The Rushmore Report: What Marco Rubio Is Doing that Is Driving His Critics Nuts

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has long confounded his critics. He is an unabashed conservative in the ultimate swing state. He is pro-immigration, but in a way that supports border security. His star shines brightest among young Republicans who are likely to dominate the national stage for the next 20 years. But there is one thing Senator Rubio keeps doing that is driving his critics nuts.

Marco Rubio has a Twitter page, and he knows how to use it. Every day, he uses this platform to promote Biblical principles and family values. Specifically, he tweets verses from Scripture, mostly Proverbs. And the people with nothing better to do – at the Freedom From Religion Foundation – are demanding that he stop.

While other politicians might respond politically, that is not Rubio’s style. He insists, “I’ll continue to do it. If they don’t like it they don’t have to follow me on Twitter.” He continued, “Faith is the single biggest influence on my life, and it’s a positive influence.”

In late August, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, America’s largest atheist organization, charged that Rubio is in violation of the U.S. Constitution. Attorney Andrew L. Seidel wrote, “It appears that you began tweeting the Bible in mid-May and have been doing so regularly ever since. This is not an errant Bible verse or two, but more than 60 Bible verses in three months. That’s enough verses to tweet the entire Book of Jude twice.”

A trained lawyer himself, Rubio has only continued the practice in the face of such criticism. He recently posted Proverbs 18:2, which says, “Fools take no delight in understanding, but only in displaying what they think.” That didn’t go over particularly well with his critics.

In July, Politico posted an op-ed suggesting that Rubio only tweets the “Republican” parts of the Bible. Rubio’s response was classic. He tweeted, “Proverbs is the Republican part of the Bible? I didn’t know that Solomon had yet joined the Republican Party when he wrote the first 29 chapters of Proverbs.”

Will Senator Rubio continue to uphold Scripture and tweet Bible verses? Yes. And will the nutwings at the Freedom From Religion Foundation continue to whine about it? Of course they will. After all, what could be more offensive than quoting the timeless words of the wisdom of Solomon, that great old Republican King of Israel?

The Rushmore Report: Attacks on Religious Liberty in U.S. Up 133% in Five Years

A new report by a prominent religious liberty advocacy organization claims that there has been a 133 percent increase in domestic “attacks on religious liberty” in the past five years and about a 15 percent increase in attacks on religious liberty in the last year. The First Liberty Institute, a conservative legal group, released its annual report, Undeniable: The Survey of Hostility to Religion in America.

The report highlights cases reported in the last few years in which Americans have had their religious liberty rights infringed or “attacked” in one way or another – either in the public arena, military, schools, or even within church walls.

The report highlighted a number of cases, such as one involving a woman who was ordered to stop praying in her home by police officers, another involving a high school football coach punished for praying at midfield, and that of a military veteran who was ejected from a military retirement ceremony for referring to “God” in his speech.

The First Liberty report comes after the social conservative advocacy group Family Research Council released a report in June that stated that there has been a 76 percent increase in religious freedom violations and a 114 percent surge in documented hostility toward Christian views on marriage and sexuality over the last three years.

About the Author

Samuel Smith writes for The Christian Post. He can be followed on Twitter: @lamSamSmith.

The Rushmore Report: Which Presidents Were the Most Religious?

Consistency is something of an American tradition – at least as far as our presidents are concerned. Forty-four individuals have served as Commander-in-Chief. (Grover Cleveland held two non-consecutive terms.) They came from 18 states, have all been male, and almost all claimed to be Christians. Only three were religiously unaffiliated: Jefferson, Lincoln, and Andrew Johnson. But who have been our most religious presidents?

Six stand out.

Jimmy Carter

Famous for being a Baptist Sunday School teacher, Carter is recognized as the first “born again” president. Prior to serving, Carter took a missionary journey in which he knocked on strangers’ doors and said, “I’m Jimmy Carter, a peanut farmer, and I’m here to talk to you about Jesus Christ.” Carter read the Bible and prayed daily throughout his time in office, yet he would ultimately be rejected by the emerging evangelical right.

George W. Bush

This second-generation president was one of the most comfortable when it came to talking about his faith, as he courted religious leaders, and used overtly religious language to justify policy decisions. Bush once famously remarked,”I believe God wants me to be president.” So intense was his spiritual fervor that Steven Mansfield concluded, “Whatever else the presidency of George W. Bush imprints on American history, it will at least have granted the nation an opportunity to rethink the role of religion in public life.”

