News Analysis: The Rapture and the Real Life: Mike Pompeo Blends Beliefs and Policy

Think Piece

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has actually linked Christian beliefs with foreign policy, raising concerns about the level to which his evangelism is affecting American diplomacy.

Credit Credit Doug Mills/The New York City Times

JERUSALEM– When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took a seat for an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network in a hotel in Jerusalem earlier this month, he made a remark that was perhaps the most revelatory of any in his almost one year in workplace.

An evangelical Christian, Mr. Pompeo had actually just returned from trips of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, built on the ground where Jesus is said to have actually been crucified and buried, and of tunnels below the Western Wall, by the holiest site in Judaism. The job interviewer postured a question around a biblical tale about a queen who conserved Jews from massacre by a Persian official: Did Mr. Pompeo think President Trump had been “raised for such a time as this, just like Queen Esther, to assist in saving the Jewish people from the Iranian threat?”

” As a Christian, I definitely believe that’s possible,” Mr. Pompeo said. “It was exceptional– so we were down in the tunnels where we could see 3,000 years back, and 2,000 years ago, if I have the history just right– to see the exceptional history of the faith in this place, and the work that our administration’s done, to make sure that this democracy in the Middle East, that this Jewish state, stays. I am positive that the Lord is at work here.”

White evangelical Christians are an effective force in the Republican Party. Vice President Mike Pence is a strong believer and former President George W. Bush is an adherent, too.

But no secretary of state in recent years has actually been as open and impassioned as Mr. Pompeo about going over Christianity and foreign policy in the exact same breath. That has increasingly raised questions about the extent to which evangelical beliefs are influencing American diplomacy.

On Monday, in a speech at the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro-Israel group, Mr. Pompeo informed an anecdote about Tibor Baranski, a Christian who conserved 3,000 Jews in Hungary throughout The Second World War. Then he said, “As secretary of state and as a Christian, I’m happy to lead American diplomacy to support Israel’s right to protect itself.”

The next day, Mr. Pompeo announced an expansion of Trump administration anti-abortion policies, saying the United States would stop moneying foreign companies that support other groups that carry out abortions. It is a policy popular with conservatives, Catholics and evangelical Christians.

Though Mr. Trump is secular, white evangelicals are a big part of his voter base, and a few of his significant foreign policy moves, planned or supported by Mr. Pompeo, are intended to shore up political assistance.

” I am positive that the Lord is at work here,” Mr. Pompeo informed a press reporter in Jerusalem who asked whether President Trump was sent out to safeguard Israel from Iran. Credit Jim Young/Reuters

The most notable examples involve Israel. When Mr. Trump moved the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, evangelicals applauded.

Studies reveal that white evangelicals are much more likely than other Americans to think that Israel satisfies a biblical prediction. Known as Christian Zionists, they believe God guaranteed the land to the Jews, and that the gathering of Jews in Israel is predicted in the prediction of the rapture– the climb of Christians into the kingdom of God.

Mr. Pompeo speaks about the rapture. “We will continue to fight these battles,” he stated at a ” God and Country Rally” in 2015, because there is a “relentless battle” till “the rapture.”

” Belong to it,” he stated at the meeting, at the Summit church in Wichita, Kan. “Remain in the fight.”

In November, Mr. Pompeo told a press reporter for The New York Times Publication that the Bible “notifies whatever I do.” The reporter observed an open Bible in his workplace, with a Swiss Army knife marking his location at the end of the book of Queen Esther.

Mr. Pompeo, 55, became a dedicated Christian at West Point, where he signed up with a Bible study hall. After relocating to Kansas, he signed up with the Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Wichita, which is connected with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, a fairly conservative denomination.

The State Department did not react to questions about the intersection of Mr. Pompeo’s Christian beliefs and policy.

American evangelicals who supported Mr. Trump’s embassy relocation might likewise approve if Israel annexes part or all of the West Bank After Mr. Trump formally recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights in a meeting on Monday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, numerous conservative Israelis said they are enthusiastic that annexing part of the West Bank will be next.

Then there is the concern of what an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, as prepared by Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s advisor and son-in-law, will suggest for the disputed territories of Jerusalem and the West Bank.


