How the Trump Revolt Was Funded

EDITORS NOTE: The below is over-simplified, but it helps me make an important point. I simply lack the resources and the energy to dig deeper. I’ll leave that to somebody else. The charts were made from IRS data.

Now that Joe Biden is being sworn in as President, it’s time to turn our attention to preventing another attempted take over of the U.S. Government by an authoritarian ignoramus downstream. That effort needs to begin with the IRS and the tax-exempt organizations who funded the Trump menace from the get-go and even paid travel expenses for the mob that stormed the Capital Building on January 6.

It begins with my old boss Pat Robertson and the mixing of politics with religion in the early 1980s. Pat ran for President in 1988, during an IRS Criminal Investigative Division investigation into criminal activity under our tax exemption. They had us nailed cold, but the investigation was halted when Pat threw his support to then Vice-President George H.W. Bush. I can’t prove it, but it’s my belief that Pat cut a deal with Bush to drop the investigation in trade for Pat’s support of Bush at the Republican Convention.

Years later, after Bill Clinton took office, the investigation was reopened, and CBN lost its tax exemption for the years 1986 and 1987 and paid a significant fine. That was followed by a ruling from the Federal Election Commission that CBN had broken FEC laws regarding campaign contributions. That fine was nearly $400,000.

The IRS allows very little political activity among those benefitting from this particular tax exemption. However, Anne Nelson’s brilliant book Shadow Network reveals the depth of the tax exempt organizations working under the auspices of the Council for National Policy, itself a tax exempt organization. These are almost entirely made up of 501©3 groups.

This graph represents organizations filing IRS form 990 between 1988 and 2017. There is a significant drop-off that occurred during the 2008 banking crisis, when it appears a number of organizations simply quit. The number of returns rebounded, but the interesting revelation here is that the fastest growing group in terms of sheer assets is found with those whose assets are over $50 million, an indication that the wealthiest charitable organizations are the ones growing.

Overall, the number of groups filing returns under the 501©3 designation has exploded over the last 40 years, but what’s really staggering in studying IRS data is the growth in total assets reported by these organizations. Here, the blue line represents the number of tax returns (which has gone from roughly 100,000 in 1985 to 300,000 by 2015), and the orange line represents total assets of those groups.

Clearly, the growth here represents a couple of things. One, the wealthy are increasingly hip to how tax-exempt foundations, for example, can be used to save/hide their otherwise taxable income. Two, those on the political right — the extreme political right — have used their tax-exempt statuses to raise money for their causes. Many of these groups use the “education” exemption to hide their real intent, which was and remains the overthrow of the U.S. Government in favor of some form of Christian Nation.

It’s scary how close they came.

But, now it’s time to pay for their illegal activities, and there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The White Christian Narrative is the Problem

The MAGA Riot in Washington Was the Culmination of Trump's Influence -  Variety

As the Biden Presidency begins to take over, White Evangelicals who support Trump are slowly returning to their caves to regroup and fight again in four years. You can tell by statements from their leaders, like this tweet from Franklin Graham:

“@JoeBiden has warned of a ‘dark winter’ for our nation. But the dark winter we’re facing is not due just to #COVID19, it’s due to the moral decline & the political corruption we see throughout the US. My prayer is that truth will prevail in the political crisis we’re facing,”

I ask sincerely, what makes anybody think that White Evangelicals with a political mission can rightly judge the culture? They can’t, because they are driven by a false gospel, the idolatrous gospel of self. This renders their religious views of the culture irrelevant, for they have chosen the side of the oppressors. They support the rich and the powerful, and that clearly wasn’t the mission of Jesus Christ.

It’s amazing to me — a former player in evangelical television’s heyday of the 80s — the predictability of Christianity when it’s blended with right-wing politics. They are simply incapable of considering the possibility that God is judging THEM, not the culture. I mean, it’s been on vivid display the past four years, and Christians would be well-advised to look in the mirror, because even your salvation (as proclaimed by you) is in question today.

