NSFW Open Thread: Jerry Falwell Jr’s Body Is A Temple

And he is fanatical about the maintenance thereof, per Reuters:

Evangelical leader and prominent Donald Trump backer Jerry Falwell Jr personally approved real estate transactions by his nonprofit Christian university that helped his personal fitness trainer obtain valuable university property, according to real estate records, internal university emails and interviews.

Around 2011, Falwell, president of Liberty University in Virginia, and his wife, Rebecca, began personal fitness training sessions with Benjamin Crosswhite, then a 23-year-old recent Liberty graduate. Now, after a series of university real estate transactions signed by Falwell, Crosswhite owns a sprawling 18-acre racquet sports and fitness facility on former Liberty property. Last year, a local bank approved a line of credit allowing Crosswhite’s business to borrow as much as $2 million against the property…

… U.S. President Trump’s now-jailed fixer, Michael Cohen, has said he helped the Falwells suppress racy personal photos, as Reuters reported this May, in the months before Cohen persuaded Falwell to endorse Trump’s 2016 White House bid. There is no evidence that Cohen’s efforts to suppress the photos were a quid pro quo for Falwell’s vital political backing.

… When Falwell helped Crosswhite, he used the assets of Liberty, the tax-exempt university he has led since 2008. Among the largest Christian universities in the world, Liberty depends on hundreds of millions of dollars its students receive in federally backed student loans and Pell grants.

In 2016, Falwell signed a real estate deal transferring the sports facility, complete with tennis courts and a fitness center owned by Liberty, to Crosswhite. Under the terms, Crosswhite wasn’t required to put any of his own money down toward the purchase price, a confidential sales contract obtained by Reuters shows.
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Cold Grey Pre-Dawn Open Thread: Good Take / Really, Really Bad Take

Surely not even the most hardcore Talibangelicals could defend a serial child trafficker, you would would think.

Not so!, says Erick ‘Studying to Be A Pastor’ Erickson…

Hey, when you look at it right, *anything* can be an opportunity…

Late Night Open Thread: All the BEST People…

Example 1:

Example #2:

Surprise! Mike Pompeo’s “Human Rights” Agenda Applies To Only Some Humans

Just Security obtained a copy of Mike Pompeo’s human rights plan, based on what he called “natural law.”

Some of us are old enough to remember when that phrase was used mostly by the Catholic Church to justify their views on marriage and procreation. But apparently the evangelicals have put their own gloss on it so that it excludes the usual suspects – gays, transgender people, and other miscreants – from human rights.

So that is what Pompeo would inflict on us and the world. Trump has already carried out parts of it in his actions against transgender people. I’m not sure that brown families seeking refuge are explicitly listed as those not qualified for human rights, but the administration has sure been acting that way.

Just Security also analyzes where this “natural law” theory came from. It seems to come primarily from several individuals’ needs to demonize teh gays. And, of course, it comes from God or human nature or whatever you need to make your argument unanswerable.

As a 2017 Heritage Foundation report framed the issue: “Civil and political rights are products of government; natural rights are not.”

It’s disturbing that so many in the government belong to extremist sects and are pushing those extremist beliefs. I’d like to see a reporter pin down Pompeo on what he believes about the Rapture. Nobody who believes that should be anywhere near the control of nuclear weapons.



Golden Calf vs Orange Pig

I’m not a big fan of Michael Gerson, former GWB aide and current Post columnist, but kudos to him for calling out the Reverend Franklin Graham in a recent column:

In their day of prayer [for Trump], Graham and other Trump evangelicals have used a sacred spiritual practice for profane purposes. They have subordinated religion to politics. They have elevated Trump as a symbol of divine purposes. And they are using Christian theology as a cover for their partisanship.

So: This is blasphemy, in service to ideology, leading to idolatry, justified by heresy. All in a Sunday’s work.

Most Christians are familiar with Jonathan Edwards’s sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” In Graham, we are seeing God in the hands of an angry political toady.

A cynic might note that people like Gerson didn’t seem to mind the politicization of the church when the partisan object of evangelical devotion was less overtly vulgar and grasping, such as Ronald Reagan or Bush II. But lines must be drawn somewhere, I suppose, so way to defend the faith, Gerson.

Speaking of defenders of the faith, remember Trump’s appearance at a Virginia church last Sunday to be prayed over, an appearance that was notable at the time mainly because 18 holes of golf had flattened Trump’s iconic triple-combover and because Trump waddled across the church stage in golf spikes? Turns out that preacher had to deal with some fallout from the visit:

Pastor David Platt of McLean Bible Church in a statement posted on the church’s website wrote Sunday that his prayer was not an endorsement of the Trump administration and its policies.

“Sometimes we find ourselves in situations that we didn’t see coming, and we’re faced with a decision in a moment when we don’t have the liberty of deliberation, so we do our best to glorify God,” he wrote. “Today, I found myself in one of those situations.”

“My aim was in no way to endorse the president, his policies, or his party, but to obey God’s command to pray for our president and other leaders to govern in the way this passage [from 2nd Timothy — or “Two Timothy,” as Trump might put it] portrays,” Platt continued… “I wanted to share all of this with you in part because I know that some within our church, for a variety of valid reasons, are hurt that I made this decision,” he said. “This weighs heavy on my heart.

“I love every member of this church, and I only want to lead us with God’s Word in a way that transcends political party and position, heals the hurts of racial division and injustice, and honors every man and woman made in the image of God,” he wrote.

A couple of things struck me when reading about this incident. The first was the post-hoc justification for Trump’s appearance. Trump’s spokespeople said it was related to the mass shooting that occurred in Virginia a couple of days before. But the preacher makes no mention of the shooting and says he was surprised by a call that came out of the blue just a few minutes prior to Trump’s arrival — the preacher says he was asked if he would “pray for the president.”

What the preacher did allude to in his remarks onstage with Trump was the call (by Franklin Graham and other Trump-humping evangelicals) for a special day of prayer for Trump. Platt was meticulously nonpartisan in his remarks and semi-apologetic afterward, as you can see in the full remarks he posted to the church website here, excerpted above.

The conflicting information about the purpose of the visit sounds like typically sloppy advance work by Trump’s people, who can’t put together a two-paragraph press release that isn’t riddled with errors. Trump probably muttered something about “that prayer thing for me” during the round of golf, and the toadies leaped into action, Googling nearby “evangelical churches” and landing on Platt’s.

They probably figured a “Bible-believing” evangelical church in a mostly white Virginia town would be Trump friendly, and if the churches up there are anything like the ones down here, they’d usually be right. But it turns out the church they randomly selected was less white and less Republican than expected.

So, the bullshit about Trump showing up to pray about the shooting was probably made up after the fact by Trump’s crack team of incompetents, either to stave off criticism about Trump’s non-response to now-routine gun massacres, explain his disheveled appearance, or provide cover for the less-than-enthusiastic welcome he received. This is how bad the Trump people are at their jobs — they couldn’t even find a pro-Trump congregation of white evangelicals in Dixie.

Anyhoo, church attendance and religious affiliation have been declining in this country for decades, and white evangelical Christianity’s embrace of Trump will likely accelerate that trend. It’s up to Christians who don’t worship the Orange Pig to call out the heretics among them. It’s good to see some of them are up to the challenge.