False Prophets in the White House

Commentary
By Mark Silk 8-17-2017
From left, Ronnie Floyd, Rodney Howard-Browne, Adonica Howard-Browne, Johnnie Moore, and Paula White stand behind President Trump as he talks with evangelical supporters in the Oval Office at the White House. Photo courtesy of Johnnie Moore/

In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fake news. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has long been sleeping. — 2 Peter 2:3

On Wednesday, when President Trump shut down his business advisory committees just ahead of his business advisers’ resigning en masse in the wake of Charlottesville, one of his evangelical advisers, Johnnie Moore, delivered a statement on ABC News that concluded:

Evangelicals consider the gospel responsibility we have been given by God to serve our fellow man to be our most sacred one. That remains our primary focus. As part of that we appreciate the deep relationship we have with the administration and the listening ear they have given to us and continue to give to us. We take this seriously, and we feel no responsibility to convey publicly the advice we’ve given them privately. It’s their responsibility to do with it what they will. It’s our responsibility to fulfill our spiritual and national duty.

There’s more than a hint here that the evangelical advisers have been busy telling “the administration,” maybe even including the president, to do the right thing and, like, not talk as if neo-Nazis and those protesting neo-Nazis are morally equivalent. (And therefore, hey, it’s not our fault if they don’t take our advice.)

But no one is actually asking the evangelical advisers to reveal what they are pouring into the administration’s listening ear. They are asking the evangelical advisers to respond publicly to presidential behavior that has caused shock and dismay throughout the country and around the world.

Which is what Moore’s former boss, Jerry Falwell Jr., did in a same-day tweet:

This suggests that what the evangelical advisers have actually been telling the administration and maybe even the president is, like, keep up the good work. Which makes you ask what Donald Trump would have to do to get the likes of Moore and Falwell to react the way the business advisers reacted.

The answer, I think, is that he would have to stop inviting them to the White House to discharge their spiritual and national duty by sharing their thoughts with, and laying their hands upon him. As long as that deep relationship persists, they’ll be standing by their dear leader.

Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its own vomit,” and “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.” — 2 Peter 2:22

VIa Religion News Service.

Mark Silk is Professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and director of the college's Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life.

Don't Miss a Story!

Get Sojourners delivered straight to your inbox.

Have Something to Say?

Add or Read Comments on
"False Prophets in the White House"
Launch Comments
By commenting here, I agree to abide by the Sojourners Comment Community Covenant guidelines and acknowledge that my comment may be published in the Letters to the Editor section of Sojourners magazine.

Must Reads

Subscribe