How could you ever believe that this monster you foisted on all of us was of God. The only way Donald Trump could’ve been “of God” is if God was judging the church, because the ends never justified the means. God’s heart is with the poor and the afflicted, but you cast your lot with the wealthy. And for what? Trust me, this has all been about money, money for these rich preachers who’ve been bilking the church for the last 40 years.

I know they do good. I know their followers certainly demonstrate love and kindness in their dealings with each other. I know that they have deep fears about losing what they have or not getting what they deserve. I know they “feel” oppressed, because the culture rejects them. They get around this by proclaiming that the One they serve suffered even greater rejection and warned that they would, too.

This is not going away with a single election.

Even after the seditious behavior of yesterday, which evangelical leaders are now publicly repudiating, these Christians are clinging to their manufactured narrative of life circa 2021. Through false equivalence, projection, and other logical fallacies, they maintain that they are the ones trying to save America, one assumes, from the devil. My old boss, Pat Robertson, made this remarkable statement yesterday morning:

(Referring to the Democrat Senate victories in Georgia) These are two of the most radical Senators you can imagine. I mean, Warnock was guilty of some really horrible things and Osscoff (sic) was somewhat on the fringe, and yet this is Georgia. And I can’t believe it. I mean, it’s happening, and what we have to ask ourselves is there some kind of a delusion that has come upon the entire electorate in America?

There it is. America is under a delusion. This white horse narrative must be destroyed, for it’s separating these people farther and farther from the truth, and I’m afraid we’re only seeing the very beginnings of the insurrection and cultural upheaval as a result. They. Believe. Their. Narrative. They believe it, that their “truth” is more true than anybody else’s, and religious zealotry — I don’t care what it represents — is the very beginning of evil.

I’ll agree with Pat that’s there’s a mass delusion at play here, but it’s exactly the opposite of what he’s thinking. The delusion is over this sect of Christianity, who’ve been taught for 40 years that God is not only a Republican, but that He favors the likes of a mob boss like Donald Trump.

These folks will now go back to their caves and regroup, but their narrative will remain. We used to arrogantly proclaim at CBN that we were “the sons of Issachar, men with knowledge of the times.” We did this to Biblically validate (at least in our minds) our role in whipping our viewers into a frenzy of giving. We, in fact, created the narrative that Fox News simply followed, and look at what that’s gotten us now!

Whether you have secular or Christian authority, I beg you to understand that this false narrative is the real problem. I helped create it, and I’m so very sorry for that.

Finally, we’ll never be able to count on the press to present this argument, for as far as they are concerned, it’s all deviant and doesn’t matter in the big picture anyway.

How wrong they are. How horribly wrong they are.

Deconstructing Life, A Series Part II, Time

Astronomy Explosion Big Bang - Free photo on Pixabay

“…And there was morning and there was evening, the first day…”

Time is a fixed dimension. It doesn’t move, although we believe that it does.

It’s a created dimension within which the human animal lives. It favors youth and ravages the elderly. We can’t escape it, because it forms one of the two boundaries of life under the sun. We can’t descend into the past, nor can we leap into the future, for time appears to human nature as a moving entity. Science can only go so far in its understanding of time, because human logic and reason function completely and only within the boundaries of time and space. It’s what we know and what we’re left with after science has studied and defined it for centuries. The clock moves, but time doesn’t. Rather, it stands still while Life moves both within it and beyond.

This is an important difference for our understanding, because our options as beings moving through time are different than if time was itself was doing the moving.

The writer of the Book of Ecclesiastes teaches wisdom of life “under the sun.” Time is a created dimension under the sun, as are we as human animals. In this world, each of us moves through time and we age as we count the hours and the years that move us relentlessly forward along with them. In the world beyond the sun, however, we are the ones who are moving through time, and this revelation ought to stop us cold in our thinking about God and our relationship to Him. Actually, this is a misnomer, for time doesn’t actually exist in the spiritual world, at least not any form of time that we can understand under the sun. If time beyond the sun stands still, then we must consider the ramifications for life under the sun, because those sensitive to it are able to experience both history and the future and speak to both. This bears our study under the sun, for history always repeats and the future isn’t yet written in the world of the senses.

