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The hypocrisy of the Faith & Freedom Coalition

President Donald Trump
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
President Donald Trump encouraging a standing ovation before delivering remarks at the Faith & Freedom Coalition 2019 Road To Majority Policy Conference in June.

I recently received a packet from Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition requesting my participation in a survey of 10 million evangelical voters advocating support for the re-election of President Donald Trump. Despite my membership in a conservative Lutheran congregation, for most of my adult life I have voted for Democrats.

Not surprisingly, I strongly disagree with the coalition’s support for a man with a life-long history of turpitude, a serial and unrepentant philanderer, and according to numerous fact-checking sources, as of April 29, 2019, an originator of more than 10,000 false or misleading claims since taking office.

Reliable fact-checking agencies such as Snopes and PolitiFact, among others, have researched Trump’s false statements, including many rated as “Pants on Fire” concerning voter fraud.

Here are just a few samples of the president’s persistent prevarications.

  • California admitted there were a million illegal votes in the 2016 presidential election. (6/23/19)
  • In many places, like California, the same person voted many times. … Millions and millions of people. (7/6/18)
  • There was very serious voter fraud in New Hampshire. (11/28/19)
  • It’s possible that noncitizen voters were responsible for Obama’s 2008 victory in North Carolina. (10/19/16)

While the verification of these and other false statements articulated by Donald Trump may be regarded as “fake news” by the president and his supporters who maintain that fact-checking sources are part of the left-wing cabal seeking to destroy America, they are easily substantiated.

Also, the nonpartisan New York University Brennan Center for Justice, in its document “The Truth About Voter Fraud,” found that most reported incidents of such fraud are traceable to other sources, such as clerical errors or bad data matching practices. The Brennan Center’s conclusion is that it’s more likely a person will be struck by lightning than commit voter fraud.

Michael Fedo
Michael Fedo
Reed’s letter continues to promote the president’s flagrant lies, including references to massive voter fraud in recent elections. Quoting from the letter, Reed urges Christians to, “Stop the radical anti-Christian left from winning the White House and control of our government in 2020 so they can destroy America forever. … I am sure you’re as dismayed and outraged as I am to see the rampant Vote [sic] Fraud that took place in the 2018 mid-term election — when race after race (especially in the house) was stolen by the left.”

Neither Reed nor the president offer any evidence for this assertion. It isn’t possible because confirmation of massive voter fraud cannot be certified. Even the conservative Heritage Foundation, in a posting of voter fraud incidents, cites only 1,199 documented infractions in 18 years, from 2000 to 2018 — hardly rampant as Reed and the president claim.

This averages a mere 67 fraudulent votes in the entire nation per year. These ballots would not have dented tallies in any national election, including in 2018 when more than 120 million Americans voted.

What’s shameful, and harmful to the faith advocated by the Faith & Freedom Coalition, is it’s overlooking the egregious transgressions of a president who brazenly flouts truth and traditional morality, and who disparages our allies while simultaneously embracing corrupt and despotic leaders of the nation’s long-time foes.

“Character matters,” Reed stated in 1998, during Bill Clinton’s impending impeachment. “We care about the conduct of our leaders, and we will not rest until we have leaders of good moral character.”

Sadly, Reed and many other prominent evangelicals have turned 180 degrees from that position. In this regard, their promulgation of the president’s lies as facts is morally unacceptable, and denigrates the credibility of all evangelical Christians.

Michael Fedo of Coon Rapids has published 10 books, most recently, “Don’t Quit Your Day Job: The Adventures of a Midlist Author.”


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Comments (18)

  1. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 08/12/2019 - 09:18 am.

    The quote that always comes to mind is that of Thoreau from Civil Disobedience:
    “as they rarely make any moral distinctions, they are as likely to serve the devil, without intending it, as God.

  2. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 08/12/2019 - 10:39 am.

    Christian conservatives like Reed are only too happy to jump on any bandwagon that puts money in their pockets. That their followers are so capable of falling for the same ruse time after time is stunning:

    “Ralph Reed was chatting about his halcyon days as part of Jack Abramoff’s lobbying machine. He recalled that his work with “Casino Jack,” the once and famous king of K Street, “was outstanding, I’m proud of it, and it advanced sound public policy.”

    God Bless. What would that policy be? The legalized bribery of government officials?

    To recap, Ralph Reed worked for team Abramoff by mobilizing Christians opposed to gambling to shutter casinos. The only hitch: Reed was usually paid by other casinos who had a financial interest in eliminating their competitors. Therefore, Abramoff needed to find a way to make Reed comfortable, and to protect him against critics and the likely fury of his own Christian followers–who might have been upset if they had discovered that Reed was being paid by gamblers to do their bidding. The solution: Abramoff laundered the Indian casino payoffs to Reed by routing them through other organizations, including Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform and a phony “think tank” in Rehoboth Beach, MD, run by a life guard and a yoga instructor who were friends of Abramoff’s pal, Mike Scanlon.”

