The Counselors

TimeWatch Editorial
November 16, 2016

With all the anticipation regarding the choices of members of the President Elect’s cabinet in the new administration, there has been one element of the choices that has been overlooked. The announcement of choices has created a continuous atmosphere of debate and conjecture and of course there is on-going evaluation of each appointment. Thomas Fitzgerald, however, Political Writer for the Philadelphia Enquirer published an article more than a month prior to the day of election, which revealed a critical advisory group that was chosen by the incoming administration. On September 23, 2016, Fitzgerald’s article was entitled, “Trump names heavyweight group of Catholic advisers.” Listen to this.

“Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump, who has struggled with Catholic voters in some polls, on Wednesday named an advisory council of respected conservative Catholic leaders. The list of 33 advisors includes prominent Pennsylvanians, such as former Republican Sen. Rick Santorum, who ran for president in 2012 and 2016; Faith Whittlesey, former U.S. ambassador to Switzerland and a high-ranking political official in the Reagan White House; and U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, Republican of Butler. The list of Catholic heavyweights signing on to advise Trump includes Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List; Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback; Francis Rooney, former ambassador to the Vatican and the GOP nominee in Florida's 19th U.S. House district; Matt Schlapp, president of the American Conservative Union; former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating (R); U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, Republican of Ohio; Jim Nicholson, former Republican national chairman, secretary of veterans affairs and ambassador to the Vatican; longtime conservative leader Richard Viguerie; and Tom Monaghan of Michigan, founder of Domino’s Pizza and the Ave Maria University.” Thomas Fitzgerald, “Trump names heavyweight group of Catholic advisers,” the Philadelphia Enquirer, September 23, 2016

Notice that even though the group consists of 33 Catholics, many of them have maintained a portfolio that makes them knowledgeable in the area of management and government. Such a combination will certainly prove effective, not just as a means of counseling the President but also in assisting in the implementation of ideas.

We have been informed concerning the choice of the Chief of Staff, Reinhold Richard Priebus. According to the Free Encyclopedia, his biography describes him as being born on March 18, 1972 in Dover, New Jersey. His father is of German descent and his mother, who was born in Sudan, is of Greek descent. What is perhaps interesting is that he is a Greek Orthodox Christian.

Then we have been told that the President’s chief advisor will be Irish Catholic Steve Bannon — on hiatus from running Of course we should not forget the fact that his campaign manager is Kellyanne Conway, a longtime Catholic from New Jersey. It is clear then, that we ought not to be surprised if there is a closed door when counsel is given.

But the story does not end there. Kate Shellnutt and Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra writing for Christianity Today on June 22, 2016 published the following article. “Who’s who of Trump’s ‘Tremendous’ Faith Advisers”

“Following his much-anticipated confab with nearly 1,000 evangelical pastors and leaders, Republican candidate Donald Trump has released a long list of his born-again advisory board. Some of the 25 figureheads on Trump’s board have relationships with him that go back several years. Some first connected at earlier campaign events targeting clergy. The breadth of his list serves as a reminder of the wide reach of American evangelicalism, from the institutional leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention to the prosperity gospel preachers made famous through Christian TV programming.” Kate Shellnutt and Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra, “Who’s Who of Trump’s ‘Tremendous’ Faith Advisers,” Christianity Today, June 22, 2016

So who are some of these evangelicals who are a part of the Faith Advisory Team for the new administration?

James Dobson led national Christian ministry Focus on the Family from its founding in 1977 through 2003. Jerry Falwell Jr. is the oldest son of late Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell. He succeeded his father as president and chancellor of Liberty University after Falwell Sr.’s death in 2007. Richard Land served as president of the Southern Baptist public policy arm, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) for 25 years, until he was succeeded by Russell Moore. Paula White and her former husband Randy White founded Without Walls International, a Tampa megachurch which grew to 25,000 members over 15 years. In 2007, the couple separated as the church underwent a US Senate investigation. Later, White and televangelist and faith healer Benny Hinn admitted their friendship had turned inappropriate following her divorce, though White denied having an affair with Hinn. Kenneth and Gloria Copeland have been in ministry for more than 45 years. Their daily television program, which is available on Christian networks and their website, has been broadcasting since 1989. James Robison spent much of his childhood living with his mother in extreme poverty; as an adult, he founded LIFE Outreach International, which provides for the homeless and needy. Ronnie Floyd has pastored the multisite Cross Church in northwest Arkansas for 30 years, and served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the largest Protestant denomination in the country, from 2014 to 2016. And Robert Jeffress is pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas. He has made more than 2,000 guest appearances in the media, and he regularly appears alongside Sean Hannity and others as a contributor on Fox News. Under his outspoken leadership, First Baptist has grown to more than 11,000 members and expanded its downtown campus with a $130-million building project. Jeffress is the author of 23 books and the host of the Pathway to Victory show.” Kate Shellnutt and Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra, “Who’s Who of Trump’s ‘Tremendous’ Faith Advisers,” Christianity Today, June 22, 2016

Of course, ours is a partial list, but it is therefore clear that of all the supporting staff, the Catholic an Evangelical groupings are by far the more intense and conclusive. The result will very soon be revealed. We should be watchful and awake.

Cameron A. Bowen

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