Friday, January 17, 2020
To the Honorable Richard Burr and the Honorable Thom Tillis:
It is with a heavy heart that I find myself writing this letter to you, my respected North Carolina senators, at a time of great national crisis. I took a break at Christmas to turn off all the partisan noise about impeachment from news coverage of both sides of the debate and spend some time in prayerful consideration of the issue(s) as a lifelong Republican, a fundamentalist Evangelical Christian and a fervently patriotic American.
My mind is now clear. As we start 2020, I see only one logical path consistent with my strongly held beliefs as a committed conservative Christian Republican who thinks America is the greatest country ever envisioned. I want her to stay free so that I and my children, and now grandchildren, can continue to live free and worship as they see fit, without fear for their future.
The answers made clear to me after prayerful consideration may surprise you.
I cut my teeth as a College Republican working for Ronald Reagan in 1980. I have never in my life cast a ballot for a Democrat candidate in almost 40 years as a registered Republican.
I am also a committed Evangelical Christian who grew up in Mississippi as a devoted follower of the Rev. Billy Graham and am now a follower of Andy Stanley. I joined my wife at North Point Church in Atlanta when we first married and briefly attended his Buckhead Church before moving to Charlotte, N.C., when our first grandson was born. We joined Andy's wonderful startup church called Ridge, where our daughter was on full-time staff and her husband a volunteer youth counselor. Our daughter has recently completed (another) degree in Christian counseling at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary here and is currently in private practice, but still very active in our church.
Her husband was working as a mechanical engineer for a major international equipment manufacturing company in the energy sector. When our daughter changed jobs, it freed up her husband to leave his high-paying job and follow his passion to teach math to high school students. I can't begin to tell you how proud my wife and I are of their choices.
'A Wake-up Call to white Evangelicals'
I first heard Rev. Graham speak at an unofficial Reagan event in 1980. I was honored to be among a number of young people he spoke to briefly afterward. Rev. Graham warned us not to be seduced by the lights and excitement of politics. All fame is fleeing. And all men are human and will disappoint you, as Richard Nixon disappointed him. He urged us to put our trust first in God. He will never disappoint you. He will never turn His back on you. He will always love you. And we must honor that love by choosing Him, putting Him first and not turning our backs on Him.
I was a huge fan of the inspirational movie "Brian's Song" in junior high. But it was my hero Gayle Sayers' book "I am Third" that changed my life. I adopted his beliefs outlined in the book and have tried to live a life based on this guiding principle. God is first. My friends and family are second. And I am third. Rev. Graham's off-the-cuff remarks that night echoed that same philosophy, and I saw the truth in his words to us.
That night had a profound effect on my life. I read an article about Rev. Graham in Parade Magazine less than a year later that I kept framed on my wall for 30 years that was 100% consistent with his testimony to us Young Republicans that night.
"I told (Jerry Falwell) to preach the Gospel," Rev. Graham said in the Parade article. "That's our calling. I want to preserve the purity of the Gospel and the freedom of religion in America. I don't want to see religious bigotry in any form. Liberals organized in the '60s, and conservatives certainly have a right to organize in the '80s, but it would disturb me if there was a wedding between the religious fundamentalists and the political right. The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it."
That has been my political lodestone ever since.
Christianity Today Editor-in-chief Mark Galli explained why the magazine Billy Graham started believes Donald Trump is unfit to remain president.
I read Mark Galli's op-ed in Christianity Today calling for Donald Trump's removal from office in December with great interest. I found it to be a profoundly significant and thought-provoking piece. It should be a wake-up call to white Evangelicals in America. Sadly, I worry that many of my brothers and sisters in Christ have made a bad bargain for their political loyalty. We have given more than support; we have given fealty to the Republican Party and provided a dependable voting bloc to them, based solely on one issue: abortion.
'Most Evangelicals Undoubtedly Agree on Abortion'
So why are we as Evangelicals willing to go all in on this one issue of abortion, however worthy we deem it? It gives politicians, and even church leaders, an issue to raise large amounts of money and a guaranteed voting bloc.
What do we get in return? Judges who are philosophically opposed to abortion, as shown by their endorsement by The Federalist Society, but who will never issue a decision overturning Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey in my lifetime. Legislators who give lip service to banning abortion and speeches on their opposition to it, but will not cast a vote to change the law or the Constitution to make ending abortion possible.
