On Sunday, Fox News teased a clip of an interview with outgoing Energy Secretary and former Texas Governor Rick Perry. In that teaser, Perry agreed with those who call President Donald Trump a “chosen one,” saying God has used imperfect people to achieve His purposes. Liberals pounced on the interview, claiming it proves that support for Trump is a cult.
“Rick Perry is the latest to say Trump is ‘the chosen one’. It looks like a cult. It walks like a cult. It quacks like a cult. Yes, people. Trump’s base is a cult,” CNN commentator Ana Navarro-Cárdenas tweeted.
Rick Perry is the latest to say Trump is “the chosen one”.
It looks like a cult. It walks like a cult. It quacks like a cult.
Yes, people. Trump’s base is a cult.
— Ana Navarro-Cárdenas (@ananavarro) November 25, 2019
Some went so far as to create parody versions of the Lord’s Prayer to illustrate this alleged cultishness.
The Lord's Prayer#RickPerry
Who art confusion
Corrupted be thine name
Putin he come
His will be done
Right here as it is in Russia
Give us this day our daily corruption
as we read Tweets for redemption
Lead us not into Oops
For yours is the Rudy
Lev has recordings
— Tomi T Ahonen (@tomiahonen) November 25, 2019
Actor and comedian Judd Apatow mocked Perry, asking if the energy secretary would still say a “demented, evil, corrupt” Democratic president was chosen by God (spoiler warning: he would).
“If the Democrats wind up having a demented, evil, corrupt President, are we allowed to not care and just say God chose him?Just wondering. Or does God only choose some of the Presidents? Does God forget to do it sometimes? This is their rationalization,” Apatow tweeted.
If the Democrats wind up having a demented, evil, corrupt President, are we allowed to not care and just say God chose him?Just wondering. Or does God only choose some of the Presidents? Does God forget to do it sometimes? This is their rationalization. https://t.co/pKZIt4Ya2Q
— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) November 25, 2019
Liberal pastor John Pavlovitz said Christians like Rick Perry “need to stop passing the buck to God.”
Christians need to stop passing the buck to God, and own the compromises and sick bedfellows they've been willing to make for SCOTUS seats, anti-abortion legislation, and a rapidly assembling white Evangelical theocracy. https://t.co/1EzSlmhH4e@SecretaryPerry #RickPerry
— John Pavlovitz (@johnpavlovitz) November 25, 2019
Others mocked Rick Perry, noting that when he was running against Trump in the 2016 Republican primary, Perry denounced the real estate tycoon. The former Texas governor called Trump a “barking carnival act,” a “toxic mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness and nonsense,” “a cancer on conservatism,” and “the modern-day incarnation of the know-nothing movement.”
Yet now Perry is supposedly worshiping Trump? Something does not compute.
As it turns out, liberals had twisted the energy secretary’s words out of context.
“God’s used imperfect people all through history,” Perry began in the video teaser clip. “King David wasn’t perfect. Saul wasn’t perfect. Solomon wasn’t perfect. And I gave the president a little one-pager on those Old Testament kings about a month ago.”
Wait, so Rick Perry suggested Trump is imperfect? But I thought this interview was supposed to reveal how support for the president is a cult…
“And I shared with him, I said, ‘Mr. President, I know there are people who say — you said you were the chosen one.’ And I said, ‘You were.’ I said, ‘If you’re a believing Christian, you understand God’s plan for the people who rule and judge over us on this planet in our government.'”
Perry went on to explain that Barack Obama — a president whom Perry fiercely opposed — was also chosen by God. Ed Henry, who interviewed the Energy secretary for Fox News, warned people on the left not to attack Perry for this interview because “he said Barack Obama was chosen by God as well.”
USA TODAY‘s William Cummings reported on the longer interview. As it turns out, the Energy secretary told Fox News that God “is still very active in the details of the day-to-day lives of government.” So “Barack Obama didn’t get to be the president of the United States without being ordained by God. Neither did Donald Trump.”
Perry recalled telling Trump, “‘You didn’t get here without God’s blessing.’ And I said, ‘I just need you. I want you to look at this [one-pager]. I want you to read it. I want you to, you know, absorb that you are here at this chosen time because God ordained it.'”
He went on to warn the president, “‘Don’t get confused here, sir. This is not a reflection that you’re perfect, but that God’s using you. And he uses all of us that way.'”
When I first saw that Rick Perry had called Trump a “chosen one,” I was nervous. This kind of language does seem overly reverential, suggesting that God chose Trump much like God chose Jesus, who is the fulfillment of the kings in the Bible. But Perry wasn’t comparing Trump to Jesus; he was delivering a message of humility — a message Trump sorely needs to hear.
Far from worshiping the president, Perry was warning him that being “chosen” by God does not make someone perfect. Even the kings God set over Israel — Saul, David, Solomon, and many more — were flawed people when they followed God, and worse when they rejected Him.
Like me, Perry was nervous when he saw Trump call himself the “chosen one,” so he decided to urge humility on the president, explaining that if Trump was a “chosen one,” then so was Obama.
America is not Israel, and God did not anoint Obama or Trump in the same way He chose and had prophets anoint Saul, David, and Solomon. According to Romans 13, God stands behind earthly authority, so in a sense, He did choose Obama and Trump through the American people. In this limited sense, Trump and Obama are “chosen ones.”
While I would prefer for Christians to avoid the use of loaded terms like “chosen one” for politicians, Rick Perry’s remarks to Trump and his interview with Fox News do not involve creating a “cult” around the president. Indeed, the energy secretary was trying to do the opposite — teach Trump some humility.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.