Trump was on the call along lawyers John Eastman — who wrote a memo outlining how Vice President Mike Pence could disregard the 2020 Electoral College vote and install Trump for another term — and Rudy Giuliani, who Michigan House Republicans allowed to lead a long post-election hearing airing myriad baseless right-wing election conspiracy theories.
The call with 300 state legislators was a strategy session on decertifying 2020 presidential election results. Michigan's Board of State Canvassers approved in November President Joe Biden's more than 154,000-vote victory over Trump and Michigan's electors cast their ballots for Biden in December.
“You are the real power," Trump told the state lawmakers, according to the Washington Examiner. “You're the ones that are going to make the decision."
The Post also reported that Giuliani ran a “command center" at the Willard, a Washington, D.C., hotel, plotting with Eastman and other Trump loyalists like Stephen Bannon about how to overturn the 2020 election.
McBroom told the Washington Post of the call he was on: “I didn't need any convincing about our plenary powers," adding, “I was listening to hear whether they had any evidence to substantiate claims" of significant voter fraud that could change the results in Michigan. His office did not immediate return a request for comment from the Advance.
McBroom told the Post he did not hear such evidence and didn't support efforts to delay the vote count. However, a majority of the GOP caucus in the Michigan Senate went on to sign a letter asking members of Congress to examine baseless allegations of election fraud. An earlier version asked to delay the electoral vote count, as the Advance reported on Jan. 6.
The signees included state Sens. John Bizon (R-Battle Creek), Tom Barrett (R-Potterville), Kim LaSata (R-Bainbridge Twp.), Roger Victory (R-Georgetown Twp.), Dale Zorn (R-Ida), Lana Theis (R-Brighton), Kevin Daley (R-Lum), Dan Lauwers (R-Brockway), Curtis VanderWall (R-Ludington), Rick Outman (R-Six Lakes) and Jim Runestad (R-White Lake). The Advance noted at the time that McBroom, who also held hearings in which Republicans made unproven election fraud claims, did not sign on.
Lawmakers in Michigan, Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania also signed letters to Pence asking to delay certification. The Advance reported the 11 Michigan House members who signed on were: Reps. Julie Alexander (R-Hanover), Ken Borton (R-Gaylord), Steve Carra (R-Three Rivers), Gary Eisen (R-St. Clair Twp.), Beth Griffin (R-Mattawan), Matt Maddock (R-Millford), Luke Meerman (R-Coopersville), John Reilly (R-Oakland), Daire Rendon (R-Lake City), Mary Whiteford (R-Casco Twp.) and Doug Wozniak (R-Shelby Twp.).
“Our clear finding is that citizens should be confident the results represent the true results of the ballots cast by the people of Michigan," the report reads. “The committee strongly recommends citizens use a critical eye and ear toward those who have pushed demonstrably false theories for their own personal gain."
Trump was incensed by the report and attacked both McBroom and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake).
“Michigan state Sens. Mike Shirkey and Ed McBroom are doing everything possible to stop voter audits in order to hide the truth about November 3rd," Trump said in a statement. “The Senate 'investigation' of the election is a cover up and a method of getting out of a forensic audit for the examination of the Presidential contest."
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The "anti-establishment" ideology is a major contributor to the belief systems that catapulted former President Donald Trump to power and the formation of the QAnon movement, according to findings published by the American Journal of Political Science and The Forum.
Speaking to PsyPost, Adam M. Enders — an assistant political science professor at the University of Louisville and co-author of the study — discussed how they compiled the information.
"While we discuss primarily historical and theoretical literature arguing that anti-establishment viewpoints are hardly new, no one has been empirically tracking them over time," Enders explained. "Our study is a first cut at taking this ignored dimension of public opinion more seriously. We need to track anti-establishment orientations over time to better understand how they ebb and flow. We also need to track them across social and political contexts to see what role these ideas play in other countries with different political systems, economic systems, etc."
"I was interested in this project because it increasingly seemed to me that polarization and political identities were increasingly bearing the brunt of the blame –– perhaps erroneously –– for socially undesirable beliefs and actions that were probably the product of other orientations, like conspiracy thinking and a tendency to view politics as a struggle between good and evil," said Enders.
Enders noted how Trump's influence has contributed to the widening gap between red and blue political supporters. "Especially with the ascendance of Donald Trump, we witnessed a blending of left-right political concerns (e.g., partisanship, liberal-conservative ideology) with antagonistic orientations toward the political establishment," Enders said. "I wanted to try and disentangle these dimensions of opinion in order to better understand both how they are related to each other and how they differentially promote the beliefs and behaviors that have so concerned social scientists in recent years."
University of Miami's Joseph E. Uscinski, who also served as a co-author, explained how the evolution of politics and societal issues have contributed to extremism and polarization in American.
"American politics seems to be different than in previous decades and we wanted to know why," Uscinski added. "Many people blame current political problems — conspiracy theories, fake news, political violence — on polarization. But, we were not convinced that our current problems are the fault of people becoming too ideological or too partisan."
Uscinski went on to note how dangerous cancel culture has become as polarization becomes more prominent among party lines. 'We believe that efforts to 'squish' all opinions, people, and groups onto a uni-dimensional space is unwise," Uscinski explained.