Most Evangelicals undoubtedly agree on abortion. But it is not the only issue important to us. There is ample evidence that abortion is used to the detriment of the Evangelical movement and is making it much harder for others, especially young people, to hear our message. Their first impression of us is as self-righteous and patriarchal hypocrites who talk about love and compassion while practicing judgement and, quite frankly, hate.
We must be careful to not force our beliefs and values on others through legal prohibitions. Despite our best efforts, abortions still happen in America. Roe and Casey are still settled law. I cannot imagine anyone in my family wanting an abortion, and I would do everything in my power to help any woman I knew who was seeking one find a better solution. But, in America, a woman has the right to terminate a pregnancy through legal medical means. Our desire to outlaw that option will never happen in any future I can see in the United States. All we can do is help our sisters see abortion as not only the option of last resort, but the wrong choice for everyone involved. We cannot brand women with a "Scarlet A."
We can't let our righteous outrage over abortion overwhelm our compassion and love for our brothers and sisters struggling with an impossible choice and shun them in their personal struggle toward salvation. Christ's message is to offer love and understanding to all our neighbors, including the stranger. We cannot allow our compassion for the unborn to turn into hate of the sinner, as I have sadly too often seen from many self-identifying Evangelicals and even professed ministers of the Gospel.
Sen. Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall, who sponsored an anti-abortion bill in Mississippi this year, told the Jackson Free Press that those laws are indeed intended to trigger a Roe "test case" before the Supreme Court.
We are all sinners. How vain of us to believe our sins are less of an abomination to God than those of another man? Sin is between God and each of us sinners. It is up to God to punish sinners as he sees fit. Our role as Christians is to spread the good news that all of us are worthy of God's love despite our sins and to encourage our brothers and sisters to accept the Holy Spirit to guide us in our journey toward the path Jesus lives and wants for us. Not one of fear, but of hope. Not one of hate, but of love. Not one of envy, but of compassion. We must understand that we must "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's" and respect the laws of our secular country.
Our opponents on abortion say they are pro-choice. I say we have lost the argument if the choice is to abort or not to abort. We need to understand that our message is also about freedom of choice: "For many are called, but few are chosen." But we still must use our voices to spread the good news to all we can reach and also show by example the truth of God's love by living a life that reveals to all the fruits of the Holy Spirit. We should not turn our backs with our struggling brothers and sisters, but remind them that, in any human moral decision, there is always a way forward through Christ that will move them closer to God, that there is always hope. When they fall short, we must be there with a forgiving heart, not with judgement, but with the compassion and understanding Christ showed us by His example, even to Mary Magdalene.
Shedding Tears for Hungry Children
As many tears as I have shed for the lost unborn, I have shed as many for the hungry children allowed to go without food even in this abundant nation. For the children who suffer in silence, even to death by neglect and abuse. For the innocent who live lives of quiet desperation we do not reach with our hope. For the persecuted in an unjust world. For the millions of children and our brothers and sisters around the world who die at the hands of men too obsessed with the thirst for power and wealth that they refuse to hear the message of Christ and learn to live in peace with their fellow man.
For the love of all these precious souls whom I mourn and lift up to our merciful God in my daily prayers, we must take up the cause of social justice. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, "The church must be reminded that it is not the master, or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state."
We must be the church of hope and love we claim to be!
I would submit to you that opposition to abortion is a battle we can't win in the courts or Congress. It is a victory that we can only achieve through witness and righteous example. We cannot achieve a political victory on this issue in America.
With that said, I fear that that we have made a fool's bargain. Abortion alone is not a valid reason for Evangelicals to support Trump and the GOP without them honoring our Christian values and the admonitions of Christ with their policies and words.
