Trump’s new chief of staff is a young-earth creationist who lied to the government and helps promulgate lies to children

March 8, 2020 • 10:00 am

One thing that’s been missing from this election cycle—as it’s been missed in nearly every Presidential election—is questioning the candidates about their acceptance of evolution. In fact, I don’t remember Trump ever being asked this question. In 2016, the other Republican candidates mostly ducked the question (see also here), and for the life of me I can’t say that any of the Democratic candidates have “endorsed” evolution, though I suspect they would. Republicans, of course, lose nothing by denying evolution or evading its discussion, since most Americans don’t accept evolution either, and Republicans are more averse to it than Democrats. Here’s a table from a Pew Research study in 2014:

While the figures are still disappointing vis-à-vis Democrats, 27% of whom believe in young-earth creationism, that’s still more than 20 points lower than Republicans; and I can’t help but think that a Democrat who denied or waffled about evolution would hurt their candidacy. Because the evidence for evolution is so strong, asking candidates about it—like asking them about global warming—is a measure of how closely they adhere to the facts rather than to a conservative and tribalistic orthodoxy.

Nevertheless, it’s not surprising when a Republican comes out denying or questioning evolution. And now one of them, Mark Meadows, whom Donald Trump just appointed as his chief of staff, replacing Mick Mulvaney, appears to be a full-blown young-earth creationist, one who participated actively in fostering creationist lies to children by helping Ken Ham’s Answers in Genesis organization.

Meadows has been a conservative Congressman from North Carolina since 2013, and will now help run the White House. The details of his creationism are given in this story from last October’s New Yorker. It’s a bit long and tedious (there’s a shorter version here), but I’ll give the gist below. (Click on the screenshot to read the piece.)

1.) Meadows acquired a 134-acre piece of property in Colorado some time ago, and then sold it in 2014 for $200,000 to Answers in Genesis (AIG). The property was in fact in the city of Dinosaur, Colorado named because the area, and Meadows’s property, is rich in dinosaur fossils.

2.) Why are creationists so interested in dinosaurs, whose existence would seem to refute Biblical creationism? Because they maintain that dinos and humans existed at the same time—not that long ago—and not only survived the Flood, but were aboard the Ark. Here’s a summary of the AIG view (my emphasis):

Dinosaurs were created by God on Day 6 of creation, approximately 6,000 years ago, and were originally vegetarian. During the global Flood, many were buried and fossilized but two of each kind survived on Noah’s Ark. They eventually died out, due to human activity, climate changes, or other factors.

Don’t ask me how they got the big ones aboard the Ark, and how they loaded enough vegetation aboard to feed them all. (In a video above, Ken Ham suggests that it was only baby dinosaurs were on the Ark, and there were only about 50 Biblical “kinds” of dinos, which nevertheless included the T. rex “kind”.) Then, after Adam and Eve sinned, many dinosaurs, because of the Fall, became carnivorous (this is how ridiculous it gets).  Then they went extinct, which is why we don’t see them today.

3.) Creationists want dinosaur skeletons to put on display in the Creation Museum to impress the kids and promulgate lies. The most famous one found on the property that became Meadows’s is this skeleton of the large and carnivorous (after the Flood) Allosaurus in the Creation Museum.

4.) The Allosaurus is the subject of a lot of the New Yorker piece, as AIG claims it was largely excavated by homeschooled creationist children, while the facts suggest that this wasn’t the case and it was professionally excavated. (Why this is so important to the article is a mystery.) At any rate, AIG made a one-hour movie about it, called “Raising the Allosaur”, which you can still find on Vimeo. I’ve put it below but haven’t watched it. Meadows is in it.

5.) Meadows did not report his ownership of the property, nor its sale, to the House Ethics committee, which is required. It’s not clear why he evaded this responsibility, but it may be to hide his connection with Answers in Genesis. That’s the official species of lying.

