Promise keeper: reflections on President Trump
Two years ago I wrote in Life News that my wife, Sheila, and I had cast our votes for Donald Trump in the US presidential elections (we have dual citizenship). We did this at a time when the “mainstream” media in the US, and indeed throughout the world, had declared him unfit, and when some Christians argued that he was a fake conservative deceiving naïve Christians. They cautioned Christians against voting for him and warned that if elected, his presidency would be disastrous.
Two years later, while many “never-Trumpers” have become less shrill, the mainstream media has not. According to Media Research Council analysts who reviewed over 1,000 evening news stories on the three major US television networks from 1st June to 30th September 2018, Trump received the “most hostile coverage of a President in TV news history—92 percent negative, vs. just eight percent positive.” Any wonder why many Americans, or for that matter, many Australians who rely on the mainstream networks for news, question how anyone could support him?
In spite of adverse coverage in the media, Sheila and I will not be changing directions and confessing that we made a terrible mistake. We will not be wishing that Hillary Clinton was president. Although Donald Trump is not on the ballot, we will be voting for the party he represents in order to ensure, hopefully, that Republicans maintain or increase their majority in the House of Representatives and Senate so that President Trump can continue keeping the promises he made.
This article will touch on several of the promises Trump made and has now kept—promises seldom mentioned by the liberal media. These kept promises benefit not only Christians, but the wider population. However, this article will focus on matters of concern to Christians.
During the 2016 election campaign, candidate Trump pledged to fight for unborn children. Reporting that he has kept this promise is an understatement. The National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL) complains that President Trump has been “relentless” in his opposition to abortion, declaring his administration “the worst … that we’ve ever seen.”
On 20th January 2017, the day that he was sworn in as president, Donald Trump issued an Executive Order that cut US support to foreign aid groups unless they agreed not to “perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning.” Promise made—promise kept.
President Trump continues to press for federal government defunding of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, but so far his efforts have been stymied. His proposed May 2018 budget called for defunding any US group that performs abortions, including Planned Parenthood—even if the funding itself wasn’t paying for abortions. However, both the House of Representatives and Senate versions of the budget didn’t include defunding because some people in his party lacked the courage (or the conviction) to fight for it. Although he has not succeeded yet, President Trump remains determined to free Americans from having to pay taxes to kill unborn children. Promise made—promise being pursued.
Supreme Court Justices
President Trump has kept his promise to appoint conservative, pro-constitutionalist justices to the Supreme Court. His first successful appointment was Justice Neil Gorsuch whom all but three Democrat Senators opposed. Democrats claimed Gorsuch would endanger women’s “right to choose”, a virtuous sounding euphemism for killing unborn children.
President Trump’s second successful appointment to the Supreme Court is Judge Brett Kavanagh, a highly respected 53-year old Catholic married man with two daughters. He graduated from Yale Law School cum laude. He then served as a Circuit Judge on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and as a staff lawyer for various government offices, including as Staff Secretary for President George W. Bush. His employment in high security positions in the government meant that he had been subjected to six FBI investigations.
Even before President Trump announced Kavanaugh as his second nominee, Democrats were on record promising to do everything in their power, regardless of who was nominated, to stop the nominee from becoming a Justice, and that is exactly what they did.
During the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Kavanaugh was questioned for over 30 hours! After the hearing had concluded, when it became apparent that he would be confirmed, in a desperate move to delay or prevent his confirmation, the Democrats accused Kavanaugh of attempting to rape a woman named Christine Blasey Ford approximately 36 years earlier when both were teenagers. The Senate confirmation hearing was turned into a spectacle where Ford accused Kavanaugh of assaulting her, and Kavanaugh defended himself against her uncorroborated allegations. Australian commentator Angela Shanahan wrote that “despite years ‘recovering’ her memory of the incident, she [Ford] still couldn’t remember any concrete facts about it, and what’s more, no one else could confirm her accusation …” A life life-long female friend whom Ford claimed was at the party when she was assaulted by Kavanaugh swore under oath that she never met him, and had no recollection of the party. Every other person whom Ford claimed had attended the party also failed to corroborate her claims.
Some Democrats argued that Kavanaugh did not deserve a presumption of innocence (a fundamental right of Western civilisations) and that mere accusations were sufficient grounds to disqualify him. Other Democrats argued that women who claim to have been sexually assaulted should always be believed, even when there is no corroborating evidence to support their claim. Other outlandish and unverifiable charges (including Kavanagh supposedly participating in repeatedly drugging and pack raping girls when he was a teenager) were advanced to destroy his reputation and thus prevent his confirmation. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a progressive, left-leaning liberal, called the hearing a “highly partisan show”, something that should be “embarrassing to anyone with a conscience and a grown-up brain.”
