When Russia was the Soviet Union, U.S. left-wingers did not see any problem. Now when Christian Orthodox conservatism has come back to the Russian government, there is no surprise that U.S. left-wingers are seeing all kind of problem in Russia. The big surprise is that U.S. right-wingers, including their Protestant supporters, are embarking on a kind of collusion with U.S. left-wingers in the same feeling of hostility to Russia.
The most tragic is a Pentecostal media embarking on the same political collusion. I say tragic because Pentecostals and charismatics are known for believing and having prophecies and revelations. But what is the point of believing in revelations if Pentecostals choose to live in the low level of dark, sordid political collusions of left-wingers or neocons, the fake conservatives? Revelations and prophecies are granted by God to give people the chance to see above the low level of dark, sordid political collusions.
In a recent report titled “The Russian Connection: When Franklin Graham Met Putin,” Charisma, which is the largest Pentecostal media in the world, said,
Trending: Is the Church Becoming Too Political?
When President Trump stood beside Russian President Vladimir Putin… the subsequent firestorm of criticism included liberals as well as prominent Republicans. But there was one group that kept uncharacteristically quiet: the president’s evangelical advisers.
The Charisma report added,
There are good reasons why some Christian right leaders are less than eager to address Trump’s attempts to warm relations between the U.S. and Russia. For years, American evangelicals have cultivated ties with Russia, highlighted by a 2015 meeting between Franklin Graham, son of the late Billy Graham, and Putin in Russia.
But by the time Trump was inaugurated in 2017, the Kremlin had become what Politico described as “the leader of the global Christian Right,” largely based on an alliance with Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill.
Graham’s public relationship with Trump dates back to at least 2011, when he told ABC News, “The more you listen to [Trump], the more you say to yourself, ‘You know, maybe the guy’s right.’” The following year, Trump’s foundation reportedly gave the organization named for Franklin Graham’s father, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, a $100,000 check in 2012, while Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian relief group also run by Franklin Graham, received $25,000 the same year and $10,000 in 2013.
Meanwhile, Putin’s ideological influence over parts of the American religious right dates back to at least 2014.
In March of that year, Putin was featured on the cover of Decision Magazine, a publication of the BGEA, in an issue that included an opinion article by Franklin Graham that offered cautious praise for the Russian president. The evangelical leader pointed to Putin’s decision to sign a law barring the dissemination of “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” to children.
“It’s obvious that President Obama and his administration are pushing the gay-lesbian agenda in America today and have sold themselves completely to that which is contrary to God’s teaching,” Graham wrote. He later added: “In my opinion, Putin is right on these issues. Obviously, he may be wrong about many things, but he has taken a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda.”
Then Charisma mentions meetings of Russian Orthodox Christian leaders with conservative evangelical leaders in America as an alleged example of some sort of “intrigue.” The big problem — and you do not need any supernatural gift of prophecy to see it — is that the source for all the accusations of intrigue is not Charisma itself. It is not also some conservative evangelical media. The source was the Religion News Service, which used as its own source… Mother Jones, a famous U.S. left-wing magazine.
Actually, Charisma carelessly reproduced the full report from the Religion News Service, which is plain propaganda against Trump, against Graham and against Russia.
If Charisma had done a diligent investigative report, it would have seen that the Religion News Service was not the original source. The Religion News Service used a very big left-wing source.
The issue is not why Mother Jones and other U.S. left-wingers are worried or even desperate about contacts of conservative evangelicals with Trump and of conservative evangelicals with Russia. The big issue is why evangelicals, including Pentecostals, are allowing Mother Jones and other U.S. left-wingers to dictate to them how should be their relationship with Trump and Russia.
Pentecostals and charismatics blindly following non-leftist sources is bad. But to follow left-wing sources is vastly worse.
In an extensive report titled “What Happened in Moscow: The Inside Story of How Trump’s Obsession With Putin Began,” Mother Jones mentioned Trump’s visit to Russia in 2013 as a worrying point. Another worrying point was the Russian law banning homosexual propaganda to children. This left-wing report was the source for the Religion News Service and ultimately and consequently for Charisma.
Left-wing Mother Jones opened her heart about all her bad feelings on Trump, Russia, Graham and the Russian law against homosexual propaganda, saying:
…the Russian Duma had passed a law that made it illegal to expose children to information about homosexuality. The new anti-gay measure was the latest move by Putin to appeal to the conservative Orthodox Church and ultranationalist forces.
Human rights and gay rights advocates in Russia and around the world denounced the new law. Vodka boycotts were launched. There was a push to relocate the Winter Olympics, scheduled to be held the following year in Sochi, Russia. In the United States, the Human Rights Campaign called on Trump and the Miss Universe Organization to move the event out of Russia, noting that under the new law a contestant could be prosecuted if she were to voice support for gay rights.
The uproar over the Russian anti-gay act confronted Trump with a dilemma—how to distance himself from the law without jeopardizing his big Russia play. The Miss Universe Organization issued a statement asserting that it “believes in equality for all individuals.” That didn’t stop the protests. Bravo talk-show host Andy Cohen and entertainment reporter Giuliana Rancic, who had previously co-hosted the pageant, quit the show. Miss Universe officials scrambled and found replacements: Thomas Roberts, an openly gay MSNBC anchor, and former Spice Girl Mel B.
Roberts explained his decision in an op-ed on MSNBC.com: “Boycotting and vilifying from the outside is too easy. Rather, I choose to offer my support of the LGBT community in Russia by going to Moscow and hosting this event as a journalist, an anchor, and a man who happens to be gay. Let people see I am no different than anyone else.”