  3. Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 08/12/2019 - 02:20 pm.

    Ralph Reed serves “Mammon”, if that entity of covetousness and false idol of wealth exists. Like a great many so-called evangelicals enamored of American Empire, its crass consumerism and the eternal total war machine, their hypocrisy knows no bounds…

    That said, hypocrisy is far more American than Apple Pie, with the gulf between professed beliefs of many Dems and liberals, and the actual practice, at least as wide as that of the average conservative. Obama and the Clinton’s (and Biden) like to talk about democracy, diversity and inclusion, but are as responsible as anyone for mass incarceration, ecological devastation, eternal war, total surveillance, epic income inequality, corporate and banking capture of government…(and seriously, how moral is Bill Clinton?)….but not according to those who hold these characters up as veritable saints….

  4. Submitted by Charles Holtman on 08/12/2019 - 03:46 pm.

    A leftist Jewish agnostic who has never made it more than a third of the way thru either of the Testaments, I follow the teachings of Jesus a thousandfold moreso than Mr Reed or any representative of the evangelical community who supports Mr. Trump and his party.

  5. Submitted by Jim Bernstein on 08/12/2019 - 04:50 pm.

    Ralph Reed, like his hero Donald Trump has made a career of misstatements, falsehoods, exaggerations, and spouting whatever nonsense he conjures up. Again like Mr. Trump, Ralph Reed has always counted on his audience assuming him to be 100% credible no matter how outrageous or false his words are.

  6. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 08/13/2019 - 08:57 am.

    I know of no evangelical who approves of the “character sins” of D.T. These “sins” are the subject of many MinnPost editorials (not news) on a weekly basis.

    However – most liberal – socialist -types – forget there was another person on the ballet.

    I have often wondered how the self righteous liberals – who constantly parade their moral superiority – who flaunt their purity over the “deplorables” – could vote for H.C.?

    I voted for the lesser of two evils.

    • Submitted by richard owens on 08/13/2019 - 09:33 am.

      Hillary was character assassinated. She didn’t murder anyone. She didn’t cause her husbands infidelity. She didn’t arm Benghazi nor order Chris to go there.

      As for the emails, you should keep quiet if you think unauthorized private email accounts are verboten, after all, Karl Rove and the RNC lost 10 times as many and none were seen by any scribes for the Presidential records act. compliance.

      It has already been reported that the current administration has all kinds of violations using emails and TWITTER! Republicans always accuse for things they have done first better and dirtier.

      Manufactured character assassination is the Republican policy in ever e,ection. That’s why they can’t govern and hate government anyway.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 08/15/2019 - 10:25 pm.

      Rationalization is the key to mental health:

      Truthfulness during campaign (Politifact)

      Half True to True, Clinton 73%

      Half True to True, Trump 29%

      Benghazi witch hunt indictments: 0

      Mueller witch hunt indictments: 34

      The list is endless. Put Trump’s behavior on any D President and the American Right would be 10 times as unhinged as the Ds are with Trump. Benghazi is proof of that: $7m, 2 years on what really was a baseless witch hunt.

  7. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/13/2019 - 09:12 am.

    Evangelical support for Trump has never been about his policies, and it certainly is not a matter of affirming his character (although so-cal;led Christian leaders have tried to pretend he doesn’t lie, or that his election was anointed by God). It’s about sticking it to the liberals. They are willing to overlook his myriad personal failings and his bumbling governance in the interests of flipping the bird to the Clintons (and, by extension, to the left).

    They are willing to claim the thrice-married adulterer, who has a record of dishonesty in business that is jaw-dropping, was the “lesser of two evils” in 2016. When you compare the evils of the Clintons with those of Trump, it’s hard for most of us to see any comparison. In fact, it’s hard to retain any sense that these evangelicals have any sincere or consistent religious beliefs.

    Of course, Senator Clinton wears pants, and Deuteronomy 22:5 is pretty clear on that point. What doe it say about grabbing women by the genitals, or stiffing contractors?

    • Submitted by ian wade on 08/13/2019 - 06:36 pm.

      Hillary stating that she didn’t have much interest in staying home and baking cookies was a bridge too far. I think that’s in the old testament somewhere. 🙂

  8. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 08/13/2019 - 06:38 pm.

    I’m not an Evangelical. And according to Mr. Fredo’s description of himself, I’m not half the Christian he is. But I am a conservative and I know and understand the agenda of Christian conservatives. Their support for Mr. Trump will not waiver for four main reasons:

    Abortion. Trump has delivered on his promise to appoint pro-life justices to the Supreme Court. He has also made it clear that he is no friend of Planned Parenthood.

