A disabled peer has called on the government to hand out fewer “carrots” to employers and do more to enforce existing equality law as it attempts to secure more jobs for disabled people.The plea came after Justin Tomlinson, the minister for disabled people, had been explaining the merits of the government’s Disability Confident programme in persuading organisations to employ more disabled people, which now includes organising what he calls “reverse jobs fairs”.Tomlinson was one of three ministers giving evidence to the Equality Act 2010 and disability committee, set up by the House of Lords to examine the impact of the act on disabled people over the last five years.But the disabled crossbench peer Baroness [Jane] Campbell (pictured, at the committee hearing) told Tomlinson: “I really don’t want to burst your bubble but as you were talking there I was transported back to my days at the Disability Rights Commission, where we were doing exactly the same things: we held jobs fairs, in fact it was like you were there beside me.“I trained 120 trainers to go round the country to talk to employers about being disability confident when I was working in local government 25 years ago.“What makes you think you will change people’s minds now, and don’t you think it is also time to ramp up the stick?”Baroness Campbell said that disabled people who had given evidence to the committee had made it clear that the government’s carrot-based approach “will not change things substantially”.She said: “We must enforce the law. I think that’s where they feel the government is letting them down.”She added: “I feel there are too many carrots being handed around at the moment, so where are the sticks?”Tomlinson said the government would make a substantial investment in Access to Work, and there were 339,000 more disabled people in work in the last two years, while ministers were reforming the Work Programme and Work Choice through the new work and health unit, with a white paper to be published in the new year on employment support for disabled people that was likely to include demands for “greater local flexibility”.He said: “I accept the point that there has always been business engagement. I don’t think there has been enough with the small and medium-sized employers.”When Baroness Campbell asked if enforcement of the Equality Act would be part of the white paper, Tomlinson said: “Yes.”Nicky Morgan, the education secretary and minister for women and equalities, added: “The first thing we want to do is change cultures and behaviours.“I am not always convinced that sticks and enforcement are the right way to do this. They are a necessary backstop.”
A disabled peer has attacked Labour’s “lazy indifference” to disability equality, after it failed to back moves that would have forced bars, shops and restaurants to ensure their premises obeyed laws on accessibility when renewing their alcohol licences.Peers tried to introduce the measure as an amendment to the government’s policing and crime bill last week, but a vote on the amendment was narrowly defeated because Labour decided to abstain.The amendment was proposed by Baroness Deech, who chaired the Equality Act 2010 and disability committee, which concluded in March that there were problems in “almost every part of society” with laws designed to address disability discrimination.The disabled crossbench peer Baroness [Jane] Campbell, who sat on the committee, told Disability News Service (DNS) this week that she was “very angry” with Labour for abstaining on the vote.The amendment – backed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Access Association – would have added the need to secure access for disabled people to the duties of licensing authorities.This would have meant that a pub, club, shop or restaurant that wanted a new licence or to renew their existing licence would have had to prove to their local authority that they had made reasonable efforts to make their premises accessible to disabled people.If they failed to do so, the council would have been able to refuse to grant or extend their licence.But when Baroness Deech spoke to a member of staff in the office of Labour’s chief whip on the morning of the debate, she was told that the party would abstain on a vote on her amendment.She told DNS: “I was amazed, and queried this. He said it was because of ‘strategy’ – they had to decide which issues to defeat the government on, and this was not one of them. “So their real reason was ‘strategic’, regardless of the strength of the case, even though the topic was such that one would naturally expect Labour to be supportive.”Labour peers had voted to defeat the government on another part of the bill less than two hours earlier, so there would have been no problem arranging the necessary peers to be in the Lords for the vote, she said.She added: “I am shocked and disappointed. Some of their members rebelled; a few more and we would have been home and dry.”A Labour Lords spokesman claimed that Baroness Deech had approached the whips office “very late in the day” to ask for backing for the amendment, while there had been suggestions during the day that there might be a significant government concession.He added: “Our understanding was that this [amendment] would not lead to major change.”But both Baroness Deech and Baroness Campbell dismissed these claims.Baroness Campbell said that a Labour peer, Baroness Pitkeathley, who also sat on the Equality Act and disability committee, “was up to speed on this amendment and would have briefed Labour on the importance of the vote”.She said there had been “a full debate on a very similar amendment” at the bill’s committee stage, and the amendment had subsequently been altered to “make it less costly and burdensome on the licensee”.And she said that Labour had taken part in a debate on the Deech committee report, which included a recommendation to amend licensing laws to “make a failure to comply with the Equality Act 2010 a ground for refusing a licence”.She said: “For these reasons, I am very angry with Labour for abstaining.“My annoyance stems from what I see to be a lazy indifference and lack of attention to the hard work of all sides of the House of Lords, to find ways to progress disability equality through licensing, within the constraints of our economic situation.“This was a perfect opportunity to do something practical and low-cost which would make an enormous difference.“How could Labour abstain on such a positive amendment?”Baroness Deech told fellow peers last week – Baroness Campbell had been unable to attend the debate because of ill-health – that businesses were not being asked to do anything extra through the amendment, “but simply to put their minds to accessibility”.Such a measure would help the UK to meet its duties under article nine (on accessibility) of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and would “shift the burden off the shoulders of disabled people to the local authorities”, she said.The disabled Liberal Democrat peer Baroness [Celia] Thomas said: “Our lives are hard enough now without having to enforce the law too.“This is a golden opportunity to do what many organisations think should have happened years ago – to have licensing officers who are able to take action beyond [just] writing a licensee a letter or having a word in their ear.”The disabled crossbench peer Lord [Colin] Low also backed the amendment, because he said the Equality Act duty was “widely disregarded, placing the onus on the individual to enforce the duty, when enforcement is extremely difficult for the individual on account of its cost and complexity”.The government refused to back the amendment, with Home Office minister Baroness Williams warning that the cost of enforcing it would fall on businesses through increased licensing fees, and that it was “seeking to skew the regulatory regime… and use it for a purpose for which it was never intended” and “potentially puts us on to a slippery slope”.Lord Kennedy (pictured), Labour’s spokesman in the Lords on housing, communities and local government, as well as home affairs, failed to support the amendment.Instead, he suggested that the minister might argue that “there are general duties under the Equality Act 2010 in force already and that adding a specific amendment does not add anything to the statutory requirements already in force”.Peers who spoke in favour of the amendment included the disabled Tory peer Lord Shinkwin, who served on the National Disability Council that advised the Conservative government on the implementation of the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).He told fellow peers: “I have to say that 21 years on from the DDA, I am suffering not from my disability but from a sense of déjà vu.“Despite the milestone that the act represented both for disabled people and for the Conservative party, disabled people are still waiting.“The regrettable fact is that the passage of time has not been matched by the passage of progress. The passing of this amendment would help to put that right.”He said: “I know from personal experience that the system is broken because far too many disabled people are still trying unsuccessfully to access many licensed premises.”And he added: “Accepting this amendment would enable the government to prove to disabled people that they mean what they say when they commit to building a country that works for everyone.”Labour’s failure to support the measure led to the amendment being defeated by 177 votes to 135, with only 16 Labour peers rebelling against the whip and voting in favour.
