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The Business of Impeachment

Hearings have begun in Washington DC against President Donald Trump. The stated intent of these hearings is to determine if formal impeachment charges will be filed against President Trump, which could then be used to kick off the “actual” impeachment trial.  In commemoration of an impeachment process that I do not believe is likely to end in the removal of Trump from office, I was curious about the history of impeachment. 

Impeachment as an institution has its roots in ancient Rome and it was Rome that the Founding Fathers were thinking about when it was written into the Constitution. Only senators could be impeached in ancient Rome—the emperor could not, leading to a number of chaos-making political assassinations. 

The Founding Fathers wrote impeachment into the constitution for the purpose of removing an official who had “rendered himself obnoxious,” in the words of Benjamin Franklin. Without impeachment, Franklin argued, citizens’ only recourse was assassination, which would leave the political official “not only deprived of his life but of the opportunity of vindicating his character.

Franklin, and others like Alexander Hamilton, paid special attention to impeachment because British politics didn’t have a structure for impeaching the leader. The British crown—the king or queen—is literally unimpeachable. And the Founding Fathers didn’t think that impeachment should happen for just any reason. For example, Hamilton wrote in the Federalist papers that grounds for impeachment should be:

“Those offences which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”

The founders also debated on the criteria for impeachment, settling on treason, bribery and high crimes and misdemeanors against the state. “High crimes and misdemeanors” was another term that originated in British law.

James Madison saw the Impeachment Clause as “indispensable . . . for defending the Community [against] the incapacity, negligence or perfidy of the chief Magistrate.” Elbridge Gerry stated that impeachment was needed as a check against presidential abuse of power. “A good magistrate will not fear [impeachments]. A bad one ought to be kept in fear of them,” he argued. George Mason then refuted Morris’ argument that only the President’s assistants should face the impeachment process. “No point is of more importance than that the right of impeachment should be continued. Shall any man be above Justice?” he asked.

Impeachment remains as a rarely used process to potentially remove the “President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States” if Congress finds them guilty of “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” That is, until 1973.

The impeachment process is governed under Article 1, Section 3, of the US Constitution – in particular, clauses 6 and 7. Article 1 of the US Constitution covers the Legislative Branch of the Federal Government. Article One grants Congress various enumerated powers and the ability to pass laws “necessary and proper” to carry out those powers. Article One also establishes the procedures for passing a bill and places various limits on the powers of Congress and the states.
 

CLAUSE 6

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.
 

CLAUSE 7

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

 

While there have been demands for the impeachment of a few presidents, only two—Andrew Johnson and William J. Clinton—have actually been impeached; however, both were acquitted by the United States Senate and not removed from office. Eight people have actually been impeached and convicted in Congress – all were judges who faced charges including perjury, tax evasion, bribery, and in one case, supporting the Confederacy.

Thirteen sitting Presidents have either been threatened with impeachment or had resolutions filed against them. 

President John Tylor [Whig] (1841-1845) – faced on impeachment resolution which was defeated. Tylor was the first impeachment proceeding against a president in American history

President James Buchanan [Democrat] (1857-1861) – hearings were held but there was no impeachment resolution filed.

President Andrew Johnson [Democrat] (1865-1869) – subject to three impeachment resolutions, neither of which succeeded.

President Ulysses Grant [Republican] (1869-1877) – threats and measures given, but nothing happened

President Herbert Hoover [Republican] (1929-1933) – subject to two resolutions had been entered but they were both tabled

President Harry Truman [Democrat] (1945-1953) – two were put in front of Judiciary Committee, but the committee sat on them

President Richard Nixon [Republican] (1969-1974)  – faced 17 impeachment resolutions.

President Ronald Reagans [Republican] (1981-1989)  was subject to two, but both failed.

President George H.W. Bush [Republican] (1989-1993) was also subject to two, but both resolutions were voted down.

President Bill Clinton [Democrat] (1993-2000) was subject to one.

President George W. Bush [Republican] (2001-2009) – was subject to three. All three failed during a vote.

President Barack Obama [Democrat] (2009-2017) was subject to one resolution that was filed and died in Judiciary Committee

President Donald Trump (Republican] (2017-    ) has been subject to five resolutions so far. Inquiry ongoing.

 

Prior to 1973, eight (8) impeachment resolutions had been filed; however, since 1973, there have been thirty-one impeachment resolutions filed. 

President John Tylor is the only president to have threats of impeachment that does not belong to one of our current political parties (he was a member of the Whig Party).

There have been 7 impeachment resolutions filed against Presidents from the Democratic Party and thirty-one impeachment resolutions filed against Presidents from the Republican Party.

