The Strange Case of Dr. Brown and Mr. Trump, Part 1
WorldNetDaily columnist Michael Brown's main mission during the Trump years was to convince his fellow right-wing evengelicals to ignore President Trump's amorality and get behind because he was delivering on right-wing agenda items.
By Terry Krepel Posted 1/21/2021
WorldNetDaily columnist Michael Brown was such an enthusiastic supporter of President Trump that he dedicated himself to making the case for evangelical Christians supporting the president. He even wrote two books on the subject: "Donald Trump Is Not My Savior" and "Evangelicals At the Crossroads: Will We Pass the Trump Test?"
The ultimate goal of both books was the same: convince evangelicals to ignore Trump's personal amorality because he was fulfilling the right-wing wish list. In the first book, he implored people to "cautiously support a flawed leader while maintaining allegiance to the lordship of Jesus" and "recognize the movement of God that's present in the Trump presidency." The second book reiterated those points.
Brown pushed that same ideas in his WND column. In a November 2018 column before the midterm elections, he claimed to offer "talking points for pro-Trump evangelicals." After starting with "Donald Trump is my president. He got my vote, but I don't worship at his altar," Brown got to the meat of his argument: "I voted for him because he's pro-life, and he has exceeded my expectations"; "I voted for him because he's pro-Israel"; "I voted for him because he promised to fight for religious liberties, and he's done that very thing"; "I voted for him because I was concerned about the genocide of Christians in the Middle East at the hands of ISIS"; "I voted for him because he opposes radical LGBT activism, and he hasn't let me down." Brown then summed up his argument, couched in an "everybody does it" relativism:
Do I like everything the president says and does? Certainly not. Do I grimace at some of his rhetoric? You bet. Do I think he has helped fuel the fires of division in America? Actually, I do. That's why I continue to pray for him and that's why I continue to pray that his evangelical advisers and Cabinet members and Vice President Pence would be a good influence on him. But let's be clear here. The media have been very divisive and destructive. President Obama and many Democratic leaders practice dangerous and divisive identity politics. So, President Trump is part of the problem, but there's blame on all sides.
Brown went on to handwave any idea that such blind support for Trump might harm the evangelical movement: "As to the charge that we evangelicals have hurt our cause by voting for Trump, that is only true to the extent that we have refused to be nuanced in our support for him."
A month later, Brown took this argument to its crass, cynical extreme, writing in response to the fact that Trump, unlike all the other presidents who attended the funeral of former President George H.W. Bush, refused to recite the Apostles' Creed. Brown, needless to say, gave Trump a pass for the religious faux pas -- summed up in the headline "Ask me if I care" -- because the only thing that matters is that he pushed the right-wing agenda:
During the presidential campaign, did I take Trump’s references to the Scriptures seriously? No.
Was it meaningful to me when he held up his family Bible at his rallies? Absolutely not.
Did it surprise me when he really couldn’t quote a single, favorite verse? Not in the least.
And that’s why it didn’t surprise me when he remained silent during the recitation of the Apostles’ Creed.
As to why he was silent, God knows.
Perhaps he didn’t want to put on a religious show.
Perhaps he was committed to being totally quiet and out of the way during the Bush funeral.
Perhaps he was unfamiliar with the words.
Perhaps he’s not a true Christian and so had no interest in making the statement of faith.
To repeat: God knows why he didn’t recite the creed.
But, to repeat: His silence is of no material concern to me, since I would rather have a president who kept his promises to evangelicals and didn’t worship publicly than a public worshiper who broke his promises to us.
But even if it was the worst case scenario, namely, that he was silent because he is not a true believer in Jesus, that would only confirm the “Cyrus” prophecies about him. (Namely, that God raised him up for His own good purposes, despite the fact that Trump himself did not know God, just as he raised up Cyrus, who was an idol-worshiping pagan king. See Isaiah 45:1-4, and note carefully the last words of verse 4.)
To be clear, I have said for more than three years that we make a mistake when, as evangelicals, we present the president as “Saint Donald” or when we whitewash his worst words. We can support him and pray for him without being puppets and lackeys. We can stand with him while expressing our disagreement and differences.