For nine years, Disability News Service has survived largely through the support of a small number of disability organisations – most of them user-led – that have subscribed to its weekly supply of news stories. That support has been incredibly valuable but is no longer enough to keep DNS financially viable. For this reason, please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support its work and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please remember that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring, and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS… Traumatised disabled people who have been restrained in mental health units have spoken of their hope that legislation approved by MPs will lead to greater protection and support for other service-users.The mental health units (use of force) bill has been guided through the House of Commons by the Labour MP Steve Reed in honour of Seni Lewis, a young man from his Croydon North constituency who died in 2010 after a prolonged period of face-down restraint at the hands of 11 police officers. It took seven years for his parents to secure an inquest into his death, with the coroner finding last year that there had been “severe failings” by the police and mental health services, and warning of a risk of future deaths unless action was taken.Reed’s bill, which is supported by the government and covers England and Wales, still has to be debated and approved by the House of Lords but it is now likely to become law, a rarity for a private members’ bill.Once law, it would ensure that mental health units: provide proper training for staff on the use of force; introduce a policy that aims to reduce the use of force; publish information on patients’ rights; keep a record of all incidents involving the use of force by staff; and ensure all police officers entering the unit wear body cameras.The bill would also ensure deaths and serious injuries on mental health units are properly investigated, while the secretary of state for health and social care would have to publish annual statistics on the use of force by staff.Disabled campaigner Deborah King welcomed the bill’s passage through the Commons.She said: “As a teenager I was subjected to the use of force in a mental health unit.“I was frightened for my life and the experience left me vulnerable to mental illness as an adult.“We need staff to think creatively about alternatives to force. This is likely to require an increase in the numbers of mental health nurses.“Steve Reed’s new law will start to define the contours of permissible force in a mental health context. Hopefully it will lead to a reduction in the use of force.”Another disabled campaigner, who has spent time in a mental health unit and is part of the Recovery in the Bin collective, said: “I hope this will protect people like me who have been restrained from unnecessary and excessive force being used.“I hope, as well as protecting patients going forward, it will lead to greater acknowledgement and recognition that many mental health patients at their most vulnerable have been brutalised by the people who are meant to care.“I hope this will lead to better support for patients who are still traumatised by restraint (assault) experiences at the hand of the state.”She added: “I am delighted that it got through and grateful that Seni’s preventable and unnecessary death may help many future patients not to be traumatised.“And I really hope it will lead to an apology or at least acknowledgement from mental health professionals about how they’ve treated us.”She said that many examples of restraint were not even a response to violence but a result of staff forcing medication on patients, which the Mental Health Act allows staff to do even if the patient has capacity to refuse it.Reed told MPs on Friday: “Although the bill is called Seni’s Law, in honour of Seni, it has affected many people beyond Seni who have lost their lives or been injured simply because they were unwell, and the purpose of the bill is to make sure that that cannot happen again.”He had said in the bill’s second reading last November that face-down restraint had been used more than 9,000 times in the previous year, including 2,500 times against children as young as seven. And he said a disproportionate number of deaths following restraint in mental health hospitals were of black men and women.Luciana Berger, speaking for the Labour Campaign for Mental Health, said on Friday that new research by the charity Agenda showed that, between 2012-13 and 2016-17, 32 women who had been detained under the Mental Health Act had died after being restrained.
Although Jeffress is just a boy, people around him are already taking notice of his power to influence others. His ninth grade speech teacher tells him, “Jeffress, you’re going to be a preacher one day, and it scares the bejeebers out of me because you can sell anybody anything!” Criswell becomes his mentor, and in fact, when he’s a freshman in high school, Jeffress hears God tell him to abandon his executive producer dreams. For the first fifteen years of his career as a pastor, at a small church in Eastland and then a larger First Baptist in Wichita Falls, Jeffress doesn’t get political. He rarely mentions abortion or homosexuality. But he learns the power of controversy in 1998, when a member of his church shows him two children’s books from the local library: Heather Has Two Mommies and Daddy’s Roommate. Jeffress announces that he will not allow the books to be returned. The city council takes his side, the American Civil Liberties Union sues the city, and the story makes national headlines. Eventually a court decides the library can keep the titles in the children’s section, but by then Jeffress has received letters and donations from all over the country. Church attendance goes up, and soon comes an expensive new sanctuary. Jeffress will remember these lessons when he is invited, in 2007, to return to First Baptist Dallas as senior pastor. In his first few years back, he gives sermons with attention-grabbing titles on the marquee and makes controversial statements about, in no particular order, Mormons, Muslims, Jews, Catholics, gays, lesbians, and Oprah Winfrey. Almost a decade later, he embraces one of the most controversial presidential candidates of all time, and in 2018 the church reports the highest giving levels in its 150-year history. Now, like Criswell and Billy Graham, who was himself a longtime member of First Baptist Dallas, Jeffress has the ear of the president. Through all this, he retains his affinity for television. In 2018 his entire family is featured on a TLC reality show centered on his oldest daughter’s newborn triplets. At First Baptist, the main sanctuary gets outfitted with six or seven high-definition screens that can be made into a long LED scroll that ribbons across the back of the proscenium. Sunday services are broadcast live on the church website, an operation that includes seven cameras, a team of grips and technicians, and a control room that rivals studios at CNN and Fox. The church posts his cable news clips on YouTube. Jeffress says TV accounts for a small percentage of his work but that Fox News—where he becomes a paid contributor under contract—is a “gateway to bring people into our ministry.”Donald Trump greeting Jeffress at the Celebrate Freedom Rally in Washington, D.C., on July 1, 2017.Olivier Douliery-Pool/GettyAnd television, it turns out, is how he connects to the president, a man with his own affinity for reality shows. In mid-2015, after seeing Jeffress compliment him on Fox News, Trump tweets out the clip and has someone from his office—Jeffress doesn’t remember who—reach out so he can thank the pastor for the kind words.When Jeffress recounts the story, he lowers his voice an octave to repeat the way he’s heard Trump describe it: “ ‘You know, I was watching TV one night, and I’ll never forget, I saw Pastor Jeffress saying, ‘Trump’s a lousy Christian, but he’s a good leader. ’ ”The pastor interrupts himself to clarify. “Of course, I didn’t quite say it that way,” he explains, lest anyone think he called the president lousy. “I said, ‘He’s not a perfect person, but he’s a tremendous leader.’ ”Jeffress has also heard Trump tell it this way: “I was watching television with Melania, and I saw Pastor Jeffress, and I said, ‘Look at his mouth move! Look at how quickly that mouth moves. It’s like a machine gun! I would never want to see that used against me someday!’ ” Trump’s campaign asks Jeffress to pray at a rally in Dallas that fall, and soon the two forge what they describe as a friendship. The candidate sends nice notes or has his assistant email, and in early 2016, Trump invites Jeffress to join him on the campaign trail. The pastor spends a weekend with Trump in Iowa, where, both men understand, evangelical support can make or break a Republican presidential run. Jeffress says things like “I don’t want some meek and mild leader or somebody who’s going to turn the other cheek. I’ve said I want the meanest, toughest SOB I can find to protect this nation.” Then Jeffress is at Trump Tower on the day of the election. The mood is not optimistic. Jeffress tells Trump he hopes they’ll stay friends, no matter the outcome. Trump asks him if he thinks evangelical voters will show up for him. The pastor says he does. Later that night, Jeffress and his wife go to the Hilton to watch the results come in. For a while, it’s slow and quiet, and the couple debate leaving early. But as the evening wears on, the feeling in the room starts to change. “I will never forget when the spotlight was thrown on the balcony of the ballroom,” he recalls later, his voice slowing for dramatic effect. “The president and the first lady and their family entered to the soundtrack of the movie Air Force One. It was a chill-bumps moment.”After a speech, Trump comes down from the stage to shake a few hands. Spotting Jeffress, he walks over and puts his arm around the pastor. The boy who used to play his accordion on Mr. Peppermint is now standing next to the future president. “Did you see it?” Trump says. “Largest evangelical turnout in history!”