The Rushmore Report: Franklin Graham Defends Trump, Blames Satan for Charlottesville

The president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse, Franklin Graham, defended President Donald Trump from critics saddling him with blame for the deadly clash that erupted at a white nationalist protest event in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend and blamed “Satan” for being “behind it all.” Graham came out strong against the president’s critics.

“Shame on the politicians who are trying to push blame on President Trump for what happened in Charlottesville. That’s absurd. What about the politicians such as the city council who voted to remove a memorial that had been in place since 1924, regardless of the possible repercussions? How about the city politicians who issued the permit for the lawful demonstration to defend the statue? And why didn’t the mayor or the governor see that a powder keg was about to explode and stop it before it got started?” Graham asked in a statement on Facebook.

“Instead, they want to blame President Donald J. Trump for everything. Really, this boils down to evil in people’s hearts. Satan is behind it all. He wants division, he wants unrest, he wants violence and hatred. He’s the enemy of peace and unity. I denounce bigotry and racism of every form, be it black, white, or any other. My prayer is that our nation will come together. We are stronger together, and our answers lie in turning to God,” Graham added.

On Saturday, James Alex Fields, Jr., 20, an alleged Nazi sympathizer, reportedly plowed a car into a crowd of activists in Charlottesville, killing one person and injuring 19.

About the Author

Leonardo Blair is a reporter for The Christian Post.

The Rushmore Report: The Trump Immigration Bill Is More Popular than the Media Reports

Some Democrats and their advocates in the press have been quick to denounce the RAISE Act, the new immigration reform bill proposed by Republican Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue and endorsed by President Trump. “The Trump, Cotton, Perdue bill is rooted in the same anti-immigrant, xenophobic, and isolationist rhetoric that was a cornerstone of the Trump campaign,” said Democrat John Conyers.

“A play to the xenophobic sentiments that lifted Trump to the presidency,” wrote Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post.

But now a new poll shows broad support for some of the bill’s key provisions – support that goes far beyond those Americans who voted for Donald Trump.

The poll, from Morning Consult-Politico, asked 1,992 registered voters about the bill’s provisions to 1) allow more high-skilled, and fewer low-skilled, immigrants into the country; 2) install a points-based system by which prospective immigrants would be evaluated on the basis of English proficiency, level of education, and other factors; 3) cap the number of refugees allowed in the U.S. each year; and 4) reduce the total number of immigrants given legal government residence in the country to 500,000 from the current level of one million.

The pollsters found strong majority support for the first three (59-62 percent for each) and a plurality of support for the fourth.

“Large majorities of Americans have long wanted to re-orient our immigration system toward high-skilled workers, while reducing or holding steady the total number of immigrants,” Cotton said. “The RAISE Act respects this popular consensus, unlike past efforts at immigration reform that failed in part because they massively expanded unskilled immigration.”

Predictably, most Democrats have attacked the proposed legislation while offering few alternatives of their own. This will make any path forward for the bill an uphill climb in the Senate. But if the new poll is correct – and it is in line with similar surveys going back years – the bill’s authors have the voters on their side.

About the Author 

Byron York is a frequent contributor for Town Hall and a guest commentator for Fox News.

The Rushmore Report: Texas Governor Signs Historic Abortion Bill

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has signed a bill into law that limits insurance coverage for abortion procedures. Gov. Abbott signed House Bill 214 on Tuesday, with the legislation scheduled to be enacted on December 1. The bill reads, “A qualified health plan offered through a health benefit exchange may not provide coverage for elective abortion,” though it provides for abortions that save the life of the mother.

The bill continues, “This section does not prevent a person from purchasing optional or supplemental coverage for elective abortion under a health benefit plan other than a qualified health plan offered through a health benefit exchange.”

In a statement quoted by local media, Abbott said that he was “proud to sign legislation that ensures no Texan is ever required to pay for a procedure that ends the life of an unborn child.”

“This bill prohibits insurance providers from forcing Texas policy holders to subsidize elective abortions,” stated Abbott, as reported by KXXV-TV.

“I am grateful to the Texas legislature for getting this bill to my desk, and working to protect innocent life this special session.”