Beyond the sun doesn’t mean outer space; it’s a metaphor for the world of the spirit, the spirit of Life.

At younger ages, people actually have more time to think but fewer events to remember. This means major events are out of proportion compared to later years and therefore carry more weight as memories that shape the here and now. At age 75, for example, a major event just doesn’t seem as significant as those from younger days, because the perception of speedy time leaves less to remember or be influenced by.

A 25-year old would have to experience a year as only 4 months in order to sense the passage of time of a 75-year old. This raises a number of interesting questions as we examine spiritual events of the past.

Ever wonder why it’s easier to learn when you’re young? You have more time and better memory storage that those much older, and that more easily affords learning. It’s also true that youthful minds have lots of free storage space, but accessing it requires time, even in the form of overnight study sessions. Youth has the time to study.

In youth, longer moments lead to better memory, but what happens when people cross that imaginary line into old age? Every moment is shorter and requires more attention in order to remember. The upside is an increased ability to stay put in the moment, because drifting outside of the moment is drastic in terms of understanding even that which just happened. It seems only a fleeting moment, and that can produce a near panic as we scramble to get back.

Events within the boundary of time can become fixed, especially if they occurred in one’s youth. This is especially true for trauma.

Methuselah lived to be 972 years old. We are incapable of imagining his perceptions at that age, for fixed time would seem to fly by so quickly that we would be unable to even imagine. To say that Enoch “walked with God” isn’t nearly so hard to imagine, because he was also older than 900 years. It would be hard to separate conversations. It would be extremely hard to pay attention without completely living in the moment.

Aging pushes us closer and closer to life in the moment, for drifting from the moment is no guarantee that we’ll ever get back. There is little time to contemplate thoughts except for in the moment.

This is a good thing, for God lives in the moment, and it’s here that we meet Him.

Everybody seems so busy when you’re older. Everybody. Their pace of life is MUCH faster to me, and I marvel at what they can accomplish in that time. I’m aware that their time seems longer than mine, so the idea that they’re speedy is an illusion and further evidence that I am the one moving, not them (at least to me).

Since time is relative and we are the ones moving, it’s logical to make the leap that life itself consists of the consciousness of every person who ever lived or will live. Life is simply too efficient to reject the collective ebbs and flows of that consciousness, and in this way, we grow as human beings. We’re surrounded — always — by the consciousness of those who came before and those who are yet to come.

You have one week to accomplish task A. To our youth, that can seem like forever, which allows them to procrastinate while seniors know that they’d better get moving, because a week is nothing to us.

Eternity cannot exist within time and space, for it lies beyond. Humankind’s quest for immortality under the sun is impossible.

If we say that time is relative, then it can’t be used as a fixed point of reference, despite the truth of its true nature. It works in the creation and the application of rules to govern behavior, including that of computers, but it doesn’t rationally follow that anything about time is “real”.

As a man in his mid 70s, I’m regularly observing that I can recall events from my childhood much more clearly than I can those of just 5 years ago or even 5 days ago. Medical “experts” will say that this is a loss of short-term memory, but I think it’s much more likely that my sense of time is what’s at play.

The clock stands still as we tic-tock our way through the veil. We vibrate ever so rapidly, so as to be invisible to those who vibrate with us. The seasons are an illusion, and we relive each rather than each being “new.” Each time we do, the season seems shorter, because a lifetime is packed into each. We move along, ever forcing our way through the momentary curtains of time and space.

The internet is also reshaping our views of time today by pushing us towards an inevitable here and now experience. Twitter comes very close to giving us a real-time view of the news as it happens and not prepackaged for some platform.

As people age, those memories from our youth are easier to retrieve than those of recent days that are but fleeting. Thankfully, today we have pictures and video to bolster current happenings and aid in memory. And, again, we cannot imagine how time would appear to us at, say, age 500. Were there a way to measure such, I’m sure science would be on board, even though skepticism would reign, because science views time as moving. Time is actually a very, very efficient prison.

Einstein’s theory of relativity reveals that space travelers would return home younger in terms of earth years than their contemporaries. That’s because science views time as moving on earth, and even outer space experiences are therefore governed from the earth. It is the centerpiece of scientific reasoning, but, as described above, the evidence doesn’t entirely match that view.