6.) Here’s what the New Yorker article says about Meadows’s faith; this, along with his sale of the property to AiG, is sufficient for me to accept that he’s a young-earth creationist, although he’s never openly admitted he’s one:

Meadows is very open about his faith and has been an outspoken advocate for homeschooling as a congressman. When he first ran for Congress, he was endorsed by Michael Farris, the founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association, where Doug Phillips worked before creating Vision Forum. (Farris distanced himself from Phillips following the reports of Phillips’s relationship with his nanny; Farris also insisted that he was “uncomfortable” with Phillips’s “patriarchy theory” for years, though this has been disputed.) “I think he’s one of the best members of Congress, by far,” Farris told me, of Meadows. “He’s stood up for religious freedom. He has a backbone, and he’s stood by the issues that he campaigned on.” Farris is also the founder of Patrick Henry College, which mandates the teaching of creationism and also touts the number of White House internships that its students receive. Meadows’s son is a graduate; Meadows delivered a commencement address there last year. I asked Farris whether he knew anything about Meadows’s views on the age of the Earth. “We’ve never talked about creationism, but I would assume that he, like me, believes in creation,” Farris said.

So be it. Another likely creationist high up in the government.

We still don’t know if Trump accepts evolution (he’d never admit it even if he was smart enough to understand it and accept the evidence), but it would be amusing to see a good reporter ask him about this. Imagine the brain-dumpy verbiage that would ensue! Readers may want to amuse themselves by imagining what Trump would say, and putting their speculations it in the comments.

h/t: Don


77 thoughts on “Trump’s new chief of staff is a young-earth creationist who lied to the government and helps promulgate lies to children

  1. Transitional fossils. Let me tell ya. That’s a Radical Left Do Nothing Democrat Hoax. They were telling me, and believe me, I impressed these scientists when we were talking about this. They were telling me… Tiktaalik. Little did they know I was all over Tiktaalik from the beginning. I said, you know, they are killing us with this in China. And you they told us we weren’t gonna build a wall, but we did it folks. I did it.

    1. Every one of these paleontologists say, “how do you know so much about this. Maybe I have a natural ability”.

  2. You forget to mention that he is a birther/racist. I loathe the fact that my tax dollars are going toward this man’s salary!

  3. I don’t think Meadows hid his connection with Answers in Genesis for shame of creationism. He’s proud of that sort of thing. He would be quick to hide things for ethical/financial reasons, though.

  4. Tiny hands, big mouth, only eats meat…T. rex…tRump… the young earthers are correct, humans and dinosaurs DO exist at the same time! Checkmate, scientists!

    1. On which topic, sort of, if meat-eating is a consequence of the fall, should creationists eschew meat and aspire to vegetarianism?

      1. Hey, ol’ Moses may have destroyed the golden calf but he did nothing about the Golden Arches, so no, the goddies will not turn their backs on meat, so long as their mobility scooters still fit through the doors.

        On a related note, as a teen I broached the subject of vegetarianism with my pediatrician, wondering about the health benefits and such. I was told, by a medical doctor, that no, it was not good because god made animals for man to eat. Was an absolute ass.

  5. Trump would say “Anthropologists say how do you know so much about this? Maybe I have a natural ability.”

  6. Meadows entered congress during Barack Obama’s first term as part of the wave of Tea Party candidates (none of whom seems to give a shit any longer about deficits or the national debt, now that a Republican is in the White House) and has been serving as chairman of the House’s reactionary Freedom Caucus, so the depths of his bad ideas should come a surprise to no one.

  7. Don’t ask me how they got the big ones aboard the Ark, and how they loaded enough vegetation aboard to feed them all.

    Not to mention how they shoveled all of the shit outta the ark’s bilge.

    1. Wonder who the lucky ark passenger was who got to feed anc care for the pubic lice, head lice, bed bugs, and tapeworm?

  8. Long ago, in a public elementary school in Nebraska, we were taught about the Doctrine of Original Herbivory. T-Rex ate melons.

    My parents are full board young earthers, of the 6,000 year variety. They have wonderful and loving relationship with my kiddo. Kiddo is very outspoken, science-minded and loves talking about evolution. In ways that I avoid talking to my parents about such things, he has no qualms. More recently, my dad has shifted to ‘we don’t know how old the earth is’ which is kind of huge. That, at least, gives me a little hope.

    1. Religion infests public schools in so many small and less obvious ways, like head lice, but nobody seems to notice. Your experience is quite blatant but no doubt it is not an isolated occurrence. The courts don’t care much, the administration certainly doesn’t (it’s part of the problem) and the teachers are, in my experience, openly and proudly ignorant believers. Even the children’s books sneak it in. Pete the Cat, quite popular amongst the k-3 set has a bible verse on the dedication page, or one near it. The only hope for humanity is that kids seem to not notice and grow up, as I did, oblivious to the overt proselytizing (I didn’t know Easter was religious until college, seriously) and accidentally miss out on the subtle coercion, at least in suburban schools. No hope for rural or urban areas though, where god is still taken so seriously yet seems the most absent.

