It is no secret that Evangelical Christians overwhelmingly vote Republican. According to the Pew Research 78% of white Evangelical Christians voted for George Bush in 2004, 74% voted for John McCain in 2008, and 78% voted for Mitt Romney in 2012. But in 2016 a record 81% of Evangelicals supported Donald Trump.
Let that sink in for a moment. More than 8 out of 10 white born again followers of Jesus Christ voted for the least Christ-like person who ever ran for President! I realize many will take issue with me when I claim Trump is the least Christ-like Presidential candidate ever, but I will stand by that analysis. To explore that theory I would refer you to my post “A Look At The Facts” (8/20/2019). In it I examined Trump’s behavior as it relates to four traits and/or issues: Immigration; Hate and insulting speech; arrogance/pride; support and care for the poor. I then quote 40 biblical passages that, in my opinion, reveals the 45th President of the United States has little if anything in common with a biblical lifestyle. This was only a sampling of biblical texts that could be used against Donald Trump.
Yet far and away the most revolting fact to prove Trump’s non-Christian beliefs are his own words. When asked if he has ever sought forgiveness from God, then-Candidate Donald Trump said no. He went on to claim he never needed to seek forgiveness from God, that he had a very good relationship with God, and he doesn’t “bring God into that picture.” Such a bold and irreverent statement should be met with disdain by Evangelical Christians whose fundamental belief is that “All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God. (Romans 3:23)”. Repentance and forgiveness are the very heart of Evangelicalism. For someone to identify with the Evangelical community yet claim they have never needed to ask God for forgiveness is considered heresy. This is why it is astounding to know that white Evangelicals voted for this man at a historic rate. The irony is incomprehensible.
One could make a case that Donald Trump has captured the Evangelical community and held it ransom. His support within this group remains constant. Nothing he does can jeopardize their loyalty. Again, in his own words, he could stand on 5th Avenue and shoot someone and not lose any votes. Yeah, that’s really Christ-like!
But in the end evangelicals must bear the responsibility themselves. Foundational to Christianity is the understanding that each individual must choose for themselves to follow Christ. Being born into a Christian family does not make one Christian. Becoming a member of a Christian Church does not make one Christian. Faith is a matter of personal conviction and as such demands a decision. Evangelicals are especially aware of this, placing an emphasis on the act of confession and the acceptance of Jesus Christ as one’s Savior and Lord.
It follows, then, that the believer is responsible for their actions and beliefs. This is why I find it completely incomprehensible for 81% of white evangelical voters to throw their unfailing support behind Donald Trump. Given the evidence of Trump’s life, his actions, his words, and the things that are important to him (which appear to be himself, his money and his power, in that order) it should be obvious that Donald Trump stands in direct opposition to the things of Jesus Christ. Still, the 81% do not care. Their personal values and morals have been so deeply compromised and replaced by their loyalty to Republican politics, and since Donald Trump is the current head of the Republican Party, their loyalty is to him. It’s really that simple.
This is classic cultism. A strong, charismatic, confident leader speaks authoritatively on all kinds of issues. He feeds the faithful with just enough of what they want to hear in order to get their attention and gradually win their trust. Then a curious thing takes place: the more the masses trust the leader and view him as the solution to their problems, the more he begins to withhold the “candy” and replace it with his own ideas and values. When I refer to the “candy” I am speaking of the things desired by the followers. It can take many forms. In the case of Trump, three things stand out in particular. They are:
In addition to this there is the need to identify an enemy. Trump is a master at this one. Topping the list is probably the immigrants. They are going to take our jobs away from us and increase the crime in our neighborhoods, we are told. Therefore, they must be stopped. Then there are the Muslims who supposedly have declared war on Christianity. But it doesn’t stop there. Trump can find an enemy around every corner and under every bush.
Once the enemy has been identified it becomes necessary to anoint someone who can protect the masses and keep them save. It should come as no surprise that Donald J. Trump sees himself as the only person capable of fulfilling this role. And he is not afraid to let you know it.
It is eerie – and deeply disturbing - how much Donald Trump mirrors the techniques of a religious cult leader. I pray the 81% will come out of their trance and face reality before the Church is completely lost.
But I must confess I doubt if they will.
