Two evangelical Christian leaders were among the 18 individuals indicted in Georgia Aug. 14 and charged with criminally conspiring with Donald Trump to overturn his 2020 election loss.
Jenna Ellis, an attorney who has worked with many conservative Christian organizations, was indicted on two counts for:
- Making false allegations of election fraud at press conferences and in meetings with legislators of Georgia, Arizona and Michigan.
- Promoting fake elector schemes in multiple states.
- Writing two legal memos that illegally advised Vice President Mike Pence to disregard legitimate Electoral College votes from Georgia and other states.
Stephen Cliffgard Lee, pastor of Living Word Lutheran Church near Chicago and founder of Peace Officer Ministries, is charged with seeking to influence witness Ruby Freeman, who was falsely accused of bringing a suitcase full of fake Biden ballots to Georgia’s State Farm Arena during ballot counting. Lee, who is white, also worked with representatives of Black Voices for Trump to influence Freeman and convince her to admit to the false accusations made against her.
Ellis already censured
Jenna Ellis is a homeschooled attorney who parlayed a thin professional resume, a self-published book and a good TV presence to land prestigious positions with James Dobson and others before joining legal teams at the Trump White House and his 2020 campaign.
She worked closely with Rudy Giuliani and others as part of what she described as a “crack legal team,” but that team was unsuccessful in dozens of court cases in states Trump lost.
On February 10 this year, Ellis signed an agreement that declared a public censure of her as an attorney who has violated ethics standards and is guilty of “dishonesty.”
She was censured for misconduct and confessed to operating from a “selfish motive” while making “misrepresentations” with “a reckless state of mind.” She nearly lost her license to practice law.
Ellis signed an admission that “her conduct … undermined the American public’s confidence in the presidential election, violating her duty of candor to the public” as she promoted false election fraud claims in courtrooms, in state capitols, on Christian media and on Fox News, which recently paid $787 million to settle a defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems. Ellis paid the Colorado court an administrative fee of $224.
But she’s still lying
But Ellis still changes her tune when she’s not in a courtroom being censured and continues to claim the election was rigged.
“The Democrats and the Fulton County DA are criminalizing the practice of law,” she said in a post about the indictments on Twitter. “I am resolved to trust the Lord and I will simply continue to honor, praise and serve him. I deeply appreciate all of my friends who have reached out offering encouragement and support.”
Her Twitter account still features old posts repeating her false claims, including a Nov. 21, 2020, post (“No one really believes this election was honest. It was STOLEN and we all know it.”) and a Dec. 3 post about a Georgia Senate hearing on election fraud that was cited in her indictment:
The VIDEO EVIDENCE being shown in the Georgia Senate Hearing is SHOCKING. Room cleared at 10:30 p.m. 4 people stay behind. Thousands of ballots pulled from under a table in suitcases and scanned. FRAUD!!!
Ties to evangelicals groups
Ellis has worked with a number of Christian groups, none of which have acknowledged or addressed her censure or indictments. Among those:
Cedarville University. Ellis attended the Ohio school before transferring to Colorado State University. It offers a Jenna Lynn Ellis Award, an endowed scholarship for junior or senior students planning to attend law school. The school’s website features an article about Ellis and the scholarship.
Colorado Christian University and Centennial Institute. CCU President Bill Armstrong recognized Ellis’ talent in front of a camera. She served as a CCU professor (CCU originally called her “Dr. Ellis” before correcting the title). Currently she is a Fellow in Constitutional Law and Public Policy at CCU’s Centennial Institute, and she spoke at the Institute’s Western Conservative Summit this summer.
James Dobson Family Institute. Dobson named Ellis director of the Public Policy Center at JDFI, the nonprofit he founded after leaving Focus, and introduced her to Fox News, where she was seen by Trump. Tim Clinton, a co-host of Dobson’s “Family Talk” radio show, said, “Jenna’s talents are obvious to anyone who has met her in person or seen her on television providing excellent policy and legal analysis.”
Liberty University’s Standing for Freedom Center. Ellis is a Senior Fellow at the center, where she has contributed articles on truth and how to “Defend Freedom from Democratic Party Authoritarians.”
John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church. Ellis was one of two attorneys successfully defending Grace against COVID vaccine mandates on behalf of the Thomas More Society. Grace won payments totaling $800,000 from California and Los Angeles County after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the mandates, and the payments were forwarded to the society. Ellis appears in “The Essential Church,” a movie about the case produced by Grace.
Summit Ministries. Ellis is an alumnus and faculty at Summit Ministries, the Christian worldview program for youth. She also appeared in the ministry’s podcast, “The Dr. Jeff Show,” to encourage believers “to stand for God’s truth and expect persecution whenever we follow Jesus Christ.”
Ellis hosts “The Jenna Ellis Show” on the Salem Podcast Network, where she focuses on “the rule of law and the importance of integrity in our elections.” She has appeared on the Christian Broadcasting Network and condemned government tyranny in a podcast from Concerned Women for America.
Lee’s pressure campaign
Stephen Cliffgard Lee is a 70-year-old pastor in Chicago who formerly worked as a police chaplain in Colorado Springs. He is charged with conspiring with Trump associates to pressure Ruby Freeman, a Black poll worker who had been falsely accused by Giuliana and Trump of bringing a suitcase full of fake Biden votes into the State Farm Arena during ballot counting.
Freeman and her daughter, Shaye Moss, who also worked in Georgia elections, testified to the House January 6 committee about how their lives were turned upside-down after Trump publicly attacked them and conservative media piled on.
Lee made at least three efforts to reach Freeman at her home, falsely claiming to offer her “pro bono” help while conspiring with others to get her to admit to the fabricated charges against her. Lee, who is white, later enlisted two Black people — a publicist for musician Kanye West and a member of Black Voices for Trump — to help him pressure Freeman.
Meet the evangelical Trump Truthers: Jenna Ellis and Eric Metaxas | Analysis by Mark Wingfield