A.R. Bernard

Here we go again: New York Times says White House door wide open for all 'evangelicals'

Here we go again: New York Times says White House door wide open for all 'evangelicals'

Before we dive -- yes, it's time to try again -- into another example of "Gosh, all those evangelicals sure do love Donald Trump" coverage, let's pause to, uh, separate the sheep from the goats.

If you understand that image, the odds are good that you are an evangelical or some other brand of Christian who has cracked open a Bible more than once.

Whatever. A few months ago, Sarah Pulliam Bailey of The Washington Post tweeted out a fun little link to a MereOrthodoxy.com "Are you an evangelical?" quiz that is kind of fun. Click here to take the test. (Or click here for her original tweet, which has some interesting comments.)

So I took the test, as a former Southern Baptist preacher's kid from the Jesus Movement era, and scored 10 out of 31. The site's judgement:

Spiritual but not religious: You are definitely not evangelical, but you might still have feelings that you associate with Jesus in some way when you are standing on a mountaintop or contemplating the ocean. 

Well, at least I know where I stand when writing about the press and its struggles to realize the complexities of evangelical identity in this day and age. I would have done better if it included a question asking how many Bruce Cockburn CDs are in my collection (I think I own every note the man has recorded).

Anyway, the New York Times recently (pre-National Prayer Breakfast) weighed in with another report on you know what. The headline: "Evangelicals, Having Backed Trump, Find White House ‘Front Door Is Open’." Once again, readers are told that all "evangelicals" backed Trump and, today, all of them are welcome at the White House." I am sure that will come as a shock to many.

However, this story is slightly better than that headline. At the very least, it acknowledges that even the early, core evangelical supporters of The Donald are a bit more complex than many would think. Hold that thought. First, here is a solid paragraph on why evangelical poll numbers remain high, when it comes to this White House. It starts with the prayer breakfast crowd, saying that the president stood:

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New York Times says Pastor A.R. Bernard has evolved on marriage -- but how far?

New York Times says Pastor A.R. Bernard has evolved on marriage -- but how far?

Every decade or two, The New York Times hires a conservative columnist.

There are exceptions to the rule, but most of the time these conservative columnists are what critics refer to as "New York Times conservatives." This means that, while they may be Republicans who lean to the right on economics and global issues, they lean left on the cultural issues that really matter -- such as abortion rights and gay rights.

Is there such a thing as a "New York Times conservative" when it comes to religious leaders, and Christian clergy to be specific?

I raise this question because the Times -- in its Sunday magazine -- has produced a long profile of the Rev. A.R. Bernard, a pastor, author and civic leader who has deserved this kind of attention from the Gray Lady for a long, long time. He is an African-American megachurch star whose clout and fame has completely transcended that community label.

The Times even refers to him as smart and stylish. You can clearly sense this respect in the overture.

One Saturday in mid-September, the Rev. A. R. Bernard took to the blue carpeted stage of the Christian Cultural Center, the 96,000-square-foot megachurch he built 16 years ago at the edge of Starrett City, in Brooklyn, with his usual accouterments: a smartphone, a bottle of water and a large glass marker board that he would soon cover in bullet points drawn from the playbooks of marketing specialists. Mr. Bernard, 63, is tall and slender, and on this day he wore a distressed black leather jacket, a white polo shirt, bluejeans and white tennis shoes -- casual Saturday attire. On Sunday, you would find him impeccably tailored in a light wool suit and tortoiseshell glasses, looking more like the banker he once was than the pastor of a congregation of nearly 40,000.

So why do this piece now? Yes, Bernard has a popular self-help book out at the moment -- "Four Things Women Want From a Man." There are even hints that he is pro-monogamy. Oh my. Hold that thought.

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