President Trump never wavered in his support for Kavanaugh, even when under immense pressure from Democrats, the mainstream media and even some within his own party. Lesser leaders would have abandoned Kavanaugh, leaving him with a deeply wounded family and a destroyed reputation.
Thankfully, the Democrat’s smear campaign did not derail Judge Kavanagh’s nomination, and now he is serving as a Justice of the Supreme Court. His appointment tilts the balance of the Supreme Court from liberal to conservative (five to four). Christians and conservatives are thrilled with his appointment, while Democrats are apoplectic.
For decades the Democrats have supported radical lower court judges who, while understanding their duty to enforce the law (the job of the Judicial branch of government), also fancy they are entitled to create new laws (the job of the Legislative branch). But now, thanks to President Trump, it is likely that the conservative-majority Supreme Court will respect the Constitution with its checks and balances, and override activist judges’ rulings. The Democrats will no longer be able to bypass the voting public and the Congress as a means of implementing their radical agenda. They are angry because they sense that power is slipping from their control, not for a year or two, but possibly for decades. They know that two liberal Supreme Court justices are in their 80s, and therefore it is highly likely that President Trump will nominate one or two more conservatives to the Supreme Court during his term in office, resulting in a (six to three, or seven to two) conservative majority. This explains in large part why Democrats (supported by the liberal media) are determined to do everything they can to undermine or destroy Trump’s presidency.
President Trump deserves high praise for his appointments of Justice Neil Gorsuch and Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Promise made—and promise kept, and kept again.
Standing against abortion and transgender-ism
Saturday, 6th October—the day that the Supreme Court tilted from liberal to conservative—marked a historic day that will have a profound impact on American culture for decades to come. It is now possible, thanks to President Trump, that Roe v Wade (the Supreme Court ruling by liberal justices that legalised abortion in 1973 when it was illegal in most states) will be reviewed and overturned sometime in the future. Abortion laws will then rest with individual states, many of whom will ban it, thus significantly reducing the number of unborn children robbed of life in the United States.
It is also possible that Obergefell v Hodges, the case in which the liberal-dominated Supreme Court ruled in 2015 (against the will of the majority of states) to legalise same-sex “marriage”, could also be over-turned, returning the lawful right to prohibit same-sex “marriage” to individual states.
Or consider the folly associated with transsexualism (gender dysphoria), where the number of supposed genders has increased from two—male and female—to a number that is almost impossible to track. How will a conservative Supreme Court view transsexualism? It is unlikely that they will read such a fiction into the constitution, as did a majority of the liberal justices on the matters of abortion and same-sex marriage.
Furthermore, it is likely that a conservative Supreme Court will hold the line on religious freedom, thus reducing the threat of prosecution from Christian churches, institutions and schools. When churches are free to evangelise, when schools are free to teach the truth, when benevolent institutions can operate unimpeded, then not only Christians but also the entire nation will be blessed.
And if the progressive left’s advance is slowed or reversed in the US, it is possible that there will be positive repercussions throughout the rest of the world, including Australia. Trump’s presidency could, and probably will positively impact life in Australia.
President Trump has nominated 69 constitutionally sound Article III judges that the Senate has confirmed, 26 judges for the United State Court of Appeals, and 42 judges for the United States District Courts. He has successfully appointed more federal appeals court judges thus far in his presidency than Barack Obama and George W. Bush combined at the same point in their presidencies. So, not only has President Trump reversed the balance of the Supreme Court from liberal to conservative, he is also altering the balance of lower court judges from activist, would-be law makers to dedicated law enforcers. Promise made—and promise kept.
President Trump’s election came at a time when Christian freedoms were under attack in the US. For example, the Obama administration had attempted to force the Little Sisters of the Poor (a Catholic benevolent organisation) to violate their religious conscience by forcing them to pay (via their health insurance) for condoms, sterilisations and chemical abortions.
Or consider that during oral arguments in the Obergefell v Hodges case, President Barack Obama’s Solicitor General told the Supreme Court that churches and universities could lose their tax-exempt status if they opposed same-sex marriage.
Unlike President Obama who threatened the tax exempt status of churches, President Trump attempted to overturn the 1954 Johnson Amendment which prevents churches and pastors from supporting or opposing political candidates for fear of losing their tax deductibility. The President assured evangelicals that the Johnson Amendment was dead in his remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast in February 2017 and the National Day of Prayer in May 2017, when he unveiled an Executive Order addressing free speech and religious liberty. It read in part, “It shall be the policy of the executive branch to vigorously enforce Federal law’s robust protections for religious freedom.” It stated that religious people and institutions should be “free to practice their faith without fear of discrimination or retaliation by the Federal Government.” It pledged that “The executive branch will honor and enforce those protections.”
