In the ‘battle at the border,’ evangelical leaders jostle for Trump-era media relevancy

    The bollard steel border fence splits the U.S. from Mexico in this view west of central Nogales, Ariz., Feb. 19. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

    Unless you’ve been under a rock recently, you know much of the country is fixated on the mess at our border.

    What’s not as visible is how evangelical Christians are fighting among themselves over all of this. In the latest development, an old foot soldier in evangelical warfare contacted all his followers to say that President Donald Trump is doing the right thing.

    That foot soldier would be Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, now 83. He retired from Focus 10 years ago (although HuffPost says he was forced out), then founded “Family Talk,” a nonprofit that produces his radio programs. More on him in a moment.

    With thousands of people each day forcing their way into the United States, there has erupted amongst evangelicals what I like to call the “battle at the border.”

    Many of you may have heard of the spitting match between Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., and the Rev. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Moore was mourning the border situation on Twitter — specifically conditions endured by children — and Falwell slammed into him for being unqualified to speak about the matter.

    The people following this have mostly been religion beat specialists. Amy Sullivan had one of the better descriptive lines in calling it a “tale of two tweets,” as it showed huge fissures among evangelicals. The secular media didn’t do a whole lot with this inside-baseball battle, but there’s now a term, #SBCdeepstate and a lot of grandstanding on What Would Jesus Do At The Border.

    Last Friday, a Catholic bishop thought he had the answer to that one, which is why he personally escorted a family across the border even though they’d been turned back once by the border patrol.

    Then you have the Rev. Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, who in this Christian Post story tells of his visit to the border and how everything there is peachy keen.

    Of course, the Babylonian Bee had to run a piece on the lunacy of it all.

    Then you have Dobson, who fired a shot across the bow this week when he released a newsletter about HIS visit to the border.

    A Tale of Two Tweets.

    Russell Moore expressed shock this morning at the conditions in which migrant children are being held.

    And in response, Jerry Falwell, Jr…well. You just have to read it for yourselves.

    \u2014 Amy Sullivan (@sullivanamy) June 25, 2019\n“}” data-block-type=”22″ id=”block-yui_3_17_2_1_1561877720545_70551″ style=”position: relative; height: auto; padding: 17px; outline: none; box-shadow: rgba(128, 128, 128, 0) 0px 0px 0px 1px inset; transition: box-shadow 0.2s ease-in-out 0s; clear: both; color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.85); font-family: minion-pro, serif; font-size: 16px; font-style: normal; font-variant-ligatures: normal; font-variant-caps: normal; font-weight: 500; letter-spacing: normal; orphans: 2; text-align: start; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: 2; word-spacing: 0px; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255); text-decoration-style: initial; text-decoration-color: initial;”>

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    Amy Sullivan


    A Tale Of Two Tweets.

    Russell Moore Expressed Shock This Morning At The Conditions In Which Migrant Children Are Being Held.

    And In Response, Jerry Falwell, Jr…Well. You Just Have To Read It For Yourselves.


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    Now Focus has been criticized for not taking a strong stance on the Trump administration’s family separation policy after other religious groups have long since done so. Thus, for Dobson to upstage his own organization by traveling to the border himself, then publishing his take on it, is a subtle criticism of how the current Focus leadership has not dealt with the issue.

    He says he was invited there by the White House and that the media and liberal politicians haven’t told the whole story.

    Please believe me when I tell you that the media and leftist politicians have not been truthful about what is going on there. It is a human tragedy.

    For the next 20 paragraphs, he does, describing where the refugees come from and his experiences in meeting them plus his discussion with border patrol who “have one of the most thankless jobs in America.” It wasn’t clear as to how many people were with Dobson but clearly his delegation, being blessed by the White House, got the complete tour.

    But at the end, he sides with how Trump is handling this mess.

    I can only report that without an overhaul of the law and the allocation of resources, millions of illegal immigrants will continue flooding to this great land from around the world. Many of them have no marketable skills. They are illiterate and unhealthy. Some are violent criminals. Their numbers will soon overwhelm the culture as we have known it, and it could bankrupt the nation. America has been a wonderfully generous and caring country since its founding. That is our Christian nature. But in this instance, we have met a worldwide wave of poverty that will take us down if we don’t deal with it. And it won’t take long for the inevitable consequences to happen…

    There is one solution as I see it, which is for people of faith to pray for our President as he seeks to deal with this humanitarian crisis. He is facing enormous opposition from both political parties, the mainstream media, the entertainment industry, the judiciary, portions of agriculture, powerful lobbies, and virtually every dimension of the culture. I know of no one with political influence besides the President who seems to care about the crisis at the border.

    CBN reported on the Dobson insights but I haven’t seen secular media run with it. His visit there got mixed reviews from those who were in the know.

    Other religious figures are doing mission trips to our southern frontier. HIAS, also known as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society has sent lawyers to the region. There is also the intra-Jewish debate on whether calling border detention centers ‘concentration camps’ dishonors the 6 million Jews who died at real concentration camps.

    Also, last December an interfaith group got arrested at the Tijuana border crossing while protesting U.S. migration policies.

    But nowhere else is there such a dispute over this issue than among evangelicals. A sizable number see criticism of what happens at the border as a dart against Trump and they’re not going there. There’s some great stories a ‘brewing about this cat fight and I’m hoping that more media will pay attention to how evangelicals are body slamming each other over this issue.

    Next up? Border photo ops.

    If the Catholic bishop could do, so will evangelicals. Watch for it. And remember, you read it here first.