While defending Southern Baptist pastors who called Vice President Kamala Harris a “Jezebel,” prominent Southern Baptist pastor Tom Ascol declared Harris was going to hell. He also consigned journalists Anne Branigin and Jake Tapper to that fate for reporting on pastors who compared Harris to the biblical character Jezebel.
“They’re going to hell. Kamala Harris is going to hell without Christ, and she thinks she’s doing well,” Ascol declared this week. “This Branigin is going to hell. Jake Tapper is going to hell, if they think what they’re promoting is actually right, good, and true.”
Ascol, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida, is also president of Founders Ministries, a group pushing Calvinism within Southern Baptist life. He made the comments during an episode of the group’s podcast “The Sword and the Trowel” on Tuesday (Feb. 16).
Ascol’s co-host, Founders Vice President Jared Longshore, previously penned a column on the group’s website criticizing Branigin and Harris for having “the same spirit as the historic Jezebel” and for following “the false religion that preaches a false gospel.”
Throughout Tuesday’s program on the controversy, both Ascol and Longshore repeatedly mispronounced the Vice President’s first name.
Tom Buck, pastor of First Baptist Church in Lindale, Texas, first tweeted out the comparison on Jan. 22. Several religious publications noted the ‘Jezebel’ label has a long history as a racist trope used against Black women. That included an article by Branigin in The Lily (a publication of the Washington Post), which Tapper tweeted.
Ascol insisted Buck “was right” and was “making a very appropriate biblical analogy” so Christians would not follow “this pagan United States Vice President in her wickedness.”
Longshore added his assessment that Harris, Tapper, and Branigin were “unbelievers.”
Longshore also complained about ways he felt people portrayed Harris as a role model, including with a drawing of Harris. Longshore appeared to refer to a viral image of Harris walking with a shadow of Ruby Bridges, who as a six-year-old in 1960 integrated an all-White school in New Orleans. However, Longshore didn’t seem to recognize the historical message of the picture, even though the shadow matched the iconic image of Bridges by Norman Rockwell.
“There’s a huge push, I mean, influential, huge discipleship process that is presenting Kamala Harris as a role model to people,” he said. “Somewhere I saw a picture of Kamala walking and then her shadow, if you cast her shadow, it’s this little sweet girl, you know. It’s like, okay, well, what’s happening? Follow Kamala, right, as she follows whatever. But we know it’s not follow Kamala as she follows Christ.”
The two also criticized Christian leaders who disagreed with the critiques of Harris as Jezebel. Ascol questioned how anyone who disagreed with Buck’s tweet could be a Christian.
“What Christian person would disagree with that?” he asked as he emphasized the word ‘Christian’ while Longshore laughed. “What thinking Christian would disagree with it?”
Ascol also criticized Dwight McKissic, a Black Southern Baptist pastor in Texas, and other Christian leaders for criticizing Buck over the Jezebel tweet. Ascol didn’t name other voices besides McKissic, but Longshore in his column had criticized Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Danny Akin, and SBC First Vice President Marshal Ausberry (who also leads the SBC’s National African American Fellowship).
Ascol said he wasn’t sure “if there’s a lack of courage, lack or theology, or a lack of integrity” but that Christian leaders needed to stand up on the side of Buck.
“We have seen many people who call themselves Christians and many Christian leaders who have just absolutely fumbled at this point because they have piled on Tom Buck,” Ascol added. “And they have tried to shame him. They’ve tried to cancel him. They’ve tried to get him to back down. And, praise God, he hasn’t backed down. And I’m asking myself, okay, are these people really not following Jesus? Or do they just not understand the ways of Jesus?”
Ascol and Longshore did not note Harris is a member of Third Baptist Church in San Francisco. Her pastor, civil rights icon Amos C. Brown, recently explained the problems with the ‘Jezebel’ attacks. He called the comments about Harris “profoundly anti-Christian.”
“Such vile tropes have no place in our society or political discourse,” Brown wrote in a Feb. 9 Word&Way column. “For a White man to use that word to describe any Black woman is demeaning in the extreme. For a White man who fashions himself a Christian to use it as a label for the Vice President of the United States is unforgivable.”