Heralded as an event to empower “conservative activists to fight for their values at the polls and in the public arena” and “accelerate conservatives further down the road to majority in the 2022 midterm elections, Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition held its annual conference last week, an event that had very little to do with faith and freedom and everything to do with singing the praises of all things Trump.
The Faith & Freedom Coalition’s annual “Road to Majority Policy Conference” featured none other than Donald Trump himself as the keynote speaker where he failed to mention anything related to faith but had plenty to say about the ongoing investigations into the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection and the probes’ legitimacy while defending the rioters involved and offering pardons if elected president in 2024.
Just like “Christian” events held by other groups promoting “conservative” values such as the Western Conservative Summit 2022, Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition has been a shining example of what it looks like when loyalty to Donald Trump is considered a measure of a person’s faith — a common theme of the organization for years.
In the summer of 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump participated in a meeting with a group of so-called evangelical leaders and prosperity gospel con-artists — a group of charlatans I refer to as the Fellowship of the Pharisees — to cement their unholy alliance ahead of the November 2016 election.
Mike Huckabee, an early Trump kiss-up and a “Reverend,” moderated the event and praised the twice-divorced, thrice-married, unrepentant, pro-planned parenthood, adulterous strip-club owner, for his strong “family values.”
Another member of the Fellowship in attendance at that meeting was founder and chairman of the Faith and Freedom Foundation, Ralph Reed — a so-called evangelical with a scandal-plagued past involving Jack Abramoff — who said at the time that Christians who refused to vote for Trump were guilty of the sin of pride.
You may recall that Abramoff is the former Washington lobbyist who pled guilty of conspiracy, fraud, and tax evasion stemming from work he performed on behalf of various Indian casino gambling tribes. Reed was allied with Abramoff to mobilized Christians opposed to gambling to help shut down casinos.
Are you confused by the apparent contradiction? Don’t be. Reed was paid with laundered money by casinos that stood to benefit from having the competition put out of business. In the end, Reed personally profited from an industry he told Christians needed to be shut down in the name of creating a ‘moral’ America.
During the 2020 election season, Reed took his praise of all things Trump up a notch when he declared in his book titled “For God and Country: The Christian case for Trump” that evangelicals had “a moral obligation to enthusiastically back” Trump in 2020. (Emphasis mine)
According to a description provided by Regnery Publishing — an imprint of Salem Media Group, by the way — Reed’s book was originally titled “Render to God and Trump” — an obvious reference to the Scripture found in Matthew 22 — but I guess equating Trump to Caesar was too close to the truth, so they changed the title without explanation.
Regnery defended Reed’s book, claiming that it refuted the accusation that evangelical protestants “revealed themselves to be political prostitutes and hypocrites” for supporting Donald Trump or that they have “so thoroughly compromised their witness that they are now disqualified from speaking out on moral issues.”
From members of Congress and former staffers to sycophants in the media, the Faith and Freedom event provided a virtual who’s who of speakers praising all things Trump. And what big-tent-revival-styled Trump rally would be complete without a few prosperity-gospel con artists to spread the lie that fealty to Trump is evidence of faith in God?
Enter Paula White and Jentezen Franklin,
As one of the key members of Trump’s inner circle of “spiritual advisors” during his presidency, twice-divorced, thrice-married Paula White — hey, just like Trump — was hired in 2019 as an advisor for his Faith and Opportunity Initiative. When asked in an interview about why she accepted the gig and about her political relationship with Trump, White said she could never say “no” to Trump because it would be like “saying no to God.”
White has a long history with Trump; she’s known him since 2002, prayed at his inauguration, and visited the White House often as his personal pastor. When Trump officially announced his re-election in June 2019, White prayed against the “demonic network” opposed to Trump.
“I pray for the Spirit of the Lord to rest upon our president,” White opened. “Father, you have raised President Trump up for such a time as this.” And she continued, “Let every demonic network that has aligned itself against the purpose, against the calling of President Trump, let it be broken, let it be torn down in the name of Jesus.”
“I declare that President Trump will overcome every strategy from hell and every strategy from the enemy, and he will fulfill his calling and his destiny,” White said. “I secure his calling, I secure his purpose, I secure his family, and we secure victory in the name which is above every name – the name of Jesus Christ.” (Emphasis mine)
Jentezen Franklin was another “spiritual advisor” to Donald Trump who wrote an article for Charisma News in 2019 titled “Why I Still Stand by Donald Trump.” In the piece, he parroted many of the talking points of the 2016 campaign.
When millions of evangelicals helped elect Donald J. Trump to be the president in 2016, the vast majority weren’t looking for a political statesman; they were looking for a fighter—someone who saw the challenge for what it was: the fight of our lifetime. Men who never see a single day on the battlefield will never understand the bloody nature of an actual fight—and neither will the cold, unaffected critic who observes from a distance and lobs in criticism from the safety of a corner office.
I would like to respectfully ask Christians who stand so vehemently against this president, what is your alternative? You have witnessed the policy achievements, the economy, the tax reforms and the stance opposing abortion and everything else. As you look at the choices on the other side of the ticket, what do you see that even remotely resembles the values your faith holds dearest? Socialism? Abortion on demand? Jailing Christian business owners? Is the valley between the two ends of the spectrum not wide? Is your disdain for the man greater than the policies and values that matter most to our faith? (Emphasis mine)
Ralph Reed and his Faith and Freedom Coalition’s praise of all things Trump are simply another example of the lukewarm cheap grace faith dominating today’s American churches; where the gospel is used as currency to buy a seat at Trump’s table.
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.