Chiefly sponsored by Republican State Rep. John Smithee of Amarillo, the bill passed the House in a vote of 92-46 and later in the Senate in a vote of 20-10.

“This isn’t about who can get an abortion. It is about who is forced to pay for an abortion,” stated Rep. Smithee during debate over HB 214.

Critics, including Democratic State Rep. Chris Turner of Grand Prairie, argued that the bill forces Texas women to buy “rape insurance.”

“Women don’t plan to be raped. Parents don’t plan for their children to be victims of incest,” stated Rep. Turner, as reported by the Texas Tribune.

“Asking a woman or a parent to foresee something like that and buy supplemental insurance to cover that horrific possibility is not only ridiculous, it is cruel.”

This is not the first pro-life measure signed into law by Abbott this summer. In June, the governor signed Senate Bill 8 into law, which banned the procedure of dismemberment abortion, which involves ripping apart a human fetus and then removing the pieces one at a time from a womb.

Abbott’s signature made Texas the eighth state to ban dismemberment abortions, joining Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and West Virginia.

About the Author

Michael Gryboski is a reporter for The Christian Post.

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: Meet the Seven Republican Obamacare Senators

When Senate Republicans failed to repeal and replace Obamacare, critics came out in force. They blamed President Trump and Majority Leader McConnell for failed leadership. But it goes deeper than that. Meet the seven Republican Senators who promised to repeal Obamacare if they had the chance – and then did the exact opposite when it was time to vote. They all voted “No,” after saying this . . . in their own words.

Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

Then: “This law is not affordable for anyone in Alaska. That is why I will support the bill  that repeals the ACA and wipes out its harmful impacts.”

Now: Voted against repeal

Dean Heller (R-NV)

Then: “The repeal of this law will not only reduce federal spending, but it will also allow Congress to address problems within the current health care system.”

Now: Voted against repeal

Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV)

Then: “I have consistently voted to repeal and replace this disastrous healthcare law, and I am glad that a repeal bill will finally reach the president’s desk.”

Now: Voted against repeal

Lamar Alexander (R-TN)

Then: “Obamacare was a historic mistake, and should be repealed and replaced with step-by-step reforms that transform the healthcare delivery system.”

Now: Voted against repeal

Susan Collins (R-ME)

Then: “I believe that we made – that Congress made – a real error in passing Obamacare. We should repeal the law so that we can start over.”

Now: Voted against repeal

John McCain (R-AZ)

Then: “It is clear that any serious attempt to improve our healthcare system must begin with a full repeal and replacement of Obamacare.”

Now: Voted against repeal

Rob Portman

Then: “Obamacare is fundamentally flawed. We’ve got to repeal this thing and start over.”

Now: Voted against repeal

About the Author

This article was adapted from Samuel Chamberlain’s post on the Fox News website, July 26, 2017.

The Rushmore Report: Mark Zuckerberg in 2020?

The photos on Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook feed the last few months make him look less like a Silicon Valley CEO and more like an Iowa Caucus contender. He’s certainly crossing some candidate rituals off the to-do list, like posting pictures of himself eating local fare with some residents in early voting states, and even shooting hoops with North Carolina’s beloved NCAA coaches, Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski.

“For an engineer and business tycoon to, all of a sudden, be hanging out with regular people, it does send a lot of political messages,” said Matt Schlapp, President George W. Bush’s former political director. “This is clearly political activity. Is it just to further popularize Facebook? Or is there a more personal goal here?”

But the summer vacation itinerary that closely resembles a Super Tuesday swing isn’t the only reason political watchers think the social network pioneer may try his hand at politics.

Zuckerberg also recently hired former Clinton pollster Joel Benenson to work at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a charitable foundation the CEO runs with his wife, which already has former Obama campaign guru David Plouffe on the payroll.

“You don’t tend to hire pollsters unless you want to know what people are thinking,” Schlapp said. “So my guess is the pollster is helping him understand the American people.”

If Zuckerberg decides to run for president, some on the left already forecast some hurdles. Published reports say he’s not registered with either party, but some experts say he’s likely to run as a Democrat.