I am again reminded of Rev. Graham and a radio program, "The Hour of Decision," where he outlined our duty as Evangelicals to promote and honor the Gospel by honoring the dignity and worth of all men and women men as potential children of God. He used these words:
"How different from the attitude of Christ 'who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return' (l Peter 2:23, NKJV)! How different from the admonitions of the Apostle Paul, who wrote, 'Let us have no imitation Christian love. Let us have a genuine break with evil and a real devotion to good. Let us have real warm affection for one another as between brothers, and a willingness to let the other man have the credit. ... When trials come endure them patiently; steadfastly maintain the habit of prayer. ... And as for those who try to make your life a misery, bless them. Don't curse, bless. ... Live in harmony with one another ...' said Paul. Don't pay back a bad turn by a bad turn. ... As far as your responsibility goes, live at peace with everyone. Never take vengeance into your own hands, my dear friends: stand back and let God punish if he will."
Paul continues (and I am quoting from Phillips' translation, Romans 12), "Don't allow yourself to be overpowered by evil. Take the offensive—overpower evil with good!"
Trump In Conflict with Sound Christian Attitudes
Everything President Trump says or does is in direct conflict with Rev. Graham's description of scripturally sound Christian attitudes. By ignoring Trump's actions, we appear as hypocrites to the world. We are failing in our primary mission and getting essentially nothing tangible in return.
I'm very disappointed in the reaction of many Evangelicals to Christianity Today's call to have an honest conversation with ourselves about President Trump and our goals as a movement, including those of Franklin Graham. I found the editorial to be 100% consistent with the magazine's stance on previous impeachments. They have put the emphasis on the morality of the president in office. They did not focus on his personal morality, which is between the president and God, but on his public conduct in his office as head of our government.
Christianity Today's "Statement of Faith," which outlines the magazine's founding principles, states:
"When we have turned to God in penitent faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are accountable to God for living a life separated from sin and characterized by the fruit of the Spirit. It is our responsibility to contribute by word and deed to the universal spread of the Gospel."
Donna Ladd explains how race history in Mississippi is vital to America's future.
Editor Mark Galli is making a judgement on Trump's conduct in his role as president. We must, as Evangelicals, weigh the president by these same Christian principles that we strive to follow in our faith walk along the path shown us by Jesus Christ. Mr. Galli uses, as his standard, that statement of faith to determine if Trump is worthy of our unquestioning support.
We are all sinners, but we must turn our backs on sin and turn toward Christ. I would argue that rather than shunning sin, Trump embraces sin, pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth. All are traits closely associated with Trump and for which he has never apologized or sought forgiveness. Rather, he has publicly claimed he has nothing in his life that requires forgiveness. In a July 24, 2015, interview on CNN, Trump was asked about his speech at "The Faith and Values Forum," where he claimed he didn't need forgiveness because he always does the right thing and does not need to repent. He said he occasionally attends church and takes communion, which he considers a form of asking forgiveness from God. To me, that falls far short of the mark.
If our president was a righteous man, we could readily see his relationship with the Holy Ghost revealed by the outside signs characteristic of that relationship that Scripture calls "Fruits of the Spirit." Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-control.
I cannot imagine Trump showing any of these fruits in his public demeanor. If fact, quite the opposite.
Impeachment for Trump Is a Priority
Finally, the Statement of Faith goes on to say that it our responsibility as Evangelicals to spread the Gospel through word and deed. I read Trump's Twitter feed on occasion. It is impossible to avoid. It is filled with hate, profanity and lies. Nothing about it promotes the Word of God or the teaching of Christ. I find his tweets vile and evil, as are his rallies and political speeches. They are filled with victimhood and blame for everyone but himself.
Nothing Trump says in public life is consistent with the example Christ set. Ignoring that makes us complicit in his message. Is that what we want? Is that our message to our children and to those searching for salvation? How in God's name can we Evangelicals provide witness to the good news of Christ when we support or ignore the words coming from the current White House?
As to Trump's deeds, where do I start? His attempts to remove millions of Americans from Medicare and end the Affordable Care Act? His Muslim ban? His detention of migrant families on the border? His attempt to end DACA? His attacks on family-food security with cuts to SNAP? His denial of climate change and his poor stewardship of God's planet?
I can find very little in Trump's deeds as president that promote the message of the Gospel. I am afraid this hypocrisy will set the Evangelical movement back by decades.
For those reasons, I think Christianity Today was correct to so strongly rebuke the president. Rather than accept the justified criticism, Trump has attacked Christianity Today and all Evangelicals who question him. That makes the impeachment of Trump a priority for all Republicans and especially Evangelicals. We must restore the office of the president to someone worthy of Evangelical support who has respect for the Christian values we expect in our leaders and who lives them in daily life.
