By Don Mohler
A recent article by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa in the Washington Post begins this way: “Virginia Thomas, a conservative activist married to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, repeatedly pressed White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to pursue unrelenting efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election in a series of urgent text exchanges in the critical weeks after the vote, according to copies of the messages obtained by the Washington Post.” The themes that emerge from these texts are more than just a tad disturbing. They include a clear desire to overthrow an American election by the wife of a Supreme Court Justice and a President’s Chief of Staff, and they once again demonstrate what the Founders understood about the role of religion in their new land that many today still do not comprehend.
For some time now, there has been a growing attempt on the part of radical evangelical groups to inject personal religious beliefs into the political discourse in our nation. For those groups, a Supreme Being who knows all will show us the light. Nothing else matters. Q Anon and other radical groups forcefully marshal their forces to bring the Divine into our electoral process and now into our classrooms. For those who adhere to that philosophy, life’s decisions are easy. God will tell us what to do, what is right, and nothing else matters. If, like me, you believe that our nation is based upon a clear separation of church and state, these groups and their followers are disturbing. These theocratic ideas are front and center in the exchanges between Ginni Thomas and Mark Meadows. They demonstrate just how real this threat is to our democracy.
I’ve decided to reprint the tweets below exactly as they were written. Why? Because words matter. While these are just a few of the 29 exchanges, they do provide a glimpse of the state of our union.
Help This Great President stand firm, Mark!!!…You are the leader, with him, who is standing for America’s constitutional governance at the precipice. The majority knows Biden and the Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our History.
There is little doubt that the wife of a sitting Supreme Court justice is front and center of the “Big Lie” movement. In fact, Ginny Thomas proudly attended the insurrection on January 6, but claims to have left before the Celebrity President encouraged people to storm the capital. She said it was just too cold. I guess passionate commitment to ideals does have its limits. Is there anything illegal in her love letters back and forth to Chief-of-Staff Mark Meadows? I am not an attorney, but I doubt it. Do they raise ethical concerns for the highest court in the land while also demonstrating how close we were to losing our democracy? The question answers itself, and the answer is unequivocally yes.
“This is a fight of good versus evil,” Meadows wrote. “Evil always looks like the victor until the King of Kings triumphs. Do not grow weary in well doing. The fight continues. I have staked my career on it. Well at least my time in DC on it.”
To which Ginni Thomas replies:
“Thank you!! Needed that! This plus a conversation with my best friend just now… I will try to keep holding on. America is worth it!”
This little exchange raises more than just a few issues. The Chief-of-Staff to a sitting President of the United States describes an effort to overturn an election in the United States of America as a battle between “good and evil.” For those who are a bit rusty on their Sunday School lessons, the King of Kings is a reference to Jesus Christ and his triumphant return in which he will be “sovereign over all kings and lords.” There is so much wrong with the Meadows’ response that I hardly know where to start, but it clearly illustrates the culture war that is at the center of our nation’s ills.
I rarely talk publicly about my faith, but it is impossible to address this issue without doing so. I grew up Catholic and am now a proud Methodist. (My lapsed Catholicism is a topic for another day.) The story works for me: the birth, the resurrection, and life ever after. But, and this is the point that the Mark Meadows and Ginni Thomases of the world miss,: just because it works for me, that doesn’t mean it has to work for everyone else. These are my beliefs. They are not yours, and my private beliefs have no relevance in the public square.
Political disagreements are not battles of “good versus evil.” We do not live in a theocracy waiting for a lightning bolt from up above to inform our decisions. Our Founding Fathers understood this and included the following in the first amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The radical sect of evangelicals of which Meadows and Thomas are devoted members, get this wrong every single time. Every single time!
Making this fragile democracy work is not about a religious test. Questions on social media regarding “is Joe Biden really a Catholic?” or “Is Barack Obama a Muslim?” are infuriating and un-American. The answer should always be, “Who cares?” You can be a Baptist, a Jew, a Muslim, a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Catholic, a Protestant, or….. wait for it… an atheist and be more than welcome to participate in our democracy and seek the highest offices in the land. This is the United Sates of America. We should not care where you worship, who you worship, or whether or not you worship at all. We don’t sit around waiting for the King of Kings to overturn an election. Can we at least agree that the Founders did get a few things right?
And then there is that little gem where Ginni Thomas references that she just had a conversation with her best friend about the how to reinstall the 45th President to power. Admittedly, it is not clear who the “best friend” is in the text exchange, but I will go out on a limb and say that when folks have been married for decades it is not unusual for them to see their spouse in that manner. It just fails the smell test to think that Mrs. Thomas could be so passionately involved in “Stop the Steal” and not discuss that passion and strategy with her husband over the Cheerios before he heads out to his day job. The “He does his thing, I do mine” comment just won’t fly. In fact, just take a look at Justice Thomas’ own words:
In 1999, as featured speaker to one of his favorite groups, The Federalist Society, Justice Thomas said, “It’s great to be married to your best friend.” At Stetson University in 2010, he said, “My wife is my best friend. I can rant with her.” At the University of Florida in 2012, Thomas opined, “My wife is my best friend in the whole word.” Then at the Supreme Court Historical Society in 2019, the Justice said, “I love to spend time with my wife, who is totally my best friend.”
To suggest that Clarence Thomas should not recuse himself in future cases involving the January 6 uprising seems disingenuous at best. Does it strike anyone as odd that he was the only justice to suggest that Donald Trump was not required to turn over documents regarding the insurrection to the United States Congress?
And then there is this, “In February 2021, when the Supreme Court rejected election challenges filed by Trump and his allies, Thomas wrote in a dissent that it was “baffling” and “inexplicable” that the majority had decided against hearing the cases because he believed the Supreme Court should provide states with guidance for future elections.” I bet he did.
So while there may be many more shoes to fall as a result of the texts between Ginni Thomas and Mark Meadows, they already remind us of some very simple truths. The injection of religion into our body politic is never a good idea, and husbands and wives talk. Pillow talk is powerful and certainly has no place in the deliberation room of the highest court of the land. It’s that simple.
Don Mohler is the former Baltimore County Executive and President and CEO of Mohler Communication Strategies. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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