The 10 Celebrities Evangelicals Trust Most & Least on Politics Today

 

The 10 Celebrities Evangelicals Trust Most and Least on Politics

Image: Alex Wong and Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

From Christianity Today Magazine, March 19, 2018
Recent survey ranks political endorsements from Trump to Oprah to Jerry Falwell Jr.
—by Kate Shellnutt

Jerry Falwell Jr.’s political advice falls somewhere between President Donald Trump’s and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s when ranked by evangelicals—and Americans overall—in a new poll of registered voters.

According to Morning Consult, endorsements by prominent religious leaders hold more clout with self-identified US evangelicals than those by other celebrities, but still aren’t as impactful as endorsements by other politicians themselves.

Evangelicals were most likely to heed recommendations by top leaders from recent administrations; nearly half (49%) said Trump’s endorsement would make them more likely to vote for a particular candidate, more than any other figure.

Vice President Mike Pence (46%), President George W. Bush (43%), House Speaker Paul Ryan (34%), and President Barack Obama (33%) made up the rest of the top five for evangelicals, while a few spiritual and religious leaders ranked among the top 10: Oprah (31%), Joel Osteen (28%), and Jerry Falwell Jr. (27%).

Pope Francis, Osteen, and Falwell Jr. were the only religious figures in the poll. During the 2016 campaign, Osteen called Trump “a friend of our ministry” and “a good man,” while Falwell Jr.—president of Liberty University and son of the late Moral Majority leader Jerry Falwell—was among the first evangelicals to officially endorse him.

Trump—who according to Morning Consult/Politico currently holds a 59 percent approval rating among evangelical registered voters, compared to 43 percent among voters overall—has pledged to repeal the Johnson Amendment and give US pastors more freedom to address candidates from the pulpit.

Among voters overall, politicians held the most clout (either positive or negative), followed by a few pundits, business leaders, and certain celebrities. Americans pay more attention to what Osteen or Falwell Jr. says than the Pope, but the two still aren’t as influential—for better or worse—as Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres, or Kanye West.

Morning Consult reported that 39 percent of Americans said Pope Francis’ endorsement “makes no difference” on how they vote, compared to 33 percent for Osteen and 31 percent for Falwell Jr. Meanwhile, just 27 percent said Oprah’s endorsement didn’t matter, compared to 30 percent for Ellen or Kanye.

In the recent poll, evangelicals felt even more strongly about not voting for candidates backed by prominent figures they oppose than about voting for candidates backed by those they trust.

Half or more said endorsements by Hillary Clinton (54%), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (50%), or President Bill Clinton (50%) would make them less likely to support a candidate. They came down about as negatively on endorsements by Kim Kardashian (51%) or Kanye (49%).

Fellow entertainers Beyoncé and Ellen also fell among evangelicals’ 10 most damaging endorsements. Only about 1 in 5 evangelicals cares what The Rock had to say either way; celebrities such as Tom Brady, LeBron James, Mark Zuckerberg, and Taylor Swift also fell relatively low on their lists.

A few liberal politicians were polarizing enough to rank among both the best and worst endorsements for evangelicals: Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, and Senator Bernie Sanders. About a third of evangelicals see endorsements by the Obamas as a plus, while just under half view them negatively.

Outside of individual endorsements, evangelicals—like most voters—put clout in what their partner or party has to say about a candidate. Nearly half of evangelicals said their spouse’s endorsement (49%) would make a positive difference, as would a boost from the Republican Party (47%). On the other hand, more than 4 in 10 evangelicals said endorsements from the Democratic Party (42%) or the Democratic Socialists of America (47%) would be a turnoff.

Only 22 percent of evangelicals said an endorsement by their local newspaper would make them more likely to vote for a politician, while 25 percent said it would make them less likely. In comparison, only 25 percent of evangelicals said Sean Hannity’s endorsement would make them more likely to vote, while 17 percent said they would be less likely.

A LifeWay Research study released last year similarly found that despite the popularity and political activism held by celebrities, Americans continue to look to politicians to lead conversations on important issues.

