American evangelical Christian leaders met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman only weeks after Saudi agents brutally murdered Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Joel Rosenburg — evangelical political strategist-turned-novelist who lives in Israel and writes books about biblical prophesies — defended the meeting with the prince in the United Arab Emirates to Pat Robertson’s CBN:
There’s a lot of people who would say this is the wrong time to go to Saudi Arabia and meet with the leadership there. I understand that criticism, but I disagree.
Given the fact that we care about the people of Saudi Arabia, Christianity in the Arabian Peninsula, the desire to see more freedom of worship, even Christian churches being allowed to be built, this all seemed important to us to do.
The Saudi government has a long history of human rights abuses, noted Human Rights Watch.
Christian publicist Johnnie Moore, who is a strong Trump-supporter, added:
When people ask, “why would you go, why would you meet,” I mean as a Christian called to be a peacemaker, as an advocate for freedom of worship, as an advocate for tolerance and peaceful coexistence, my answer is how can I not?
Moore also soft-pedaled the human rights atrocities committed by Saudi Arabia to The Washington Post:
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is among the wealthiest, most powerful, and most important nations in the Middle East, in all of history. It also has enormous influence on the Islamic theology taught throughout the entire globe.
While the Kingdom is restrictive and controversial in various and serious respects, it has under the Crown Prince begun to undergo reform and professed the desire to change in profound ways.
Precisely for these reasons, we thought it was wise to accept the invitation we received from the Kingdom, issued more than two months ago, to come as evangelicals to engage in a dialogue.
PR executive A. Larry Ross told the Washington Post how human rights and Khashoggi were raised with the prince, but only gave vague details:
We even returned to it a second time later in the discussion because of its importance, and were encouraged by the Crown Prince’s candor in his response.
We came in the spirit and name of Jesus, to lift up His name. We don’t judge and hope not to offend, but rather to demonstrate a great faith in God’s love and leave the results to Him. In the process, we were able to explain the meaning of an Evangelical and what we believe.
Speaking to CBN, National Religious Broadcasters President Jerry Johnson used Jesus to defend the group’s meeting with the Saudi prince:
When I think of Saudi Arabia, I think of that verse, “We are ambassadors for Christ. That’s Who we are representing, not the United States of America. We’re representing the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Pastor Skip Heitzig likened himself to Daniel in the Bible:
You know in the Bible, (there are) people like Esther, who was in a royal court. Daniel approached several kings and filled several key positions. God used them to speak to people in authority, kings, and the Bible says we are to pray for them.
Former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who has made numerous anti-Muslim statements, also fawned over the meeting with the Saudi prince:
We aren’t here for a short-term purpose. We are not here for a photo op. We could care less about that. We’re here to build long-term relations and to benefit our brothers and sisters that are here in this region.
Rosenberg accidentally revealed his anti-Iran card while urging prayer for the Saudi prince who opposes Iran:
We’re under no illusions about the challenges that are in Saudi Arabia and that remain.
But I think it’s respectful to go and listen to leaders who have the opportunity to make life better for Christians and Muslims and potentially for Israel as well and who are against the crazies in Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood.
I’d ask people to pray. Pray for the (Jordanian) king. Prayer for the crown prince. Pray for the people of Saudi Arabia. And I think it’s the right thing to do.