It may come as no surprise that many historians believe that some of the impeachment threats were purely politically motivated in order to discredit the sitting President from being elected for a following term. It will be interesting to see what the outcome of the current impeachment hearings will have against President Trump. Unfortunately, regardless of the outcome, it may be a decade or more before an unbiased and more credible analysis is made.


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Social Media – Test All Things

In Acts 17:11, we read where Paul’s teachings were tested by the Berean Jews. This was not only acceptable, it expanded their faith.  Can we not apply this same expectation today to things we read that are not of the bible but of the world?

As the ministry venue for FHGH Ministries is currently a digitally based ministry, I do spend a bit of time reviewing others areas of the digital space. I have it on my heart, at some point, to write an article about “Christian Concerns About Big Tech”, but the Lord has yet to provide me with the right words – as well as solid biblical foundational support. My professional experience is based on technology so I do have some foundation on technology. Nevertheless, I look forward to when the Lord tells me the time is now.

However, this morning (4 Sep) I came across an article that was quickly spreading across Social Media that indicated “Oprah Winfrey had purchased a controlling stake in the Fox News Network”. A link to this article can be found below in the references section if you care to read for yourself. As one might imagine, this article caught the eye of many conservative readers and the result was foul. Conservatives felt that they had just witnessed the demise of the last venue of conservative free speech in America, and they were terrified. Violent actions had actually been contemplated by some. The writer of that article had accomplished his objective. Well played sir, well done! For my conservative friends out there, be comforted in the knowledge that this article is false!!!

1 Thess 5:21 “Test all things; hold fast what is good”

As tensions rise across our nation, rhetoric also increases exponentially. Unfortunately, the reaction is to spread “stuff” across social media platforms. Over 41% of Americans get their news from Social Media, this percentage increases as we consider younger generations. Unfortunately, a large percentage of what is placed out there across social media is false, or at best, intended to stir up a response placed on negative human emotions. Making this more difficult is that the bad guys know where the majority get their news but also that innocent citizens are also aware of the fakeness of social media news (this IS NOT intended to be commentary about regular media) but they react to it anyway.  This is due, in most part, to a digital and literacy deficiency. Oh, I wish I had space to share details about how our Founding Fathers wrote at an intelligence level that surpasses us today and how the Bible played a significant part in their vocabulary, knowledge, and writing style. But alas, that is for another day {I hope}. Acts 5:29 “….obey God rather than men”

The bottom line is that human nature is lazy and we tend to take the easy road at every opportunity. We focus on headlines rather than the body. We rely on human reasoning, the word of others, or tradition.

Acts 17:11 “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”

When I came across that Oprah Winfrey article, there was a check in my spirit that something was wrong, so I tested the information found in that article. I googled it, I reviewed my trusted news sites, and a meditated on what the article was implying. In less than 5 minutes, I knew that the article was fake and false. Yet, the writer had accomplished his mission. What took 2 hours to spread will now take weeks to clean up.

2 Tim 4:3-4 “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”

The Bible advises us to test scriptures, to test any word from God that we receive, and to vet what we hear and read with two or three spiritual brothers. When it comes to the junk that we see on Social Media, we should apply the same principal. Test it. Test it against two or three sources that you trust. If necessary, share it with a brother and sister to get their thoughts on it. Do not share or spread until you have checked and verified, the same that you would do with a word from God. The same should apply to something that you might consider “good” or “favorable” to you.

1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

As Christians, I would argue that we need to test everything that we see come across our preferred social media platforms. As responsible Christians, we should be stewards of the truth, this also includes being good stewards of our digital resources and not add to the hype that is only intended to seduce a negative human reaction. This spreads hate.  I look forward to the day that Christians are contributing to not only good news, but also the truth. Perhaps, just perhaps, we shall see a decline in the fakeness that is taking over social media.

References:

https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/social-media-still-has-a-fake-news-problem-and-digital-literacy-is-largel/538930/

https://www.trendmicro.com/vinfo/nl/security/news/cybercrime-and-digital-threats/fake-news-cyber-propaganda-the-abuse-of-social-media

https://www.internetsociety.org/blog/2018/03/fake-news-spread-fast-dont-blame-bots/

https://www.aace.org/review/social-media-and-fake-news/

Oprah Winfrey and the Fox News Network


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Why Do Some Christians Hate Trump?