As we learn and evolve in our basic understandings of Life, our minds need to be opened to thinking that challenges our sensibilities.

Because, our only real failures are those of imagination.

My Christmas Manifesto

“…deep down in every man, woman, and child, is the fundamental idea of God. It may be obscured by calamity, by pomp, by worship of other things, but in some form or other it is there.” Bill W.

AA’s founder wrote the above for the Chapter To The Agnostics of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s one of the most controversial assumptions in the book, and it’s led to criticisms that the program of AA is a religious cult and unscientific. Therefore, the thinking goes, AA doesn’t work and should be avoided by those seeking sobriety.

I always laugh at such thinking, because AA is a program for people who want it, not those who may need it. The 12-Steps are supposed to be brutal to the ego, the part of the human experience that often resists any authority outside themselves.

Frankly, I believe the statement, because my view of God/Life demands it. In for a penny, in for a pound. And so, we’ve come to the time in my life where I feel a need to state with specificity exactly what I believe, as opposed to essays about what I don’t.

I have a fear, however, that others will read this and immediately revolt. They’ll point to the long list of historical theologies and say, “Of course, He’s just one of those, wink-wink, and we know how they ended with their heresy. Same thing here!” You’re not allowed to pigeonhole what you don’t understand just to make it understandable to you. That’s missing the whole point. The compartmentalization of religion destroys the freedom that comes with faith, so I don’t really care all that much.

So here we go: my operating creed circa 2021 A.D.

  1. I believe in God, the One God, the Creator, the home and resting place of my soul.
  2. I believe in God, the perpetual and eternal force known as Life.
  3. I believe that God is Life. Therefore, the eternal home and resting place of my soul.
  4. Therefore, God is not an exterior force that I must seek out, rather one that is within and always with me.
  5. I believe that all things were created by and for Life, including the Earth, its Atmosphere, and beyond, and every living thing, including the species known as human.
  6. I believe that humans are infinite spiritual beings on a human journey, not the other way around.
  7. I believe there is no way any human can make themselves more spiritual than they already are, for the quest is to become more human.
  8. I believe that God speaks to humankind via the arts, and that Life’s prophets have always been found among the sensitive and creative humans, the meek.
  9. I believe that such Life is universal, for time and space are only temporal ideas in the mind of Life.
  10. Therefore, there is no “afterlife” per se, only a continuation of our current state. Many people live in hell today with no hope of ever changing.
  11. I believe the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit/Life, as are all writings of those who worship the One God. Life is always trying to communicate with us, and we alone can and do block the Source.
  12. I believe in the Disappointing Fall and subsequent Redemption of Human Kind.
  13. I believe that the sacrifice of Jesus is best understood through his final words, “It is finished.”
  14. I believe that the redemption of human kind occurred at once, providing the human race with the ability to live at peace in the here and now first, and under the sun second.
  15. I believe that Jesus was the final High Priest of God, because humanity is now able to connect with Life absent an advocate or sacred “Holy” priest-like people. We’re on our own and need to each figure it out on our own.
  16. I believe that religion has bastardized the truth in the name of selfishness, because the truth benefits no institution or no “special” group of people.
  17. I believe that Life is conscious and is the best teacher of well-being for the human race.
  18. I believe that Life is everything and that humans are no better than any of the other animals under the sun, except that we are in charge. We have animal needs to be met, and we should not avoid them for appearances’ sake, and this is a direct response to the restraint demanded by a controlling church. There is simply nothing “wrong” or “bad” with being human,
  19. I believe that Life is always evolving as humanity progresses, because Life is not separate from the evolution of Its creation.
  20. I believe that Life and humanity are co-authors of history, but that Life must deal with the consequences.
  21. I believe that life under the sun is deceptive and dominated by the animal that is humankind, but that, like amphibians, humans are capable of living in two worlds simultaneously, the world under the sun and the world beyond.
  22. I believe that the only time these worlds meet is now and the only place is here.
  23. I believe that humans can accomplish anything united as one force under God.
  24. I believe that destroying the earth will not destroy Life, only the humans who dwell on the planet.
  25. I believe that without the releases in 7 and 49-year intervals, Capitalism is evil at core, because it promotes a self-centered view of Life’s blessings.
  26. I believe there is none righteous under the sun, no not one.
  27. I believe that support of the arts is the obligation of every human under the sun, for in this way, we are encouraging our own contact with the Source.