A plurality (21%) said the President had the best chance of fostering healthy conversations among the American people, with 1 percent or less turning to other famous folks to do so. “Musicians or athletes get a great deal of attention for their public statements about the issues, but few Americans seem to look to them as thought leaders,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.

 Though over a third of Americans with evangelical beliefs (36%) have faith in pastor as thought leaders on major issues, evangelicals aren’t that eager to hear candidate endorsements at church. In an earlier LifeWay survey, conducted during the 2016 campaign, 73 percent of evangelicals by belief thought pastors should abstain from pulpit endorsements.

Under the Johnson Amendment, which Trump still hopes to repeal, certain political speech by nonprofits including churches could lead to them losing their tax-exempt status. Only 33 percent of evangelicals by belief want churches to face punishments if they do endorse candidates.

More churchgoers heard endorsements for Clinton in 2016 than Trump, according to Pew Research.

Peace Like a River

Do not be afraid

Our modern-day, psychological “jitters” confront us on a daily basis; sudden, random gun violence and shootings, domestic terrorism, headline news stories of ongoing, new crimes in our community, the stress of living in a frenzied world with crazy drivers on the road next to you, the troubling concerns of making financial ends meet in an unpredictable job market, aging and health worries, the moral issues our children or grandchildren are dealing with, the list goes on…..nothing is as ‘easy or simple’ as it used to be.

Even, trying to get some kind of timely customer service assistance with an issue from a product or service we have purchased and paid for can try even the most patient of souls. Ironically, it appears our culture is getting even more complex as we speak in spite of all our impressive, technological advances designed to “simplify our lives.” Remember how many passwords you used to have to know?

“Do you think we need peace of mind today?” I doubt you will find anyone anywhere who will disagree with that. The question is ‘where?’

Here’s one kind of peace: the world does offer a “temporal fix,” a type of transitory “peace” usually in the form of a pill, a drug, the bottle of some kind of exotic experience designed to boost our emotions and make us forget about life for awhile. Here again, the problem is that it doesn’t last. It is fragile and it always depends on something we must do to get it. We become dependent on it and sooner or later we have to do more of it, pushing the boundaries of our health, in order to feel the same experience. A vicious, no-win cycle.

Additional, this peace depends on the “absence of conflict.” The world says, “if you make enough money, achieve all your goals, find your dreams all coming true, then and only then will you finally achieve your nirvana.” Change your environment and then you’ll have peace of mind.

And, then we wonder when hear about those very fortunate few who somehow achieved all of these things, yet are still miserable inside and eventually implode, famous celebrities and just normal folks. Another dead-end street.

“So, what is answer?” 

Friends, I have personally discovered one of the many, wonderful “perks” of the Christ-centered life; the dynamic, powerful work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. When we seriously submit our lives to the Lordship of Christ, seeking to sincerely obey His Word in everything, a remarkable thing happens; His supernatural peace stills and smooths the sloshing sea of turmoil, frustration and anxiety deep in our hearts.

This may sound like I’m saying that God’s peace is more or less something we generate, based on our relationship to Christ. Nothing could be farther from the truth, however. God’s peace is totally an unmerited, undeserved, unearned “gift of God’s grace” alone, based on what Jesus did for us at the cross, “God made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. He made PEACE with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross” (Colossians 1:20)

Much like the story of the raging sea, threatening the life of the disciples in the boat with Jesus, He speaks to that inner spiritual sea in our soul and commands, “Peace, be still!” (Mark 4:39) And, the result? Perfect calm.

“But, really all this sounds too good to be true?”

I actually once thought that myself. I was once a skeptic who somewhat dismissed these promises of peace for everyone. In my mind, I assumed God’s peace is reserved only to those “super saints,” those pious souls who mediate like monks or nuns all the time. Furthermore, I reasoned God’s peace was “psycho-somatic” — if you think about it enough, it will come true. You just have to “psych-yourself-out.” You know, mind over matter. But, who in the world has time to climb the top of a mountain and chant to Buddha or somebody else all day long? Forget that.