But as long as he continues to nominate pro-life justices and push back against LGBT extremism and fight for our religious liberties and combat radical Islam and stand with Israel (among other things), he has my ongoing support.
And that holds true whether he himself is a genuine Christian or not.
In another December 2018 column, Brown started with a goopy tribute to Trump's alleged toughness:
Whether you love President Trump or loathe him, if you call yourself a Christian, this appeal is for you. All of us, regardless of our background or voting preference, are called to pray for those in authority (see 1 Timothy 2:1-4). Now is the perfect time to pray.
We all know that the president is a very strong man, whether you call him stubborn or courageous, bullheaded or brave. Either way, he is as tough as they come.
How many others could take on the media the way he does, day and night?
Again, this is true regardless of whose side you’re on, regardless of whether you think it’s fake news or true news. Either way, the man is bombarded virtually 24/7.
Some of us get discouraged when one person unfriends us on Facebook or a stranger posts an unkind word about us on Instagram. How would we handle the kind of pressure Trump is under?
How many others could stand up to constant attacks the way he does, only to fight back with more intensity the next time around?
How many others could face down powerful world leaders on a regular basis like Trump? (To say it again, this holds true whether or not you like his style, his approach, his message, or his goals. I’m just speaking of his toughness.)
The man is a fighter like few others, and if anyone has a forehead of steel, it is Donald Trump, for better or for worse.
Brown then cited a "prophetic word" from an "evangelical friend" that "Trump would enter the White House as a non-praying man but would become a praying man in the White House." He then issues a call to prayer for Trump, speculating without evidence that Trump is a Christian and regularly prays:
So, how should we pray for the president? We can certainly pray that God will not let anything happen to him until he finishes his course, however long that course is. We could pray that for any president in office, asking the Lord for His best plan for their presidency.
But along with that, we can pray that God would give the president a heart to seek Him, a heart to lean on Him, a heart to pray.
He may be doing this already (I certainly hope so). He may be on his knees this very moment with a Christian friend or counselor or Cabinet member.
But at times like this, times that can crush and destroy us, we need to learn to take refuge in the Lord, and we do that best through prayer.
Since President Trump considers himself to be a Christian and since he certainly appreciates people praying for him, let’s pray this simple prayer. (I would welcome it for myself and have only the most positive, supportive intentions in posting this.). Let’s pray these words: “God, we pray that you would make Donald Trump a praying man!”
We don't recall Brown ever offering such a fawning prayer for the safety and work or President Obama.
Working for re-election
As the 2020 elections rolled around, Brown reiterated his ride-or-die support for Trump in his Feb. 5 column:
President Trump's State of the Union message, coupled with the Democratic response, reminds me of why I voted for Trump in 2016 and why I plan to vote for him again in 2020. The contrasts are just too extreme. I am conscience-bound to vote against the radical left and to vote for the causes Trump will uphold. Everything else pales in comparison.
I am voting against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tearing up the president's speech for the whole world to see.
And so, when I vote for Trump, I am voting against the socialism of potential Democratic nominee like Bernie Sanders. The effects of his proposed policies, along with those of other leading candidates, would be disastrous.
I feel conscience-bound to cast my vote, a vote that will be meaningful.
I am also voting against every Democrat (including Speaker Pelosi) who chose to sit rather than stand when the president called on Congress to ban late-term abortions.
My conscience doesn't allow me to skip the election because Trump does not live up to all my ideals. Nor does it allow me to cast a protest vote for another candidate who cannot possibly win.
Maybe that's what your conscience dictates, but not mine.
Brown tackled a thornier issue in his Feb. 14 column: "How should Christian conservatives respond to President Trump's statement that he would have no problem voting for a gay president?" But this ended up not being thorny at all -- in Brown's eyes, Trump's personal friendliness toward gays is outweighed by the anti-LGBT policies pushed under his administration:
Trump's policies have consistently pushed back against LGBT activism and for Christian conservative rights.
That's why last year, the HRC (the world's largest gay activist organization) labeled Trump the "worst president on LGBTQ issues ever."
