Franklin Graham probably didn’t anticipate the cataracts of ridicule that would land on him when he proposed a national day of prayer dedicated to protecting Donald Trump from people who loathe Trump and want him removed from public life.
For the convenience of those who might not be able to attend church on the appointed day or, worse, attend a church comprised of decent-minded grown-ups who wouldn’t be participating, Graham offered the convenience of a prayer-rally at his Facebook page.
— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) June 2, 2019
I re-tweeted that.
A Facebook prayer-rally for Donald Trump is some kind of new benchmark for decadence. https://t.co/6QlSmmuL5K
— Bob Felton (@BobFelton) June 2, 2019
The Washington Post’s Michael Gerson was a lot harsher.
In their day of prayer, Graham and other Trump evangelicals have used a sacred spiritual practice for profane purposes. They have subordinated religion to politics. They have elevated Trump as a symbol of divine purposes. And they are using Christian theology as a cover for their partisanship.
So: This is blasphemy, in service to ideology, leading to idolatry, justified by heresy. All in a Sunday’s work.
The First Felon was determined to have his prayers, though, and detoured to David Platt’s McLean Bible Church in Vienna, Virginia, on his way back to the White House after visiting a golf course.
“President Donald J. Trump is visiting McLean Bible Church in Vienna, VA, to visit with the Pastor and pray for the victims and community of Virginia Beach,” Judd Deere, a spokesman for the White House, said in a statement on Sunday, referring to the mass shooting at a municipal complex that left 13 people dead, including the gunman.
Platt explained in the statement to his congregation that he had been caught off guard.
“At the end of my sermon at the 1:00 worship gathering, I stepped to the side for what I thought would be a couple of moments in quiet reflection as we prepared to take the Lord’s Supper,” he said. “But I was immediately called backstage and told that the President of the United States was on his way to the church, would be there in a matter of minutes, and would like for us to pray for him.”
So: Did Trump visit to pray for the shooting victims, or to receive prayers for himself?
Whichever, Trump managed to visit a church pastored by one of the very rare Southern Baptist pastors not smitten with him, and pastor David Platt had to explain to his congregation that he really didn’t have much choice in the matter.
Afterward, “the president walked off stage without comment, and we closed our gathering by celebrating heroes among us, a couple who has spent the last 48 years spreading the gospel in remote places where it had never gone before they came,” Platt said in his statement. “We then recited the Great Commission as we always do, sending one another out into the city for the glory of our King.”
Platt went on to explain that he had no intention of endorsing the president, his policies or the Republican Party, and said he was sharing details “because I know that some within our church, for a variety of valid reasons, are hurt that I made this decision.”
Seriously: You couldn’t make this up — and this ridiculous story still isn’t over. No. Last night, Jerry Falwell, Jr., weighed in with some manly thoughts on Platt’s apology to his congregation with this tweet.
Sorry to be crude but pastors like @plattdavid need to grow a pair. Just saying.
Falwell seems not to have much of a pair himself, because he has since deleted the tweet.