The truth is when we open our hearts to God completely and allow Him to control our lives, then all of our problems will magically disappear. Not! Unfortunately, some well-meaning people today try and paint the Christian life in those flowery terms. But, to those of us who have walked with Jesus long enough, we know that is simply unrealistic. Jesus even promised there would be trouble for all who follow Him because the world is in direct conflict with the truth of God, where we stand; “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33)

The peace of Christ is the confident assurance that in any circumstance we find ourselves in, we can really live fearless lives where the unknown present and future is in God’s hands, not ours. The peace of God “umpires” our heart and controls the worry, uncertainty, doubts, frustrations and fears at war within us. These hostile forces become restrained and are not allowed to dominate our thinking because Christ is on the throne of our hearts, not ourselves. But, we have to relinquish control of our lives to God IF we want God’s peace. And, that only comes from a daily decision on our part to “surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.”

For many years I did my very best to avoid turning my life over completely to Christ. I was a professing Christian, but I still wanted to be in control. I honestly thought if I let God be God in my life, I’d miss out on my definition of peace and fun. I now realize how much I really missed, going my own way, and how wrong I was in doing that. Don’t make the same mistake I did. If real, lasting peace means anything to you, please consider what I’ve shared here from my heart. It’s God’s promise and gift to you, if you will receive it on His terms. It’s yours for the taking;

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And, the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid,” (Jesus in John 14:27-28)

 

 

 

The Beauty of Being Brave

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“The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.”
— Psalm 138:8 

I like the idea that God only made me once. And, He did it right the first time.

God made you once. You were worth the work that first time. Then He threw away that mold because one of you is enough for Him. You’re enough. You are the sacred painting, the original.

God made us this way on purpose. It’s no mistake that we are formed the way we are. But why?

“Why did God make humans in the first place?”

Look at Isaiah 43:7:

“Everyone who is called by My name, whom I created for My glory, whom I formed and made.”

God created us for His glory. Hang with me for a little Old Testament lesson. The word “create” in the original Hebrew is “bara.” When this particular word is used, God is the only subject — He does all the work. Only He can create in this particular way. We may be able to create a painting or create chaos, but as humans, we cannot “bara.” So when God made you, He did something that only He can do, and He did that for His glory.

This short (Hebrew 101) lesson does have a point. We look at the original language of the text to see, according to Scripture, that we were made especially by God to promote Him, glorify Him, and worship Him. Nothing on earth is more important, for this life and eternity, than knowing this and fleshing this great truth out in our daily lives!

If we are each as unique as the Bible says we are, then our calls to courage are each equally unique.

So what does this have to do with being brave?

KEY THOUGHT: We each have to be brave in our own ways.

The painting of your life is a masterpiece that will never be replicated, and there’s a brave brush to use in this painting that will change everything for God’s glory and for your good. Maybe you want to move to another country to live and share about Jesus. My friend, that is brave. It really is. But so is being a stay-at-home mom. And so is being a cable technician. So is being an author or a baseball player or a chef or a retired, volunteer worker at your church.

Courage looks different for each of us. Courage plays itself out daily in the beauty of who we are spiritually, not what we look like physically in Christ.

For some, being brave is facing a chronic health problem, yet determined to overcome it’s discouraging effects by keeping a spirit of joy as a witness to God’s power in Christ working through you that others see.

Perhaps for others, being brave is facing a difficult job situation, that isn’t your first choice, where you are surrounded by those who don’t share your views on God. But, you believe rightly God has you there for a special purpose and that is to be a courageous witness for the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is God’s bravery at work in and through you.

God made you on purpose and unique. God has called you to be brave. And God will equip you to do it. Your beauty will be fully seen when you face the music of whatever your circumstances are with the confidence that God is not only with you, but He will lead, guide and direct you to do whatever it is He desires you to do for others, as you totally depend on Him.

