(CNN)He served under Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush, but under Donald Trump’s presidency, Peter Wehner says things are different.
“I’m very uncomfortable calling myself now a Republican even though my roots are with the Republican Party,” Wehner told David Axelrod on “The Axe Files,” a podcast from the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN.
Wehner, who now serves as a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, said he draws particular unease from the staunch evangelical defense of the President.
“What’s happened is that a lot of these prominent evangelical Christians have gone from making a prudential judgment to being the sword and shield for Donald Trump. They are his most reliable defenders,” Wehner said.
In the wake of initial reports about the President’s alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels, conservative evangelical leader Tony Perkins said Trump gets a “mulligan” when it comes to his personal behavior.
“Yes, evangelicals, conservatives, they gave him a mulligan. They let him have a do-over. They said we’ll start afresh with you and we’ll give you a second chance.” Perkins said in a interview on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront.”
Evangelical leader Franklin Graham said Trump was a “changed man” from the time of his alleged affair. Graham argued that Trump been put in the White House by God.
Wehner said these excuses for the President’s behavior and rhetoric are “complete hypocrisy” — and it runs the risk of derailing the evangelical message.
“I think we’ve seen that there is, in their defense of Donald Trump, a kind of hypocrisy that is so obvious to everybody else but apparently themselves. And so I think that that has really had a discrediting effect on faith,” he said.
“I feel like something that I treasure and is important to me is being denigrated and harmed. And it’s it’s not only unnecessary, it’s downright destructive,” he added.
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Billy Graham died Wednesday at the age of 99. The world renowned evangelist, who has been listed on Gallup’s most admired list 61 times since 1955 — more than any other person — passed away peacefully at his home in Montreat, North Carolina, after struggling with various health problems linked to his advanced age.
In a statement to The Christian Post, Will Graham, the grandson of Billy Graham (whose full name is William Franklin Graham Jr.) and the son of Franklin Graham, said:
“My grandfather once said, ‘One day you’ll hear that Billy Graham has died. Don’t you believe it. On that day I’ll be more alive than ever before! I’ve just changed addresses.’ My friends, today my grandfather moved from the land of the dead to the land of the living,” Will Graham declared.
“We mourn that he is no longer with us physically here on earth, but we don’t grieve as those who have no hope. My grandfather invested his entire life in sharing the promise of eternity through Jesus Christ, and today he had the opportunity to realize that hope himself, kneeling before his Savior and hearing the words, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’ My family appreciates your prayers now and in the days ahead.”
Last week, Graham’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, gave an update on her father’s health during a conference at Moody Bible Institute.
“I’m not sure he knows that I’m here. He doesn’t track like he used to, but his mind is still clear,” she said.
“He can’t see; he has a hard time seeing because of macular degeneration,” she continued. “He’s fairly deaf, I have to use a microphone and he wears a headset for me to speak to him. He’s not mobile.”
Since Billy Graham preached his last sermon on Nov. 7, 2013, for “My Hope America With Billy Graham,” a nationwide movement to expose Americans to the message of salvation in Jesus Christ, he appeared to have let go of life and be more ready than ever to go to Heaven, his family observed.
“On November 7, he (Billy Graham) finished his race and up until that time, God had protected his health and gave him supernatural strength, and now, the only thing left is for him to come home,” said Will Graham to Assist News in December 2013. “God has removed his hand of protection and old age has set in.”
Despite his weakened state, Graham was working on a book up until the time of his death. Graham’s last book was published in October 2013 and titled, The Reason for My Hope: Salvation. In total, Graham had written 32 books, including his autobiography Just As I Am (1997), Nearing Home (2011), and Angels: God’s Secret Agents (1975), which sold 1 million copies within 90 days.
Billy Graham was born Nov. 7, 1918, in Charlotte, N.C., and raised on a dairy farm. He graduated from Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill. – home of the Billy Graham Center Museum and where he met his wife, Ruth McCue Bell, the daughter of a missionary surgeon to China. They were married for over 60 years until Ruth’s death in 2007.
Graham, a Southern Baptist, has preached the Gospel to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association estimates that he has preached live to nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories, and hundreds of millions of more people through television, video, film and webcasts. He has led hundreds of thousands of individuals to make personal decisions to commit their lives to Jesus Christ, according to BGEA.