This was a godsend for Trump. He granted Roberts an interview on MSNBC. “I think you’re going to do fantastically,” he told Roberts, “and I love the fact that you feel the same about the whole situation as me.” Inevitably, the conversation turned toward Putin and whether he would appear at the pageant. “I know for a fact that he wants very much to come,” Trump said, “but we’ll have to see. We haven’t heard yet, but we have invited him.”
Though US relations with Moscow were at this point deteriorating, Trump was touting Putin as a wily and strong leader. In September, Putin published an op-ed in the New York Times that opposed a possible US military strike against the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria (in retaliation for its use of chemical weapons) and that denounced President Barack Obama for referring to American exceptionalism. The next day, Trump on Fox News commended Putin’s move. “It really makes him look like a great leader,” he said.
The following month, Trump appeared on David Letterman’s late-night show. The host asked if Trump had ever done any deals with the Russians. “I’ve done a lot of business with the Russians,” Trump replied, adding, “They’re smart and they’re tough.” Letterman inquired if Trump had ever met Putin. “He’s a tough guy,” Trump said. “I met him once.” In fact, there was no record he ever had.
Do you have a relationship with Putin and any sway with the Russian leader? Roberts asked him. Trump was unequivocal: “I do have a relationship.” He paused. “I can tell you that he’s very interested in what we’re doing here today. He’s probably very interested in what you and I are saying today. And I’m sure he’s going to be seeing it in some form.”
Trump could barely contain his praise for Russia’s president: “Look, he’s done a very brilliant job in terms of what he represents and who he’s representing. If you look at what he’s done with Syria, if you look at so many of the different things, he has really eaten our president’s lunch. Let’s not kid ourselves. He’s done an amazing job…He’s put himself at the forefront of the world as a leader in a short period of time.”
But Trump had decided to attend the celebration of evangelist Billy Graham’s 95th birthday on November 7 at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina. In Russia, Trump told Goldstone that it had been necessary for him to show up at the Graham event: “There is something I’m planning down the road, and it’s really important.”
Goldstone knew exactly what Trump was talking about: a run for the White House. Franklin Graham, the evangelist’s son, was an influential figure among religious conservatives. When Trump two years earlier was championing birtherism—the baseless conspiracy theory that Barack Obama had been born in Kenya and was ineligible to be president—Graham joined the birther bandwagon, raising questions about the president’s birth certificate. Appearing at this event and currying favor with Franklin Graham was a mandatory stop for Trump, if he was serious about seeking the Republican presidential nomination. And it paid off: Trump and his wife Melania were seated at the VIP table along with Rupert Murdoch and Sarah Palin. Franklin Graham later said that Trump was among those who “gave their hearts to Christ” that night.
So these are the worries of Mother Jones, one of the most left-wing publications in the United States. The mystery is not why Mother Jones and other U.S. left-wing publications are so opposed to evangelical involvement with Trump and Russian conservatism today and Trump’s involvement with Russia. The mystery is why evangelicals, especially Charisma, would used its powerful media to let a left-wing article spread its venom against Trump and Russian conservatism.
The problem is not only a lack of attention to God’s Word and prophecies and revelations. It is a lack of Christian good sense.
While Charisma and some Pentecostals are giving attention to Mother Jones and other left-wingers, the Christian Broadcasting Network and other charismatic channels are giving attention to neocons, the fake conservatives. This is sheer lack of good sense too.
Trump is better than Obama and Russia is not worse than the Vatican. If the U.S. has had a long relationship and partnership with the Vatican, why not with Russia?
Russia is vastly better than the Islamic dictatorship of Saudi Arabia. If the U.S. has had a long relationship and partnership with Saudi Arabia, why is the U.S. left so enraged and desperate to hinder U.S. conservative evangelicals from a partnership with Russia?
Because the anti-Russia pressure from left-wingers and neocons has been so massive, in a time when Russia is more open to cooperation, the U.S. finds itself, even under Trump, seeking all reason and non-reason to impose sanctions, alienate and even provoke Russia.
If the U.S. did to the Vatican only ten percent of what it has been doing to Russia, it would be called, in the midst of outcries, anti-Catholic hostility.
If the U.S. did to Israel only ten percent of what it has been doing to Russia, it would be called, in the midst of outcries, anti-Israel hostility or even anti-Semitism.
The same left that always saw no reason to blame the old Soviet Union today sees all reason and non-reason to blame conservative Russia for everything and nothing. Their inconsistency is glaring to normal eyes but why not also to the Pentecostal and charismatic spiritual eyes of Charisma and other evangelicals?
Left-wingers and neocons are destroying the best chance that the U.S. has ever had of partnership with a conservative Russia.
Perhaps one of the most important signs of such partnership happened in 2014, in Moscow, when the Kremlin held a pro-family conference attended by international pro-family leaders, including me. The conference clearly condemned abortion, the homosexual agenda and Marxism. The late Larry Jacobs, who was a major leader in the World Congress of Families, told me personally that the Obama administration and U.S. left-wingers were threatening conservative Americans attending this conference. Jacobs and other Americans were very courageous to challenge Obama’s threats. Jacobs was a Pentecostal from the Assemblies of God.
Not surprisingly, Mother Jones saw a conservative conspiracy in the pro-family conference in Moscow. But what expect from left-wingers?
Conservative Pentecostals and charismatics should not let neocons and left-wingers — who embrace Saudi Arabia and their bloody petrodollars — guide them in their hateful collusion against conservative Russia.
With information from Charisma and Mother Jones.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.