“To survive the Democratic primary, the first thing he is going to need to do is appeal to women more than he has been able to do as a corporate leader so far,” explains Democratic strategist Pablo Manriquez. “One of the big criticisms of Facebook, Inc. is that they don’t hire women, women aren’t elevated, and women’s voices are suppressed internally.”

Just more than one-third of Facebook’s workforce is female, according to newly released company data. The 35 percent of women working at Facebook represents an increase over last year.

“He’s looking at running against people like California Democratic Senator Kamala Harris or Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, and a lot of people who are just not going to give him a pass on that, the way he gets in the tech sphere,” Manriquez said.

None of this means primary success is impossible for Zuckerberg, though.

“Donald Trump has shown that the American people have a great appetite for getting rid of the experts in politics, and trying new things,” Schlapp said. “I don’t think it’s implausible for the idea of a Mark Zuckerberg candidacy to really take fire.”

About the Author

Peter Doocy is an on-air commentator and writer for Fox News.

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: Republican Senator Hails Election of Trump As ‘Biblical Miracle’

A Republican senator has claimed that it is a “biblical miracle” that Donald Trump became President of the United States, as part of his remarks on the repeal of Obamacare. Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL), who was appointed to fill the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and is currently running to retain that seat, was speaking at a forum hosted by the Montgomery County Republican Committee.

He said, “President Trump is the greatest thing that’s happened to this country. I consider it a biblical miracle that he’s there.”

Strange then called for the repeal of the Obamacare health care law, which he called a “disaster.”

“We’re going to take care of the most vulnerable of our citizens,” the GOP senator said.

Strange is described as a “Constitutional conservative and pro-life Christian” on his Senate website.

Trump remains a controversial figure across America religious and political circles, though he has been backed by some notable megachurch pastors, such as Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Dallas.

Jeffress, who serves on Trump’s evangelical advisory board, pushed back in an interview with The Christian Post against those who criticized his “Celebrate Freedom” concert at Washington’s Kennedy Center earlier in July, which Trump attended.

“No one is worshiping Donald Trump. What we are doing is showing respect for our president and praying God’s blessings on him as he leads our nation,” Jeffress told CP.

“That is the biblical and Christian thing to do,” he said.

About the Author

Stoyan Zaimov is a writer for The Christian Post.

The Rushmore Report: Lindsay Graham to the Rescue on Health Care

Sen. Lindsey Graham just told Fox News the Republicans deserve to be “politically horsewhipped” if they don’t try again to repeal and replace Obamacare – and on Monday he revealed details of his new plan. Despite rocky results in the Senate last week, Graham (R-SC) is urging the Senate to continue working on alternatives. He announced his own alternative. And it is a plan that just might work.

Along with Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Graham has produced a plan, by which federal dollars spent on Obamacare would be block-granted to the states. Additionally, the individual and employer mandates would be repealed; requirements that health insurers would cover pre-existing conditions would be kept; and the Obamacare medical device tax would be cut. Other Obamacare taxes would remain.

“I am 1,000 percent with Donald Trump on this,” said Graham. “We should be politically horsewhipped if we don’t try again. The best idea hasn’t even been brought up. Take all the money under Obamacare and block-grant it back to the states,” he said.

Graham continued, in an interview with Fox’s Dana Perino, “That ends single-payer health care. The government closest to the people is the best government. The health care closest to the people is the best health care. We had Republican governors up in the White House today. We look to Washington to fix Obamacare when we should have looked to the governors.”

Graham makes a good point. “I’m excited about Graham-Cassidy, which empowers governors,” he said. “Four states under Obamacare get 40 percent of the money: New York, California, Massachusetts, and Maryland. My goal is to make sure that if you live in South Carolina you get the same amount of money from the federal government as you would if you lived in California, with more flexibility. It’ll put Democrats in a box. It will make health care more accessible to you. If you don’t like what’s going on, you complain to your governor or statehouse guy, rather than to a bureaucrat in Washington.”

Senators Graham and Cassidy have a great idea – pushing big decisions that affect millions of Americans back to the states, where there is more accountability. Their idea makes a lot of sense – so much sense that it will probably never become law.

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.