is really an effort to impeach our own deeply-held faith values, and we’re not going to allow that to happen,” Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, said Nov. 1 on Fox Business. “That’s why you’re getting such pushback to impeachment from his evangelical base.”
Jeffress, one of the first evangelical leaders to come out publicly in favor of Trump in the 2016 election, has been promoting a PRRI poll claiming that virtually all Republican white evangelical Protestants say the president should not be impeached or removed from office.
He said the reason evangelicals oppose impeachment is clear.
“Never in the history of America have we had a president who was a stronger warrior for the Judeo-Christian principles upon which this nation was founded than in President Donald J. Trump,” Jeffress said.
“The Democrats have been very honest about what they are going to do if they gain control of the Oval Office again,” Jeffress said. “You’ve heard it from the Democrat debate stage: They want to take away our right to religious liberty. They want to take away the right to bear arms. They want to take away the right to the most basic right of all, the right to life, by continuing this barbaric practice of abortion.”
“That’s why all of us who are Christians certainly see this is not a political skirmish,” he said. “This is a battle between good and evil.”
Jeffress, former Southern Baptist Convention president Jack Graham, Southern Baptist evangelist Jay Strack, and Greg Matte, pastor of First Baptist Church in Houston were among 25 names on a list of attendees reported by the Christian Broadcasting Network at last week’s briefing and celebration of Trump’s presidency in the Roosevelt Room.
According to McClatchy, faith leaders at the private meeting told the president that they saw impeachment proceedings initiated in September by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as an attack on their conservative agenda.
Last week the House of Representatives voted 232-196 to pass a resolution outlining “open and transparent investigative proceedings” to determine whether sufficient grounds exist for impeachment.
Franklin Graham, head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the humanitarian charity Samaritan’s Purse, called it “a sad day for America” and “just another attempt to tarnish and embarrass” the president.
“Our politics in this country has hit a new low,” Graham said Oct. 31 on Twitter. “Speaker Pelosi and her followers have weaponized the impeachment process.”
Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, earlier denounced the impeachment hearings as partisan and unjust.
“This manipulative and bogus ‘investigation’ is bad for our country and should be stopped,” Graham, SBC president in 2002-2004 tweeted Oct. 25. “Enough is enough.”
Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the inquiry a “fake scam” that will ultimately help Trump win re-election.
At an event in Nashville, Tennessee, the daughter of one-time presidential candidate and former Southern Baptist pastor Mike Huckabee, said the impeachment inquiry should not “even exist.”
“I think that the whole thing is a fake scam,” Sanders, who left the White House in June, said in comments quoted by The Tennessean. “I thought the Russia thing was a fake scam and I think this is just more of the same.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, President Trump vented about impeachment during his closed-door meeting with evangelical leaders, as well as during phone calls with lawmakers and at a pair of recent private fundraisers.
Fox News recently ended its contract with radio host Todd Starnes after Jeffress, a frequent guest, said that when Democrats pray, “apparently the god they worship is the pagan god of the Old Testament, Molech, who allowed for child sacrifice.”
“The God of the Bible doesn’t sanction the killing of millions and millions of children in the womb,” Jeffress said on Starnes’ final program Sept. 30. “I think the god they are worshiping is the god of their own imagination.”