File this under “No good deed goes unpunished”.
On May 4, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order promoting free speech and religious liberty by enabling religious groups to speak freely on politics without losing their tax exempt status. In the words of the executive order:
“All executive departments and agencies (agencies) shall, to the greatest extent practicable and to the extent permitted by law, respect and protect the freedom of persons and organizations to engage in religious and political speech. In particular, the Secretary of the Treasury shall ensure, to the extent permitted by law, that the Department of the Treasury does not take any adverse action against any individual, house of worship, or other religious organization on the basis that such individual or organization speaks or has spoken about moral or political issues from a religious perspective, where speech of similar character has, consistent with law, not ordinarily been treated as participation or intervention in a political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) a candidate for public office by the Department of the Treasury. As used in this section, the term “adverse action” means the imposition of any tax or tax penalty; the delay or denial of tax-exempt status; the disallowance of tax deductions for contributions made to entities exempted from taxation under section 501(c)(3) of title 26, United States Code; or any other action that makes unavailable or denies any tax deduction, exemption, credit, or benefit.“
This is how Pope Francis’ close advisers and a Protestant minister reward President Trump for his religious liberty executive order.
(1) Pope Francis’ Advisers
In a recent article in the Jesuit journal Civilta Cattolica, the contents of which are vetted by the Vatican in advance of publication, two close advisers to Jesuit Pope Francis lashed out at American conservatives and the political alliance between conservative Catholics and Evangelical Protestants which elected Donald Trump to the White House.
As reported by Catholic World News on July 13, 2017, the article is co-authored by:
- Father Antonio Spadaro, the editor of Civilta Cattolica, who is a regular adviser to Pope Francis.
- Marcelo Figueroa, a Presbyterian pastor who was recruited by Pope Francis to launch an Argentinean edition of L’Osservatore Roman, the Vatican’s daily newspaper.
Spadaro and Figueroa maintain that American conservative leaders, including Presidents Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Donald Trump, have been heavily influenced by fundamentalist Protestant thought — an influence that shows itself in a noxious Manichean worldview that “divides reality between Good and absolute Evil” and encourages confrontation.
The two close advisers to Pope Francis write that many American Catholics have been drawn into that Manicheanism, and that their alliance with Evangelical Protestants as “values voters” is worrisome because these Catholics are a departure from Pope Francis’s “ecumenism”:
“Clearly there is an enormous difference between these concepts and the ecumenism employed by Pope Francis with various Christian bodies and other religious confessions. Francis wants to break the organic link between culture, politics, institution and Church.”
(2) Protestant Pastor William Barber
On July 10, 2017 in the White House, a group of evangelical leaders laid hands on and prayed over President Trump, asking God to give him guidance, wisdom and protection.
That sent Rev. William Barber II, the pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Goldsboro, NC, and president of North Carolina NAACP. into a spitting rage.
Abbie Bennett reports for The News & Observer that on MSNBC’s “AM Joy” on Saturday morning, July 15, Barber called the evangelicals’ prayer for the President “theological malpractice”:
“It is a form of theological malpractice that borders on heresy when you can p-r-a-y for a president and others when they are p-r-e-y, preying on the most vulnerable, you’re violating the most sacred principles of religion.”
Next day, in a news release, chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party (NCGOP) Robin Hayes said:
“In the strongest possible terms, the NCGOP condemns the hateful actions of Dr. Rev. Barber, who cast tens of millions of people, of all faiths, who pray for the president, as sinners in a nationally broadcasted interview. As a pastor in North Carolina, Rev. Dr. Barber has crossed the line this time. Using his role as a supposed faith-based leader to falsely drive citizens away from praying for the good of our nation and our nation’s president, is absolutely grotesque. The idea that it is a sin to pray for any individual, much less the commander-in-chief of our country, goes against any religious teaching that I have ever heard of. Rev. Dr. Barber is spreading a repulsive lie, and he should apologize immediately.”
During the 2016 presidential election, neither the Vatican nor Rev. William Barber had a problem with Hillary Clinton, who is so pro-abort that she favors the legalization of late-term or partial-birth abortion (i.e., up to the 9th month). In contrast, President Trump has been true to his campaign promise, having defunded International Planned Parenthood, as well as signed a law restoring states’ right to defund Planned Parenthood in the U.S.
“Reverend” Barber and Pope Francis’ close advisers “Father” Spadaro and “Pastor” Figueroa, are no more Christian than the devil himself.