    2. They can’t even get the DOH story right among themselves. It’s supposed to be coconuts. That’s what the teeth and record setting bite force were for! Coconuts!

    3. I was told coconuts. That’s why he needed big strong teeth. Melons are soft. Wouldnt need teeth like that. Nevermind that coconuts or melons didn’t exist 65 million years ago

    4. Good to hear. Kind of amazing but also not entirely surprising that the child can get through where the adults cannot.

  9. (Farris distanced himself from Phillips following the reports of Phillips’s relationship with his nanny …)

    Hey, even an abusive nanny-boner can cite Scripture for his own purpose (to paraphrase Antonio from Merchant of Venice).

  10. We still don’t know if Trump accepts evolution (he’d never admit it even if he was smart enough to understand it and accept the evidence) …

    We’d have to assume a big fat fact not in evidence to get to that point, Your Honor.

    Were the question to be put to him directly, Trump’d likely try to fob it off with one of his fungible “many people say …”-style non-responses.

  11. We should take comfort in the fact that the position Mark Meadows is taking essentially removes him from any kind of policy-making. Sure, he will have Trump’s ear but he routinely ignores anything that conflicts with his own opinion. By taking the job, Mark Meadows has also ensured that he will be thrown out with Trump next January.

  12. The common denominator among creationists is their complete lack of imagination. Their faith turns the wondrous and mind-blowing realities of the cosmos and earth’s place in it into an ill-conceived, nonsensical explanation that should be reserved for a 5-year-old. Creationists are perpetual children, just like their magical savior Trump.

    Another way to look at it:
    Truth takes hard work, make-believe is child’s play.

    1. I couldn’t agree more. Right on the money. Even children often perceive that religious myths are not so hot.

    1. “Radiometric dating”? Isn’t that what the Donald told Howard Stern he’d like to give a shot with with Ivanka?

      Or what, as a fifty-something, he promised to do with a couple of adolescent girls as soon as they turned 20?

      Class act all the way, that guy.

  13. Prof Coyne, the elephant in the room is the Covid-19 crisis, and I am surprised that you have not yet commented on it.

    I am much more interested in the blase and unscientific response to the crisis from the Trump administration.

    1. Honestly, I’m glad there is one place I can go that is not dedicated to that right now. Like a sweet relief.

      1. Agree. If Jerry was an epidemiologist, or medical doctor, sure. But what is there to add? Maybe I’d like to know if he can still buy alcohol-based hand-sanitizer and T.P. in Chicago. Here in Washington, it is sold out everywhere.

        1. We all enjoy Jerry’s and other people who blog here opinions on many topics such as politics, music, food etc and you do not require experts for interesting perspectives.

          I think Covid-19 will have a huge influence on the election, the economy, globalization and society in general.

          As Trotsky said: you might not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.

          1. You have a good point. I would actually like to see a general discussion on WEIT of people’s reactions here and abroad. Being in WA state, it’s pretty frickin’ crazy.

            1. In Ireland, our politicians decided to proceed with the huge St Patrick’s day parade after they cancelled a rugby match against Italy in Ireland which makes no sense.

              “Being in WA state, it’s pretty frickin’ crazy.”

              What is “crazy” in WA right now?

              1. The crazy is understandable because our state has the most corona virus deaths and potential cases. But major corporations like Amazon and Microsoft and smaller companies are promoting staying at home to work (no commute traffic which is unprecedented), the University of Washington is turning to online instruction (like many universities in California); next weekend, Emerald City Comicon which has a weekend attendance of 100,000 people was cancelled; you can’t buy toilet paper or disinfectant as it’s sold-out everywhere. Our governor, Mr. Inslee who is doing the best he can under the circumstances and lack of Federal support was called by Trump “a snake”, undermining his efforts. That’s just a bit of the craziness; it will get worse.

              2. “was called by Trump “a snake”,”

                Even by Trump’s standards I find it shocking.

    2. COVID-19 could be Trump’s Katrina or Iranian hostage crisis.

      Only difference is there aren’t as many good camera shots of things like the flooded Ninth Ward or the barbaric conditions in the New Orleans Superdome or of the embassy gates in Tehran.

      Though those aerial shots of the Cruise Ship of the Damned floating off the coast of California are starting to have a bit of the same feel.