Focus on the Family founder James Dobson put it his way about Bill Clinton's 1998 impeachment: "Character does matter. You can't run a family, let alone a country, without it. How foolish to believe that a person who lacks honesty and moral integrity is qualified to lead a nation and the world! Nevertheless, our people continue to say that the president is doing a good job even if they don't respect him personally. Those two positions are fundamentally incompatible. In the Book of James the question is posed, "Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring" ? (James 3:11 NIV). The answer is no."
"Our greatest problem is not in the Oval Office," Dobson continued. "It is with the people of this land who have lost their ability to discern the difference between right and wrong. Biblical moral principles have guided us since the pilgrims came to these shores. Dr. Dobson then quoted George Washington's farewell address to the Congress in 1796:
"Of all the disposition and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. ... And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion ... reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."
'Our People No Longer Recognize the Nature of Evil'
We are facing a "profound moral crisis" now with Trump, just as Dobson called Clinton's impeachment then, adding, "not only because one man has disgraced us, but because our people no longer recognize the nature of evil. And when a nation reaches that state of depravity, judgment is a certainty. As with all of us sinners, Jesus Christ is the atonement. Pray with us for our country, won't you? Nothing short of a spiritual renewal will save us."
How can we as Evangelicals say these things about the impeachment of President Clinton, yet ignore accusations of lies and abuse of power by President Trump? Our president needs to be on the path set by Christ to be worthy of Evangelical support. Donald Trump obviously is not worthy of that support.
All these concerns about Trump's character and moral nature were the reason I decided not to vote for or support him in 2016. And I certainly don't and cannot foresee doing so in 2020. But he is the president of the United States and the commander-in-chief. He is owed my respect and fealty as long as he respects that title/office and remains true to his solemn oath before God to protect and defend the Constitution. I took an oath in 1984 that I still hold sacrosanct and am prepared to defend with my blood and treasure and even my life, as so many others in my family have done, going back to my first ancestor who called himself an American while serving on George Washington's staff.
No, I am not my family line's honoree in the Society of Cincinnati, but I am eligible. It was the lifelong hope of my cousin Gray Harrison to be chosen. If he, adjutant general of the Mississippi National Guard didn't make the short-list candidates, I certainly won't. But I am very proud of my family's sacrifice and service throughout our nation's history.
Conservative Fred Rand argues that Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith furthers negative stereotypes of Mississippi .
I chose not to cast a vote for president in the 2016 election from among the two major parties and instead wrote in the name of Ronald Reagan as a protest of what I considered two completely unacceptable alternatives. Despite my concerns, particularly about Trump's treatment of women, I was still hopeful for our country. I was discouraged by the partisan bickering in Washington and the inability to do anything productive for the American people while attempting to score political points and see themselves on their "news" channel of choice.
My conservative friends and fellow Tea Party organizers in Memphis, where I was a chemical engineer and small business owner for 35 years, worked hard to convince me that my fears were misplaced. They saw Trump as a successful businessman who knew how to get things done. He really wasn't a Republican or a Democrat, they said. Rather, he was a deal maker who could bring both sides of the aisle together and force Washington to start working together to do the people's work.
That all turned out to be a canard. Instead of bringing America together, he has driven us further apart. And he uses his wedge issues to make it impossible to reach agreement on anything.
'It Is Still a Dangerous World'
Before his Inaugural speech was over, I was convinced things were going to get much worse for America under Trump. Ronald Reagan (with the help of my close family friend Haley Barbour) brought me to the GOP. President Reagan's vision of and for America is at the crux of my soul. I have hope in America and her people. I believe in our destiny and that God has graced that destiny. That is all a far cry from Trump's speech on victimhood, petty squabbles, getting even for perceived past slights and the idea that America used to be a great country.
There was no plan for the future in Trump's inaugural speech. No call to unite to solve our problems together. Far from it. It left me broken-hearted.
Then, the next day, Trump went to the CIA and stood in front of the Wall of Honor and gave a speech not about the sacrifice of the men and women represented by the stars on the wall, but a vanity speech about the size of the crowd at his inaugural speech and the "fake news" accounts about it.