He is also known as the “pastor to presidents,” having met every U.S. president since World War II through Barack Obama. For his 95th birthday celebration, President Bill Clinton was among the 700 guests that included Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Rupert Murdoch and Rick Warren. And for the dedication of the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., in 2007, three former U.S. presidents came to share the momentous event with him: George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.
“Every life Billy Graham ever touched – including people who never became president, never spoke at a crusade – is better because he was a good and faithful servant of the two most important commandments (to love God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself),” said Clinton in his speech during the dedication ceremony on May 31, 2007.
Clinton, who has shared that he attended Graham’s 1959 Little Rock, Ark., crusade, also had said during the 2007 dedication ceremony, “When he (Graham) prays with you in the Oval Office or the upstairs of the White House, you feel that he’s praying for you, not the president.”
For Graham’s 95th birthday in 2013, several megachurch pastors gave tributes to the evangelist during interviews with The Christian Post at the Resurgence conference.
Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Southern California and author of the bestseller The Purpose Driven Life, had told CP that Billy Graham was among his mentors.
“One of the things that a lot of people don’t know about Billy Graham is that he was also an encouragers to pastors,” Warren shared. “One time in Amsterdam he brought in 12,000 evangelists from all around the world. I had written a Bible study methods and Billy had brought a book for every one of those evangelists and had me come in and teach it.
“He was first and foremost an encourager,” Warren remembers fondly.
Billy Graham is survived by his five children – Virginia, Anne Morrow, Ruth Bell, William Franklin, III, and Nelson Edman – 19 grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren.
I am a 60-year-old American man who is a Christian first and I am an Independent registered voter. The state I live in does not allow a registered Independent to vote in their primaries yet they beg for your vote in the fall elections. Being a person is supposed to only get one vote in any election I have always felt un-Constitutionally slighted during the primary season. Like this spring I would have liked to have cast my vote for Mike Huckabee in the Republican primary but I was not allowed to vote. When Donald Trump threw his sombrero into the Republican circus I know that my wife and I scoffed at the concept that anyone would ever vote for him, obviously we were wrong on that one. I understand the feeling of the people being sick of career politicians and being willing to vote for dang near anything that wasn’t one of them. My analogy is something like this, concerning Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. I do not have a problem at all with there being a woman President or in my voting for one, but not ‘this’ woman! Concerning Mr. Trump, I don’t have any problem at all in voting for a non-politician, but not ‘this’ buffoon!
I have a question for everyone out there reading this article today, did the 2005 bus conversation Mr. Trump had with Billy Bush actually surprise you? With someone who is so egotistical, hate filled and moral-less as Mr. Trump, none of these taped conversations surprise me even a little bit. I have been hearing terms for Hillary Clinton that I won’t put down in this article just in case a minor is reading it. One term I have heard quite often is that she is “a she bi–h from Hell.” I honestly don’t know if that is an incorrect statement. I have read in several places that the son of Pastor Billy Graham “Franklin Graham” still wants people to vote for Mr. Trump because he refers to Hillary, President Obama and the Democratic Party as “Godless.” When I was a young child the Democratic Party was considered the “Christian” Party but once Roe V Wade abortion ruling came down from the U.S. Supreme Court in the early seventies and the Democratic Party sided with having abortions they lost a whole lot of their Christian voters. Because that here in America with there only really having been one other political party the “Conservative” Christians moved over to the Republican Party.
Now people of the Christian faith and of the Jewish faith are in a quandary as far as which Presidential candidate to vote for. Most people don’t want to “waste” their one and only vote by voting for a ‘fringe’ candidate like with the Libertarian or the Green Party candidates. But what do you do, stay home and not vote, in essence making that your vote? Yet, if we do chose to vote for neither of the ‘big two’ haven’t we actually voted for Hillary Clinton in a way? I personally believe that Hillary and Trump are both very evil self-centered human trash and I just can’t get myself to vote for either of them so I guess I will end up voting for Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party. The Democratic Party and the Republican Party have issues in their Party Platforms that I both agree with and that I disagree with, in some cases very strongly so. I am one of those folks who try to weigh the evil of a candidate against the good of a candidate, just as I do with the Party they represent but with these two Candidates there is so much pure evil how does a person of faith choose which one, or neither? In my personal opinion the term “lock them both up and throw away the key” sounds like the most logical choice and the best choice for America and the whole world!
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