On April 13, former presidential candidate and former member of the House of Representatives Michele Bachmann appeared on “Understanding the Times with Jan Markell,” a Christian podcast.
During her time on the show, Bachmann spoke with Markell about numerous political issues including the Russia investigation, and the way in which progressive Democrats have turned on Israel.
At approximately the 30 minute mark, Bachmann spoke about the Trump administration’s actions on abortion and religious freedom, stating in part:
For items that we are concerned about biblically, this president has done more to advance the pro-life movement and the pro-life cause than any other president has ever done. Just this week, Secretary of State Pompeo had announced the Mexico City Policy would be enforced even wider than it had before. The Mexico City Policy says not one dime of U.S. taxpayer money will go to pay for foreign abortions. Well, that should be a given, but that isn’t the way it was under Barack Obama. We were paying for foreign abortions …
Not only have we said “No” to that, but now Mike Pompeo … has said even those nonprofits that are contracting with other nonprofits, they can’t perform abortions. So, that policy’s gone even further, plus defunding of Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of abortions in America.
Planned Parenthood is being exposed for their deeds of darkness, and we’re pulling back money from Planned Parenthood as well through the Trump administration. So, that’s just a the pro-life issue.
On the area of religious freedom, we are doing more to advance religious freedom and to protect Christians who are being murdered and persecuted in the Middle East like we have not seen before…
We’ve talked about pastor Andrew Brunson, that the president would not relent until this pastor was released out of Turkey. Now I’ve spoken to pastor Brunson myself at the National Prayer Breakfast, and he is back and his ministry has continued…
[Trump] has stood up where most Republicans wouldn’t dare to stand up. Donald Trump has had the courage and the fortitude, and I will say to your listeners, in my lifetime, I have never seen a more biblical president than I have seen in Donald Trump. He has so impressed me with what he’s done, and we haven’t even talked about Israel, what he has done to advance Israel.
He is highly biblical, and I would say to your listeners, we will in all likelihood never see a more godly, biblical president again in our lifetime. So, we need to be not only praying for him, we need to support him, in my opinion, in every possible way that we can.
Bachmann isn’t wrong on the issues quoted.
In January 2017, President Trump reinstated the “Mexico City Policy,” which “requires foreign NGOs to agree, as a condition of receiving global health assistance, that they will not perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning,” according to USAID.
In March, the Trump administration expanded the rule to include NGOs that provide financial assistance to secondary organizations that might provide abortions.
NBC News reports that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said of the expanded rule: “We will enforce a strict prohibition on back-door funding schemes and end runs around our policy. … American taxpayer dollars will not be used to underwrite abortions.”
In March, Health and Human Services (HHS) ruled that Title X funding could not be “used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning,” and that there must be “physical and financial separation” between what falls under the umbrella of accepted Title X activities and what does not.
Here’s the pertinent text (citations omitted):
This rule, promulgated pursuant to the Department’s authority, will ensure compliance with, and enhance implementation of, the statutory requirement that none of the funds appropriated for Title X may be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning, as well as related statutory requirements…
This rule finalizes requirements that ensure clear physical and financial separation between a Title X program and any activities that fall outside the program’s scope. This physical and financial separation will ensure compliance with the statutory requirement that Title X funding not support programs where abortion is a method of family planning…address[ing] concerns over the fungibility of Title X resources and the potential use of Title X resources to support programs where, among other things, abortion is a method of family planning…
In October 2016, American pastor Andrew Brunson, who had lived in Turkey for more than twenty years, was accused of “political or military espionage” and of “membership in an armed terrorist organization,” according to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). He was arrested and imprisoned.
In July 2018, his sentence was reduced to house arrest.
In August 2018, the Trump administration sanctioned Turkey’s Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gul and Minister of Interior Suleyman Soylu. The U.S. Department of Treasury issued a press release announcing the sanctions, stating in part:
…any property, or interest in property, of both Turkey’s Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gul and Turkey’s Minister of Interior Suleyman Soylu within U.S. jurisdiction is blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.
In October 2018, Brunson was sentenced to more than three years in prison. However, he was also immediately released on what essentially amounted to “time served.” Brunson swiftly returned to the United States. The United States lifted the previously imposed sanctions on Turkish officials.
Following Brunson’s release, Trump tweeted: “Pastor Andrew Brunson, released by Turkey, will be with me in the Oval Office at 2:30 P.M. (this afternoon). It will be wonderful to see and meet him. He is a great Christian who has been through such a tough experience. I would like to thank President @RT_Erdogan for his help!”
The line about Erdogan’s “help” was met with some derision, considering he is the president of the country in which Brunson was arrested and held for more than two years.
When Brunson met with the president, he prayed over him.
President Trump has indeed presided over several significant policy changes about which Christian conservatives should be delighted. Perhaps that’s what Bachmann meant when she said that the president is “godly” and “biblical” (and there’s no one arguing that Christians shouldn’t pray for their leaders). That said, to use such terminology about a man who has shown time and time again his lack of personal Christian ethics, or ethics in general, might be a mistake.