And so, this Christmas time during the pandemic, let’s each spend just a little time thinking about what it is that each of us believes. Take my advice and don’t commit yourself to beliefs based entirely on what others tell you. Everybody is shilling for something, and that includes people of religion. What do YOU believe?

Finally, I believe God is judging the church today for being way off point in their thinking and actions. This business with Trump has shined a bright light on the Gospel of Self. It has literally destroyed the witness provided by the Jesus they claim to follow. They have played the harlot with power, and now they face the judgment of Life itself. I’d not be surprised at anything.

You can believe whatever you wish, but you cannot believe your way into Heaven after living your life contrary to the love of God, yourself, and your neighbor.

It just doesn’t work that way.

I Told You So

Terry at NAB
Trying to teach what broadcasters didn’t know

Dear Mass Media News Industry,

I told you so. I outlined exactly what was happening to you over 15 years ago, devised a way for you to overcome it, and was publicly mocked for being a naysayer and an outlier who dared to challenge your business model. You cannot imagine the profound sadness I feel on a day like today.

My New York Times Tuesday morning newsletter spelled it out. Here’s David Leonhardt’s lament over the loss of local media:

A cornerstone of democracy, collapsing
In the internet’s early days, it seemed to have the potential to crush traditional print media. But its impact has turned out to be more nuanced.

The internet has instead been a boon for some publications with a national audience. The New York Times has never had as many subscribers or readers — or employed as many journalists — as it does today. The Atlantic, The Washington Post and some others are also thriving.

It’s at the local level that the digital revolution has been as destructive as feared.

Hundreds of local news organizations have folded, as their advertising revenue disappears, and the pandemic is exacerbating the crisis. At least 60 local newsrooms have closed since March, according to Poynter. Some of them were more than a century old, like The Eureka Sentinel, in Nevada; The Mineral Wells Index, in Texas; and The Morehead News, in Kentucky.

This isn’t a story of creative destruction, in which nimble new entrants replace older companies. Often, nothing replaces a shuttered newsroom, leaving communities without any independent information about local government, schools and businesses. (A recent Times investigation found that some partisan groups have begun posing as local publishers, trying to pass off political propaganda as news.)

There are consequences for society. When a community’s newspaper closes, voter turnout and cross-party voting tend to decline, while political corruption and government waste rise, academic research has found. A democracy struggles to function when its citizens can’t stay informed.

What can be done? Eventually, savvy entrepreneurs may figure out how to make local news profitable. But several have tried in recent years, without success. For the foreseeable future, the only reliable answer seems to involve philanthropy. Americans have long accepted that the arts, higher education and organized religion all depend on charitable giving. Local journalism is now in the same category.

“We need philanthropists across the country to embrace robust local journalism,” Sarabeth Berman, the chief executive of the American Journalism Project, which funds local news sites, told me. “If you care about education, you need to worry if school boards and charter boards are covered. And if you care about the environment, you should make sure reporters like Ken Ward Jr. are covering coal country in West Virginia.”

There are many other shining examples of the new nonprofit journalism. But even more communities receive little to no high-quality coverage.

I decided to write about this topic this morning, because today is Giving Tuesday, when people take a break from online shopping to focus on charitable giving. If you are worried about the state of local news, you can donate through NewsMatch, which matches donations to local publications, or to your local public-radio affiliate.

So, it’s come down to begging for handouts from a stiff-necked industry that thinks so highly of itself that it dares to make the remarkable claim of being a “cornerstone of democracy.” Upon this foundation, the industry has the temerity to hallow its business to one that serves democracy. This, my friends, is absurd, and let me tell you why. It’s always, always about money, for local media isn’t locally-owned; it’s run by big corporations and their attorneys.

