Dear Mark (or, if you prefer, The Reverend Mr. Burns):
I gather that you are the closest thing that Donald Trump has to a preacher, judging from your performance at the RNC in Cleveland a couple of weeks ago. You and I have never met, though I am a native of South Carolina. I’ve never been to your Harvest Praise & Worship Center in Easley but I have been known to be a preacher and a teacher of preachers and I have visited in Easley. While I am in awe of your taking on the role of being The Donald’s pastor and spiritual advisor, I would welcome the opportunity to talk homiletical shop with you.
Preacher to preacher, you’ve got your hands full. I was once the pastor of a sleazy Congressman who went to the slammer after an FBI sting, so I can tell you that it’s not easy being court chaplain these days. I felt abused by him after I saw myself pictured in one of this guy’s campaign ads – without my permission. I can only imagine the challenge of being used by The Donald.
In one sense, I’m glad to hear that, under your guidance, The Donald has gotten religion and now has a fitting spiritual guide. As you know, The Donald has never been big on church. In fact, he has apparently rarely entered a Christian church and lacks even the barest understanding of the faith. Earlier in the campaign, he claimed he was a member of Marble Collegiate in NYC. I checked — another case of Donald’s playing loose with the facts. He said he was a “Presbyterian” but I checked with lots of Presbyterians and they say that’s not true. The folks at Marble Collegiate don’t seem to know him (his main relationship with MC is that he allegedly met Marla Maples there. You and I both know that certainly doesn’t qualify him to be a Presbyterian).
Your prayer at the RNC gave me pause. “Lord, we’re so thankful for the life of Donald Trump” I guess you didn’t mean that we’re thankful for Trump’s sexual morality, married life, relationship with minorities, charitable contributions, truth-telling, confession of sin, etc. Maybe you are thankful for his business dealings — except for his numerous bankruptcies.
Then you prayed, “We’re thankful that you are guiding him….” Come on. Do you really think that’s a nice thing to say about Our Lord? Just where have you noted the guidance of Our Lord in The Donald’s life? I’ve missed that. He says he doesn’t believe in making mistakes or apologizing for anything. Doesn’t sound like he’s had much divine guidance.
You said, in response to the outcry over your unpreceded, partisan prayer that brought the RNC to its feet, rather than their knees, “I’m a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And for me, whenever I get – every opportunity I get to declare his name on whatever platform, I’m going to do so.” That’s good. I’m curious to know just what in The Donald’s life connected with Jesus? Indeed, where in your prayer did you lift up Jesus’ name or way of life, death, and resurrection? I missed that.
Your failure to mention anything specific about Jesus or to quote Jesus was probably a good call. I can think of a long list of things that Jesus said and did that you really don’t want to mention to your buddy, Donald.
In your interview with NPR’s Bob Inskeep you said, “I think I’m a lot like Mr. Trump in some ways….” I assume you are not talking about your marital life, your language, gambling, or bullying.
Bob directly asked you, “Do Donald Trump’s values match your values as a Christian?” My ears perked up as you said, “Absolutely. There are three major points that Donald Trump is standing on that I support as a Christian. Number one, he supports, you know, the sanctity of marriage.” (Wow.) “Number two, he supports abortion.” (Forgivable slip.) “He supports, you know, the life of babies. He’s pro-life. Families, so yeah, absolutely.” (Wow.)
I guess at Harvest Praise and Worship Center you have a creative definition of “sanctity of marriage.” And while I’m sure the Trumps make some of your troubled families at HPWC look good, still….
“I actually feel appointed for such a time, I feel just like Esther did,” you said, referring to the great Bible story (which I’m fairly certain Donald has never heard about). “When Mordecai came to her and said, you need to have your ear to the King, you need to go out and speak to the King, you have access, so you have to help protect our people.” OK. You see yourself as Esther, though you have set the bar high for yourself. Best to you.
I understand that you are not – as you have claimed — a member of that distinguished African American fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi. Sorry that you didn’t get a bid. I also understand that your boasts to have attended Furman, North Greenville University, and Southern Wesleyan U are shaky. I am beginning to see why you and The Donald are tight.
If Donald can claim to have seen things on TV that never happened, then I am sure you can boast of having matriculated at schools that don’t know you and have pledged KAP even though they vehemently deny it. Still, I wonder. To be working for the one who was not only the way and the life but also the truth, you and the Donald seem to sit light on veracity to say nothing of reality.
Don’t worry. The Donald has demonstrated that prevarication isn’t a problem for Americans. Your position at HPWC or The Donald’s place as the Republican standard-bearer isn’t in jeopardy. These days, there’s just about no lie you can tell that makes any difference. Not sure if our Lord looks at the same way, but best to you in your ministry.