William McKinley

A proud Methodist, McKinley avoided drinking, swearing, and smoking. He was a regular church attender while in office and according to eyewitnesses was quite an enthusiastic hymn singer. He also believed that the government had a duty to spread both democracy and the Christian religion abroad. McKinley’s last words before death were reportedly, “Goodbye, goodbye all. It’s God’s way. His will, not ours, be done. Nearer my God to thee, nearer to thee.”

James Madison

President Madison was a faithful Episcopalian who signed a federal bill to appropriate funds for Bible distribution. Madison served on the Congressional committee that established and selected Congressional chaplains and he encouraged all public officials to openly declare their faith. Later in life, Madison retracted many of his beliefs – arguing that government-paid chaplains and president-led prayers were unconstitutional. But he is still one of America’s most religious heads of state.

Abraham Lincoln

Though he often struggled with faith and even doubted the divinity of Jesus Christ, Lincoln often utilized religious language and quoted the Bible in public speeches. Many of Lincoln’s friends attested to his personal conversion, but Lincoln never explicitly declared it. He was not a formal member of any church, but only about a quarter of Americans were in 1860. Even still, Lincoln’s faith has been intensely felt among Americans since the time of his presidency, perhaps due to the conditions under which he served.

James Garfield

President James A. Garfield was the only clergyman to serve as Commander-in-Chief. He was lauded for his skill as a preacher, and he learned Greek in order to better understand the New Testament.

About the Author

Jonathan Merritt writes and blogs on issues pertaining to faith and culture.

The Rushmore Report: Jesse Jackson – ‘Trump Not Going to Heaven’

Imagine that a white conservative religious leader had said that President Obama wasn’t going to heaven. Imagine that, say, Franklin Graham or Jerry Falwell, Jr. said Obama “would not qualify to get into Jesus’ kingdom.” Well, that’s exactly what Rev. Jesse Jackson just said about President Trump. That deafening silence you hear is the response of the mainstream media.

The civil rights activist said this week that the Electoral College “must come down,” and then warned that President Trump may have trouble making it into heaven because of his views on immigrants.

Jackson said that Trump demands people “speak English, be qualified and have a job skill,” The Daily Wire reported.

“Jesus would not qualify to come into Trump’s country, and Trump wouldn’t qualify to get into Jesus’ kingdom,” Jackson said, going on to quote the Book of Matthew’s passage about helping the underprivileged.

Jackson also called for reminders of the Confederacy to be removed from public view, adding that “the statues must come down.”

It’s not clear why these so incredibly offensive statues never registered a complaint from Rev. Jackson over the past 60 years of his public life.

We live in amazing times. A leading religious leader can say the sitting president of the United States isn’t going to heaven, and no one says a thing. Had a conservative, evangelical leader said the same thing about President Obama, they would be criticized from within their own ranks, not to mention the outrage we would hear from every late night comedian and pundit on every television network.

But it is okay for a black liberal religious leader to do this. And no hate speech is off limits, so long as Mr. Trump (or his family) is the target.

The most prominent civil rights leader and black religious leader of the past 50 years just said, essentially, the president of the United States is not going to heaven. And it’s not even reported by the mainstream media.

This is not the American I grew up in.

The Rushmore Report: Hillary Clinton’s Pastor Compares Her Election Loss to Jesus’ Death on the Cross

After Hillary Clinton suffered a devastating loss in the 2016 presidential race to Donald Trump, her longtime pastor compared her loss to the death of Christ on the cross. Rev. William S. Shillady, who currenlty serves as executive director of the United Methodist City Society in New York, told CNN that Clinton leaned on her faith in the wake of her political loss, and compared the loss to the death of Christ.

Shillady says Clinton is considering opportunities in the church, including lay preaching, a long-held tradition in the Methodist Church. He said, “I think she is going to look at occasionally doing that [preaching] and sharing the good news without it being a politically charged environment.”

The pastor added, “She is very comfortable in the pulpit. It’s something that comes naturally to her, and she knows the Bible. That’s why I think she’d make a great preacher.”

But it is the comparison to the death of Christ that is baffling. Shillady says her loss was “so devastating” that it “might have been comparable to what the disciples experienced when Jesus died.”

He continued, “I woke up that morning [after the election] and it felt like maybe what the Apostles experienced on Good Friday. Their leader, master, and savior was dead and gone and they didn’t know what to do.”

I don’t know the pain of losing a presidential election I was expected to win. I’m sure it is traumatic. But to compare the loss Clinton suffered, and the grief of her followers to the death of Christ on the cross and the grief of his followers is a bit much. For one, Hillary didn’t die. Second, if her pastor’s metaphor is accurate, those who considered her their “leader, master, and savior” really need to aim a little higher.