    His support for Israel. In November 1995, Congress passed a law known as the Jerusalem Embassy Act. In addition to recognizing that Jerusalem was Israel’s capital, the law required the U.S. to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This move was extremely important to Evangelicals yet he was the first president to have the guts to actually carry out this law even though its been on the books for 20 years.

    His support for religious liberties in general. His justice department has taken the side of businesses who have been harassed, sued and prosecuted for their refusal to do business with people and organizations that violate their religious principles and 1st Amendment rights.

    Lastly, democrats seem to have no problem mocking and harassing religious people, mostly Christians, and have apparently decided that they’ll generally be the anti-God party, whether it’s fighting to keep God out of the public square or even protesting religious symbols in public cemeteries. So, it’s the old, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” phenomenon I guess. I mean, even racial minorities who happen to be religious are starting to notice such things.

    Like I say, I’m not a particularly religious person and so it seems odd that I would recognize the reasons for his support among Evangelical Christians before the very religious Mr. Fredo did.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/14/2019 - 12:53 pm.

      “Abortion. ”

      Interesting that reason #1 should be something that isn’t in the Bible anywhere. It’s also interesting that evangelical Protestant denominations regarded abortion as a matter of personal choice, until they realized how they could mobilize the faithful with it.

      “His support for Israel.”

      I’ll bet money that the average evangelical church-goer in the MAGA cap can’t tell us why Israel is important to Christianity without using Google. If they can, it’s some eschatological rot about bringing about the Rapture.

      “His support for religious liberties in general.”

      Let’s ask some Muslims about that one.

      “Lastly, democrats seem to have no problem mocking and harassing religious people, mostly Christians, and have apparently decided that they’ll generally be the anti-God party, whether it’s fighting to keep God out of the public square or even protesting religious symbols in public cemeteries.”

      Today’s Gospel is from the Book of Matthew, chapter 6, verses 5 and 6.

  9. Submitted by LK WOODRUFF on 08/14/2019 - 11:31 am.

    DEMs believe in the Constitution.
    And in the separation of church and state!!!!

    What we have trouble with is people who say one thing but act differently.
    And who put profits ahead of all, including clean air & water, and healthy non-pesticide sprayed food sources, and safe natural habitats for our remaining wildlife. Who give more importance to corporations and aid them in every way imaginable, but hamstring ‘the little people’ by forcing them to work multiple jobs, decreasing monies for education, taking away their health care, and jeopardizing their futures with massive debt–for decades if not generations–incurred by massive ‘tax cuts’ for the uber wealthy, and so on…..

  10. Submitted by richard owens on 08/14/2019 - 01:42 pm.

    If you’re a Republican, I’d advise you to keep quiet about hypocrisy or dems “mocking and harassing” until your R party cleans up its hypocritical policies:

    Trying to kill the ACA.
    Refusing to take the Medicaid expansion for your state.
    Refusing to support women’s clinics and their doctors while keeping contraception and education away.
    Refusing to vaccinate or worse, telling people vaccines cause autism.
    Refusing to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices even though the VA does it to good effect.
    Placing obstacles in the way of people who need food stamps, subsidized school lunches and rent or find themselves homeless with kids.
    Supporting the slaughter of our own citizens by white nationalists who can easily get guns that are only for war and terror.
    Bought and paid for by the NRA donations to single-issue Republicans.

    Withdrawing from the world effort to cut carbon emissions.
    Supporting the exploitation of public lands and waters by the fossil fuel industry and ranchers who want to run their cattle on public lands.
    Supporting mining and pipelines that have a horrendous history of trashing our lands and water.
    Reducing virtually all the regulations and protections of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act- in fact arguing that carbon dioxide is not a greenhouse gas.

    Military spending that is never audited while cutting the State Department of diplomats and negotiated peace talks.
    Threatening and saber-rattling the most populace and fastest growing influence in the world- China.
    Selling US Citizenship in exchange for investments in Republican ventures.
    Arming and Assisting the Saudis in bombing the poorest people in the Middle East in Yemen.
    Moving the Embassy to Jerusalem with the effect of destroying all hope for the Palestinian hopes, while allowing the building of more and more settlements and destroying new Palestinian homes because they are near their wall.
    Cutting US aid to Palestine that was funding NGO schools, now closed.

    Treating asylum seekers and desperate people trying to get to the US as if they were criminals, and then teaching your loyal Rs that it’s okay to lock them up, separate them from their children and even tear gas them.
    Violating the Geneva Accords, the UN Security counsel resolutions.
    Raiding chicken processors in the poorest towns in the poorest State of the union, on the first day of school.

