On Friday, December 6th, a number of worship leaders gathered at the White House for an hour of worship, a "faith briefing" with Mike Pence, and then a prayer and photo with President Donald Trump. Australian Hillsong Church pastor Brian Houston and worship leaders Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes raved about all President Trump is accomplishing on videos posted to the White House Twitter and Instagram accounts.
Here is a partial list of those who were there thanks to lots of people tagging one another in Instagram:
- Paula White-Cain (and husband Jonathan Cain met the night before Dec 5, 2019 at the White House with Trump supporters Jentezen Franklin, Marcus Lamb, Joni Lamb, Harry Jackson)
- Brian Houston (Hillsong Church pastor) Instagram video and instagram of seanfeucht
- Kari Jobe (Carnes) (traveling worship leader, was at Gateway Church, Southlake TX, with Trump supporter, Pastor Robert Morris)
- & Cody Carnes (traveling worship leader, was at Gateway Church, Southlake TX, with Trump supporter, Pastor Robert Morris) Instagram video
- Brian Johnson (President of Bethel Music, Redding, CA) Instagram of seanfeucht (His father, Bethel Church pastor, Bill Johnson voted for Trump).
- & Jenn Johnson (co-founder Bethel Music, Redding, CA)
- Britt Nicole (traveling singer)
- Sean Feucht (Bethel Music, Redding, CA. He is also running for Congress. He is the one reaching to touch President Trump's sleeve in the photo. Sean Feucht told Fox News: "I shook his hand and said 'Mr. President, I'm from California and I just want to let you know there's people out in California that support you.") Instagram group photo and another photo and video.
- Stephen James Hart (Visual Worship Leader, Bethel Music, Redding, CA) Instagram group shot.
- Luke Hendrickson (Mixing engineer, Bethel Church, Redding, CA) Instagram group shot.
- Heather Armstrong (photography, Redding, CA)
- Kiley Goodpasture (Project Manager, Bethel Music, Redding, CA)
- Dominic Shahbon (Director of Events, Bethel Music, Redding, CA)
- Allison & Antonio Marin (Strings players, Northern CA)
- Jeremy Edwardson (Music producer, Redding CA)
- David Funk (Worship leader - Gable Price and Friends, Redding, CA)
- Chris Quilala (Jesus Culture, Sacramento, CA)
- Joseph Zwanziger (The Father’s House, Vacaville, CA) Instagram group shot.
- & Tosha Zwanziger
- Terry Crist (Lead Pastor, Hillsong Phoenix) (Not 100% sure he was there)
- Michael Stampley (Worship leader, GA)
- & Heidi Stampley
- Micah Stampley
- Trent Cory (Hope City United Church, Albany, GA)
- & Keisha Cory
- Myles Rutherford (co-pastors, Worship with Wonders, Marietta, GA) and group shot
- & DeLana Rutherford
- David Brinson (Senior Pastor, Eighth Day Church, Warner Robins, GA who worked with Paula White)
- & son Rafael Brinson
- Tim Brinson (Worship Leader, SC and GA)
- (Jonathan) Ernstly Etienne, Worship Director, Free Chapel, Gainesville, GA (associated with Trump supporter, Pastor Jentezen Franklin)
- & Hillary Harper Etienne
- Eddie James (traveling worship leaders, Ocoee, TN) Instagram group shot.
- David Binion (Dwell Church, Fairview, TX)
- & Nicole Binion (not 100% sure if she was there - photo)
- Nayomi Thomas (worship leaders, Raymore, MO)
- & Jaye Thomas
- Bryn Waddell, Charlotte, NC.
- Two women from New Wine Music. selfie. (associated with Trump supporter, Pastor Guillermo Maldonado of El Rey Jesús, in Miami, FL).
- Jonathan Williams, photographer
Corrections and additions welcome in the comments.
See also list of "evangelical leaders" who have met with Trump at the White House.
Note Bill and Brian Johnson, and Frank and Brian Houston, are similar to other Trump supporters who pass down their ministries / businesses to their children: Jerry Falwell and Jerry Fallwell Jr. (and his children), Paula White-Cain and Brad Knight, Billy and Franklin Graham (and all his children), and Fred Trump and Donald Trump (and his children).
This is a similar situation to people being asked to pray for the President that we saw this summer with Franklin Graham's call to pray. It is entirely appropriate to pray for a president. The problem is if the powerful person "receiving prayer" is primarily using the pray-er to reach their constituency on his behalf. In other words, there likely was not an opportunity to speak truth to power to President Trump. But rather, the strategy is to sell these worship leaders (who have big Instagram followings) with a one-sided "Look at what Trump is doing for evangelicals!" so that they then turn and communicate to their fans: "President Trump and his administration are people passionate about worship and prayer, just like you! And therefore, you should defend President Trump and try to see the good in what he does. And you should vote for him!"
It is of course initially exciting to get an offer to visit the White House and pray for President Trump and disappointing when people criticize you for leading worship (!), but it should be sobering to realize that you are being used to boost President Trump's popularity.
The historical context from this first week of December in 2019 is that President Trump is in the midst of an impeachment proceeding because of his own misbehavior—because he ignored all advice about Ukraine from his foreign policy advisers. On December 4, 2019, three constitutional law professors testified before the House Judiciary Committee about what the Constitution says about impeachment. On December 5th, Nancy Pelosi announced impeachment articles would be drafted. On December 6th, when the worship leaders were at the White House, the Trump administration announced they would not participate in the House's impeachment proceedings.
Moreover, though Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes mention his work on human trafficking, that contribution is exaggerated. They also mention Trump's concern for the marginalized, but on Dec 4th President Trump slashed access to food assistance to 700,000 Americans.
More broadly, yes, evangelicals vote Republican for "pro-life" but the abortion rate has been falling fast especially in Democratic administrations due to more access to contraceptives. It is fine to worry about the excesses of a Democratic administration with regard to religious freedom or other issues, but it is another thing to be part of an operation that is focused on promoting President Trump.
In summary, as Amy Sullivan points out in this thread, a president should have a variety of representative and thoughtful religious leaders come to the White House and listen to, argue with, and learn from them. But that is different from inviting fawning or naive independent evangelicals who are contacts of Johnnie Moore and Paula White-Cain to (as they said in August 2018) "speak love to power," promote how Trump is fighting for evangelicals, pray, take photos, and then rave about the experience to CBN and Fox News.
More links and reaction and theological and sociological reflection in this Twitter thread.