To be clear, I stand against LGBT people being "attacked" or "targeted." But when the HRC uses that language, it often means this: "The Trump administration is pushing back against the radical extremism of queer activism." For that, I am glad.
Brown went further in his faux-sympathy tack, again cheering Trump's anti-LGBT policies while parenthetically adding: "Again, I have no joy in seeing those who identify as LGBT feel attacked. And I do not want them hurt. I simply believe that many of their goals are detrimental to the overall well-being of our society, which is why I oppose them."
Oh, please. One of the acts under Trump that Brown is that, citing the HRC entry he quoted, "Less than two hours after Trump and his virulently anti-LGBTQ activist Vice President Mike Pence were sworn into office, all mentions of LGBTQ issues were removed from the official White House webpage." Acknowledging the existence of an entire group is "radical extremism"? And eliminating all mention of that group on official government websites is not an attack on that group?
Brown was overjoyed by the prospect of the Trump administration having a policy that Christians have and deserve more rights than non-Christians, undoubtedly helped along by "the nearly 200 conservative judges who have been appointed by Trump" Brown also gushed over.
Brown concluded: "That's one reason my vote for him in 2016 was justified. And that's why I believe my 2020 vote for him will be justified as well."
In short, there is no bottom, at least as long as Trump's policies hate the LGBT community as much as Brown does.
Brown was also still claiming to agonize over the conflict between Trump's odious, amoral behavior and his embrace of the political agenda of right-wing evangelicals. In his July 6 column, Brown leaned heavily into the divine-Donald narrative, which posits that Trump was elected in 2016 due to divine intervention (and which, of course, WND has embraced):
All in all, Trump will have to navigate a very difficult path to reelection, and at this moment in time, without divine intervention from the Lord for His sovereign purposes, his chances do not look good.
But what if God does have a special plan? What if this is yet another setup to underscore the impossibility of Trump's presidency by natural means alone?
In my new book, "Evangelicals at the Crossroads: Will We Pass the Trump Test?", I devote an entire chapter to the question, "Did God uniquely raise up Donald Trump?"
In the chapter, I state the case against divine intervention, offering naturalistic explanations or even noting that, according to some, any president is divinely chosen by God. I then lay out the case for divine intervention, explaining the meaning of the King Cyrus parallel, which means something different than many think. (I'll cover the Cyrus question in another article.)
In the end, I believe a good case can be made for sovereign intervention in Trump's 2016 election, as I explain in the book. (Again, this doesn't vindicate everything Trump does; it simply underscores a divine purpose. If anyone can play "4D Chess" or 4,000 D Chess it is the Lord!)
To Brown's credit, he did broach what few others pushing the divine-Donald narrative have done in raising the possibility that God let Trump get elected "to judge America rather than bless America," but begged off by saying, "that's another subject entirely."
In his column the next day, Brown promoted his book again, claiming to have read much of the anti-Trump literature and responding to it, which led him to ask: "Is Donald Trump a spiritual danger?" Of course, he finds a way to handwave that by rehashing what he has done for evangelicals and setting an artificially high bar by claiming the consequences for Trump's actions were not as dire as feared:
The simple answer is: 1) only if we put our trust in him rather than in the Lord (see my recent article, "Christ, Not Trump, is the Solid Rock on Which We Stand"); 2) only if we defend him when he is indefensible; and 3) only if we are known more as Trump supporters than as followers of Jesus.
Otherwise, I do not believe he is a spiritual danger, either to the nation or to the church.
After all, with the constant concerns we have heard about his alleged instability for the last four years, has he provoked an international war? Did his relocation of our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem spark a massive response in the Muslim world? Did he start a nuclear battle with North Korea?
As for him keeping his promises to evangelicals, has any president in recent history been as loyal to this constituency? Has any president stood up more for our freedoms? Has any president kept the door open to us the way Trump has? Has any president dared to take the public, pro-life stands he has taken, including speaking at the annual March for Life in D.C.? Has any president appointed as many quality judges to the federal courts?
As for the predicted mental breakdowns, they have not happened yet. (If you want to brand him "crazy," then he's as "crazy" today as the day he was elected.)