“Yes, sir, I saw it,” Jeffress tells him. “I just wanted to be sure you saw it.”Here’s Robert Jeffress in his office, a year or so into Trump’s first term, speaking to a reporter: me. We have a bit of history. In late 2011, around the time Jeffress was first upsetting conservatives by criticizing Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney, I wrote a profile of Jeffress for D Magazine. In the story, I explained that despite the fact that I disagreed with him on virtually every issue—at the time, he was supporting a presidential run by Texas governor Rick Perry—I found Jeffress charming and personable. Yes, he insists that the vast majority of humanity will spend eternity in a pit of fire. But he’s also self-deprecating and disarming. I was curious about his political advocacy and how he squares it with the teachings of Jesus.After the story ran, we continued to have lunch every couple of months, usually in his office. It’s on the sixth floor of one of the church’s eight buildings, with towering shelves of scholarly journals, framed covers of his books (he has written more than twenty), and floor-to-ceiling windows that look out over the Nasher Sculpture Center. We ask each other about family and work. We discuss news and politics and whatever’s happening in the world that week.He’s completely engaged, attentive. With or without the TV makeup, he’s the same man. Same rapid-fire delivery. Same polite, saccharine manner. Same unapologetic born-again Baptist view of the world. He says he genuinely wants me to dedicate myself to Jesus Christ, and he prays for me and my wife. His goal is to save as many souls as possible before the end times. He knows journalism is important to me, and he reminds me that some of the greatest writers in history were Christians. I joke that I know he’d love to brag that he helped shape some sort of present-day C. S. Lewis.Jeffress often tells his flock that God sends us tests and trials. I want to ask Jeffress if he thinks there’s any chance Donald Trump is a test from God—and if maybe he’s failing.I’m also forthright: about my curiosity, about my dismay at the many things he says and does that have the potential to hurt so many people. He knows what I’m talking about, and he laughs and nods. We discuss my writing something about him and his friendship with the president. He likes the idea. Then he jokes, “Now, don’t pull a Michael Cohen on me!”So for months, I attend Sunday services, hang out at church events, spend hours talking politics with religious conservatives, and meet over and over with Jeffress himself. The unlikelihood of the Trump presidency has occasioned much ink and froth about the many purported reasons that white evangelicals supported him: economic and racial fears, Supreme Court picks, abortion, the fact that he wasn’t Hillary Clinton, and so on. It’s also provoked condemnation of Jeffress and his fellow Trump-supporting religious leaders for seemingly abandoning Christian principles in exchange for power—for becoming “court evangelicals,” as historian John Fea, the author of Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump, puts it. Fresh-faced 2020 presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg, a gay military veteran and a Christian, likes to say that support for Trump is in tension with much of the New Testament, including, for example, the way Jesus condemns those who truckle to the strong while neglecting the poor. Closer to home, Eric Folkerth, the senior pastor at the much more liberal Woods United Methodist Church, in Grand Prairie, writes an open letter to Jeffress in May, calling him “a Pharisee of our time.”And so I press Jeffress to explain the choices he makes, to explain the things he says in front of the cameras. Jeffress has told me he was drawn to Trump’s leadership and intellect. “He’s a very smart person,” he’s said. “You don’t become a billionaire and president of the United States by being an idiot.” But none of that quite explains why a pastor goes out of his way to publicly defend the president’s every indiscretion. He could easily vote according to his views on the Supreme Court or according to his conscience on abortion without also going on TV, over and over, in front of hundreds of thousands of viewers, to explain away things like Trump’s adultery and language that inflames foreign policy. He could be in favor of immigration reform, for example, and not feel compelled to rationalize the separation of families. He could believe that God has put someone in power and still hold that person to a high moral standard.Jeffress often tells his flock that God sends us tests and trials. I want to ask Jeffress if he thinks there’s any chance Donald Trump is a test from God—and if maybe he’s failing. Here’s Robert Jeffress on a Sunday morning, surrounded by lights and cameras and flat screens the size of school buses, taking the stage with the confident stride of a talk show host. He’s looking out on an audience of roughly 1,600, with thousands more watching and listening in, delivering a sermon that’s at turns funny and thoughtful and ripe with references to pop culture and historic events and scholarly interpretations of biblical passages. Jeffress is wearing a dark suit with faint pinstripes, a red tie that glimmers under the lights, and a nearly imperceptible wireless microphone over his right cheek, and he’s nailing the timing of every joke and pausing for laughs and modulating his voice in just the right way to create connection. Today’s sermon is about “the antidote to worry,” and it unfolds like a forty-minute brimstone-scented TED talk. In the first few minutes alone, he mixes in quotes from obscure authors, anecdotes from World War II, and the etymology of the word “worry.” Sprinkled throughout are also copious references to supporting Scripture; there are more than ten, from the Old Testament and New, in the first twenty minutes. After each citation, he pauses to let his words linger. His reasoning is based on the fact that every word of the Bible is literally true.Jeffress agrees with the popular comparison evangelicals draw between President Trump and Cyrus the Great, the ancient Persian king who, according to Jewish tradition, allowed the exiled Hebrews to return to Jerusalem. Cyrus is thought of as a secular agent of God’s divine plan, and this oft-cited parallel is useful to Trump’s most enthusiastic backers as a way of explaining their support: they can champion him, they say, because there is a difference between the earthly realm and the heavenly one, between government and church. In an interview with the Washington Post, Jerry Falwell Jr. put it this way: “In the heavenly kingdom, the responsibility is to treat others as you’d like to be treated. In the earthly kingdom, the responsibility is to choose leaders who will do what’s best for your country.”But keeping your realms separate is not so clear-cut when you’re both a pundit and a pastor. Jeffress, unlike his peers, is the full-time shepherd of a flock. In the lustrous sanctuary of First Baptist—the church has multiple six-story garages and crowded escalators and feels a little like one of the theaters or music halls a few blocks away in the Arts District—Jeffress preaches two sermons nearly every Sunday. He attends luncheons and prayer meetings and Bible studies. He visits people in the hospital and performs weddings and funerals. He helped raise more than $135 million for a renovation that included a new children’s building, sky bridges, and a dancing, LED-loaded fountain. At special events, visitors are given not a Bible but a copy of one of his books. “He is so right,” one of his members, a black mother in her thirties, tells me. “It is time to stop being wimpy about Christianity. I wish more Christians had the heart for the Lord that he does.”Jeffress studiously insists that his politics and his pastorate are separate. “We don’t check green cards or passports at First Baptist Dallas,” he’s fond of saying. When he’s at the podium in church, he seldom utters a word about the president. And while some of the older men in the pews are wearing American flag and Israeli flag pins on their suits—and there’s at least one bumper sticker in the parking garage for QAnon, a far-right conspiracy theory alleging a “deep state” plot against Trump—it’s not like members are debating legislative policy in the halls. It’s more that there’s a general celebration and commingling of patriotism and piety. I recently attended services on and off for five months and never heard Jeffress mention politics explicitly in a sermon. I heard him talk about how heaven is a real place and what people do there: enjoy the relief of a job well done, share fellowship with loved ones, get to better know their Lord. Though First Baptist doesn’t keep records on its racial demographics, the congregation seems as diverse as that of any megachurch in North Texas. Affluent older white people dressed in stiff suits and flowery dresses with matching hats. Young couples, the men in jeans and tucked-in button-downs, the women in cotton dresses. A black family spanning four generations. Immigrants from Latin America and Africa and Eastern Europe and East Asia. At the other end of the building, in a separate sanctuary, hundreds more people—mostly younger—watch Jeffress on a live broadcast.About twenty minutes into his sermon about worry, Jeffress says something that makes me perk up a bit. He’s hoisting an open Bible in his left hand when his tone changes for just a moment, and he stares into the camera, his right hand gesturing to the breast of his pinstriped suit. “I can tell you from personal experience: God’s discipline is never pleasant,” he says. “There are times in my life—don’t ask for details, I’m not gonna give ’em to you—but I can tell you, there are times that I have not been doing the right thing, and God put his heavy hand upon me. And I can tell you for sure, I never want to experience that again.”He explains that we don’t have to experience God’s discipline if we live our lives the right way. He makes another emphatic gesture with his right hand, this time with his thumb out in a way that evokes Bill Clinton. “Today,” he says, we can “start walking in a new direction.”As he always does, Jeffress invites anyone who wants to be saved to come forward and dedicate their life to Jesus Christ. His voice is soft. Even in a crowd of some 1,600 people, for a split second it can feel as if he’s talking to you personally. “It’s no coincidence that you’re hearing my voice today,” he says. When he’s done this morning, there are at least a dozen people walking down the aisles, ready to be born again. The State of Texas(Daily)A daily digest of Texas news, plus the latest from Texas Monthly Jeffress preaching at First Baptist Dallas on April 1, 2018.First Baptist Dallas Here’s Robert Jeffress, talking to the hundreds of thousands of people watching conservative cable news on a typical Friday evening, and he’s defending President Donald Trump against the latest array of accusations in the news this week. And he isn’t simply defending Trump—he’s defending him with one carefully crafted Bible-wrapped barb after another, and with more passion, more preparation, more devotion than anyone else on television. As Lou Dobbs finishes his opening remarks, Jeffress laughs and nods. It’s early January, about two weeks into what will prove to be the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. Across the country, hundreds of thousands of federal workers are missing paychecks, worrying about mortgages, car payments, utility bills. Some have started going to food banks. But Dobbs waves his hand up and down and tells Jeffress that he hasn’t heard anyone—“literally no one!”