There is no such thing as the news “business” anymore. There used to be, because people will pay for knowledge of what’s going on around them and the world. However, this revenue model is called “subscriptions,” and it can cover expenses for individuals and start-ups, but traditional newsrooms require more, a whole lot more. Subscriptions alone won’t cover the costs.

Ever since Walter Lippmann’s “professional” journalism of the early 20th Century, the industry moved to an advertising model, for the only real reason to pursue objectivity was to create a sterile environment within which to sell advertising. In less than a hundred years, advertising became the main value proposition of news organizations and their largest budget line, by far.

It isn’t a stretch, therefore, to make the statement that the real business of news organizations is advertising, not news. While these media giants looked at technology as providing new means of distribution, the advertising industry was undergoing a major restructuring that went completely unnoticed by these corporate executives, at least until I came along and told them about it.

In his remarkable book about disruptive innovations (The Innovator’s Dilemma), Clay Christensen wrote of how the railroad industry blew it when the airline industry came along, because they saw themselves in the railroad business, not the transportation business. Had they rightly seen the disruption, they could have and should have owned and operated the airlines.

In the same way, media companies could have and should have owned and operated a form of local Google, because advertising online is VERY different, vastly more effective, and much cheaper than via mass marketing. The only way for a corporate media company to address the disruption was to join it. As Steve Jobs once famously said, “If anybody is going to cannibalize us, I want it to be us. I don’t want it to be a competitor.” Would that media companies could’ve been so visionary.

The essence of what I taught them was that the web not only serves the ad to eyeballs, but the browser being used by those eyeballs talks back to the server. In this way, the web was building a data advertising juggernaut that would blow apart all those money-making wonders of mass marketing. I said they needed to build a local version of Google (ad network, ad exchange, etc.), that it would take them less than a year and a $500,000 software purchase to build it. I told them the revenue gains they’d see would more than offset losses from their mass media business model.

Their response? Show me who’s doing that. Media companies could copy but not innovate. My heart bleeds for them today.

Nobody would go near it, even though they were amazed at what I was saying. Remember, these are investor-owned corporations whose purpose is to make money for shareholders, not spend it on something that “might” happen. I was even summoned to a hastily-called gathering of doom-destined newspaper executives from around the country to explain all of this. Despite the reality that they could’ve pooled their resources, not a single company pursued what they’d been given.

Finally, I was interviewing a sales guy from Alexa several years ago about partnership with clients. He told me, “We don’t need to partner with anybody, Terry, because we already have access to 100% of the browsers in any market anyway.” Think about that. This is where advertising went, taking with it all those dollars that media companies used to rely on to support their journalism. That is all gone now. It’s just gone, and to continue to play the mass marketing game is to pick at the bones of the dead carcass once known as local news.

Local media doesn’t mean local ownership, and this is the rabbit hole that continues to consume large swaths of democracy along with it.

And, for all the damage we potentially face for it, I say “good riddance!” We’ll handle this without you.

Oh, and, I told you so.

The Saints Who Vote For the Likes of Donald Trump

There’ve been many reasons cited over the last few years as to why a certain large, right-wing political sect of the Christian religion voted for an undeniable reprobate in 2016. Permit me to deconstruct what I feel is the most causal of all the issues they claim to face, one that forces their hand to vote Republican as faithful Christians.

Most observers look at the Christian political right today, self included, and conclude that the only logical reason for their vote is that they’re being deceived and manipulated. Why else, the thinking goes, would people who worship Jesus Christ align themselves with those who reject the poor, the outcast, the sojourner, or the immigrant. Surely, according to Scripture, these suffering people are close to the Lord’s heart, so it’s hard to understand why any Christians would reject such people.

Why would, how could they turn their backs on the poor the way they have with Trump? It’s not that they’re anti-poor as much as they are anti-government involvement in poverty. They didn’t require a hand-out, they believe, because they were following the Biblical mandate to care for themselves and their own. In their view, the community and the church are responsible for the job of helping the poor, not the government, and that there’s a proper response and an improper response.