Evangelical Christians supported Mr. Trump’s order to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Credit Menahem Kahana/Agence France-Presse– Getty Images

Martin Indyk, a previous assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs, noted the evangelical influence on the Trump administration in stating he doubted that the peace strategy would propose ceding any Israeli-occupied area in the West Bank to Palestinians. Nor was it most likely to provide a route to Palestinian sovereignty, Mr. Indyk said.

” In the view of evangelicals, that is the land that God provided to the Jews,” he stated. “They’re strongly opposed to any territorial concession there. If there is any of that in the strategy, I think there will be strong evangelical opposition to it.”

Mr. Trump’s decision in December 2017 to move the American Embassy was intended to please evangelical voters in the United States, in addition to some Jews. Mr. Netanyahu has actually welcomed evangelical assistance for his conservative policies, and sees evangelicals as more trustworthy American allies of Israel than liberal American Jews.

An evangelical pastor, Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Dallas, gave an opening prayer at the embassy structure’s dedication ceremony in Might. His presence made numerous Israelis uneasy; he has said Jews, Muslims and Mormons are bound for hell In 2017, during a conference call of Mr. Trump’s leading evangelical supporters, Mr. Jeffress led a prayer for the defense of Mr. Pompeo, then C.I.A. director, and thanked God for putting him in the job.

Mr. Pompeo has gotten rid of a diplomatic consulate in Jerusalem for Palestinians and combined its work into the new embassy.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, Mr. Pompeo also has actually transmitted his Christian beliefs. At the start of a January speech in Cairo, Mr. Pompeo stated the trip was “particularly meaningful” for him “as an evangelical Christian, coming so not long after the Coptic Church’s Christmas celebrations.”

He added, “In my workplace, I keep a Bible open on my desk to remind me of God and his word, and the reality.”

Observers discovered it exceptional that Mr. Pompeo would open a speech in a majority-Muslim nation by highlighting his Christianity. And some critics have actually pointed out that Mr. Pompeo, before ending up being secretary, made us-versus-them statements about Christians and Muslims while talking about terrorism and war.


Mr. Pompeo relayed his beliefs in Cairo, where he said his trip to Egypt, a Muslim-majority country, was “particularly meaningful” for him “as an evangelical Christian.” Credit Pool image by Andrew Caballero-Reynolds

At Mr. Pompeo’s verification hearing in April 2018, Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey, asked him about his ties to prominent anti-Islam activists Mr. Pompeo acknowledged the ties but said he had a strong record “with regard to tolerance and the equivalent treatment of individuals.”

When Mr. Pompeo took a trip to Lebanon after his current drop in Israel, he toured a church and a Crusader castle and talked with a bishop about religious flexibility, among his preferred themes. He plans to host a 2nd conference on spiritual liberty at the State Department in July.

Mr. Pompeo has made Iran a signature concern, blaming it for stirring unrest in the Middle East. He reliably calls the country by its full name– the Islamic Republic of Iran– to highlight its spiritual identity.

In 2015, Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Pence led an amazing campaign to pressure President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, a proponent of political Islam, to release an American evangelical pastor, Andrew Brunson, who was jailed in 2016.

But Mr. Pompeo, pointing out the objective of religious flexibility, has likewise safeguarded the rights of Muslims oppressed by some Asian nations.

He has slammed Myanmar for its ethnic cleansing of Rohingya, though he has actually declined to explain it as genocide. And Mr. Pompeo has knocked China for its detentions of one million or more Muslims.

Hours before leaving for Kuwait, Israel and Lebanon, Mr. Pompeo hosted an on-the-record conference call with just “faith-based media,” barring journalists who frequently cover the State Department.

Though commonly slammed for the move, Mr. Pompeo and the State Department have refused to say who was on the call or launch a transcript.

Representative Susan Wild, Democrat of Pennsylvania, informed Mr. Pompeo throughout a Home hearing on Wednesday that his action “raises concerns about First Modification infractions.”

Mr. Pompeo stated it was “no various” than giving selective interviews. He included, “I am confident I will do so again.”

Elizabeth Dias contributed reporting.

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The Rapture and the Real Life: Pompeo Blends Beliefs and Policy

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