    A ban on Muslims.
    Passing laws that insert Republican ideas into the doctor patient relationship and enforce intrusive rules for pregnant females .

    Republicans see themselves as enforcers, not unconditional lovers.
    Encouraging confrontation at women’s clinics, resulting in zealot harassment and violence.

    Mr. Tester, Christians have a clear command:
    “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    Nothing in the Republican party reflects on the humility or care for humanity that is the essence of the faith itself.

    Politics and religion? It’s obvious to the rest of us why we can’t mix them.

  11. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/18/2019 - 09:45 am.

    As a decades long Atheist I’ve been contending with Evangelicals and fundamentalist Christians my entire adult life.

    I think the most insightful observation I can offer at this point is the ironic fact that among religious people, and different denominations of Christians, Evangelicals have the almost no coherent concept of: “Faith”. They are literally incapable for instance of recognizing a distinction between scientific method and Bible study. The net effect of this is a obliteration of the capacity to connect faith to their religion.

    The Evangelical attempts to “prove” the validity of their beliefs rather than recognize them as articles of faith conflates empiricism and scripture. Any morality that flows out of this confusion is bound to be facile. It’s no wonder that those who cannot distinguish “fact” from “faith” are prone to factual and theological absurdity, and it’s no surprise that such people tend to moral imbeciles. We can’t expect those who think why they know and what they believe are the same thing, will be capable of any reliable moral reasoning.

    Anyone who knows these folks or has been dealing with them will predict their support for Trump and will not be surprised by it. You would not expect any kind of coherent moral reasoning, or theological consistency from Evangelicals to begin with. Their “religion” was never about living a life according to Jesus, it was always about promoting a sense of superiority that justifies intolerance and hubris. Without any coherent concept of faith, believing in a perfect and infallible God is the same as being a perfect and infallible God.

    This hubris was always about taking control and being in power, politically and morally. History has repeatedly shown us that these are exactly the kinds of people who find a ally in a right wing dictator.

    And yes, it’s always been rather odd to find that as an Atheist, I’m frequently a far better Christian than most Evangelicals.

  12. Submitted by Carl Brookins on 08/18/2019 - 04:21 pm.

    As one who spent a good deal of time and effort studying the mythology of religions, I have come to the following self-evident truths:
    Humankind is the source of all religious constructs
    Religious fervor has been the source of more human misery than any terrestrial tyrant
    Religious movements grow from the motivating self-interest of the movement founders
    Many of those who eschew organized religion are more likely to live their lives by the moral and ethical standards of human-kind that demonstrate a belief in a Supreme Being whom we commonly refer to as God, must be supremely discouraged at what SHE/HE hath wrot..

  13. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/19/2019 - 08:34 am.

    Just to follow up on the civic realm of: “faith n freedom”: In addition to being bereft of any coherent religious faith, these folks also lack any real concept of: “freedom” or liberty.

    Basically the fundamentalist mindset is a dictatorial mindset, it’s not about sharing liberties with others, it’s about dictating lifestyles, behavior, and beliefs.

    Without a coherent concept of freedom you can’t have a coherent concept of oppression. This is why evangelicals think their under attack when they hear someone say: “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”. You can only interpret that as an attack on Jesus if you don’t recognize anyone else’s religious freedom. School prayer, ten commandments, “creationism”, etc. etc. these are all expression of dictatorial impulses pretending to be religious freedom and responses to oppression. For fundamentalists, “freedom” is one way street. This how they arrive at the conclusion that tearing up our Constitution and replacing democracy with a Christian theocracy is a “patriotic” thing to do.

    These kinds of mentalities can only be built upon dictatorial foundations. When you look at their culture war you see that in the end, the only real complaint is that other people are living their lives in a different way from a different perspective. The mere existence of other people with different perspectives and “values” is oppressive to Evangelicals. This is an oxymoronic concept of “freedom” and oppression.

    The Evangelical affinity for Trump has nothing to do with patriotism, religion, theocracy, or faith; these are all incoherent concepts for Evangelicals. What Trump and Evangelicals DO share is dictatorial impulses. As long as Evangelicals, Neo-cons, and reactionaries see Trump appealing to their own dictatorial impulses, they’ll support him. This isn’t about scripture, it’s about power… and it’s predominantly about WHITE power.

    In the meantime, like every other title fundamentalists and reactionaries contrive for themselves, from the: “Moral Majority” to “Family Values”… “Faith And Freedom” is simply an oxymoron in this context. No damn “faith”, no damn “freedom” to be found here.

  14. Submitted by Misty Martin on 08/19/2019 - 12:14 pm.

    To all of those who would stand behind Donald Trump as he seeks a 2nd term in the Oval Office, I would say: Character STILL Matters. I don’t see any examples of “good” character coming out of the White House these days. Do you?

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