—say they miss the government. The jowly host revels in Trump’s threats that the shutdown could continue “for months, if not years,” if that’s what it takes to get more wall built on America’s border with Mexico.Jeffress, speaking from a remote studio in downtown Dallas, agrees completely. “Well, he’s doing exactly the right thing in keeping this government shut down until he gets that wall,” he says. Jeffress is the senior pastor at First Baptist Dallas, a 13,000-member megachurch that’s one of the most influential in the country, but he’s known best for appearances like this one: he’s often on Fox & Friends or Hannity or any number of sound-bitey segments on Fox News or Fox Business. His own religious show airs six days a week on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. He has a daily radio program too, broadcast on more than nine hundred Christian stations across the country, though it’s TV he loves best. Dobbs invites Jeffress onto his show nearly every week. Enter your email address Here’s Robert Jeffress in his office again, on a weekday afternoon in early fall. He’s sitting flat-footed in a blue leather chair, wearing one of his usual dark suits and satiny ties, like he’s ready to appear on camera at a moment’s notice, should the need arise. I’m sitting at the end of a big leather couch, a few feet away, with my recorder between us. We’re talking about the distinction he makes between what he considers spiritual and political. I want to know if it’s really tenable, if it’s really honest. On Twitter, he promotes his sermons and events at the church right next to his appearances on Fox News. When his choir performed “Make America Great Again” in D.C., it was a de facto Trump rally—and now the song is in the church hymn database. He doesn’t just invite Fox personalities like Sean Hannity and politicians like Ted Cruz and Greg Abbott into his sanctuary; the church often uses their appearances as bring-a-friend promotions. Our conversations over the months often return to this topic, and he agrees it’s an important one.“If someone asks me to talk on a subject,” he says, “I ask myself the first question: Does the Bible have a particular point of view on this?”The Bible has a point of view on many things, he explains. Some things, like capital punishment or whether a country’s leader has a right to defend its borders, he thinks, are clear. Other issues, like marginal tax rates and public health-care policy, are less clear. And besides, when Hannity was there to promote a Christian movie, they didn’t say much about politics at all.What about when you call Democrats the “party of immorality”? I ask. Isn’t that crossing the line into politics? “I think, in a lot of ways, the Republican party is just as spiritually bankrupt as the Democratic party, but at least at this point in time they are championing some moral principles like the right to life and the right of religious liberty.”It’s an interesting equivocation, and I’m reminded how, in our exchanges, he has emphatically insisted that he’s not a Republican or a Democrat. He has also told me his congregation has plenty of Democrats, though I haven’t met one. When I ask him if he’d ever invite a Democrat or someone from CNN to speak at his church, he laughs. “You know, I would have to think about it,” he says. Then he adds, “But if we haven’t, it’s not because they are Democrats. It’s because of the point of view they would articulate on these basic core spiritual issues. I mean, try to find me a pro-life Democrat leader. You can’t find one.”“Basic core spiritual issues” is usually his answer when I press him on why he goes out of his way, again and again, to defend Trump. He cares about religious liberty—which for him essentially boils down to whether churches and businesses should be required to provide birth control for employees and whether businesses can deny service to gay or trans people. And nearly every policy discussion eventually comes back to what he sees as the national battle that started in Dallas when he was a teenager. He believes Roe v. Wade, not the issue of sexual assault or of judicial temperament, was at the heart of the fight over the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. The Democrats were worried that Kavanaugh’s rulings would “somehow lessen the number of babies being murdered every year in the womb through abortion.”Gun rights is one of the two main issues on which he disagrees with the Republican party. The other is health care. He has been a vocal critic of Obamacare, but Jeffress does tell me, “The GOP is on the wrong side of this.”This is why Trump is the sort of warrior evangelicals have long craved, a warrior who will fight for their beliefs regardless of whether he holds those beliefs himself. This is why Jeffress doesn’t worry about Trump’s personal behavior. “When you’re in a war, you don’t worry about style,” he explains. “Nobody would have criticized General Patton because of his language. We’re in a war here between good and evil. And to me, the president’s tone, his demeanor, just aren’t issues I choose to get involved with.” (When I look this up later, I learn that some top commanders and many members of Congress did criticize—and discipline—General Patton for verbally abusing and slapping two soldiers. He was suspended from his command and made to apologize.)I ask Jeffress why, since he believes all sin is equal, abortion is more important than every other issue. Criswell, his mentor, and other past religious leaders didn’t feel nearly as strongly about the topic. Criswell stated publicly that life begins at birth and didn’t change his stance until after the widespread use of ultrasound technology. “Criswell and other evangelicals were just ignorant of the science,” he says. “We didn’t have the ability to view a life inside the womb as we do today and understand that that’s a real, live human being.” What about children at the border and the administration’s policy of separating families? Doesn’t he think we should protect babies at our borders too?“Look,” he tells me, “if you have a woman who is convicted of a bank robbery and she has an infant child and she’s sent to prison, I mean, her baby is going to be ripped from her.”But of course, we have gradations of crimes in this country, and crossing a border—even if it’s illegal—is a far different thing than robbing a bank. This policy was instituted as a deterrent. I remind him that many people, including some Baptists, believe it’s a callous way to treat children.“If we don’t secure our borders, we’re enticing the needy people, the persecuted people, to make a dangerous journey to come to this country or try to enter illegally, and I think, in part, we are morally responsible for doing that,” he tells me. He compares it to laws that hold homeowners responsible when a child strays into an unfenced pool and drowns. “We’ve got to figure out a way to secure our borders and at the same time deal equitably and justly with people who want to enter this country for legitimate reasons.”I bring up some other children: the survivors of mass shootings. After the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, in Parkland, Florida, when students organized marches across the country to protest U.S. gun laws, Jeffress told Fox News viewers that changing the laws would not help because laws couldn’t change the evil in someone’s heart—though maybe displaying the Ten Commandments in schools could. Talking with me, though, he admits that mass shootings weigh on him heavily. He points out that, in Genesis, the primary reason God floods the earth is violence. “God hates those who harm others,” he says. “I don’t believe that the Bible or even the Constitution gives a unilateral, unconditional, unrestrained right for guns. The government has a right and responsibility to control that.”Gun rights, in fact, is one of the two main issues on which he disagrees with the Republican party. The other is health care. He has been a vocal critic of Obamacare, but Jeffress does tell me, “The GOP is on the wrong side of this.” He says, “There ought to be a safety net” and “Americans want coverage for preexisting conditions” and that “before we dismantle something, we ought to have something better ready in its place.”I ask Jeffress if he’d be critical of, say, someone like Democratic senator Cory Booker, if the public learned he’d had an affair with a porn star.“I have to be consistent,” he tells me. “And consistent would say that my objection to Cory Booker would not be his personal life but his public policies.”Here’s Robert Jeffress in January 2016, sitting on Trump’s plane between campaign stops in Iowa, and the pastor and the presidential candidate are finishing their lunch of Wendy’s cheeseburgers when Jeffress says, “Mr. Trump, I believe you’re going to be the next president of the United States. And if that happens, it’s because God has a great purpose for you and for our nation.” Jeffress quotes from the book of Daniel, chapter two, and explains, “God is the one who establishes kings and removes kings.”Trump looks at the pastor and says, “Do you really believe that?”“Yes, sir, I do,” Jeffress says.Trump asks, “Do you believe God ordained Obama to be president?”