I do not understand how intelligent people can look at the facts and conclude that an impeachment inquiry is not warranted. I am not talking about impeachment itself. That should only be decided after the facts have been sorted out. Only by holding an inquiry can we begin to look at the evidence and then decide whether or not impeachment is in order.
It would be helpful to remember exactly what the United States Constitution has to say about impeachment. It is defined in Article II, Section 4, where we find these words.
The question then becomes one of definition. What, exactly, did the founding fathers mean by “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors”?
These words were chosen very carefully and with considerable debate. According to the website law.justia.com it took the framers of the Constitution several tries before they settled on these terms. But what does it mean? Again quoting from justia:
It is somewhat concerning that the authors of the Constitution could not be more precise in defining the grounds for impeachment. To me, the phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors” covers just about any offense. Granted, “high crimes” is a bit ambiguous. It almost sounds like the term “felony”. I would assume “high crimes” would be illegal activity of a more serious nature. But the inclusion of “misdemeanors” broadens this considerably.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines misdemeanors as “crime(s) that is not very serious; a crime that is less serious than a felony”. It goes on to offer an example: “defacing school property is a misdemeanor.”
I have to wonder if people who blindly defend President Trump understand exactly what the Constitution is saying. It is amazing how many Republican Senators and Representatives have been saying that what Trump has done, according to what we have learned thus far from the Mueller report and Congressional hearings, is wrong but does not meet the required standard for impeachment. Really? Let’s take a look at what we know thus far.
Again turning to Article II of the Constitution: “ Clause 7. The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.”
In other words, the President shall not profit from his office beyond his standard salary. A strong case can be established that Trump is indeed profiting from his real estate business as a result of his being President.
According to nbcnews, as of October 22, 2019, Trump has been in office for 1,019 days. He spent 313 of those days at properties and resorts that he owns. That is nearly one-third of his time in office. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) federal agencies spent $13.6 million on 4 trips Trump made to Mar-a-Largo in a one month period from February 3 to March 5, 2017. That is just 4 weeks. It has been estimated that his trips to his Mar-a-Largo alone have cost about $64 million dollars, paid by taxpayers, of course. Granted not all of this is recorded as profit for Trump, but surely a good portion is. The point here is that there is no need to patronize his own properties almost exclusively. Clearly, Trump violates the Emoluments Clause unashamedly.
The federal Election Commission has made istclear that any candidate who invites or accepts assistance in their election campaign from a foreign entity has broken the law.
Trump has not even attempted to hide his invitation to Russia, Ukraine, and China to aid his campaign. The Mueller report and U. S. Intelligence agencies have identified many examples of Russia’s interference in our elections in 2016, 2018, and their attempts for 2020. The question is whether Trump personally can be held accountable for this interference. There is no debating his invitation for interference as he made these publicly. It is equally clear that many in his campaign had direct contact with Russian operatives. Surely, the candidate must be held accountable for such campaign abuses.
By now I suppose everyone knows what this term means. Synonyms include “Extorsion” or “Bribery”. That is, you do this for me and I will do this for you. There is no doubt what so ever that Trump employed this in the infamous phone call with the President of Ukraine. We have the reconstructed transcript of that conversation, along with the whistleblower report and the testimony of several witnesses under oath. Remember, bribery is specifically identified in the Constitution as an impeachable offense.
On November 4, 2019 Trump declared at yet another of his rallies that he now knows the identity of the whistleblower. Whether he does or not is yet to be proven, but he clearly has not hidden the fact that he has been trying to find the identity of this person and is encouraging many others to seek the identity as well. The problem is this is a clear violation of Federal law, which protects such information. I do not know if this violation is a felony or a misdemeanor but either way it falls under the Constitutional definition for impeachment.
Obstruction of justice is defined by federal statute as any "interference with the orderly administration of law and justice". The Mueller report clearly identified ten instances where Trump committed obstruction. Since then, there have been multiple instances, including every time a witness refuses to appear before a Congressional Committee because the President ordered them not to comply.
Obstruction of justice was one of the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. This should be an open and shut case against Donald Trump. He is not even making an effort to hide it.
A case may be made to say that Trump committed perjury in his written testimony to Robert Mueller. At the very least Mueller reported that Trump’s written answers were incomplete and indecisive. In fact, in his testimony before Congress Mueller was asked whether he felt Trump was untruthful in his written answers. The Special Counsel responded by saying, “I would say generally.”
