CNN came to my church today to interview my pastor and a couple of church members, one of whom was me. Last night my pastor asked me if I could get here an hour early to participate. I told him I would because he asked me to. I wasn’t going to tell him no. He’s my pastor. But I told him I had serious misgivings about this.
In a telephone conversation with him this morning, I explained CNN’s sole mission right now is to get rid of President Trump, and the purpose of this interview would be to get a clip of evangelical Christians making disparaging remarks about the president and/or make us look like hypocrites. He agreed.
This morning at 9 a crew of 3 from CNN arrived at our church. They were very nice people and I was very nice to them. The last thing I wanted was to damage my witness by being a jerk so I made it a point to be Christ-like.
There was a sort of pre-interview in which the interviewer, Alex, asked me basic questions such as did I vote for Trump (yes), do I still support Trump (yes), do I believe Trump is a Christian, what do I think about the midterms (GOP will probably win because they have a string of meaningful accomplishments that Democrats have nothing to do with, but you can’t take anything for granted because politics is so fickle), what is Trump’s single biggest accomplishment (tax cuts & ending the ObamaCare mandate), how do I keep up with politics (don’t watch TV, read some online, listed to Rush Limbaugh regularly).
Rush Limbaugh, who has a great deal more experience with media interviews than I do, has described the pre-interview process as being misleading, where they more or less lob you softballs, and then in the real interview they try to catch you off guard by asking you more contentious questions. And so I was prepared for this, and it’s exactly what happened.
We were set up outside in front of the church, and I was paired with another member and we were asked alternating questions.
Here are the questions I was asked and my answers as best I can recollect. The exact order and sequence may be off a little, but this is the essence of the interview.
Q: Do you believe President Trump is a Christian?
A: I believe he believes in God. I believe he believes in the tenets of the Christian faith. I don’t know for sure if he is what we would call a “born again” Christian. I’ve never heard him say. He may very well be and I certainly hope he is.
Q: As a Christian, does it bother you the vicious things Trump says, like when he attacks people and calls other people names?
A: Not at all. I think it’s funny. I have a sense of humor. I think it’s funny when they make fun of Trump’s hair, too. I don’t see his tweets as attacks, however. I see them as him defending himself. He says harsh things sometimes because the world is a harsh place. He doesn’t give us meaningless platitudes. This is the man I voted for. We knew what we were getting when we elected him. This is exactly who Trump is.
Q: What about the allegations, like the porn star coming forth and accusing him?
A: I don’t believe any of it. I believe in innocent until proven guilty and there is no proof of these things.
Q: Do you see President Trump as providing the vehicle for what you want?
A: Politically? Absolutely. He’s doing exactly what he said he was going to do.
Q: Such as?
A: He cut taxes. He cut corporate taxes by 40%, which is huge. He’s cut out a bunch of Obama-era regulations. He removed the individual ObamaCare mandate. He put Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. We have decimated ISIS. Unemployment is way down. Black unemployment is at an all-time low. The stock market is way up. He said we were going to start winning again and that’s exactly what’s happening.
Q: Let’s talk about the courts. You mentioned Gorsuch. What do you look for in a Justice?
A: I look for a Justice who will interpret the Constitution exactly as it’s written, not what they wish it did or didn’t say. Just interpret the law exactly as it’s written down.
Q: What did you expect of President Trump when you voted for him?
A: I expected him to unleash the beast that is the American economy that had been dormant for 8 years under Obama because of all his regulations and ObamaCare, which just killed the economy.
Q: Would you vote for Trump again today?
Q: So things like calling Mexicans killers and rapists don’t bother you?
A: (I decided to deflect this quip by finishing my point.) I had lofty expectations for Trump and he has even exceeded those. There were some misgivings about whether or not Trump was a real conservative, but he’s been in office 13 months and has enacted more conservatism than even Reagan at this point. It’s astonishing. I couldn’t be happier with Trump so far. (I had a huge smile on my face when I said this.)
Q: Do you have any regrets so far? Is there anything he’s done so far that has disappointed you?
A: No. Not a single thing.
Q: Nothing at all? Wow!
Alex also asked me about the midterm elections in Tennessee, the Senate race, what if Corker decides to run, but this was more idle chit-chat while they were taking the cameras down.
My companion got several questions that were even more contentious that I wish I had gotten. They included:
- Do you think it’s Christian for President Trump to say he wants to kick the DACA kids out or send the refugees back or take people’s health care away?
- Do you think Obama is a Muslim?
- In the wake of the Parkland shooting, do you think we need more gun control?
After the interview, Alex said they would go back and edit the video down. “You know how it works,” he said. Yeah. I know how it works.