One of the interesting developments this week at that White House dinner for evangelical leaders was Paula White's presentation of a Bible to President Donald Trump.
White told the president that the Bible was signed by "over a hundred Christians."
Given that the state-like dinner included about 100 evangelical leaders, many took White's statement to mean that the people in the room had endorsed the message written in the Bible.
That message, according to a White House transcript:
It says: “First Lady and President, you are in our prayers always. Thank you for your courageous and bold stand for religious liberty, and for your timeless service to all Americans. We appreciate the price that you have paid to walk in the high calling. History will record the greatness that you have brought for generations.”
But at least one prominent evangelical at the dinner — Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear — stressed that he didn't sign the Bible, as noted by Birmingham News religion writer Greg Garrison.
Greear's attendance at the dinner earlier drew criticism from religion writer Jonathan Merritt:
Greear issued a statement on Twitter explaining his reasons for accepting the White House's invitation:
Given Greear's denial, a GetReligion reader who contacted me about my earlier post suggests that Godbeat pros may want to ask a few more questions:
Shouldn’t some enterprising religion reporter try to find out more about the Bible? In addition to who signed it — since J.D. Greear has publicly noted he was not asked and did not sign the Bible (and I know another person present at the event who was not asked to sign it) — I think it would be interesting to know what kind of Bible was it — what translation, was it a study Bible, what publisher, etc.? It may be notable that it was Paula White who presented the Bible, which may (or may not) indicate the kind of Bible it may be.
No doubt religion writers have a few other things going at the moment. But I'd love to know the answers to the questions the reader raises.
Finally, a reader — noting news coverage of the White House dinner — sent an email with this subject line:
such nuance, New York Times
Let's go with #sarcasm.
The reader pointed out this paragraph in a Times story:
Mr. Trump bantered with the religious leaders at the dinner, noting at one point that Robert Jeffress, a Dallas evangelical pastor who once said Jewish people were going to hell, had observed that Mr. Trump “may not be the perfect human being, but he’s the greatest leader for Christianity.”
Yeah, that's a (heck) of a way to identify someone.
In a perfect world, the Times might display its biases a bit more subtly and offer a little context on exactly what Jeffress said and whether or not it conforms with 2,000 years of traditional Christian theology.
In fact, in a previous story (granted one in which "Pastor Who Said Jews Are Going to Hell" was part of the headline), the Times did offer some background:
Mr. Jeffress, who leads one of the largest Southern Baptist churches in the country, suggested in a 2010 interview with the Trinity Broadcasting Network that some churches might shy away from saying “anything that’s going to offend people” to try to grow their congregations. He made it clear he was going to preach what he believes the Bible says.
“Islam is wrong. It is a heresy from the pit of hell,” Mr. Jeffress said in the interview. “Mormonism is wrong. It is a heresy from the pit of hell.”
He added: “Judaism — you can’t be saved being a Jew. You know who said that, by the way? The three greatest Jews in the New Testament: Peter, Paul and Jesus Christ. They all said Judaism won’t do it. It’s faith in Jesus Christ.”
But for the purposes of this latest story, the Times felt no need to offer any explanation.
Such nuance indeed.