On 27 August, I shared a blog about how Trump is not my savior. A link to that write up is here: Trump Is Not My Savior.  In that article, I was transparent about my dislike of some of Trump’s behavior via Twitter as well as my lack of support for him when he was campaigning for the nomination from the Republican Party. As a matter of personal discourse, I stopped considering myself a Republican the day that he was nominated.  However, his nomination and eventual election as President has not stopped my belief that the far left wings of the Democratic Party are more dangerous to America, as well as our freedom to preach the Gospel, than President Trump by far. They have an outright hatred for Judeo Christian values, that had been somewhat obvious yet still hidden in the shadows in the past, that have now come to the surface in a manner that is blatant, chaotic, and extremely dangerous: for both our American heritage AND our religious liberties.  Trump is my President.

Unfortunately, there are Christians out there whose hatred runs deep, they are so blinded by what they consider to be unbiblical and ungodly actions of President Trump, that they cannot see the forces that are actually opposing what they know, in their hearts, to be true. They hate Trump with such a passion, that they would agree to sacrifice some of our religious liberty (as ordained by God), just to see President Trump taken down, tossed in prison, and legacy destroyed.  Christians that hate Trump will elect a democratic candidate even if the candidate supports late term or at birth abortions, even if the candidate will enact laws that will not allow the Gospel to be preached “openly”, even if the candidate will place a tax of over 50% on their income – their hatred runs that deep. How to share a story about Christians who hate President Trump has been something I have been personally struggling with.  How can I share this truth in a way that does not become blinded by my own personal opinions and political bias?
 
Scripture promises that “blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord. Blessed are those who keep his statutes” (Psalm 119:2). God blesses those that keep His word and judges those who do not.
 

How does “hating the President” line up with the gospel?  How does NOT praying for the President line up with Scripture? A Christian should never induce another Christian to sin.

The prophet Daniel served Nebuchadnezzar.  Daniel recognized the role that this pagan king played in God’s unfolding drama.  Daniel prayed for Nebuchadnezzar and helped him interpret his dreams. The church’s ability to work with Trump is totally Biblical.
 
We may believe that the Bible is divinely inspired but if we do not put its truths into practice, our beliefs ring hollow. Because the Bible is God’s Word we must be ready spiritually to hear what it says to us. The Bible is meant for every believer and if we want to help our culture understand why Scripture is worthy of respect, we must show that we respect it first. 
 
Bible study is built on certain presuppositions:
  1. Believe that you can understand Scripture. God has given us His revelation in such a way that we can discover and apply its truths. We need not depend on creeds, councils, and church traditions. 
  2. Use the New Testament to interpret the Old. The New, which reveals Christ, is our means of interpreting the Old. God reveals Himself progressively, building later revelation upon earlier truth. The New Testament is God’s fullest revelation of himself to us and our means of interpreting His earlier revelation.
  3. Make the Bible it’s own commentary. Scriptures can interpret themselves because Gods word is unified, coherent, and fully inspired.
  4. Remember to ask the question, “What was the author’s purpose?”. We need to know all we can about the authors intended purpose before we try to interpret the writing. If we don’t understand the purpose or task at hand, we will miss much of what the writer wants us to know and do.
 
When Christians accuse other Christians of disrespecting God’s Word because they disagree on the non-essentials, however important they might otherwise be, we jeopardize our witness to the non-Christians world. The end state of any Christian “opinion” should be firmly placed on a belief system grounded in the gospel – period. Therefore, if we remain grounded in the gospel, how does President Trump stack up against the current team of democratic candidates? My “opinion” which I believe is firmly grounded in biblical principles is that while Trump himself may not be behaving biblically, his heart, his motives, and his policies have made tremendous positive steps towards rebuilding and sustaining biblical principles.  Unfortunately, I recognize that there are Christians that will find my opinion flawed – I simply have to accept that. My heart is at peace.
 

Tom Farron is a former leader of the Liberal Democrats in the United Kingdom. He wrote and published an article on 5 June 2019 titled Why do US evangelicals support Trump? They’re giving Christianity a bad name“. In his article, he is highly critical of Christians who compare President Trump to the pagan king Cyrus from the Old Testament. But, it was his concluding paragraph in his article that weighed heavily on me:

“The choice of American Christians to publicly back Trump now, and George W Bush before him, has been a dangerous move in a culture war that now means that half of the US has its fingers in its ears when it comes to the gospel. My challenge to Christians in the US is this: what matters more to you, the identity of the person in the White House or the promotion of the good news about Jesus Christ? If it is the latter – and it surely must be – then you need to seriously reconsider your support of the former. The politicisation of US Christianity has undermined the witness of evangelicals everywhere.”

As I prayed on and meditated on this paragraph, I asked the Lord what it was about this article that was causing me distress. I believe very deeply that the Democratic Party is on a collision course with both our biblical freedom as well as the rights and freedoms afforded us in our US Constitution. What the Democratic Party is saying regarding their policies IS NOT grounded in biblical principles (see my blog on Trump mentioned earlier). However, I also find the tongue of President Trump to be unbiblical and ungodly as well.
 