However, it may be difficult to prove that Trump committed perjury even with this evidence.
These are the obvious offenses committed by Trump. According to Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer, a close examination of Trump’s tax returns will reveal additional offenses and illegal behavior. And then there is the question of treason. Treason will be difficult to prove, I suspect. I do believe that in time it will be proven that Donald Trump is guilty of treason, even if it does not go to court or faces impeachment. His multiple connections to Russian authorities and his abundant actions that have benefitted them present serious questions. Perhaps most significant is his sudden withdrawal of U. S. troops from Syria, leaving our Kurdish allies abandoned for the slaughter. Add to this his betrayal of journalist Jamal Khashoggi who was brutally murdered by Saudi Arabian officials, to the silence of Donald Trump.
Yet another concern that may one day prove to be treasonous is Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal. When Trump violated the terms of that international treaty and imposed sanctions on Iran for no reason whatsoever he opened the door for Iran to begin building nuclear weapons. There is no doubt at all that Iran was complying with the terms of the agreement before Trump’s betrayal. Let it be absolutely clear – Iran did not break the agreement. Donald Trump did. In doing so, the deal was no longer applicable. Trump got what he wanted, namely an Iranian government building a nuclear arsenal. It remains to be seen what will result from this, but from where I stand, our nation is less safe now, and that sure sounds like treason to me. Again, our friends at Merriam-Webster define treason this way:
Johnson was impeached on eleven articles. The most serious charge was violation of the Tenure of Office Act. This stemmed from Johnson’s firing of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, who opposed Jonson’s plan for reconstruction following the Civil War.
The second occurrence was Richard Nixon.
Three articles of impeachment were drawn against Nixon and presented to the House of Representatives. The three charges were obstruction of justice, abuse of power and contempt of Congress. All three centered on the Watergate investigation. Of course, Nixon resigned rather than face impeachment.
The third occurrence was Bill Clinton.
Clinton was charged with two articles of impeachment. The first was perjury based on his lying under oath. The second was obstruction of justice.
All three have a common theme in that they involve domestic violations. While this is certainly serious and worth pursuing one could argue that the safety and security of the United States was not threatened by anything these three Presidents did. Furthermore, it is worth pointing out that none of these were convicted by the Senate. But the case against Trump is different. Not only has he caused domestic havoc, I would say that he has indeed threatened the safety and security of this nation by extending his violations to the international scene. In particular, the fact that Russia adversely interfered with the 2016 election and is continuing to do so with Trump’s blessing is cause enough for alarm. The violation of the Iranian nuclear deal likewise represents a clear and present danger. Add to this Trump’s bribery of Ukraine and the withholding of defensive support to that nation in obvious violation of Congressional appropriations, and one has to ask just what else needs to occur before Congress is satisfied that this man is a national threat.
I cannot emphasize enough the contrast in severity between Donald Trump and the three previous impeachment proceedings. Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton were all charged with administrative misconduct. One could argue they simply used poor judgment and were caught with their hands in the cookie jar. Based only on legality, Clinton’s case is especially personal and lacks any hint of a threat to national security. I do not mean to minimize Clinton’s offense. He clearly violated his oath of office and, in my opinion, deserved to be convicted. But his impeachment pales in comparison with what we are faced with today. Clinton escaped conviction largely due to partisan politics. Republicans only held 55 Senate seats at the time. 67 votes for impeachment were required for a conviction, meaning that twelve Democrats had to vote with all the Republicans to remove Clinton from office. In the end, no Democrat rendered a guilty vote on either Article. Even Republicans failed to vote unanimously against him. On Article I only 45 Senators voted guilty. On Article II 50 Senators voted guilty.
The current Senate consists of 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats, and 2 Independents. Ideally, that should not make any difference. All Senators are expected to look at the facts and judge impartially on the guilt or innocence of the accused. In reality, however, we know a good number will remain loyal to their Party rather than to their Country. The question for the ages is: how many?
I find it astounding how many members of Congress are saying that Donald Trump’s actions are wrong but do not rise to the level of impeachable offenses. History suggests otherwise. Let us not forget that “misdemeanors” are impeachable offenses, according to the Constitution. Too bad we cannot ask the Founding Fathers how they would vote in an impeachment trial of Donald Trump. That is the soul-searching question that every Senator should be asking themselves in the days to come.
G. D. Gehr
November 6, 2019