As for him asserting dictatorial powers over the nation, he has done no such thing, even during the current pandemic.
To be sure, to the extent we have looked to Trump as some kind of savior or defended him at every turn, we have tarnished our witness. That, to me, is undeniable and something we must correct.
On the other hand, evangelical leaders have not sided with Trump in a cult-like, blindly loyal manner. Just think of the backlash he received from leaders like Pat Robertson and Franklin Graham when he pulled our troops out of Syria, thereby endangering our Kurdish allies. The warning from some of these evangelical leaders was quite intense.
That's why I am fully convinced that, should Trump abandon the values of his evangelical base, we would not stand with him. We are not part of his cult.
The problem here is that Brown is assuming Trump has any "values" that cause him to push an evangelical agenda beyond trying to get evangelicals to vote for him. If you stick with an amoral man whose hollowness you give a pass to because he advances your agenda, then you are part of his "cult."
On July 14, WND published an excerpt from Brown's book, which purports to be "aimed at evangelical Christians who are put off by Trump’s faults." In it, Brown returns to his ends-justify-the-means approach to excusing Trump's amorality (while, yet again, pretending to agonize over it):
This is not to minimize his faults or the negative fruit of his words. As a follower of Jesus, I abhor some of his behavior, and, from a pragmatic viewpoint, he is his own worst enemy. My purpose here is to put Trump’s strengths and weaknesses into a larger global context.
As an American whose own family was being threatened with terrible loss, what specialist would you want at the helm? Would you want the nice family guy who had a poor track record in combatting similar plagues? Or would you want the nasty-tongued, prideful, oft-married man who was known for stopping these diseases in their tracks?
More specifically, from a Christian perspective, who would be the better choice? In a case like this, would God be more concerned with the person being nice yet inept, resulting in the deaths of tens of millions of Americans? Or would He be more concerned with the saving of all these lives, despite the man’s carnality?
To be sure, when it comes to our choice of president, morality does play an important role, just as, say, sobriety would play an important role with a heart surgeon. If you knew the surgeon was an alcoholic, would you still trust his or her track record?
In the same way, when it comes to the president, we don’t want a hothead who could needlessly start World War III. We don’t want a liar who can’t be trusted. We don’t want someone who is so divisive and mean-spirited that he tears the nation in two. Character does count and morality does matter.
It’s just that character and morality are multifaceted, and for many of us, a president who will fight for the life of the unborn demonstrates good character. The same with a president who will combat Islamic terrorism. Or stand for religious liberties. Or push back against a dangerous globalism (aka the New World Order). Or stand up to the repressive regime of China.
And while we regret many of the president’s words and actions, knowing they do real damage as well, in balance, we think he’s the best man (among possible current candidates) for the job.
As for the alternatives to Donald Trump, Farias opines, “I must honestly say: I cannot imagine how any true Christian or Messianic Jew could be a Democrat today. It is quickly morphing into a Marxist socialist, violently atheistic party with great greed for power. One cannot read his Bible and be a leftist liberal democrat. You have to feed on humanistic ideologies and go to humanistic schools to be one.”
Again, I don’t write these things (or, really, anything in “Evangelicals at the Crossroads”) with the goal of minimizing Donald Trump’s failings. Rather, I write this to explain why so many God-fearing, morality-loving, Bible-believing Christians can enthusiastically vote for Trump. The picture is much bigger than the man himself.
Actually, Brown is very much trying to minimize Trump's failings as a way to keep evangelicals interested in holding onto political power. He wouldn't have written this book if he wasn't.
As the election drew closer, Brown ramped up his pro-Trump and anti-Biden activism. He fretted in his Oct. 5 column: "The massive groundswell of prayer support for President Trump as he battles COVID-19 reminds us of just how strong his conservative Christian base remains. Yet his performance at the first presidential debate was so unchristian that the question remains: Why are so many so loyal?" he then gushed:
It is not just that Trump fights. It is not even that Trump fights back. It is that Trump fights for us.
That's how many Americans feel in general. Trump is fighting for them. (Of course, the left paints this quite differently, claiming that it is a matter of racist, white Americans wanting to keep their country white. In reality, such people represent a very small minority of the whole.)