He added, "Many people's opinions aren't solely 'left' or 'right,' but rather a mix. Further, many people have antagonisms toward the political system writ large and this has been vastly understudied. It may not be the case that populism is new in the United States; it may instead be the case that in recent years, more politicians are willing to use populist anti-system rhetoric to build coalitions by activating a set of opinions that are already there waiting to be activated."
This story that St. Luke tells in his gospel (17:11-19) is not the only Bible verse I have seen and heard evangelical Christians use to justify anti-vaccine convictions. Other popular passages include Psalm 30:2: “Lord, I called to you for help, and you healed me."; 1 Corinthians 6:19: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit?"; and Leviticus 17:11: “For the life of a creature is in the blood."
All of these verses have been lifted out of context and repurposed to buttress the anti-vaccine movement. As a historian of the Bible in American life, I can attest that such shallow reading in service of political and cultural agendas has long been a fixture of evangelical Christianity.
Bible in the hands of ordinary people
In the 16th century, Martin Luther and other Protestant reformers translated the Bible from an already existing Greek text into the languages of common people. Prior to this, most men and women in Europe were exposed to the Bible through the Vulgate, a Latin version of the Old and New Testaments that only educated men – mostly Catholic priests – could read.The Protestant Reformation put the Bible in the hands of ordinary people (Philippe Lissac/Godong/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
As people read the Bible – many for the first time – they inevitably began to interpret it as well. Protestant denominations formed around such interpretations. By the time Protestants started forming settlements in North America, there were distinctly Anglican, Presbyterian, Anabaptist, Lutheran and Quaker reading of the Bible.
The English Calvinists who settled the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay built entire colonies around their reading of the Bible, making New England one of the most literate societies in the world. In the 18th century, popular access to the Bible was one way that the British – including the North American colonies – distinguished themselves from Catholic nations that did not provide such access.
In the early 19th-century United States, biblical interpretation became more free-wheeling and individualistic.
Small differences over how to interpret the Bible often resulted in the creation of new sects such as the Latter Day Saints, the Restorationists (Disciples of Christ and Churches of Christ), Adventists and various evangelical offshoots of more longstanding denominations such as Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists and Quakers.
During this period, the United States also grew more democratic. What the French traveler and diplomat Alexis de Tocqueville described as “individualism" had a profound influence on biblical interpretation and the way laypeople read the sacred text.
The views of the Bible proclaimed from the pulpits of formally educated clergy in established denominations gave way to a more free-wheeling and populist understanding of the scriptures that was often dissociated from such authoritative communities.
But these evangelicals never developed their approach to understanding the Bible in complete isolation. They often followed the interpretations of charismatic leaders such as Joseph Smith (Latter Day Saints), Barton Stone and Alexander Campbell (Restorationist), William Miller (Adventists) and Lorenzo Dow (Methodists).
These preachers built followers around innovative readings of the Scriptures. Without a church hierarchy to reign them in, these evangelical pied pipers had little accountability.
When large numbers of Irish and German immigrants arrived on American shores in the middle decades of the 19th century, evangelicals drew on longstanding anti-Catholic prejudices. They grew anxious that these Catholic newcomers were a threat to their Protestant nation and often based these fears on perceptions of how Catholic bishops and priests kept the Bible from their parishioners.
While this fear of Catholics was mostly rhetorical in nature, there were a few moments of violence. For example, in 1844, nativist Protestants, responding to rumors that Catholics were trying to remove the Bible from Philadelphia public schools, destroyed two of the city's Catholic churches before the Pennsylvania militia stopped the violence.
These so-called “Bible riots" revealed the deep tensions between the individualistic and common-sensical approach to biblical interpretation common among Protestants and a Catholic view of reading the Bible that was always filtered through the historic teachings of the Church and its theologians. Protestants believed that the former approach was more compatible with the spirit of American liberty.
Vaccine opposition and the Bible
Today this American approach to reading and the interpreting the Bible is front and center in the arguments made by evangelical Christians seeking religious exemptions to COVID-19 vaccination mandates. When they explain their religious objections to health officials, employers and school administrations, evangelicals select verses, usually out of context, and reference them on exemptions forms.
Like they did in the 19th century, evangelicals who refuse to get vaccinated today tend to follow the spiritual leaders who have built followings by baptizing political or cultural propaganda in a sea of Bible verses.
Megachurch pastors, televangelists, conservative media commentators and social media influencers have far more power over ordinary evangelical Christians than those local pastors who encourage their congregations to consider that God works through science.
When I ask those evangelicals who oppose vaccines how they come to their conclusions, they all seem to cite the same sources: Fox News, or a host of fringe media personalities whom they watch on cable television or Facebook. Some others they cite include Salem Radio host and author Eric Metaxas, the Liberty Counsel and Tennessee megachurch leader Greg Locke, to name a few.
From my perspective, the response of some evangelicals to the vaccine reveals the dark side of the Protestant Reformation. When the Bible is placed in the hands of the people, void of any kind of authoritative religious community to guide them in their proper understanding of the text, the people can make it say anything they want it to say.
John Fea is an an American history professor at Messiah University in Mechanicsburg, Pa. He wrote this piece for The Conversation,where it first appeared.
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