The U.S. House of Representatives today begins the public phase of its impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.
Polls show that Americans remain closely divided over whether Trump should be impeached, and many media pundits are speculating about whether the hearings will move the needle in either direction.
One thing’s for sure: Some segments of Trump’s base simply won’t be persuaded no matter what happens – and among them are the Christian nationalists.
As we noted last month, about a third of Trump’s Religious Right base has said they won’t drop support for him no matter what he does. At the same time, leading Christian nationalist leaders are hard at work promoting the GOP’s line that Trump did nothing wrong and the whole thing is a set-up.
Evangelist Franklin Graham issued a rambling tweet not even tangentially connected to reality.
“Nancy Pelosi and her followers in Congress have weaponized the impeachment process,” Graham harrumphed. “After two years of the Russia collusion hoax, now they’ve turned to this. In my opinion, asking another country to investigate corruption is a good thing – not a bad thing. This is just another attempt to tarnish and embarrass the President before the next election. We have so many problems in this nation that need to be addressed. Instead the Democrats are fixated on only one thing – removing President Donald J. Trump from office. Pray for President Trump today, for God to give him wisdom, protection, and guide each and every step he takes. I pray that he and Melania will sense the presence of the Lord through this unjust inquisition.”
Graham’s ministry is selling T-shirts for $15.95 a pop that read, “Pray for 45.”
Over at OneNewsNow, a site firmly anchored in an alternative reality where Trump is a brilliant, hard-driving statesman, you can read a variety of stories parroting the latest conspiracy theories straight from the fever swamps of the Religious Right and get the lowdown on plans by “the left” to drive Trump, who the site insists has done absolutely nothing wrong, from office. (OneNewsNow is owned by the American Family Association, a large Religious Right group based in Tupelo, Miss.)
Ralph Reed of the Faith & Freedom Coalition has argued that conservative Christians have a religious duty to support Trump. While being interviewed on a podcast recently, Reed attempted to move beyond impeachment and said what really matters is the 2020 election.
Reed phrased things in apocalyptic terms, telling listeners, “If the Christian community doesn’t rise up like it never has in modern political history, and if we allow through our inaction, the left to remove this man from the Oval Office, then we will deserve everything that we get. And if they get the White House back, it will be open season on Christian ministries, on churches, the IRS will be able to persecute those faith-based organizations again. They will – under Obamacare – be able to force them to pay for abortion again. They will be able to sue the Little Sisters of the Poor and drag god-fearing nuns into federal court again to make them pay for abortion. That’s what will happen. And if we don’t turn out and vote in the biggest numbers ever, then we deserve it to happen.”
And in case you’re still confused about what’s really going on, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, is happy to explain it: “In the history of this country, the Left has never experienced the kind of resolve of a Republican president like Donald Trump. Unlike his predecessors, he isn’t yielding to the pressure of the Left – but moving forward, changing the way American politics operate. He’s in touch with the people and following through on an agenda that’s a slap in the face to the socialists in the House. And that’s what’s driving the Left crazy – not these phantom crimes and misdemeanors.”
Back in the real world, Trump stands accused of serious crimes. As some in the media have pointed out lately, the use of the Latin phrase quid pro quo doesn’t really capture what Trump is accused of doing. Terms like bribery and extortion are more accurate.
Starting today, the case against Trump will be laid out before the American people on live television. Fair-minded citizens can weigh the evidence and decide where they stand. Don’t expect the Christian nationalists to be among them. They long ago decided they can’t be bothered with inconvenient things like facts.
(Photo: Screenshot from the impeachment hearings)