The Rushmore Report: How a Christian Should Respond to Charlottesville

When I watched the crisis in Charlottesville on TV last weekend, I was filled with both sadness and anger. I am a descendant of Robert E. Lee. Though he was a slave owner (as were George Washington and Thomas Jefferson), I see much good in the man. But the men who have co-opted his memory – white nationalists, neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan, and the alt-right – revealed themselves to be thugs of the highest order. But they are not alone in their thugary. The seeds of violence and disharmony have been sewed by movements on the left for years, often fueled by the rhetoric of national leaders and men claiming the banner of religion.

As a white evangelical, I am a part of a demographic that supported President Trump in record numbers. And this group is still largely behind him. They point to the way he has embraced Christian leaders, opened the White House to daily prayer gatherings, and embarked on policy initiatives that have bolstered our economy and national security. On the other side are millions of Americans who can find nothing good to say about their president.

What we have is a national divide. And the chasm is only getting wider.

The question we must confront as Christ-followers this week is simple. How are we to respond to the crisis of the moment – the senseless acts of protest and murder we just witnessed in the otherwise peaceful city of Charlottesville, Virginia? I see three responses, as called upon by the Gospel.

1. Pray for our leaders.

At the risk of sounding harsh and judgmental, I will say what I have observed. We do not pray for our leaders. We criticize them, but we don’t really pray for them. I think God has a standard – do not criticize a person for whom you have not prayed. If you are a never-Trumper, have you prayed for him today? We must pray for our leaders – fervently, daily.

2. Speak out against racism wherever we find it.

Are there white people who support President Trump simply because he is white? You bet there are. And that is a form of racism. But remember, blacks voted for President Obama in numbers never seen in the black community before. Why did they turn out for Obama in numbers that were vastly greater than for Bill Clinton, Al Gore, or Hillary Clinton? I suggest they could not identify, for the most part, a single policy difference that would favor their community, between Obama and the other Democratic nominees, in the years they stayed home and did not vote. And that is a form of racism. Whether we are talking about Black Lives Matter, the alt-right, or any other group that sections Americans into sub-groups, it is not healthy for our unity and purpose.

3. Build bridges, not walls.

I’m not talking about a border wall, but sociological and relational walls. One of my proudest moments was when the black leaders of my town, where I was pastor of a largely white, downtown Baptist church, asked me to serve as Grand Marshal in the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. parade. I was on the program for their annual service every year. Ours was the only “white” church on the program. We hosted the event in our church one year. That is how it is supposed to work.

The Bible is clear that sin isn’t going anywhere. That means hatred and racism will always be with us. We live in a divided nation. Sure, it would be a good thing if our political leaders got their collective acts together. But it must start with the people who elected them in the first place.

The question is not, will there be another Charlottesville crisis down the road, but how we will respond to it.

The Rushmore Report: Two Baseball Greats You Didn’t Know Were Christians

The race to the playoffs for Major League baseball is in its stretch run. Teams are gearing up for one final push toward their goal of a 2017 World Series Championship. In the history of team sports, there is no title more coveted than this. Personally, I’m pulling for my hometown Astros to win their first title since – ever. But two perennial All-Stars are chasing a higher crown. This is their story.

There are a lot of believers who fill Major League rosters. But two players really stand out.

1. Clayton Kershaw

The Los Angeles Dodgers ace has accomplished many things on the baseball field and has three National League Cy Young Awards to show for it. But to Kershaw, what matters more than his accolades on the field is the impact he makes off the field.

“For me, it’s about the legacy you leave off the field. It’s about how many people I can affect with the platform God gave me,” Kershaw wrote.

“Being a Christian means you have to keep reminding yourself that you’re supposed to stand out, you’re supposed to be different, you’re supposed to act boldly in your faith,” he added. “It’s not easy, but it’s worth the fight.”

Kershaw highlights Colossians 3:23 in his Bible. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”

2. Andrew McCutchen

The five-time All-Star outfielder with the Pittsburgh Pirates grew up with a pastor for a dad. He says his dad instilled Romans 8:28 into his heart.

“I know God gave me talents to use to the best of my ability for His glory and to be able to help others. The game is not mine. It doesn’t control me. I give it all to God,” he says. “People say that when something happens to you with the Lord, you start seeing things differently. That’s kind of the way I started seeing things; and the more I started to see things differently, the more my game took off.”

Being in a sport in which failing seven out of ten times is considered a success, McCutchen said that his relationship with the Lord has made failure easier for him to encounter.

“You understand it’s just an obstacle He put you through to get where He wants you to go,” McCutchen added.