My life had taken a turn in 2014. I was paralyzed and hospitalized for over a year and had lost everything I had worked to build due to medical bills. I was living off the charity of friends and family. But I worked hard and learned to walk and even drive again and was able to go back to work, where, with God's help, I was again very successful. I couldn't follow President Trump as close as I normally would because of work, but what I did see and hear disturbed me.
My first company back in the 1980s built computer rooms. It's hard to believe that computers were ever that big. A large portion of that work was for the federal government, including highly classified projects. (My 25-year secrecy agreement has expired).
I was honored to work closely with many great American patriots in the Department of Defense (especially Special Operations), CIA and later the National Security Agency back then. In those days, the enemy was clear. It was the Soviet Union. The death of the Soviet Union and and freeing of Eastern Europe from the grip of the Iron Curtain was, to me, one of the most significant achievements for America, our democracy and our vision of a future peaceful world order.
Those patriots are still friends. I am on the sidelines now, but many of them still serve as guardians at the gate. They still risk their lives to protect our freedom and defend us from all enemies, foreign and domestic. It is still a dangerous world.
'The Modern Far-right Wing's Strangely Pro-Russia Echo Chamber'
I worry about Russia's influence on this president and his policies. No, I don't buy into the conspiracy theory that Trump is a traitor who conspired with Putin to win the 2016 presidential election. But I do believe the Mueller Report that Russia used a variety of methods (which they have used less successfully in the past) to create an opportunity for Trump to win the electoral college.
Russia, under Vladimir Putin, is not our friend. He is single-handedly attempting to make Russia more relevant on the world stage. He was always a master spy for the Soviet Union. And he sees a path for re-establishing Russia's imperial power in the modern world. He has been playing a weak hand up to now, but Trump, either on purpose or by serving in the role of "useful Idiot," is seemingly doing everything he can to make Putin's job of recreating a Russian Empire much easier.
It is also of great concern to me that Trump is using the same propaganda and political playbook used by Putin. You can follow the trail of many of the lies Trump tell on a daily basis to Russian misinformation published in Russia Today and Sputnik. I often see quotes from these sources show up in Breitbart and One America News Network before show up on Fox, only adding to the modern far-right wing's strangely pro-Russia echo chamber.
Trump and Putin certainly have a common world view, where money equals power, and power equals money. Everything is transactional, and everything is for sale. They are motivated by pride and ego to obtain more money and more power. They are not motivated by empathy or higher personal values, like honor, duty and service. To them, these traits show weakness. They are for losers.
You see all of this in Trump's disdain for the truth and lack of any real knowledge of history, American traditions, and Christian values and beliefs. He continually spouts conspiracy theories like the Russian CrowdStrike counter narrative. Can we not all agree that CrowdStrike is an American company at the forefront of global cybersecurity against bad actors like Russia and China? And that op-eds published in American newspapers by Ukrainian government officials (not associated with the pro-Russia Party of Regions) criticizing Trump for his pro-Russia comments in 2016 about Crimea are not interference in an American election?
Donna Ladd and Nick Judin wrote an explainer on the Mississippi connections to the Trump impeachment inquiry.
More Trump conspiracies include his birtherism claim about Obama. His claims that windmills are bad for the environment, creating pollution and causing cancer. That he can bring back coal and steel jobs that were actually made cost-prohibitive 40 years ago. (As a chemical engineer, I worked in coal and steel during those 40 years. Those jobs are not coming back). His claim that Obama wiretapped his phone. His claim that Mueller led a witch-hunt of 13 angry Democrats.
Nor can we ignore Trump's constant attacks on the free press (they aren't fake news), the FBI, our intelligence services, Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff, Robert Mueller and rational world leaders. All of those targets have the ability to put guardrails on the president and hold him accountable for his lies and departure from sound, fact-based decision making.
Again, I would direct you to Scripture, which is the unfailing word of God and the source not just of comfort to believers, but also wisdom. I would urge you to read Proverbs 1, the Wisdom of Solomon. Here, we are told: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction."