However, President Trump spoke too soon because in mid-December 2017, his repeal of the Johnson Amendment which was included in the House version of the tax bill was removed during the reconciliation process with the Senate version. So, the Johnson Amendment remains intact for the present.
It is apparent that President Trump has attempted to keep his promise in relation to the Johnson Amendment, but has been stifled by liberal establishment Republicans who oppose his agenda. Promise acted upon—but not passed yet.
In February 2017 President Trump rescinded President Obama’s guidelines to the Education Department that instructed public schools to support transgender students using toilets of their choice. Trump reversed this guideline so that biological boys no longer have access to girls’ toilets, showers and change rooms. He argued that public schools should have the authority to make their own decisions without federal interference. Christian parents across the nation were greatly relieved when Trump revoked Obama’s appalling guidelines.
Furthermore, President Trump’s administration is working on a narrow (scientific, historical, truthful and biblical) definition of gender. According to a Department of Health and Human Services’ memorandum gender would be determined “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.” The memo states, “Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth”. It continues, “The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.”
President Trump’s determination to roll back President Obama’s policies that forced “gender-fluidity” upon the entire nation is commendable. If he is successful, it will save countless vulnerable pre-pubescent children and teenagers from being exposed to radical gender ideology that exacerbates confusion, and frequently leads to hormone treatments, surgical mutilation, messed-up lives, and even suicide. Several agencies, including schools, prisons and homeless shelters have already abandoned President Obama’s misguided policy.
On Friday, 6th April 2018 the Justice Department seized and shut down backpage.com, which carried advertisements for prostitution, including trafficked children. Before it was shut down, Backpage contained advertisements that depicted children who were victims of sex trafficking. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has claimed that Backpage was behind nearly three-quarters of all the public reports it received on child trafficking.
On Wednesday, 11th April President Trump signed legislation aimed at prosecuting website operators that facilitate online sex trafficking. Speaking to victims of sex trafficking and their families who attended the signing ceremony President Trump said, “You have endured what no person on earth should have to endure.” Promise made—promise kept.
Protecting persecuted Christians
In October 2017, Vice President Mike Pence stressed that the Trump administration is focused on protecting Christians from persecution. “Christianity is under unprecedented assault in those ancient lands where it first grew,” the Vice President said. “Across the wider Middle East, we can now see a future in many areas without a Christian faith. But tonight, I came to tell you: Help is on the way.” Pence pointedly mentioned “radical Islamic terrorists” who have perpetrated “vile acts of persecution animated by hatred for Christians and the Gospel of Christ.” He promised to take “the fight to terrorists on our terms, on their soil,” and promised that “we will not rest, we will not relent, until we hunt down and destroy ISIS at its source, so it can no longer threaten our people or anyone who calls the Middle East home.” Under the Trump presidency, with help from allies including Australia, ISIS has lost virtually all of its territory, and its brutal caliphate is all but destroyed.
In addition, Vice President Pence promised a policy shift in conjunction with the military effort. Based on well-founded claims that over a long period of time the United Nations has often denied funding requests to Christian-based organisations and has an evident bias against persecuted Christians, the Vice President said that the US administration will now “provide support directly” to those organisations through USAID. Promise made—promise kept.
US Embassy moved to Jerusalem
In 1995 the US Congress passed a law called the Jerusalem Embassy Act which described Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. That law required the US embassy to be moved to Jerusalem by 1999. Previously, former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush pledged to move the embassy when campaigning—only to break their promises once in the White House. But President Trump, in spite of widespread criticism from several world leaders, has kept the promise he made to the American people and has moved the embassy. Promise made—promise kept.
Missiles and hostages
President Trump faced down North Korea’s “Little Rocket Man.” A year ago ballistic missiles were flying over Japan. Guam was under threat. Kim Jong Un was threatening to attack the US with nuclear bombs. Unlike previous administrations that made no progress with North Korea for 40 years, President Trump has made remarkable progress. He took it upon himself to meet with the North Korean leader. The media was convinced that Trump’s form of diplomacy would lead to war. But instead, the missiles have been grounded. It is possible, with stringent sanctions in place, and promises of future assistance, that the Korean peninsula could be denuclearised. It is possible that Trump may have averted a war in which hundreds of thousands, if not millions would have died.
In addition, President Trump obtained the release of three Americans, Kim Hak-Song, Kim Dong-Chul, and Tony Kim (a Christian pastor) arrested between 2015 and 2017 and imprisoned in North Korea. Also, the skeletal remains of 55 soldiers killed in the Korean War have been returned to the US. The remains were repatriated as part of the historic agreement between the US and North Korean leaders.