The Rushmore Report: Who Attends Weekly White House Bible Study?

To the horror of Americans for Freedom from Religion and other far-left groups, many in the Trump Administration are gathering once a week for group Bible Study. A report by the Christian Broadcasting Network confirms that many of those in the weekly group are high-ranking government officials. While the practice is not unique to this administration, the criticism has reached unprecedented levels.

Regular attendees at the Bible Study include Health and Human Service Secretary Tom Price, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Agriculture Secretary Sunny Perdue, and CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions also attend the meetings when their schedules permit.

The sessions are led by Ralph Drollinger, a former NBA basketball player who turned to the ministry after his injury-shortened career. He also leads two Bible Study classes per week on Capitol Hill for members of the House and Senate. For his part, while he does not attend the Bible Studies, President Trump has requested, and receives, weekly notes on each lesson.

This is not the first administration to host weekly Bible Study groups. Under the blessing of former president George W. Bush, his staff held a weekly Bible Study and prayer group. Often, ordained minister and Attorney General John Ashcroft would lead the studies.

There are no rules against studying the Bible in a federal building, though the U.S. government issued guidelines in 1997, titled “Guidelines on Religious Exercise and Religious Expression in the Federal Workplace,” that stresses the importance of supervisors being careful to not press employees to participate in any way.

“Because supervisors have the power to hire, fire, or promote, employees may reasonably perceive their supervisors’ religious expression as coercive, even if it was not intended as such,” the guidelines say. “Therefore, supervisors should be careful to ensure that their statements and actions are such that employees do not perceive any coercion . . . and should, where necessary, take appropriate steps to dispel such misperceptions.”

Is it a good idea for top-level government officials to gather for weekly Bible Study and prayer on government grounds? In 2017, I can’t think of many ideas I like more.

 

The Rushmore Report: President Trump’s Thin Evangelical Line

We all know that Donald Trump is a blunt, brash New Yorker. He’s a street fighter and he won the presidency that way. Tens of millions of Americans love his tenacity and penchant for brawling. But there’s a line – in the minds of his strong evangelical support. It is a line he must not cross if he hopes to maintain their undying affection. And the president is at risk of crossing this thin evangelical line.

The evangelical attraction to Donald Trump was strong during the GOP primaries and reached even greater heights during the General Election when a record number of evangelicals – 81 percent – voted for him. But he needs to be very careful if he wants to duplicate or even improve on that number next time around. Calling out the media is one thing, but too often Trump makes it personal. That’s another thing. Evangelicals don’t mind President Trump’s unorthodox ways or his fighting spirit. They like it when he socks it to Washington bureaucrats and phony politicians. But a pattern of petty personal insults will put Trump in danger of “evangelical voter apathy” in 2020.

Diehards will stay with him no matter what, but that won’t be enough to win in 2020. He needs those “anti-Hillary evangelicals.” Will they show up and vote for the next Democratic nominee? No. Many of them may just not show up at all. If 81 percent turnout becomes 77 percent evangelical turnout (especially in key swing states), then he’s toast. It’s that simple. He needs evangelicals and he knows it. Any slippage and it’s game, set, match. He can’t afford to go down this road. It’s not worth it for him.

Look, the art of this deal is pretty simple if President Trump wants to seal the deal with evangelicals going forward: he can bash the media, the “deep state,” and disingenuous politicians all day long. He just shouldn’t make it personal. Evangelicals are watching. And honestly, is it worth it? I get it. They insult him multiple times daily and Trump’s instinct is to punch back ten times harder. But sometimes it just gets way too personal and it can cause him more political harm than good.

This seems like a good time for a Bible verse, not just for President Trump, but for all of us. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

About the Author

David Brody is the Chief White House Correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network.

The Rushmore Report: ‘A Friend Among Friends’: Evangelicals Pray Over Trump – Again

A group of evangelical leaders prayed over President Trump in the Oval Office, with Vice President Mike Pence in attendance as well. Following a meeting hosted by the Office of Public Liaison last week, the evangelical leaders met with Trump and other Administration leaders. Johnnie Moore, president of the KAIROS Company, snapped a photo of the men laying their hands on Trump in prayer.

In a statement emailed to The Christian Post, Moore described the event as “a very special moment, but it was also not an unusual one.”

Moore continued, “Various ones of us have prayed with him many times and have been praying for him a long time. We believe we are a praying nation, and we begin by praying for our leaders. As you know, most evangelicals believe it’s a sacred responsibility to pray for the president, and this is very much in our tradition as Americans who once took – and sometimes still do take – this responsibility seriously.”

