Bob Vander Plaats at The Thanksgiving Presidential Forum in Des Moines.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (CC-By-SA 2.0)
Bob Vander Plaats at The Thanksgiving Presidential Forum in Des Moines.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (CC-By-SA 2.0)

It’s amazing how attuned to social media we’ve become. Daniel Finney of The Des Moines Register wrote an article exploring whether or not Bob Vander Plaats of The FAMiLY Leader is a “true friend” of President Donald Trump’s.

It starts with Vander Plaats reaction to White House Communication Direct Anthony Scaramucci’s interview with The New Yorker.

Vander Plaats then wrote on The FAMiLY Leader’s website:

Mr. President, it is time to look in the mirror, accept responsibility, apologize to the American people, and declare an end to this behavior immediately. While what I’m urging may not be the “Trump” brand, it is the brand of a leader. We need a leader. You must lead!

I suggest you lead by first washing out Mr. Scaramucci’s mouth with a bar of soap. After a thorough rinsing, strip his credentials and escort him personally off the White House grounds

You frequently reverberate your campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again!” I’d suggest we keep America great by applying the lessons of my dad’s generation, the World War II generation, the greatest generation.

His generation didn’t become great by bombastic and slanderous vulgarity towards their enemies and, for sure, not their family, friends, and fellow patriots. They became great due to their sacrificial leadership by putting the cause of their mission above themselves while standing in the gap for others … with humility, honor, integrity, respect, and genuine love. This is their legacy.

So, Mr. President, if you desire to be a great leader by keeping America great, I encourage you to model these attributes.

Finney replied with a rather cutting question on Twitter:

To which Vander Plaats responded:

So Finney explores whether or not Vander Plaats is a true friend.

I’ve met Vander Plaats once or twice in my paragraph-stacking career. We’ve talked on the phone a few times.

I don’t agree with many of his beliefs, but he’s got them and largely seems to live by them, although I believe he compromised many of his values to support Trump.

The #TrueFriend thing, though, puzzled me. Yes, he supported Trump, but Trump was hardly supportive of Vander Plaats.

Before the Iowa caucuses, and presumably before the Vander Plaats-Trump friendship, Trump tweeted: “Why doesn’t phony @bobvanderplaats tell his followers all the times he asked for him and his family to say at my hotels-didn’t like paying.”

Trump often accuses people of staying at his hotels for free. Whether that’s true or not — or even if Trump owns the hotel with his name on it — is always, at best, a sketchy allegation.

Still, that’s hardly the kind of talk that goes on between #TrueFriends.

But maybe I’m missing just how much sway Vander Plaats has over Trump. Vander Plaats tweeted that Scaramucci should go on Saturday.

By Monday, the Mooch was fired.

I can’t say if Vander Plaats ever was a friend to Trump or if Trump considers him a friend back. Personally, I’m not sure someone like Trump has friends. I don’t know and, frankly, I don’t care.

I would say to Finney voting for Hillary Clinton would violate Vander Plaats’ principles as well. I chose a third party candidate, but with our two party system, many believed they faced a binary choice so go pick your poison. I would have been troubled if Vander Plaats supported Trump in the Iowa Caucuses, but he didn’t so I would disagree with Finney.

Also, and the main reason I’m writing in response to all of this, is to illustrate how journalists often don’t understand where evangelicals are coming from.

He’s missing the point about what Vander Plaats meant when he said “#TrueFriends.” To Finney’s credit, he did say he was perplexed.

So let me help out. Vander Plaats is referring to scripture.

“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy,” (Proverbs 27:5-6, ESV).

A true friend will call someone out on their behavior. It’s easy to surround yourself with people who will tell you want to hear (i.e., kisses), but what you need are people who will tell you the truth even if it hurts because they love you and they want to see you grow.

So whether or not Trump sees Vander Plaats as a friend is irrelevant. Vander Plaats’ point wasn’t that he was a true friend, rather it was a point about what a true friend does.

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