Can we just leave God out of it?
Ginni Thomas' texts to Mark Meadows show a conflating of religion and politics
God must be sick of the lot of us.
That was my first thought on reading the text message exchanges between Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
“This is a fight of good versus evil,” Meadows reportedly wrote to Thomas. “Evil always looks like the victor until the King of Kings triumphs. Do not grow weary in well doing. The fight continues. I have staked my career on it. Well at least my time in DC on it.”
Thomas replied: “Thank you!! Needed that! This plus a conversation with my best friend just now … I will try to keep holding on. America is worth it!”
It is the language of Armageddon.
So many exclamation points. And who the best friend is, only God and Ginni know, though many are making an educated guess.
Especially during the Easter season, quoting any reference to the “King of Kings” in the context of a grubby political scheme seems more heresy than prophecy. However, those toxic messages confirm that when you believe God is on your side, nothing is off limits.
And that’s the problem, one that could shatter American democracy.
In the exchange, Thomas wrote: “Help This Great President stand firm, Mark!!!...You are the leader, with him, who is standing for America’s constitutional governance at the precipice. The majority knows Biden and the Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our History.”
Actually, the majority knows that Joe Biden won by more than 7 million votes, but what does that matter when Donald Trump himself, the leader of the GOP who must be obeyed, refuses to accept the truth.
The world has already witnessed an army of Christian soldiers spouting scripture kneel in prayer after breaking windows and the law when they stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, intent on committing crimes in the name of a man, not a god.
Now, it’s clear that many in all branches of government have joined with conservative activists in a modern-day crusade that did not begin or end on that shameful day.
These 29 texts were among the 2,320 that Meadows has provided to the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack, though he has refused so far to testify. And at this point, I don’t see Thomas voluntarily appearing before House members to shed any light on the matter.
Why do their duty as American citizens when they are too busy listening to a “higher power”?
The texts spin a demented justification for overturning the results of the free and fair 2020 election that put Biden in the White House and gave Trump his walking papers, complete with debunked conspiracy theories, outright falsehoods and “evidence” from discredited lackeys.
But, worst of all, this disturbing brew is coated in a patina of religion, with the deity endorsing Republican operatives as they plot a coup with the goal of power — unlimited, unending power.
With fervor and righteous indignation, like something you’d hear in a fire-and-brimstone Sunday sermon, the rhetoric of white Christian nationalism describes not heaven, but a hell on earth, a country where those of the “wrong” color or faith or identity or position shut up and do as they are instructed — for their own good.
Its god smites unbelievers and bears little resemblance to the Jesus of the New Testament, who lifts up the stranger and the dispossessed.
In truth, these folks who describe themselves as “Christians” and “patriots” must despise the Constitution and hold contempt for every American who does not buy into their view of what America should be.
History is full of holy wars, of faith used as a political weapon, across the globe. You would think all-too-human beings might have learned some lessons by now.
The Southern Baptist Convention seemed to. The denomination, started in 1845 as the church of Southern slaveholders, supported white supremacy until well into the 20th century. The convention formally apologized to African-Americans in 1995 for its pro-slavery past and adopted a resolution condemning white supremacy — in 2017. But members are still arguing over the convention’s view of critical race theory or what the academic discipline has come to mean — any unvarnished account of its own or this nation's history.
Russell Moore, who resigned last year as president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, shined a light on the problems of entangling religion with politics and became a pariah to some in his own denomination.
When he began his time in that post, Moore said the “end goal of the Gospel is not a Christian America” but, instead, a Revelation 7:9 vision of “redeemed from every tribe and tongue and nation and language” dwelling in the new Jerusalem. Before he left, Moore — who supported investigations into allegations of clergy sexual abuse and who faced pushback for his outreach on behalf of racial equity and criticisms of Trump — wrote in a letter: “My family and I have faced constant threats from white nationalists and white supremacists, including within our convention.”
On a good day, I consider myself a person of faith, though if GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham asked me to rate mine on a scale of 1 to 10, as he did Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, I would have to, as she did, refuse. I often find food for thought in my church of choice, as I did this past week, when a contemplation of the Ten Commandments in the weekly bulletin included these questions about bearing false witness: “Have I gossiped, told lies, or embellished stories at the expense of another? Is my social media presence giving witness to my Christian faith? Do I live in the truth and avoid falsehoods and lies about myself and others?”
Yes, those texts came to mind, and the grandstanding of Republican senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee grilling Judge Jackson, not in faith but in bad faith, interrupting, spouting lies, then checking Twitter for clicks, I’m sure.
America does not have a national religion, which is how it should be. Our leaders are mere men and women, and the temptation is far too great when anyone turns a political position into a moral test, with themselves as judge and God as silent partner.
“We are living through what feels like the end of America,” Thomas wrote to Meadows.
The jury is still out on that.
Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Charlotte Observer, as national correspondent for Politics Daily, and is a senior facilitator with The OpEd Project. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3.