“I do,” Jeffress tells Trump. “God has a purpose for every leader.”This is certainly not the way Jeffress talked about Barack Obama when he was president. Jeffress wasn’t a fan. Shortly before Mitt Romney secured the Republican nomination in 2012, Jeffress said he’d “hold [his] nose” and vote for him instead of Obama, despite believing that Mormonism is a cult and Romney is going to hell. (He’s also said that Jews, Hindus, Muslims, and nonbelievers are destined for hell.) He criticized both Obamacare and National Security Agency surveillance as violations of Americans’ freedom. In 2014, citing Obama’s support for same-sex marriage, Jeffress declared that the president was “paving the way for the Antichrist.”Jeffress very much believes that an Antichrist will rise to power one day—possibly soon—before Jesus returns to earth. This isn’t entirely surprising. After graduating from Baylor, he attended Dallas Theological Seminary, a hub of twentieth-century dispensational theology, where he was taught, and embraced, the idea that God reveals himself progressively through different dispensations, or ages, and that these would culminate in an epic showdown between Christ and a fearsome enemy. Key events of this apocalypse would occur in Israel, went the thinking, and it was common for dispensationalists to publicly identify people they thought might be the Antichrist. Henry Kissinger was a popular pick; so was Mikhail Gorbachev, whose prominent birthmark looked suspiciously, to some, like the mark of the beast. Eventually most religious figures stopped trying to identify the Antichrist and the exact date of Christ’s return, but they didn’t stop believing that the supernatural confrontation was imminent. At one point, not long after Trump meets with Kim Jong-un and it feels like we might be closer to nuclear annihilation than we have been in half a century, I ask Jeffress, mostly as a joke, whether evangelicals support this president because they secretly think he’s hastening the end times and the return of Jesus.Jeffress lets out a quick chirp of a laugh. Actually, he explains, a lot of evangelicals view Trump as a brief reprieve from a downward moral spiral: everything from the removal of Ten Commandments monuments to restrictions on prayer in schools to the ways our culture flaunts sex and corrupts minds. He’s under no illusion that the Democrats won’t return to power again one day. Trump, he says, is a way to push in the other direction, if only temporarily.He anticipates my follow-up. “Why would Christians want to put off the return of Christ?” he asks. “To give us more time to save people.” The truth for him personally, though, is that he also just likes Trump. Jeffress insists that theirs isn’t just a quid-pro-quo sort of friendship, a calculated, cynical partnership. He says he genuinely enjoys Trump’s company. He’d like to think they’d be friends regardless of the presidency.Jeffress says Trump isn’t as impulsive as he might seem. He says the president has told him how he workshops insulting nicknames he plans to call opponents on Twitter. He says he watched as Trump agonized at the White House over what to do about DACA recipients. He’s seen the president demonstrate diligence and control, unlike the raging character often depicted in the press.Several times in our conversation, Jeffress plays it a little safer and parses his words, saying that he and the president “aren’t bosom buddies.” Is he protecting himself in case one day his association with Trump becomes toxic?“Not at all,” he says. “I just want to be as accurate as possible.”A few months after his inauguration, Trump boasts about issuing an executive order instructing the Department of the Treasury not to pursue religious organizations when they violate the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits nonprofits from making partisan political statements, a restriction Jeffress has spoken out against for more than a decade. Then, in May 2018, the Trump administration does something even more important for evangelicals: it officially relocates the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, much of which is regarded under international law as occupied territory. Jeffress, the lifelong dispensationalist, is invited to give the opening prayer at the new embassy’s dedication. He’s there, in Jerusalem, standing at the lectern with his eyes closed. He’s just feet from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Ivanka Trump, and Jared Kushner—all Jewish, all going to hell in Jeffress’s view, all sitting together in the front row. After thanking God for the blessing and protection of Israel, and for the work of both Netanyahu and the U.S. ambassador to Israel, Jeffress thanks God for the “tremendous leadership” of Donald Trump. “Without President Trump’s determination, resolve, and courage, we would not be here today,” Jeffress says. “We thank you every day that you have given us a president who boldly stands on the right side of history but, more importantly, stands on the right side of you, O God, when it comes to Israel.”A few months after that, in August, the White House hosts an elaborate dinner for a hundred or so evangelical leaders from across the country. Franklin Graham is there. So are James Dobson and Paula White, a TV host and pastor of a Florida megachurch. Jeffress is one of the preachers Trump thanks by name. Reading prepared remarks, the president lists his evangelical-friendly accomplishments: issuing orders limiting government funding for groups that provide abortions, helping to free an American pastor being held in Turkey, moving the embassy to Jerusalem. Of course, there’s no record of him mentioning any of these issues before campaigning for president and meeting people like Jeffress.At the end of his short speech, Trump thanks the religious leaders. He calls them “special people.” Then he looks up from his script.“The support you’ve given me has been incredible,” the president says. “But I really don’t feel guilty, because I have given you a lot back.” Here’s Robert Jeffress at a Maggiano’s in North Dallas, standing in front of two hundred or so people at an event called Dinner With the Pastor. Every few months, prospective church members are invited to have a meal and conversation in a private room, all on First Baptist’s tab. The massive serving plates on each table are full of ravioli slathered in cream, balsamic-glazed chicken, and meaty lasagna. There are Frisbee-size crème brûlées and gallons of iced tea. The highlight of the evening, though, is when attendees are invited to ask the pastor anything they want. One woman says she campaigned for Trump and wants to know if Jeffress really told him he knew he would be president. Jeffress recounts the conversation they had over Wendy’s cheeseburgers. But he adds that he doesn’t consider himself a Republican. First Baptist, he says, has “plenty of people who love President Trump and people who don’t love President Trump.”To watch him find new ways to justify his support is as impressive as it is exasperating.Someone wants to know when Jeffress finds time to read the Bible. Someone has a specific question about a verse in the book of Isaiah. Then a woman with an Australian accent asks Jeffress if Trump is saved. The room gets quiet. Jeffress explains that early on in his relationship with Trump, he asked, “Mr. Trump, what do I say when people ask me about your faith?” He says Trump responded, “Tell people that my faith is very important to me but that it’s also very personal.” Then someone asks if he agrees with the president about the news media. Jeffress looks right at me and smiles. He tells the audience that his mother was a high school journalism teacher. Her former students went on to work for some of the best newspapers in the country. “I honestly believe that most of the media tries their hardest to get it right,” he says, adding that the freedom of religion and freedom of the press are inextricably linked by the First Amendment. Over the following weeks, Jeffress and I discuss Russia and the forthcoming Mueller report, the joys of raising children (he has two daughters), the #MeToo movement and the church’s relationship with women. Every time we talk—no matter the headlines, no matter the president’s latest inflammatory remarks—Jeffress is steadfast in his defense of Trump. When the Mueller report is released in April and shows ample evidence of obstruction of justice, Jeffress says he still believes the entire investigation has been a political ploy to damage the president. To watch him find new ways to justify his support is as impressive as it is exasperating. I ask him if he’s bothered when the president tells easily disprovable lies—like when he claims, contrary to the evidence, that special prosecutor Robert Mueller is a Democrat. “I operate under the assumption that the president knows more than we do,” he says. “I think he probably has insight into that investigation that I don’t have.”Not once, in all the months we’ve met, has Jeffress criticized Trump. I want to know if he is at all concerned by the cost of this allegiance. I ask if he worries about turning off seekers with what they might perceive as his hypocrisy. Even Billy Graham ultimately regretted his involvement with Richard Nixon. He tells me he isn’t concerned. He endorses the president’s policies and not necessarily his behavior, he says, and most people are smart enough to know the difference. I ask if he worries that Trump is driving deeper the wedges in our society or stoking dangerous ideologies and emboldening nefarious actors. He tells me he believes the president has merely exposed the division in our country and that a public figure isn’t responsible when someone misinterprets a message as a call for violence. “There have been screwballs and zealots throughout history who have taken the truth and twisted it,” he says.I ask if he at least holds Trump accountable. Does he ever criticize the president in their private meetings? “If it had happened, I wouldn’t tell you about it,” he replies, “because I just feel like friends don’t do that to one another.”I ask him whether Trump might be a test from God, a test of whether Jeffress’s devotion is to the Bible’s teachings and requirements or whether it’s to a powerful leader whose policies he finds agreeable.“You have to operate on the best information that you have, and what we had in 2016 was the choice between two diametrically opposed candidates,” he says. “One was pro-life, pro–religious liberty, pro–conservative judiciary. His name was Donald Trump. One was a pro-choice candidate who would not stop an abortion or limit an abortion for any reason at all. It could not have been a more clear choice at that point.”Did he consider any of the sixteen other Republican candidates, most of whom would have appointed pro-life judges?“I don’t think any of them could have won,” Jeffress says.Jeffress is often asked what it would take for evangelicals to walk away from the president. If the economy collapses, he tells me, people will probably want a change. And if the president were caught being unfaithful to his wife while in office, he could see people having a problem with that. But more than anything, it would take a change in policies. “If he said, ‘You know, I think we’ve got enough conservatives on the Supreme Court. It’s time for us to have some more moderate views and balance things out.’ Or if he suddenly decided, ‘You know what, I used to be pro-choice, and then I turned pro-life. I’m gonna go back to pro-choice again.’ I mean, those would certainly be deal-breakers, I think.”Then he clarifies. He knows his audience. What he meant was that these changes would be deal-breakers for evangelicals politically, not for his own relationship with Trump.“I’m his friend,” he says. “I’ll never walk away.”This article originally appeared in the August 2019 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “The Pastor and the President.” Subscribe today. Jeffress continues. He cites the Old Testament tale of Nehemiah, who was inspired by God to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. “The Bible says even heaven itself is gonna have a wall around it,” Jeffress adds. “Not everyone is gonna be allowed in.” First Name It’s not clear whether Dobbs buys this theological reasoning, but he’s at least amused by it. “What would be the point of those pearly gates if there weren’t a wall, right?” the host says with a Cheshire grin. The pastor keeps going. “What is immoral,” he says, “is for Democrats to continue to try to block this president from performing his God-given task of protecting this nation.”The 63-year-old Jeffress is trim and winsome, with a natural smile and a syrupy demeanor. Tonight he’s wearing a charcoal suit and a gleaming magenta tie with matching pocket square. As he speaks, the screen behind him shows generic patriotic imagery. He has the syntax and enunciation of a champion debater and the certitude of someone who believes he gets his instructions directly from God.He is known for leaning into controversy, whether it’s declaring that Mormonism is “a heresy from the pit of hell” (which resulted in an extended public beef with Mitt Romney) or preaching a sermon titled “Why Gay Is Not Okay” (which resulted in a protest outside his church) or having two hundred or so members of his choir and orchestra perform a rendition of a hymn called “Make America Great Again” at a concert in Washington, D.C. (which resulted in not one but two approving tweets from President Trump).He is also known, of course, as one of the president’s most avid and outspoken advocates. While other evangelical leaders were slow to get behind Trump—James Dobson, for example, wondered about Trump’s religiosity—Jeffress campaigned with him before the 2016 primaries even started, before Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio flamed out. If some evangelicals who now back Trump fret that they’ve entered into a Faustian bargain, for Jeffress it’s a wholehearted embrace. It’s become one of the most fascinating symbiotic relationships in modern politics: the pastor gets a national platform for his message and a leader who appoints conservative judges who will in turn restrict access to abortion; the president gets the support of evangelical voters he needs to win reelection, along with an energetic and effective promoter who can explain or excuse all manner of polarizing behavior. When the Access Hollywood tape leaked before the election and America heard Trump brag about grabbing women, Jeffress went on Fox News to say that the candidate’s words were “crude, offensive, and indefensible, but they’re not enough to make me vote for Hillary Clinton.” After the president said there were “some very fine people on both sides” of the deadly clash between white nationalists and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, Jeffress appeared on the Christian Broadcasting Network to say that Democrats were falsely painting Trump as a racist. “Racism comes in all shapes, all sizes, and, yes, all colors,” explained the pastor. “And if we’re going to denounce some racism, we ought to denounce all racism.”When the adult-film actress Stormy Daniels announced that she’d had a sexual encounter with Trump and was paid to keep quiet before the election, Jeffress explained in a Fox News debate with Juan Williams that evangelicals “knew they weren’t voting for an altar boy.” Robert Jeffress at First Baptist Dallas on March 27, 2019.Photograph by Trevor Paulhus This Week in Texas(Weekly)The best stories from Texas Monthly Never Miss a StorySign up for Texas Monthly’s State of Texas newsletter to get stories like this delivered to your inbox daily. Jeffress defended Trump when the president referred to a kneeling NFL player as a “son of a bitch.” He justified the administration’s separating children from their parents at the border. When Trump questioned why America would accept immigrants from “shithole countries,” Jeffress responded this way: “Apart from the vocabulary attributed to him, President Trump is right on target in his sentiment.”Ten days before tonight’s appearance with Dobbs, Jeffress was on a different Fox show, scoffing at a Christmas tweet from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, suggesting that Jesus was a refugee. “There’s nothing in the Biblical text to suggest that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus came to Egypt to flee Herod illegally,” Jeffress said, laughing and shaking his head. “And they certainly didn’t come in a caravan of five thousand, threatening Egyptian sovereignty.”No doubt Jeffress knows that a lot of the people waiting at the border are there precisely because they want to enter legally, as asylum seekers, but that didn’t come up on air. These television exchanges, usually over in five minutes, don’t allow for such distinctions.Robert Jeffress being interviewed for a TV segment in Dallas on May 20, 2011.During this evening’s three-minute discussion with Dobbs, Jeffress sounds more like a fiery Old Testament prophet than a turn-the-other-cheek Christian: he decries Democrats for supporting sanctuary cities laws he believes led to the death of a police officer in California. He says Michigan representative Rashida Tlaib is “despicable” for using “gutter language to curse our president.” He declares, “The Democrats are the party of immorality.” He calls Romney a “self-righteous snake.” His animated ranting earns a belly laugh from Dobbs. Finally, the host tells him, “Pastor, good to have you with us!”With that, the camera’s off. After wiping away his TV makeup, Jeffress will walk out of the studio, drive to his home in North Dallas, and spend the rest of the evening watching TV with his wife, Amy. He may even watch a replay of tonight’s show. TV reaches people, and reaching people is important to Jeffress. And to reach people, he knows, you must understand who they are and how they will hear you. You must be, as the Apostle Paul once put it, all things to all people.Here’s Robert Jeffress as a boy in the sixties, well-mannered and bright, so infatuated with the power of television that he dreams of one day becoming—of all things—an executive producer on a TV show. He’s so dedicated to this dream, so enthralled by show business, that he wakes up early some days to play his accordion before school on a children’s morning show in Dallas called Mr. Peppermint.His family lives in Richardson, but they spend plenty of time at First Baptist, downtown. It’s a turbulent time for Dallas, where the president has just been assassinated, and for the church, which is reckoning with desegregation. First Baptist has always been enmeshed in politics: George Truett, who became pastor in 1897, gave his most famous sermon, about the separation of church and state, on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, D.C. His successor, W. A. Criswell, is not shy either: He has decried the Supreme Court decision to desegregate schools as “idiocy” and suggested that Catholics do not make good presidents. In 1968 Criswell reverses his position on desegregation and is soon thereafter voted in as president of the Southern Baptist Convention. The move puts North Texas at the center of a massive conservative movement.His ninth-grade speech teacher tells him, “Jeffress, you’re going to be a preacher one day, and it scares the bejeebers out of me because you can sell anybody anything!”Young Robert absorbs all this. His parents campaign for Barry Goldwater in 1964. When he is fourteen, Roe v. Wade goes to court, just a short walk from First Baptist; he’s seventeen when the Supreme Court legalizes access to abortion. In 1976 Criswell endorses Gerald Ford from the pulpit, but Jeffress casts his ballot—his first—for a Democrat, a born-again Christian from Georgia named Jimmy Carter. Last Name If you fill out the first name, last name, or agree to terms fields, you will NOT be added to the newsletter list. Leave them blank to get signed up. Editor’s Desk(Monthly)A message from the editors at Texas Monthly Sign UpI agree to the terms and conditions.
HAVE you got your Pink Vee shirt yet?Saints will play in a unique one-off pink shirt to throw their weight behind the fight to beat breast cancer.Royce Simmons’ men will take to the field against Catalans on Friday July 15 (8pm) in the special kit to help raise money for the Burney Breast Unit at St Helens Hospital and promote Breast Cancer Awareness.As well as a collection at the Engage Super League tie, the players’ match shirts will be auctioned to raise funds.Replicas of the superb looking shirt are now on sale in store and online at the Saints Superstore – and have nearly sold out.Limited sizes are available to buy and proceeds of each shirt sold will go to the Burney Breast Unit.The dedicated team at the Burney Breast Unit – who helped launch Saints home and away kits at the beginning of the season – are committed to providing patients with the best quality of care.Based at St Helens Hospital, highly skilled staff detect and treat more than 200 cases of breast cancer a year.This renowned unit has its own x-ray facilities and provides a one-stop clinic with rapid access for patients requiring screening and a range of treatments.Patients treated at the Trust benefit from a unique collaboration between the Burney Breast Unit and the Mersey Regional Plastic Surgery Unit at Whiston Hospital. This enables surgeons to perform breast cancer surgery within the same operation as breast reconstructive surgery, leading to faster recovery times and better cosmetic results for patients.You can get your shirt by visiting the Saints Superstore in St Marys Shopping Centre or online at www.saintssuperstore.comTickets for the Pink Vee Charity Match are on sale here, by calling into the Saints Superstore or by calling 01744 455 052.