Donald Trump fits the scriptural definition of a fool. He tells obvious lies daily and displays a complete lack of knowledge of American history, how international trade and global manufacturing actually work, how our foreign service functions, and how military might and economic opportunities work together to create a cohesive and dependable foreign policy. He doesn't know the purpose of the Justice Department, what our intelligence services do on a daily basis, or what our Constitution says and how it works. To me, that constitutes a fatal flaw in a president. And it certainly belies his claims of being a well-read stable genius.
Worse yet, in my view, is the erosion of America's position on the world stage. I see too much intermingling of American foreign policy with Trump's business interests. I see America's retreat from the world stage to the great benefit of Russia and China. I see foreign leaders at the UN laughing at Trump to his face and NATO partners laughing behind his back. I see the inability to form any coherent strategic policy on anything. Why have a photo op meeting with Kim? Why pull out of the Iran Nuclear Treaty? Why pull out of the Paris Climate Accord? Why pull out of Syria? Why threaten to pull out of NATO? To move the news cycle? What is the strategy here? What are the unintended consequences?
There certainly appear to many risks in his decision to assassinate Qasem Soleimani.
'More Emphasis on Identifying as White Than as Evangelical'
I also have had to take an open and public stand against this president for his statements and actions relating to race and racism in this country. I am a white male. I recognize that I have benefited from white privilege all my life, but especially growing up in Yazoo City, Miss. I most fervently believe that all men are created equal. I also believe that after that, you are on your own.
That should mean that everyone in America starts out on an even footing, no matter who your parents were. Or where you live. Or what your ethnicity might be. That was always the American dream and the hope for our democracy.
Trump's opening campaign speech about Mexican immigrants being murderers and rapists was shocking. His Muslim ban was unconstitutional and ill conceived. His cruel treatment of migrant children is contrary to everything I have read Jesus saying about treatment of the stranger. His statements after Charlottesville were totally unacceptable. His call for a border wall. His ending of DACA. The mere presence of an admitted white supremacist like Stephen Miller in a position of power and influence in the White House. His calls to "Send them back!" directed toward American Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilan Omar.
All these Trump statements and policies more are targeting a particularly far-right demographic who view the president as a cultural champion. These include self-identifying white nationalists and white supremacists, but also many white men and women who see white privilege slipping away.
I attended a George Wallace rally in Jackson, Miss., in 1967 with my mother a year before she moved my sisters and me to an all-white segregation academy. I have heard the same thoughts and ideas and language used by Trump and by George Wallace echoed by my friends and business associates my entire life. Again, it is far removed from my Christian values.
These are not bad people. But they are the first generation of Americans who did not do better than their parents. And that is hard to appreciate. My generation, the baby boomers, were raised in the cultural climate of "Leave it to Beaver" and "The Dick Van Dyke Show." It's a world that never actually existed in real life. The American experience for millions of Americans was far different than what we grew up with. And those people's experience is every bit as valid, and we must at least recognize that truth.
America today is a far different place than it was 10 years ago, let alone 50 years ago. We are part of a growing global society. The internet extends our reach far beyond our borders. The paradox is that while it shrinks the world, it also isolates us from human contact. (I recommend Ben Sasse's book, “Them: Why we Hate Each Other and How To Heal”). The separation from foreign squabbles geography granted us is now irrelevant. Automation, not workers, powers our manufacturing growth. Many job skills are no longer useful.
Trump is only the latest politician to spread vicious lies, fear about people of color.
It's understandable that some in America are worried about their place in a country that is changing rapidly around them. Within a decade, our country will no longer have a white majority. Some would have us try and hold back that tide of change. I don't see how we can do that. It will happen no matter what we do. I say we should embrace it and not think of cultural diversity as a problem for America, but a virtue and a wonderful opportunity. I worry that many of my fellow white Evangelicals put more emphasis on identifying as white than as Evangelical. That must change.
The idea that God puts any significance on race is anathema. All who are called are worthy of His grace and His love. Our duty as Christians is to welcome the stranger. On this, Christ was very clear. As Evangelicals, our interaction with the stranger is vital. It is our sacred duty to show, through word and example, the truth of the Gospel and the unbounded joy of the good news. The stranger is our target audience. We can't turn our back on him.
Neither Impeachment Nor Acquittal Should Be Merely Partisan
These are all reasons I cannot, in good conscience, support President Trump and have spoken out about his actions and his public statement, as well as some of his policies. But all that is beside the point. However much I disagree with his policies, however much I abhor his conduct, I think it is a mistake to make impeachment of the president a referendum on his presidency.
