Last night, Bill Maher spent a portion of Real Time speaking with the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Ralph Reed.
The bulk of the conversation was infuriating — because Reed kept defending Donald Trump using every White House talking point you can imagine (he literally brought up Hillary Clinton‘s emails) — but there was one part that revealed the shallowness and selfishness of evangelical support for the President.
Maher really wanted to know why conservative Christians were still infatuated with Trump. Hadn’t he broken their trust enough times? Wasn’t his behavior the opposite of what you’d expect from a good Christian?
Reed didn’t answer that question directly, but he kept coming back to one point: Trump gave them the judges they wanted. He got Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, and he’s nominating federal judges from the Religious Right wishlist.
… Every time he told me he was going to do something, he did it. His word was his bond. And let me give one example.
He ran for President and he released a list of 21 nominees — potential nominees — to the Supreme Court. He was the first nominee of either party to do that. He said if you vote for me, I will not choose someone like these 21. I will choose one of these 21. He kept his word. He not only got it done, he confirmed him in 100 days. That hasn’t happened since 1881.
Maher appropriately interjected in the middle of all that, “He kisses your ass. I agree.” He later said, “You forgive all the other lies because the one [promise] you care about, he kept.”
He’s right. That’s what this is all about. Evangelicals will put up with all of Trump’s bullshit — his tweets, his racism, his bragging about sexual assaults, the awful way he treats other human beings, his incompetence in the position, his multiple marriages, his outrageous lies, everything related to Russia, the way he’s eroding our democracy, everything — as long as he puts hardcore conservative justices in positions of power. Because those judges have lifetime appointments and no Democrat can change that anytime soon.That’s the bargain Trump made with his conservative Christian base: Look the other way when it comes to all the other stuff I do, and I’ll let your people decide which judges I appoint.
It’s scary how Reed is willing to overlook all of the President’s faults in order to get those justices. The world can burn and the rest of the country can suffer, but Merrick Garland isn’t on the Supreme Court, so praise Jesus for President Trump.
(It was also a bit strange to see Maher defending the notion that Christians ought to be “good” while Reed’s defense of Trump was essentially that it didn’t matter if he followed Christian principles.)
Reed said one other thing that caught my attention when talking about how the Johnson Amendment has supposedly stifled pastors’ freedom of speech.
… This has been used by the IRS to persecute, harass, intimidate, and attempt to silence churches and major ministries. They’ll bring in IRS agents, they’ll stay there for long periods of time…
That’s a complete lie. Even in the past decade, since some conservative pastors began openly endorsing candidates from the pulpit in order to bait the IRS so they could challenge the law, not a single church has lost its tax exemption. Only one has even been audited.
Maybe Reed is referring to the megachurch pastors who were investigated for several years for taking in obscene amounts of money, which was then used for personal gain. Those televangelists were getting wealthy off of their tax exempt ministries and the government wanted to know if they were violating any laws. Ultimately, there were no penalties or any “definitive findings of wrongdoing,” but that’s partly because many of the pastors refused to cooperate.
In any case, that had nothing to do with the Johnson Amendment.
Reed, of all people, ought to know that.