SAINTS travel to Bradford Bulls on Sunday having won their last three meetings over at ‘Odsal’.The Bulls’ last victory against the Saints was a 12-8 home success on March 17 2012.The game, which kicks at 3pm at the Provident Stadium, will see second take on thirteenth.Super League Summary:Bradford won 21 (includes wins in 1999, 2002 and 2005 play-offs)St Helens won 27 (includes wins in 1999 and 2002 Grand Finals & 1998 play-offs)1 drawHighs and Lows:Bradford highest score: 64-24 (H, 2004) (Widest margin: 54-8, H, 2004)St Helens highest score: 66-4 (A, 2005) (also widest margin)First Utility Super League Leading ScorersTries:1 Tom Makinson (St Helens) 132 Ryan Hall (Leeds Rhinos) 113 = Justin Carney (Castleford Tigers), Morgan Escare (Catalan Dragons) & Kevin Brown (Widnes Vikings) 106 = Michael Shenton (Castleford Tigers) & Elliott Whitehead (Catalan Dragons) 9Goals:1 Danny Brough (Huddersfield Giants) 432 Kevin Sinfield (Leeds Rhinos) 403 Marc Sneyd (Castleford Tigers) 394 Luke Walsh (St Helens) 385 Danny Tickle (Widnes Vikings) 35Goals Percentage:1 Chris Bridge (Warrington Wolves) 86.66 (13/15)2 Marc Sneyd (Castleford Tigers) 82.97 (39/47)3 Jamie Foster (Bradford Bulls) 82.75 (24/29)4 Jarrod Sammut (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats) 82.50 (33/40)5 Danny Tickle (Widnes Vikings) 81.39 (35/43)Points:1 Kevin Sinfield (Leeds Rhinos) 962 Danny Brough (Huddersfield Giants) 953 Jarrod Sammut (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats) 904 Luke Walsh (St Helens) 885 Marc Sneyd (Castleford Tigers) 84
SAINTS started their 2015 U16s season in the same style as last year, in freezing conditions at Thatto Heath and with a 34-14 defeat to Leeds.However, there the similarity ends as this year was a very different display.The Saints let themselves down in the opening minutes five or ten minutes of each half allowing the Rhinos to score twice in each half making it much easier for them to play on the front foot and giving the Saints a mountain to climb.But climb it they did despite a massive penalty count against meaning they had to do much more than their fair share of defending.Once they managed to put the visitors under pressure the Rhinos wilted and the Saints came into their own.With half backs Ben Heyes and Elliott Jenkins running the show out wide and Captain Brad Pinder bringing the big props Jordan Olmez and Jorge Lewtas onto the ball the Saints took the game to the visitors.Pinder was denied the opening score on 22 minutes when he was tackled at the line. In truth he should’ve passed out to the unmarked Kevin Brown who would’ve fallen over the line but he did manage to keep the ball alive and the Saints got a repeat set. From the play the ball Jenkins gave it to Brown and the full back reached out to plant the ball over the whitewash.Saints got their second in as many minutes on the next set as the impressive Jordan Gibbons took Heyes’ towering bomb from the hands of the full back, passed it to Brown who got it out to winger Alex Burke and he stepped inside the cover to score.Burke was denied his second on the half hour as a miss pass which would’ve seen him in opposed went into touch.The wind took both Gibbons’ kicks wide but the Saints were within touching distance at the break.Unfortunately a serious injury to Jenkins meant that the influential scrum half couldn’t continue and the Saints missed him immensely in the second period as they again tried to come back.Harry Coleman got the Saints back within striking distance as he strolled under the sticks after the full back had spilled another towering Heyes bomb but that was as good as it got.The Rhinos scored twice more in the final ten minutes to give the score a slightly flattering look.There were some good displays off the bench from Danny Edwards, Alex Eckley, Tom Pinder and especially Ben Twist whilst Callum Hazzard and Cameron Brown worked hard. Best for the Saints on the day were Ben Heyes and the mazy running of Kevin Brown who always caused problems for the visitors bringing the ball out of defence.Match Summary: St Helens U16s:Tries: Kevin Brown, Alex Burke, Harry Coleman.Goals: Jordan Gibbons.Leeds U16s:Tries: Kiedan Hartley 2, Harvey Whiteley, Cameron Smith 2, Luke Naughton.Goals: Jack Walker 5.Half Time: 8-10Full Time: 14-34Teams:Saints: 1. Kevin Brown; 2. Jacob Cummings, 3. Cameron Brown, 4. Jordan Gibbons, 5. Alex Burke; 6. Lewis Gartland, 7. Elliot Jenkins; 8. Jordan Olmez, 9. Brad Pinder (C), 10. Jorge Lewtas, 11. Harry Coleman, 12. Chris Follin, 13. Callum Hazzard. Subs: 14. Ben Heyes, 15. Danny Edwards, 16. Alex Eckley, 17. Ben Twist, 19. Jack Grimes, 20. Tom Pinder.Leeds:1. Kiedan Hartley; 2. Harry Newman, 3. Nathan Waring, 4. Alex Sutcliffe, 5. Alex Young; 6. George Senior, 7. Jack Walker; 8. Tom Hall, 9. Harvey Whiteley, 10. Mikolaj Oledski, 11. Spencer Darley, 12. Dyson Nicholson, 13. Cameron Smith (C). Subs: 14. Alex Ward, 15. Loui McConnell, 16. Luke Naughton, 17. Kieron Hainsworth, 18. Tyron Travis.
KEIRON Cunningham says his squad is perfectly balanced ahead of the new campaign – and pre-season training has enhanced his opinion.Speaking as he prepares for Sunday’s warm-up with Dewsbury Rams, he is confident Saints can compete on all fronts in 2016.“Pre-season has been good,” he said. “We tried to mix it up at little and get away from the usual environment. I’ve been promising the boys some sunny weather training for a while now so the least I could do was take them to the Lakes and Plymouth! Rivington Pike was grim too.“At this time of the year, we’re not interrupted by the week to week playing of games. That means we can get information into the younger players and get people fit and healthy. We’re as happy as we can be, but the gauge will be round one.“We have thickened the squad as much as we can, within the salary cap, and are happy with our signings. We have a good balance and you’ll see the next batch come through – the likes of Morgan Knowles, Ricky Bailey and Jack Ashworth. Jack has had a big pre-season and looks like a man. We’re expecting big things of him.“Calvin Wellington and Regan Grace are progressing too but they are long term projects. In the wrestle hall they look like first teamers but in the gym they look like boys. We are working hard to get some strength into them.”He continued: “We’ve had some surgeries in pre-season which set a couple of the lads back. Adam Swift had his shoulder done and Alex Walmsley has had some grumbles but we’re hoping he can play in the last trial game.“I have no timeframe for Jonny Lomax. The surgeon said it would be 12 months – but he will be ready when he is ready. He won’t play at the start of the season. Shannon McDonnell won’t be ready also but is getting there. He had a lot of issues with his scar site and infections but is now back running.“Luckily, we’ve signed Jack Owens. He has run at fullback all pre-season. He is someone we have followed for a while and I am shocked Widnes let him go. He’s been impressive.“Both our wingers haven’t done a lot of pre-season with us so to run with one of those at fullback instead would have been daft. Luckily, Jack is available and he looks great.”Saints other three new signings have also been going well as Keiron explains.“Dominique Peyroux has been training at centre and has been brilliant,” he continued. “Because of injuries we have been running with Mark Percival on the wing, Jordan Turner at centre and a bit of 6 with Theo Fages at half and nine also. It’s good to have them all available and it gives us plenty of options.“Theo has been superb for us. He has a great sense of humour, trains hard and has fit straight into the standards we have here. He is a tough half back who can also play in the middle and that is valuable.“We can’t keep running James Roby into the ground. He is one of our biggest assets and when he played for England you could see how fresh he looked playing in spells. He won’t like it (to be spelled) but Theo fits that bill as do the young players who have trained well.“Lama Tasi is a different animal all together. He is mobile and we want to be more mobile this year. Both our back rowers are mobile too. He is mature beyond his years and it’s fair to saw Andre Savelio has kicked on under him too.“Lama is a big man who will play big minutes and have a big impact.”Saints went close last season – falling short in two semi-finals – and are keen to go better this time around.Sights are set firmly on trophies at Langtree Park.“We have learnt a lot from the losses last season,” Keiron said. “As a group you have to reflect on that. You don’t want to live with ifs or buts. The worst thing when you finish in October is you have all that time to think about those moments until the season starts again.“We were close in both semi-finals. Then you think if we had picked up a couple more results here and there it could have been different.“We want to win trophies, that is a given. We want to be in the top four at the end of the season and in with a chance of every trophy. We can’t live off what happened last season because we know how different things could have been.“I am confident about the ability of the squad. We are 12 months more mature too and I’m sure we can do something this year.”Cunningham indicated he will run with a big squad this Sunday to give him a chance to look at the new players and youngsters.“We will start with a strong team and then mix and match as the game progresses.”Saints will take on Dewsbury Rams in a friendly at Langtree Park on Sunday January 17 (3pm).Tickets are priced at £10 (adult), £8 (concession and 16-21) and £5 (junior) in both the Hatton’s Solicitors West & Solarking South Stands.You can buy your tickets from the Ticket Office at Langtree Park, by calling 01744 455 052 or online here.