Moore also noted that while he and other evangelical leaders had prayed for former President Barack Obama, “it’s different with President Trump.” He says, “When we are praying for President Trump we are praying within the context of a real relationship, of true friendship.” Moore called it “a visit among friends.”

When he first declared his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in 2015, Trump’s relationship with evangelicals was a tenuous one. Many prominent evangelical leaders endorsed other Republican candidates, especially U.S. Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas.

However, after securing the Republican nomination and since taking office, Trump’s support among evangelicals has grown and remains steady despite his controversies.

Moore is not the only evangelical leader to see the Trump Administration as offering unprecedented welcome for evangelicals.

Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, said there has “been no American president in history who has reached out to evangelicals to the extent that Trump has.”

About the Author

Michael Gryboski is a writer for The Christian Post.

The Rushmore Report: Marco Rubio Mocks Politico for Saying Proverbs Is Republican

GOP Senator Marco Rubio blasted left-leaning media, Politico, which published an article commenting that he was tweeting “the most Republican part of the Bible,” referring to his use of verses of the book of Proverbs in the Old Testament. “Proverbs is the Republican part of the Bible? I don’t think Solomon had yet joined the GOP when he wrote the first 29 chapters of Proverbs,” Rubio wrote.

Politico had written, “Each day, the Florida senator is quoting a verse from Proverbs, the GOP’s favorite part of the Bible.” The article didn’t stop Rubio from quoting Proverbs.

Hours after commenting on the Politico article, the senator’s tweet read, “Where words are many, sin is not wanting; but those who restrain their lips do well. Proverbs 10:19.”

The author, Joel. B. Baden, professor of Hebrew Bible at Yale Divinity School, wrote that the senator had been tweeting Bible verses since May 16.

“He has tweeted a biblical verse almost every day since then. Almost all of them come from the Old Testament, and specifically the book of Proverbs,” Baden wrote, remarking that “Proverbs is probably the most Republican book of the entire Bible.”

The author said other Republicans also like to quote Proverbs, citing Ben Carson as an example.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Carson “compared himself favorably to the blustery style of then-candidate Donald Trump by quoting Proverbs 22:4. ‘By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life.'”

Gerald Ford’s favorite Bible passage was Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust wholeheartedly in the Lord, put no faith in your own perception; in every course you take, have him in mind: He will see that your paths are smooth,” Baden added. “Ford repeated this when he served in the Navy during World War II, throughout his presidency and in his swearing in.”

When Rubio first started posting Bible verses to Twitter, there were some negative reactions, which Rubio described as a “Twitter freak out.” One political blogger called the Bible verses “oddly terrifying.”

Despite the left-wing criticism of posting Bible verses on his personal Twitter account, the senator does not plan to stop anytime soon.

About the Author

Anugrah Kumar is a frequent contributor to The Christian Post.

 

 

The Rushmore Report: President Trump’s Message to Catholics

On behalf of the President, Vice President Mike Pence addressed the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast last week, using his speech to sell the crowd of religious leaders and devotees on the spiritual bona fides of the new administration. Pence emphasized the need for religious freedom, both domestically and globally, and said the U.S. is dedicated to ensuring liberty for all faiths.

“America condemns the persecution of any faith, in any place, at any time,” Pence said. “And we will confront it with all our might.”

But the vice president spent a good part of his speech selling the crowd on Trump’s commitment to religious issues.

While Pence was raised Catholic, he converted to evangelical Christianity in the 1990s and has been unabashed in speaking out about faith-based issues. The vice president has worked closely on policies related to religious freedom and abortion during this early period of the administration.

This includes an executive order Trump signed last month that he said would promote religious liberties by shielding religious organizations who take political stands from tax consequences and by asking federal agencies to consider loosening requirements that employers cover contraception in their insurance plans.

Many religious leaders, particularly evangelical Christians, have said they feel the executive order does not go far enough, however. Pence touted the policy Tuesday as an example of Trump’s work on safeguarding religious liberty.

“I can assure you this president believes that no American should have to violate their conscience to fully participate in American life,” Pence said. “And he has not just talked about it, he has taken action to protect men and women of faith in the public square.”

As for the president, Trump had an audience with Pope Francis last month, which Pence described as a rich discussion of global issues. Observers said the pope, who has publicly criticized Trump’s plan to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, looked uncomfortable meeting the president.

“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” Francis said last year. Trump responded that the pontiff’s remarks were “disgraceful.”

Still, many of the Catholics attending last week’s prayer breakfast did not seem bothered by Trump’s comments or religious record.

About the Author

Andrew Bahl writes for Yahoo News.