Ask yourself: how does it look for petty, quarreling believers to air dirty laundry in front of unbelievers?  In this regard, I am referring to biblical interpretation and the judgement and exercise thereof. We really should keep our focus on Christ as He is our great equalizer. We are all under His authority.
 
We have Christians that hate Trump so deeply that they are willing to give up their own individual liberty to get him out of office. However, when we read 1 Cor 8, we see where Paul is telling the Corinthians that strong Christians should not give up their liberty, they are to use their liberties in a manner that will best serve Christ. While some Christians are free to choose to give up their own liberty, they do not have the authority to sacrifice the liberties of all Christians. Their hatred is a sign of weakness and, thereby, not under the authority of Christ.
 

Today, I was introduced to a story written by Mario Murillo titled “Christians Who Hate Trump“.  I don’t profess to know much about Mario, but I felt the last half of his write up, which I share below, to ring true in my own heart. You can click on the link to read the full article if you wish.

“Franklin Graham was attacked for questioning Obama’s Christian Faith.  They told him not to judge a brother.  Hold that thought as we explore another question…

So why do so many Christian leaders—who said it was wrong to judge Obama—judge Trump?

Trump is not a pastor.  He is a businessman who loves America.  As far as his faith?  I am not qualified to determine his spiritual depth, since I’ve never had the chance to meet the man. But there are many photos of Christian leaders laying hands on the President, praying for him, and he is cooperating.

“He is like Hitler and the church is being fooled,” said another comment.  At this time, those of you who are wearing tinfoil hats, please remove them, and listen.  Hitler never had 98% of the media against him.  Trump has never called for a new constitution.  Hitler never tried to protect Israel.  I could go on and on.

Maybe if Trump had addressed the March for Life.  Maybe if he had chosen an on fire born-again Vice President.  Maybe if he had rescinded executive orders that banned federal funds from Christian organizations.  Maybe if he overruled the Johnson Amendment that banned the free speech of pastors.  Maybe if he had moved the American Embassy to Jerusalem, and shown himself to be a true supporter of Israel.  Maybe if he had put someone on the Supreme Court who helped Christian bakers to exercise their right to freedom of religion.  Maybe then you would support him.  Oh wait…he did all those things…”

While Trumps tongue may challenge the best of us when it comes to biblical soundness, his actions indicate otherwise. Others will argue that his policies violate biblical principles or the teachings of Jesus, something that I will attempt to dig into in a later article; however, I believe that his issues come down to his “tongue”, and this gets him in trouble.

On facebook the other day, I shared an article, written by Dave Barton in 2015, that outlines an argument about how President Obama is arguably the most biblically hostile President in modern history (hence, most anti-Christian). Click on this link to see a list of 89 acts of hostility toward Christians: AMERICA’S MOST BIBLICALLY-HOSTILE U. S. PRESIDENT. The bottom of the article contains a reference list supporting all 89 acts. Being an avid researcher, I randomly reviewed 50% of the supporting arguments myself and believe I would have come to the same conclusion as Dave Barton.

My opinion and belief system remains firm that the conservative parties, while not completely, remain much more grounded in Judeo Christian principals than those of the liberal parties. My belief is based on actions, words, and individual stated beliefs; this does not mean that all conservatives are in line “biblically” nor that all liberals are not in line “biblically”. We must recognize that we are dealing with political parties developed and instituted by man, not God; therefore, all political movements and parties are flawed. Unfortunately, our nation is managed by a predominantly two party system, yet, in my opinion (and my heart), conservatives are standing on firmer ground.

Remain biblically grounded and evaluate against the end-state – the gospel. Since we live in a pluralist culture, I accept that there will be some disagreement. But, can we disagree with love in our hearts? Yes, I believe we can, and we should.
 

References:

https://mariomurilloministries.wordpress.com/2015/08/19/americas-most-biblically-hostile-u-s-president/, accessed 2 Sep 2019

https://mariomurilloministries.wordpress.com/2019/08/29/christians-who-hate-trump/, accessed 3 Sep 2019

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/05/us-evangelical-christians-trump-bad-name/, accessed 19 Jul 2019

https://www.fhghministries.org/trump-is-not-my-savior/, accessed 27 Aug 2019

Denison, J. PHD and Denison, R. MDiv, (2019). How Does God See America?, Denison Forum, pages 43-58

Limbaugh, D. (2018). Jesus is Risen, Regnery Publishing, pages 185-193


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