Mr Trump has negotiated the release of over 20 US citizens imprisoned on foreign soil—all without paying a ransom. Many of them languished in prison during the Obama presidency. His concern for imprisoned Americans in foreign countries extends beyond soldiers, businessmen and academics, to pastors.
The most recent example is Pastor Andrew Brunson, an evangelical pastor who was arrested in Turkey in 2016 on false espionage and terrorism-related charges. These charges “equated Christianisation [evangelisation] with terrorism,” said CeCe Heil, executive senior counsel with the American Center for Law and Justice and Brunson’s US attorney. Pastor Brunson faced a possible sentence of 35 years in jail.
In spite of the fact that Turkey is a NATO ally, President Trump demanded his release. When Turkey refused, he authorised tariffs and sanctions against Turkey which crippled Turkey’s economy. On 12th October Pastor Brunson was released and flown to the United States, where he was reunited with family and met with President Trump.
“I just want to congratulate you because you have galvanized this country,” Trump said. “There’s so much interest, and it’s your faith, it’s your strength, what you’ve done, gone through.” Pastor Brunson thanked the president and then prayed for him. Movingly, the president humbly bowed his head as Brunson asked God to bless him with “supernatural wisdom” and “courage to stand for truth.”
President Trump also ordered an end to US participation in the Iran deal and immediately began the process of re-imposing sanctions that had been lifted or waived. The president has taken action to confront terrorist aggression by Iran and its proxies, thus reducing the killing of civilians, including Christians. Furthermore, he has taken action to prevent Iran developing nuclear weapons, weapons which it has pledged to use for the annihilation of the nation of Israel.
Little news is reported about the booming American economy. Enemies of President Trump predicted economic doom if he was elected, but the exact opposite has taken place. Trump’s pro-growth policies of corporate and personal tax cuts combined with regulatory relief have resulted in a booming economy. In the first quarter of 2018 working-class Americans enjoyed the highest income growth for any quarter in more than a decade. Overall US unemployment has dropped to 3.7 per cent, which is the lowest rate in 50 years. 4.2 million jobs have been created since Trump was elected. 600,000 jobs have been added in just the past 3 months. African American unemployment is the lowest in recorded history. Hispanic and Asian American unemployment is at an all-time low. Women’s unemployment has reached a 65 year low. Needless to say, these outstanding developments have benefitted not only Christians, but also every person in the US. Sadly however, they have been largely overlooked by the major news networks.
There is much more that could be written about President Trump’s positive achievements in the first two years of his presidency. In fact, he has done far more than he promised to do.
Sheila and I do not believe that President Trump is a moral paragon. On the contrary, he is a flawed man with a deeply sinful past. But, something remarkable has taken place in his life. Trump has had a 180 degree turn-around, and this is no longer just a matter of conjecture, it is evidenced by his actions on many fronts time and time again. Trump is still brash—he often says things that are anything but gracious—but he has arguably done more in his first two years in office to protect the sanctity of life and Christian freedom than any modern president.
The US midterm elections are now history. Prior to the elections, many in the mainstream media framed the elections as a referendum on President Trump, predicting a “blue wave” (a Democrat surge) against the Republican Party. Since the elections, the media’s consensus is that the president has been thoroughly “repudiated.” Yet, on balance, the media and Democrats should not be arrogant, but apprehensive.
Yes, the Republicans did lose control of the House of Representatives, but this result needs to be seen in perspective. Over the last 150 years, there have been only two occasions when the party of a first-term president didn’t lose seats in the House during the first midterm elections. President Trump performed far better than the last two Democratic Presidents. In the 1994 midterm elections President Clinton lost 52 House seats, in addition to losing control of the Senate. In the 2010 midterm elections President Obama suffered the greatest congressional reversal in six decades (the loss of 63 House seats), in addition to losing seats in the Senate as well. President Trump, on the other hand, only lost 39 House seats.
Not only did President Trump suffer fewer losses than Obama or Clinton in the House of Representatives, but his party, the Republicans, has gained strength in the Senate. Previously, the Republicans controlled the Senate by the narrowest of margins (50/49), but now the margin has widened (53/47). The capacity of Republicans to pass crucial legislation in the Senate has increased substantially. President Trump will be enabled to appoint more conservative Supreme Court Justices, as well as more lower court judges in the future, which is immensely good news for Christians concerned about several of the matters dealt with in this article. As a side note several of the Senate Democrats who voted against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh from the states that Trump won in 2016 were voted out of office and replaced by Republicans.