CEYLANPINAR, TURKEY - OCTOBER 10: Smoke rises over the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain, as seen from the Turkish border town on October 09, 2019 in Ceylanpinar, Turkey. The military action is part of a campaign to extend Turkish control of more of northern Syria, a large swath of which is currently held by Syrian Kurds, whom Turkey regards as a threat. U.S. President Donald Trump granted tacit American approval to this campaign, withdrawing his country's troops from several Syrian outposts near the Turkish border. (Photo by Burak Kara/Getty Images)
Photo: Burak Kara/Getty Images
Photo: Burak Kara/Getty Images

The Jolt: Ralph Reed, his new book, and fear of a Christian disaster in northern Syria

On Wednesday, Politico.com reported that Ralph Reed, the longtime link between conservative evangelicals and Republican politics, will be out with a new book in April.

It’s thesis: Christians have “a moral obligation to enthusiastically back” President Donald Trump’s re-election bid.

Reed is founder of the Gwinnett County-based Faith and Freedom Coalition, and a key member of the circle of evangelical leaders who have helped rally their followers behind Trump.

The book’s original title, “Render to God and Trump,” has been adjusted. “For God and Country: The Christian case for Trump,” will hit bookstores just as the 2020 general election is likely to shift into high gear.

Such a tome might be more necessary that many Republicans might think. Trump’s decision to greenlight Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria, targeting Kurds who were crucial to U.S. action against the Islamic State, has shaken American evangelicals in a way unmatched during Trump’s three years in office.

Only last month, in his speech before the U.N. General Assembly, Trump pronounced himself an “ironclad” protector of religious freedom:

“This fundamental right is under growing threat around the world. Hard to believe, but 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where religious liberty is in significant danger or even completely outlawed. Americans will never tire in our effort to defend and promote freedom of worship and religion. We want and support religious liberty for all.”

This is actually something that conservative evangelicals in the U.S. take seriously. We’ve told you that Trump’s decision to abandon the Kurds had caused televangelist Pat Robertson, the grand old man of religious right politics and Reed’s former boss at the Christian Coalition, to warn that the president was in danger of losing “the mandate of heaven.” (The term has Confucian origins rather than Christian, but you catch his drift.)

Christianity Today explains the concern:

“It is very possible that the American withdrawal from the region will lead to the extinction of Christianity from the region,” said Ashty Bahro, former director of the Evangelical Alliance of Kurdistan, in Iraq, noting the safety there for Christians and other minorities.“How can another country [Turkey] enter the pretext of liberation from terrorism? Will the target be only terrorism or ‘undesirable people’? Leaving the area without proper care will lead to another disaster.”

The Kurdish-controlled area of northeast Syria stretches 300 miles from the Euphrates River to the Iraqi border. Approximately 750,000 people live there, including estimates of between 40,000 and 100,000 Christians.

Over 700,000 Christians have fled Syria since 2011. And while some warn of further displacement, others fear a greater threat.

Only last Saturday, the New York Times published a piece on “never Trumpers” who had finally made peace with the president and are backing his re-election bid. Erick Erickson, the WSB Radio pundit, was one of them.

On Wednesday, Erickson damned Trump’s decision to abandon Kurdish allies:

He has abandoned them to be slaughtered by the Turks. That slaughter is happening as I write this.

This is a damnable disgrace, a betrayal by the United States, and should be loudly condemned.

Makes you wonder what the polling is for people who say they’ll support him 2020, but would gladly see him become the first President convicted in an impeachment trial.

***

On Wednesday, we told you how a school safety bill might fit into U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s need to keep suburban women in his corner when he seeks re-election next year.

Another one of your Insiders now has an even larger take on the role suburban women will play in Georgia next year, focusing on three women: conservative writer Karla Jacobs, grassroots activist Sunita Theiss, and Republican National Committee member Ginger Howard.

***

To no one’s surprise, Stacey Abrams will headline the state Democratic party’s Oct. 22 fundraiser at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Atlanta. A small donation of $30k will get you:

…2 tables premier seating for 20, 12 VIP reception tickets, Presenting partner recognition in program, Recognition from the podium, Presenting partner logo on all print & web material, Complimentary wine service at table.