Be Very Brave: In your journal, list some ways you feel your life is unique. What do you love? How do you like to spend your time? What ways do you see your life as different from anyone else’s? How can you better re-envision your immediate circumstances to see how God can use you to make a difference in the lives of others?

You may find it helpful to talk with your Pastor this week and ask him the areas of need in your church because when we make ourselves available to serve God, our Christian lives will experience a joy and abundance that we can’t have if we are always sitting on the sidelines.

“Billy Graham: The Journey” on Fox TV this Sunday at 7 pm, ET.

Billy Graham: An Extraordinary Journey
On FOX, 7–8 p.m. ET, THIS Sunday, March 4

Tune in to FOX for the premiere of a special broadcast about Billy Graham. Never-before-seen footage reveals this remarkable, yet humble, man and how God worked through him on the grand stage of history—and touched millions of lives around the world. We pray you’ll be inspired as you see what God can do through an ordinary life yielded to Him.

We encourage you to watch the broadcast with your friends and family who need to hear the Gospel message, and please pray that people across the nation will come to faith in Jesus Christ.

Watch Trailer
Will you share this special broadcast on social media? Thank you for your partnership and may God bless you!

P.S. Did God use Billy Graham to minister to you or your family? We’d love to hear your story, which you can share here.

“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord … that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” —Revelation 14:13

One Appointment We All Keep

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At the conclusion of his father’s funeral, Franklin Graham said, “Daddy, I won’t see you on this earth again, but I will see you again. I’ll see you maybe soon, but not yet. To God be the glory.”

Watching the Billy Graham memorial service online today reminded me of my Mother’s service in (2012) and my Dad’s in (2014). In the past eight years I’ve had to say, “See you later” to both of them. Fortunately, both knew Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and they went home to heaven’s glory. I will see them again, but I still miss them very much.

Then, all of this reminds me of my own human mortality, the fact that I have an appointment with death one day, just like you and every other person on the face of the earth, whether we are famous or not. This is one appointment none of us can change, reschedule or miss.

The Bible says, “It is appointed to man once to die and after this the judgment,” (Hebrews 9:27).

At the same the Scriptures tell us, “Prepare to meet your God,” (Amos 4:12).

Are you prepared to meet your God? Are you ready for eternity?

You know, eternity is a very long time to be wrong about how you stand with God. We can’t afford to hope or guess our soul is o.k. with God. We need to make sure our salvation is settled through Jesus Christ because there are no second chances to get it right once we enter eternity.  My Mother and Dad were ready. I am ready and I truly hope you are too.

If you don’t have total assurance, you can. Please email us and let us pray with you today.

When Christ comes into our hearts, He takes away our fear of death and replaces it with His peace. But, if we don’t have total confidence we are saved by Christ, we should never put it off or consider it normal Christianity.

In closing, at my Mother’s eulogy, my Pastor cousin read a famous poem written by Linda Ellis called, “The Dash.”

A man once spoke at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on the tombstone: the beginning to the end.

First, came his date of birth as he spoke of the ending date with tears.
Yet, what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time we spent alive on earth.
But, we seldom realize how precious that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own, the cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live, love and spend our dash.

So, think about this poem while you can,
Because life is slipping away faster than the hourglass sand.

Are there things in your life that need to change?
Priorities, decisions or attitudes to rearrange?

Slow down to discover what’s true and real,
And, always consider the way others feel.

Be slow to anger and show appreciation more.
Love God and others like you’ve never loved before.

Be kind to others, willing to walk the second mile.
Knowing that this dash might end in just a little while.

So, I ask you when your eulogy is finally being read,
What things about your life will be said?

My friend, our earthly treasures will one day crumble all to ash.
Yet what remains is how you spent YOUR dash?

“How I Want to Be Remembered”

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Billy Graham’s Final Column: How He Wanted to be Remembered

Question: “Mr. Graham, how would you like to be remembered?”

Answer: “I hope I will be remembered as someone who was faithful—faithful to God, faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and faithful to the calling God gave me not only as an evangelist, but as a husband, father and friend.”