I have heard the arguments that impeachment is always a political act. I think that idea does a great disservice to our founding father and to the American people. Impeachment cannot be used as purely a partisan tool to attack and smear the president. Nor should it be used in an attempt to overturn the will of the people in selecting our president.
But neither should his acquittal be used in a partisan way to protect a president who has violated his oath of office.
I listened to the House impeachment witnesses. I found it credible that Donald Trump conspired with his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and others in his administration in a scheme to get the president of Ukraine to publicly announce the investigation of a political opponent in an attempt to interfere with the 2020 presidential election. That the Office of Management and Budget was ordered to withhold crucial aid to Ukraine in violation of the Impoundment Act and thwarting the will of Congress in an attempt to pressure Ukraine to do the president a personal favor to further his political interests and not the interests of the United States.
Further, I agree that, by refusing to produce documents and allow witnesses to testify, Trump is trying to cover up his abuse of power and to avoid justice for attempting to conspire with a foreign power to defraud the American people.
Impeachment, to me, is an accusation that is deemed credible. But it must still be judged by the Senate. It is your sworn duty to hear the accusation from the House impartially and without prejudice. This must not be a sham trial. The documents, including emails, that could convict or acquit the president must be produced and considered. Certainly, all witnesses who have direct knowledge relating to the actions by President Trump but have been unconstitutionally kept from testifying against him must appear before the Senate to provide evidence under oath.
Let the Evidence Speak for Itself
All the evidence must be heard and weighed. Only then can the American people, and history, say that the president got a fair judgement and that our democracy is still in tact.
To do otherwise would be a disgrace to your oath of office, senators. Let the evidence speak for itself. If any witnesses can exonerate the president, they should be glad to testify under oath. Based on the evidence alone, you must impartially decide the fate of the Donald Trump presidency. Whether you vote to convict or acquit, as long as you listen to the evidence and make a nonpartisan determination, I believe history will be kind to you. As will I.
We do not have enough honest debate in America any more. That is particularly sad for me when I consider the long and storied history of debate in the United States Senate when Titans of thought roamed its halls. I see the non-collegial and borderline personal attacks in public remarks that sometimes extend even to the hallowed Senate floor. I hear the blind partisan rhetoric and posturing for the cameras that make the news for political purpose. I see the parliamentary tricks used to silence debate and allow only a pittance of all bills to make their way to the floor for debate, much less a vote. All in an apparent attempt to avoid controversial votes and get re-elected.
A long-time member of the Sons of the Confederacy argues that the Mississippi state flag must be changed.
To what end? To pander to lobbyists and powerful special interests and raise more money for yet another election? Certainly not to do the people's business. I fear the once mighty Senate is but a shadow of itself. We deserve better than that from our elected officials. We need you to become once again the birthplace of new ideas and great compromises that unite us and set the course of national debate in our country that will lead to meaningful legislation.
That level of thoughtful, nonpartisan debate is what the vast majority of people of this country yearn for. And that spirit is what we demand of the Senate now in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump. I may not be the man of influence I once was. As Paul says in his letter to the Philippians, I have known abundance, and I have known abasement. But I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I believe He is gracing me on this cause and giving strength to my voice.
This should be a search for the truth, which all Americans can support. I urge you to take up that debate and represent in word and deed the best interests and the will of all Americans.
If Senate Republicans fail to honor their sworn oath to support and defend the Constitution and find out the truth, I must withdraw my membership in the GOP and work against Republicans in November. I am one small voice, but I will raise that small voice as loudly and frequently as I can to call out hypocrisy and hold our elected leaders accountable for their actions. I believe God will support my cause and strengthen my lone voice through my faith in Jesus Christ and my belief in his truth.
Thank you for hearing me out on this subject. May God continue to bless the United States of America!
Fred Rand is a graduate of Manchester Academy in Yazoo City, Miss., and the University of Mississippi. He has served as president of several companies in Memphis, Tenn. He writes southern novels under the name James Hunter Stuart. He now lives in Charlotte, N.C.
This essay does not necessarily reflect the views of the Jackson Free Press.