***

Lowering expectations? Former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson still hasn’t said how much campaign cash she raised over the last three months, but her figures are being closely watched by Democratic insiders.

That’s because her previous showing - she raised about $520,000 when she was the only Democratic candidate in the race - might have encouraged other Democratic rivals to join her in the race against U.S. Sen. David Perdue. 

In a Twitter exchange on Wednesday, Tomlinson’s campaign manager Kendra Cotton appeared to dismiss Jon Ossoff, the former 6th District candidate who said he raised about $800,000 in the three weeks since entering the Senate race. Wrote Cotton:

“If only $ votes. Cause we sure saw back in 2017 that one can have $40mil and fade into oblivion. Meanwhile, just 16mo later, a black woman w/ not even a quarter of the resources can actually win the same seat.”

The reference, of course, was to U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta, and her defeat of Republican incumbent Karen Handel.

Tomlinson chimed in, too, writing that she believes she needs to raise between $3 million and $3.5 million to be competitive in a primary, and said “we are on track to do that.” 

She said she still expects to raise at least $22 million - what she has long projected to be the floor for any credible campaign against Perdue - and added that most of the fundraising would come after the primary. 

***

Clayton County taxpayers spent nearly $210,000 to pay a law firm to argue against a Georgia man in the U.S. Supreme Court who claims a decades-old civil rights law should have prevented him from getting fired from his job because he is gayFrom Patrick Saunders at Project Q: 

Atlanta-based firm Freeman Mathis & Gary has put in over 1,000 hours on the Gerald Bostock case since being hired by the county in 2013, according to a review of invoices by Project Q Atlanta. The city provided nearly 150 pages of invoices from Freeman Mathis & Gary through an Open Records Act request. The firm bills the county $195 per hour for its work.

Freeman Mathis & Gary also hired a law firm with close ties to President Donald Trump to argue against Bostock in the Supreme Court.

***

The Atlanta Braves shift away from the tomahawk chop before last night’s embarrassing playoff ouster upset plenty of Georgia conservatives. It also reminded us that Gov. Brian Kemp has used the word “chop” prominently in his campaign slogans. The Republican likes to urge supporters to“keep chopping wood,” but it has little to do with the Braves. It’s drawn from one of Georgia football coach Kirby Smart’s favorite maxims.

***

Our AJC colleague Ernie Suggs has turned a profile on Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King Jr. and a Donald Trump stalwart. These two paragraphs stand out:

She is on the board of trustees of The King Center and has long played the role of family mediator in spats among the children of Coretta King and King Jr. All family gatherings are held at Alveda King’s Atlanta home, according to [Isaac] Farris, her cousin and the son of King Jr.’s oldest sister, Christine King Farris.

“I know that a lot of people are surprised at the fact her leanings tend to be more with Republicans than with Democrats,” said Farris. “But I would say that her ties to the Republican Party are more about her religion than secular politics.”

***

We are remiss in reporting on a poll of Atlanta voters on whether the contract of Meria Carstarphen, the city school superintendent, should be extended. The Atlanta school board has declined to do so. Carstarphen’s contract expires next June, which means it’s a decision that could be revisited.

Mark Rountree of Landmark Communications, Inc., said he conducted the quick survey on his own dime. From the press release:

By a margin of 64-18%, Atlantans say they support extending the contract of Dr. Carstarphen, who was hired to lead the school system just after the Atlanta School cheating scandal. 18 percent of voters say they are undecided… 

There was no significant difference between the race of voters in support for extending Dr. Carstarphen’s contract. African American voters say they support the extension of the contract by a 66-16% margin, while white voters support the extension by a 65-17% margin. 

Support was strongest among those voters who said they have a child in the Atlanta school system: 75% of voters with a child in Atlanta public school say they support extending the contract, with just 21% opposed. 

A large majority of voters favorably view Dr. Carstarphen’s job performance. By a 63-12% margin, voters say they favorably view her job performance.

The poll 500 Atlanta voters was conducted last week, and has a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percentage points.

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