“I’m sure I’ve failed in many ways, but I take comfort in Christ’s promise of forgiveness, and I take comfort also in God’s ability to take even our most imperfect efforts and use them for His glory.”

“By the time you read this, I will be in heaven, and as I write this I’m looking forward with great anticipation to the day when I will be in God’s presence forever.”

“I’m convinced that heaven is far more glorious than anything we can possibly imagine right now, and I look forward not only to its wonder and peace, but also to the joy of being reunited with those who have gone there before me, especially my dear wife, Ruth. The Bible says, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face” (1 Corinthians 13:12).”

“But I won’t be in heaven because I’ve preached to large crowds or because I’ve tried to live a good life. I’ll be in heaven for one reason: Many years ago I put my faith and trust in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to make our forgiveness possible and rose again from the dead to give us eternal life.”

“My friend, do you know for sure you will go to heaven when you die? Do you have any lingering doubts you would like to settle? You can, right now, by committing your life to Jesus Christ today. Don’t put this decision off a minute longer. Come to the cross of Jesus Christ and you will know the deep peace and assurance only God can give you.”

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Put your trust in Christ today.

 

Why? Because He Loves Us.

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“Love is why God created us in the first place. We didn’t birth ourselves. God did not make us because He needed to or because He was bored or because He was lonely or because He had run out of things to do. The only reason why we are even here is because He loves us, plain and simple.” —-John Ortberg

You all know the Disney story, we learned it as children.

It’s a classic story, Gepetto the kind woodworker carves a little boy out of a lifeless block of wood. He deeply wishes he would become real and come to life. Surprisingly, his wish is actually granted! And, Pinocchio is transformed into a living, breathing, flesh and blood little boy with a independent mind of his very own.

Unfortunately, Pinocchio’s boyish ideas eventually land him into all kinds of trouble. He falls into the wrong crowd. He runs away from home. And, suddenly this sweet, little boy becomes a prodigal son. Of course, this senseless act of rebellion literally breaks his father’s heart. Gepetto weeps at night thinking about his lost boy as he experiences the painful ache of separation between himself and the child he created.

In a like manner, knowing full well that mankind would make a similar decision to choose their own way and rebel against their loving Creator, God decided to create us anyway.  If we were God, there’s little chance we would do what He did. But, He knew our outcome before he knelt down, scooped up the dirt He also created and blew His living Spirit into us, shaping us and making us His final, crowning work of magnificence, even reflecting His very image. Astounding!

Yet, we know what happened. The heartbreak of humanity was the fall of mankind. However, in the midst of this terrible tragedy a miracle happened: though our feelings changed turned against our Creator—His love never wavered for us even at the very height of our treason against Him!

And, the reason why I personally believe the Bible is real and tells the truth is because of what happened next; naked and ashamed beyond words, our first father and mother stood before God guilty and condemned. To their utter and complete shock, their loving Creator gave them a promise that He would send a Redeemer, He would come to them one day, in His Son Jesus Christ, and straighten out the cataclysmic mess they caused because of their sin, not only for themselves, but you and I and all of creation. Nobody writes stories like this in Hollywood.

Why?

Because God loves us.

Guess what? He still does. You. Me. And, the rest of humanity.

Please never let the familiarity or the repetition of hearing that wonderful truth become old hat to you. Because it is only when we deeply know and appreciate His love that we are able to finally love God, our neighbor and ourselves in the most healthy, healing and holistic manner possible. And, His eternal love doesn’t just end when we die, that’s only the beginning of the very fullness of the joy of His love which we can only barely imagine on this side of heaven.

In this cold, insensitive and selfish world,  this is Good News indeed, the love we can experience through Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.

If God’s matchless, personal love for you does not move you like it once did, I pray you will go to the cross today, by prayer, and ask Jesus to help you re-experience the gift of His love for you.

God is not mad at you, He’s madly in love with you.

P.S. The revised version story of Pinocchio ends with the Fairy turning the puppet into a real boy and him and Gepetto being reunited and living happily ever after.