Yesterday this blog examined a new effort by Christian nationalists to push their theocratic agenda in the states. At the risk sounding like a late-night TV infomercial huckster, today we’re compelled to say, “But wait! There’s more!”
The “more” in this case is news that former President Donald Trump is pulling together his old gang of far-right evangelical advisers in what is likely to be an effort to intervene in the 2022 midterm elections and perhaps pave the way for another Trump run in 2024.
According to Religion News Service reporter Jack Jenkins, TV preacher Paula White, who led faith-based efforts during the Trump presidency, held a conference call earlier this month with “70 executives” from various conservative groups and houses of worship to jumpstart the effort.
White referred to a shadowy Evangelical Advisory Board that existed during Trump’s time in office and was studded with Christian nationalist leaders.
“It grew to the most robust coalition in modern-day history,” White claimed. “Our unity brought unprecedented victories, influence and access.”
Jenkins reported that White was joined on the call by Jennifer Korn, who served as a special assistant to Trump through his White House Office of Public Liaison. Korn remarked that the new advisory board would be “continuing the work of the White House Office of Public Liaison on the outside to make sure that we are one strong voice.”
Trump joined the call, and, not surprisingly, took up most of the time by blustering about an election that he still won’t accept he lost. Jenkins reported that the former president groused about the fact that he didn’t do better with Catholic and Jewish voters in 2020 and criticized President Joe Biden’s record on religion issues – that record being Biden’s efforts to reverse Trump policies that misused religious freedom to justify discrimination and harm to LGBTQ people, women, religious minorities and the nonreligious, among others.
Trump also repeated the false claim the election was stolen from him, and he lied, again, about the role of religious groups in politics. He claimed that he “totally obliterated” the Johnson Amendment, a federal law that bars tax-exempt nonprofits, including houses of worship, from intervening in elections by endorsing or opposing candidates. Trump did issue an executive order in 2017 dealing with the Johnson Amendment, but it was mere verbiage that did not affect the status of the law.
At the end of the call, Pastor Robert Morris of Gateway Church near Dallas issued a prayer seeking spiritual correction for “those Americans that voted the wrong way” – that is, for Biden – then added a hefty dose from the Big Lie that the election was stolen: “I pray, Lord, that you will do something even, also, Lord, for our election system. That we will never have another election stolen from the American people, from the American people. We should be concerned about that. So, Lord, whatever we need to do to fix the electoral process, I pray for that.”
During the call, Trump referred to policies that might be pursued “if we’re able to get back in.” Trump has not formally announced any plans for 2024 yet, but the formation of this group is an indication that if he makes another run, Christian nationalists will be prepared to do whatever it takes, including spreading lies, to ease his way back.
Photo: Donald Trump addresses the Family Research Council's Values Voter Summit