Thursday, July 19, 2018

More National Prayer Breakfast Commentary: "The [Republican] Party Needs to Face That Element Within Them, Which Is Essentially a White-Supremacist Element That Putin Is Playing"

More good commentary about the connection of the National Prayer Breakfast to the treasonous behavior of the political party now controlling the U.S. federal government — this commentary has come to my attention since I posted my collection of other pieces early today:

Butina also took advantage of [Paul] Erickson's links with the Christian right, as Slate's Ruth Graham reports, though Torshin had his own relationships in that universe, having attended multiple National Prayer Breakfasts. 
"In 2016, according to a timeline compiled by the Washington Post, Butina emailed a Prayer Breakfast organizer to suggest that Putin might attend the following year. That didn't happen, but she and Torshin attended. 'A new relationship between two countries always begins better when it begins in faith,' Butina emailed an organizer afterward, thanking him for a gift and for the 'very private meeting' after the breakfast. Butina was also part of a group that attempted to secure a meeting with the Trump campaign in May 2016 to talk about the persecution of Christians around the world, a topic of great interest to many American evangelicals."
Earlier, in 2015, Butina and Erickson also appeared on the radio show of conservative evangelical superstar (and big-time Trump promoter) Eric Metaxas to discuss gun rights and religious freedom — topics that are strangely congruent in the conservative Christian circles in which all these birds flew. 
The affection with which many Christian right figures hold Russia and specifically the gay-bashing Putin is hardly a secret, as I noted in 2016: 
"[Putin's evangelical fan club] includes some pretty big names, like conservative Evangelical leader Franklin Graham, National Organization for Marriage leader Brian Brown, and American Family Association spokesperson Bryan Fischer. In almost every case it has been his distinctive combination of homophobia and Islamophobia that has made Putin one of the Christian right's favorite international figures. The cultural conservative preference for authoritarian Christian Slavs who are fighting Muslims has … carried over from the Serbs to their traditional sponsors in Moscow, and most especially to the former KGB officer who has revived Russia’s pre-communist tradition of militantly traditionalist Christianity."
So there is a U.S. religious constituency that very self-consciously supports Trump's apparent interest in forming a new world order based on a Washington-Moscow axis, outflanking the decadent, secular, tolerant globalists of Western Europe.

Ed Kilgore cites and quotes from Ruth Graham's "Mariia Butina's Cozy Relationship With the Christian Right Makes Total Sense" in the excerpt above. Here's more from that valuable article:

Much of the Christian right views contemporary Russia with a surprising fondness, and it’s a coziness that predates the Trump administration. Christian conservatives including Pat Buchanan and Bryan Fischer have fawned over Putin in recent years. Along with having an instinctual affinity for authoritarian leadership, these men respect Putin’s yearslong rollback of gay rights and abortion access. Franklin Graham, for example, gave an interview to a Russian newspaper in 2015 in which he praised Putin for "protecting Russian young people against homosexual propaganda." Other cultural conservatives see Russia as "Christianity's front line" against Islam. Presumably, then, it wasn't hard for Butina, a friendly Russian gun-rights activist, to curry favor in these same Christian conservative circles.

As Juliette Kayyem tells Don Lemon in the CNN interview at the top of the posting, "The [Republican] party needs to face that element within them, which is essentially a white-supremacist element that Putin is playing."


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