The white working poor especially feel themselves better than those who don’t or, as they see it, won’t work to better themselves. To feel otherwise would completely invalidate their own experiences, and that is intolerable to those who’ve bet their lives — and the lives of their families — on the opposite.

In the same way, their beliefs about the importance of family in such matters as taking care of our own are likewise validated by such an extreme position, and to support the opposite would be spiritual suicide. Add this to the statistical reality that black people are disproportionately represented among the poor, and racism is all that’s left. The fear that poverty will rub off on them unless they internally fight against it is a powerful motivator for this Christian sect.

So, their Bible looks past all the admonitions to care for the poor in the name of protecting themselves from what they view as a threat of the devil in their daily comings and goings. And, remarkably, they dismiss social programs designed to do the job as being “anti-family,” because social programs weaken the family unit by taking away their need to strive against lazy self-interest like they themselves once did. They want the pride they feel in this accomplishment to be made available to the poor who wish to work. Poverty, in this sense, is acceptable if a man is trying to take care of his own. These, the church will support.

And so, they’ve taken up war against their own potential poverty by taking the position that God is their provider, not a political system, and that the church is their most significant ally in the conflict. It’s quite ironic therefore that, in railing against such governmental poverty efforts, they find themselves also in the unseemly position of piling on efforts to “make” the poor do some sort of work.

Meanwhile, the extreme wealthy look on and smile.

Unfortunately for them — and fortunately for us — God judges His people on how well they treat these other ones. They can rail against this or that, but God judges those who are supposed to know Him, not those who don’t, so when we look around and find chaos, we must conclude that we’re doing something wrong. The responsibility falls on us. We don’t think so, because God helps those who help themselves, right?

This is the road to perdition, not the path to Heaven, whether that’s in this life or beyond.

It’s on display fully in the response of White Evangelical leaders to the election of Joe Biden, a man they’re convinced will use Federal programs to support the poor, because in that way, the poor will always vote for left-wing (read: socialist) candidates. This is the view of those “pro-family” Christians who will do anything to push their tax money away from such use. After all, they cannot allow themselves to be party to such anti-family, anti-Republican affairs.

Witness the reaction of Megachurch Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Dallas. He’s been one of Trump’s most ardent Christian supporters, a regular visitor to the White House, and a key member of Trump’s evangelical advisory group. In an opinion piece for Fox News last week, he called Joe Biden’s win a “bitter pill to swallow” but went on to tell his followers to “pray fervently’ for the President-Elect.”

But here’s his most important remark: “President Trump’s strong policies on life and religious liberty would have seemed, from our vantage point, to be a better path for our country’s future.”

That’s right. Jeffress said this with a straight face, completely ignoring the truth of the past four years in his dreams for a more Christian nation downstream. He can wait, as other leaders of the Christian Nationalism movement appear ready to do, too. They have all the necessary tax-deductible machinery in place; it’s just a matter of finding another candidate for 2024, even if that candidate is Donald Trump again.

Here “religious liberty” means “religious license” to discriminate based on this fear that the life of the flesh is corrupt and best kept at a distance from God’s people. Almost everything we consider “progressive” is judged to be the opposite, which means anti-faith, and this is then elevated to a level of importance just below God in their lives.

What good is knowing God, the reasoning goes, if there’s not a reward for so doing? To these Christians, that reward equals blessings in this life and beyond. They believe theirs is a righteous calling, and they’re taught that holding on to such beliefs is cause for ridicule, misunderstanding, and persecution from the world.

And so, they feel they are fighting against the devil himself, one who is trying to lure them away from the safe harbor they’ve found with their faith, each other, and the church overall.

To me, this is how the extreme wealthy are able to manipulate their mass into a voting block that actually works against their own real interests in favor of a pathological fantasy that they dare not let go of, one that represents their passionate belief that tax monies collected should not be spent on social problems, only those that support their idea of faith and family. Sometimes, it’s actually against their best interests, but they vote so anyway, because it’s their sacred duty to present their view of reality as THE cultural solution we all seek.

We cannot justify it, but we can understand it. And, we need to understand it, so that we can talk to them from the right perspective.

We’ve got four years to figure it out.