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Trump's big business CEOs are horrified by his Confederate excuses — but his religious advisers have nothing but praise

Is anyone surprised that the Religious Right has been a stronger defender of Trump than his CEO councils?


Matthew Sheffield
August 18, 2017 6:17PM (UTC)

Corporate CEOs aren't exactly regarded as bastions of morality but it's notable that more than a few of President Donald Trump's economic advisers have decided to cut ties with him after his repeated defenses of racists in Charlottesville, Virginia. By contrast, as of this writing, literally none of Trump's religious right allies have decided to cut ties.

Incredibly, some of these Christian nationalist advisors have actually praised Trump for words that even his fellow Republicans have been condemning in droves.

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On Thursday, Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University tweeted out that he was "so proud" of Trump.

Robert Jeffress, a Dallas-based pastor who has been a key ally of Trump's since he announced his candidacy was willing to denounce neo-Nazis but he defended the president's remarks.

“If we’re going to denounce some racism, we ought to denounce all racism," he said during an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network.

“There is an effort to do whatever is necessary to take this president down,” Jeffress said. "I think he’s right to denounce racism in all its forms. I know the president, you know the president, there is not a racist bone in his body.”

Other religious right figures have more, um, creative explanations for what happened last weekend.

Scott Lively, an anti-gay activist and minister, wrote a blog post in which he claimed that the fascist protest and its ensuing violence had something to do with Bill Cosby.

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Bryan Fischer, a radio talk show host famous for his beliefs that America's founders wanted to give religious freedom only to Christians, told his audience on Thursday that the violence in Charlottesville was all just a big liberal plot.

“What you had in Charlottesville was not a showdown between the left and the right, but between the left and the left,” Fischer said. According to the former pastor, neo-fascists are actually left-wing somehow.

According to conspiracy theorist Josh Bernstein, the widespread fighting and Nazi sloganeering that took place in the Virginia city on Aug. 11 and 12 was really the fault of former president Barack Obama, billionaire liberal George Soros, and a variety of left-wing non-profit organizations like MoveOn.org, People for the American Way, and Media Matters.

“Charlotteville [sic] is the culmination of eight years of Barack Obama,” Bernstein said. Those are the groups, along with George Soros, that with the Obama administration, in concert did everything they could to divide and conquer America, to destroy race relations in America and destroy the civil rights movement as we knew it.”

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He called on Trump to arrest Soros and Media Matters founder David Brock. “It is also time for President Trump to also issue publicly an arrest warrant for George Soros and David Brock and the leaders of all these left-wing agitation groups,” Bernstein said. "By the way, is it any coincidence that the Charlotteville incident happened on George Soros' 87th birthday on August 12 or is that just a coincidence? I don't think it's just a coincidence," he added.

Perhaps the most bizarre analogy among the religious right figures monitored by Right Wing Watch was Dave Daubenmire, a YouTube commentator who blends a mix of alt-right and Christian nationalism to his small, but dedicated audience.

Daubenmire seems to buy into Trump's belief that there were "fine people" showing up for a rally put on by fascists. He then compared Confederate memorials to streets named after Martin Luther King.

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“The average patriot couldn’t care less about skin color,” Daubenmire asserted.

“What if we were to go into every town in America and tear down the signs that say Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway?” he wondered. “What would happen if we demanded that Martin Luther King Jr. signs be pulled down and those streets’ names be changed? What would we expect? Well, we’d expect the brainwashed black masses to rise up.”


Matthew Sheffield

A writer, web developer, and former tv producer, Matthew Sheffield covers politics, media, and technology for Salon. You can email him via m.sheffield@salon.com or follow him on Twitter.

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