SAINTS Reserves side kept their 100% record intact with a fine 24-12 win against a good Halifax side sprinkled with names familiar to anyone watching U19s rugby over the past few years, writes Graham Henthorne.The Saints again fielded a side with a mixture of older and younger heads and all will be better for the experience.As will all of the Championship Reserve sides playing Super League opposition the home side were quick out of the blocks and eager to take the game to the Saints.They opened the scoring capitalising on poor Saints handling to gain a repeat set and three tackles later prop Martyn Reilly scored the first of his brace crashing over at the posts.The Saints continued to stutter as the new formations got to know each other but as the half went on the home side visibly wilted. Couple that with the Saints finally holding onto possession and the strangle hold was well and truly applied.The scores were levelled as a series of slick, quick passes down the left put Matty Costello away and he had the simplest of tasks to put his winger Regan Grace away to glide under the sticks.There followed numerous great grubber kicks from Tom Connick and Danny Richardson which kept Halifax penned in. From the resulting repeat sets Calvin Wellington was twice held up over the line.The home side just couldn’t summon the energy to get out of their own half which allowed the Saints to finally take the lead right on the stroke of half time.Richardson’s pin-point last tackle cross kick was taken by the home winger but he was quickly bundled into touch by Tommi Hughes and Dave Eccleston giving the Saints a scrum on the Fax 10 metre line. Three tackles later and Richardson expertly dummied his way over under the posts.The half time interval re-energised the home team and they again took it to the Saints who had to absorb a good deal of pressure for a ten minute period. But once Lewis Charnock, back from his sojourn down the road at Leigh, had crumpled his opposite number in half with a big tackle there was seemingly only one winner.However, on the hour Fax did manage to take advantage of a 40/20 and levelled the scores as the big prop scored his second try in identical fashion to the first.The response was immediate. Good work at the play the ball by Hughes forced the error and four tackles later Ross McCauley trundled his way through an increasingly beleaguered defensive line to give the Saints the lead.From the restart the saints again camped on the Fax line and the prop again burst his way through but seemed to get white line fever passing the ball instead of going for the line and the chance was lost.The game was made safe five minutes from time as a Charnock miss pass put Wellington free to interpass with his Welsh colleague finally taking the return ball to score. Charnock’s fourth goal gave the score a more fitting look to go along with the performance.This game was a fantastic advert for all that the Reserves League is about. Two evenly matched sides playing good, hard attractive rugby made for a great spectacle.There was invaluable experience for the Furlong’s, Weldon’s, Morris’s and Costello’s of the team who all played against bigger and older opposition than they have faced before. The midfield trio of Tony Suffolk, Olly Davies and Charnock were relentless, Jonah Cunningham and Aaron Smith controlled the ruck and there were good performances from Liam Cooper and Tom Connick.But this game was yet another step on the seemingly inevitable road to first team recognition at some point for Danny Richardson as he demonstrated his artistry both with ball in hand and in his kicking.Match Summary:Halifax:Tries: Martyn Reilly (8 & 60).Goals: Connor Robinson 2.Saints:Tries: Regan Grace (28), Danny Richardson (40), Ross McCauley (63), Calvin Wellington (74).Goals: Lewis Charnock 4.Half Time: 12-6Full Time: 24-12Teams:Halifax:1. Joe Martin; 2. Gareth Potts, 3. Ben Heaton, 4. Chester Butler, 5. Craig Robertson; 6. James Woodburn-Hall, 7. Connor Robinson; 8. Martyn Reilly, 9. Ryan Maneely, 10. Gavin Bennion, 11. Jordan Syme, 12. Ed Barber, 19. James Saltonstall.Subs: 13. Josh Greenwood-MacDonald, 14. Jack Georgiou, 15. Callum Dunne, 16. Cian Timmins, 17. Luke Nelmes, 18. Jordan Baldwin.Saints:1. Matty Costello; 2. Dave Eccleston, 3. Tommi Hughes, 4. Calvin Wellington, 5. Regan Grace; 7. Danny Richardson, 6. Tom Connick; 18. Tony Suffolk, 9. Jonah Cunningham, 19. Ross McCauley, 11. Olly Davies, 12. Dave Llewellyn, 13. Lewis Charnock.Subs: 8. Levy Nzoungou, 14. Aaron Smith, 15. Lewis Furlong, 16. Mike Weldon, 17. Liam Cooper, 20. Ben Morris.
Roberts was charged with promotion of prostitution, aid and abet prostitution, sexual servitude, resisting arrest, human trafficking, possession of firearm by a convicted felon and served with two fugitive warrants out of NY.On January 24, an undercover prostitution sting at a hotel located at 1200 Culbreth Drive. Detectives arranged a meeting with a woman that posted an ad on backpage. The woman allegedly solicited the undercover officer, and she was taken into custody. It was discovered she was an underage victim of human trafficking and maintained the room with Marvarlus Snead, 31, and Ashanti McLean, 26.Snead was charged with human trafficking a child victim, promote and advance prostitution of a minor, promote prostitution of a minor by profiting and also served with 12 outstanding warrants from Johnston County. McLean was charged with human trafficking a child victim and promotion of prostitution of a minor. Snead is in jail under a $460,000 secure bond. McLean is in jail under a $270,000 secure bond.Related Article: Deputy shoots alleged drug dealer at Burger KingOn February 14, detectives conducted a controlled purchase of heroin from Rachel Williams, 34, then arrested her in the 2600 block of Carolina Beach Road. Detectives discovered she was staying at a hotel located at 2657 Carolina Beach Road with Charles Brown, 42, and Angela Beck, 47. Detectives conducted a search warrant and found 39 bags of heroin, .37 grams of cocaine and other paraphernalia related items.Williams was charged with sell/deliver heroin, PWIMSD heroin and served with 2 warrants from Pender County and 1 warrant from New Hanover County. Brown was charged with PWIMSD heroin, manufacture schedule I CS, maintain dwelling, possession of cocaine, PDP and served with absconding probation charges. Beck was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. Rachel Williams is in jail under a $39,000 secure bond. Charles Brown is in jail under a $50,000 secure bond. Angela Beck is in jail under a $18,200 secure bond.On February 20, detectives received information that Othello York was staying at a hotel located at 245 Eastwood Rd and in possession of multiple types of illegal drugs. Detectives conducted an investigation and executed a search warrant on his hotel room. Detectives arrested York, 46, and found 63 bags of heroin, 8 grams of raw unpackaged heroin, 32 grams of meth, 7 grams of cocaine, and 5 grams of crack cocaine.York was charged with numerous drug violations including trafficking heroin, trafficking meth, possession with intent to sell cocaine, and possession with intent to sell crack cocaine. York is in jail under a $1,000,000 secure bond. L-R: Snead, Jamaal, McLean, Brown, Beck, York, and Williams. (Photo: NHSO) WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Several people were arrested after multiple undercover prostitution stings and drug investigations over the last two months. New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office says now seven people are facing human trafficking and drug charges.On January 17, an undercover prostitution sting at a hotel located at 2657 Carolina Beach Road. Detectives made contact with a woman and found she was a victim of human trafficking. Detectives charged Jamaal Roberts, 32, after the investigation showed he was maintaining a hotel room with the victim, setting her dates up and keeping her money.- Advertisement –