Trump is willing to expose the lying media. Trump is willing to take on the political establishment. Trump is willing to confront the radical leftists who want to disfigure our nation. Trump is willing to call out Big Pharma.
So what if he lies too. So what if he's nasty in the process. So what if he creates deeper divisions along the way. There will always be collateral damage. But the good far outweighs the bad.
Where we cross a dangerous line is when we become apologists for Trump, when we defend his indefensible and even destructive behavior, when we look to him rather than to the Lord, when we are better known as Trump supporters than as Jesus followers. That's a major reason I wrote Evangelicals at the Crossroads: Will We Pass the Trump Test?"
And by "the Trump test" I meant two things. First, can we vote for him without destroying our Christian witness? Second, can we unite around Jesus even if we don't agree about Trump? I believe we can and must pass both aspects of the Trump test for the good of our country and for the good of our reputation. But part of passing that test ties in with our ability to explain why, despite Trump's offensive personality, we so strongly support him. He fights for us, getting battered in the process. We now feel a loyalty to him.
In his Oct. 9 column, Brown admitted that "it would not be the end of the world" if Biden won the election, then warned that "A Biden-Harris victory would likely have many serious consequences for Christian conservatives (along with their ideological companions in other faiths). Things could get much darker, very quickly." He then showed his anti-LGBT bias, claiming that granting transgenders equal rights "means trampling on the rights of millions of others, in particular students in our schools."
On Oct. 23, Brown went after Christian theologian John Piper for arguing that Christians should sit out the election because votes can't be justified for either Trump or Biden. After agreeing with certain points he made, Brown said he "differ[ed] with Pastor Piper's assessment of the situation and with his comparison of the personal failings of Trump with the policies of the Democratic Party," making the lesser-of-two-evils argument:
When it comes to Trump, we can vote for his policies while saying, "I don't like many of the things he does and feel his example is often very destructive. I will therefore speak out when he acts wrongly and will model something different in my own life."
But a vote for Biden and the Democrats is a vote to empower a party that wants to impose an overtly godless agenda.
My response, again, is simple: Trump is one man, and as destructive as his words and conduct can be just look at the warnings in Proverbs about foolish kings we can vote for him by the millions while at the same time modeling godlier conduct.
On the other hand, if those with a different agenda are empowered, their policies will affect us by the millions.
Put another way, if voting for a boastful man can potentially save millions of babies' lives, can that vote be justified? If voting for a man with a sexually immoral past can give support to persecuted minorities in China, can that vote be justified? If voting for a man who often lies and exaggerates can stop the rise of an anti-God socialism, can that vote be justified?
As to our support for Trump, we can vote for him without selling our souls for him. We can cast a ballot in his name on Nov. 3 while shouting from the rooftops that our hope is in the Lord, not in a man or a party. We can proclaim that JESUS IS OUR SAVIOR and Trump is just our president (with giant font for the former and small font for the latter).
On Nov. 2, Brown asserted that a vote for Trump would make the Middle East more secure:
As we are watching history unfold before our eyes with the progress of the Abraham Accords, we should remember that candidate Joe Biden has promised to renew the Iran nuclear deal if elected. Yet the very thing that has united countries like the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain with Israel is their common opposition to their common enemy, Iran. What would happen if America now re-empowered Iran? In the words of Ambassador David Friedman, it would be "a disaster."
Sudan has now announced its desire to join the accords, hoping to shed its international terrorist status. And there is real hope that other countries, like Saudi Arabia, will soon follow suit. And it is America that is brokering these deals with Israel and these Muslim nations. Should America now reinstate the Iranian nuclear deal, that could deal a fatal blow to this historic, forward movement.
Are we willing to throw all that away because we abhor some of Trump's style? (I should also mention that reinstating the nuclear deal with Iran would make the Iran-Turkey alliance all the more deadly.)
Brown concluded: "But on the ground, in Israel and the Middle East, there is little debate that our foreign policies are a matter of life or death. Perhaps this is sufficient reason for you to cast a vote for Trump?"
That's the kind of relativism Brown brought into Election Day.