On a side note, you will have plenty of chances to catch Clayton Kershaw pitching in this year’s playoffs. His Dodgers have the best record in baseball. As for McCutchen, you better watch him now. The only way the Pirates will get into the playoffs is if they buy tickets.

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: Was Elvis a Christian?

Elvis Presley died 40 years ago this week. As we look back on the King of Rock ‘n Roll, it is a good time to consider his faith. Charles Hughes, a writer on the history of Southern Gospel, has looked closely into Elvis’ past. In his search for answers about his faith, Hughes has made an unexpected discovery. He has found Elvis’ personal Bible – and the notes he wrote in the margins. He has discovered an Elvis many did not know.

“Throughout his career he kept returning to Gospel music,” writes Hughes. “He was always singing Gospel songs, recording Gospel records, and incorporating in his live shows performance techniques that he would have gotten from the church.”

Joe Moscheo, a member of The Imperials, who traveled with Elvis, wrote a book called The Gospel Side of Elvis. He wrote of an Elvis who would often gather other singers into his hotel room and sing Gospel songs for hours at a time. “That’s what he wanted to do. It was like there were two parts. There was Elvis the superstar and he went out onstage in his jumpsuits and then he came offstage and he was Elvis Presley from Tupelo, Mississippi, that was brought up in the church and wanted to sing Gospel music,” he said.

The last time Moscheo saw Elvis, he gave him a Bible. When asked if he thought Elvis was a Christian, Moscheo said, “I believe that he was. He had demons. I mean, he had problems. But, from all indications and just being around him in these intimate settings, I really feel that he was a Christian.”

And here’s where it gets interesting.

Hughes has dug into Presley’s Bible – one given to him by his aunt and uncle on his first Christmas at Graceland in 1957. It was found at the Museum of the Bible. Given the opportunity to review it in private, Hughes thumbed through its pages and discovered several hand-written notes, by which Elvis expressed his true faith

Here are some examples.

Beside Psalm 11:1, he wrote, “In the Lord I place my trust and He will guide me.”

Psalm 43:3 is underlined with a note that reads, “Lord send me light to guide me.”

On page 670, in reference to Psalm 137:5-9, Elvis wrote, “Trust in the Lord, not man.”

Jotted under Psalm 81 are these words: “Sing the Lord’s praises.”

In reference to Psalm 149:3-6, he added, “The highest graces of music flow from the feelings of the heart-soul.”

And under Psalm 149, he wrote, “Sing for the glory of God.”

Was Elvis Presley a Christian? It appear so. Did he struggle with his faith? Certainly. That makes him a lot like most of us.

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: Four Things You Need to Know About Conflict with North Korea

The rhetoric between leaders of The United States and North Korea escalated this week, when North Korea’s Pyongyang threatened Guam and President Trump threatened with “fire and fury” if the rogue state continued its nuclear tests and verbal threats. Despite United Nations sanctions (including support from China and Russia), North Korea has yet to soften its tone or threats. All military analysts agree we are on the precipice of disaster – unless something happens to avert war. There are four things you need to know about the current conflict.

1. Does North Korea have nuclear weapons?

The simple answer is yes. Worse, the Korean military has figured out how to miniaturize a weapon, meaning they can deliver a bomb to a distant target such as the U.S. mainland. The North has been building and testing missiles for years. They have conducted five nuclear tests, each signifying greater capability than was previously known.

2. What is the rest of the world doing?

The UN Security Council has adopted a resolution that imposes new sanctions. This is the eighth set of sanctions in the last 11 years. To date, sanctions have done nothing to divert the North from their intentions. And North Korea’s economy has somehow continued to expand and prosper despite these sanctions.

3. What has President Trump said about North Korea?

The president has called North Korean President Kim “a smart cookie.” He has said of their nuclear aspirations, “It won’t happen.” And on Tuesday, he threatened “fire and fury such as the world has never seen” if Pyongyang endangered, or even threatened the United States. Yesterday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tamped down the rhetoric a bit. He said, “I think Americans should sleep well at night, have no concerns about this particular rhetoric of the last few days.” But clearly, Mr. Trump stands ready to respond, and has been presented with multiple military plans of action.

4. What happens if war breaks out?

Any U.S.-led military action would be met with an aggressive response from the other side. Korea has threatened to send missiles to Hawaii and even the U.S. mainland. Clearly, South Korea, where thousands of U.S. soldiers are based, would be at great risk. Military analysts estimate that 30,000 civilians would be killed in a non-nuclear strike by North Korea on its southern neighbor. Should nuclear warheads be engaged, the number of lost lives would be counted in the millions. Is the U.S. mainland at risk? While the United States certainly has the capacity to shoot down any incoming missile, such a response has never been tested. Let us pray it never will be.

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.