      1. “Only difference is there aren’t as many good camera shots of things like the flooded Ninth Ward or the barbaric conditions in the New Orleans Superdome or of the embassy gates in Tehran”

        True, but on the other hand if you have relatives that died because of government inaction or incompetence the emotions will be much more personal.

      2. I have been watching people sort of gleeful at the prospect of Covid-19 causing political issues for Trump. But like Katrina or the hostage crisis, real human suffering is involved.
        I was watching a news person talking about that today, and I really wanted to ask that person how many of their own family members they would be willing to lose to the disease in exchange for hurting Trump.

        Here, we are worried about the disease, and hope that Trump does not screw up the response. I would be perfectly happy staying on the ranch for a few months, and letting it all blow over far away from us. But my wife is a physician. She says it is “too late” to do much of anything. Not because of the fatality rate. The issue is the high rate of hospitalization. When 20% of cases require ICU-level care, the number of available beds is a major issue. And people to care for them, as asymptomatic carriers that later test positive may require health care workers to self quarantine instead of treating patients.

        I look at this with my wife’s insight, and my own military training on bio warfare defense. We just got the new procedures for handling suspected covid-19 patients, and some of it is just beyond civilian capabilities to handle. Like treating patients in negative pressure rooms that do not share ventilation with common areas. My wife is unaware of any such facilities in our area, and has not been trained in the sorts of decontamination and handling procedures that the new standards require. I imagine that is why so many health care providers in Italy are being hit. They are great at avoiding needle sticks and washing their hands.

        The military has the ability to set up and run such facilities, but all of the worst dystopia films have the part where the military shows up and takes over.

        1. Max, thanks for your interesting perspective.

          I see that the per capita infection rate in Italy is now much higher than in China (1.8x) and Europe and the US cannot implement the draconian Chinese procedures that seems to have been successful.

          It is amazing how many new cases in Germany, Poland, France, Ireland, Norway, South Africa etc have one thing in common: people returning from holiday in Italy.

          It seems that you are correct, civilian medical professionals will not be able to cope or protect themselves. It is not that the virus is all that fatal, it just causes havoc because it mainly spreads asymptomatic.

        2. I take no pleasure in watching Trump fuck this up. But I’ve been saying from the start of his presidency that Donald Trump, like every president before him, will eventually face a national crisis. (Everything else that has heretofore occurred during Trump’s presidency resembling a crisis has been entirely of his own making; this is the first crisis that has been thrust upon him.)

          And Donald Trump is entirely ill-equipped — by intellect, by experience, by temperament, and by character — to deal with a crisis of this sort. Distrust is the wages of so much day-to-day lying. Do you believe anything he says? Would you be willing to risk your well-being, or that of your loved ones, on the word of Donald Trump?

          1. And its not just Trump himself. It’s the people he appoints and surrounds himself with. And the damage his administration has done to the government organizations that actually make the wheels go round. Reality is bound to crash the Trump party given enough time. No doubt he will blame Democrats for all of his screw ups and failures to come, and his flock will believe him.

          2. President Trump is doing a great job! If you trust China more than the President because you don’t like his politics the US wouldn’t have been so infected with the coronavirus! Nor would we be so dependent upon China for PPE supplies! Globalism works for China, not for the US! The WHO organization is a complete disaster! Set up and funded primarily the US in order to help stop pandemics, well it helped the coronavirus by backing China’s cover-up! Obama didn’t declare a national until six months after the swine flu was a pandemic when 100s of Americans died and 20,000+ were in the hospital because of it. You are so delusional about socialism and liberal crackpot ideas that you have such low standards for those who you vote in office!

            1. Let’s assume this is accurate:

              “100s of Americans died and 20,000+ were in the hospital”

              Your Orange Hero recently said he would be proud if only 100,000 to 200,000 Americans die from the pandemic he called a hoax for months. He assured us that only 15 were suffering from and soon there would be none. He told us that this was no worse than the flu and it would all be over when April rolled in.

              Seriously, dude, you need to stop watching Fox and Breitbart.

            2. Michael bullshit quote:

              “Obama didn’t declare a national [sic] until six months after the swine flu was a pandemic when 100s of Americans died and 20,000+ were in the hospital because of it.”

              Obama declared a national emergency in October 2009, but the Obama administration declared a public health emergency in April, months before swine flu was declared a pandemic. At the time that the Obama administration declared a public health emergency, only 20 confirmed cases of H1N1 existed in the United States. Also you are besmirching the fine name Michael you creationist clown!


              1. LOL. Please send an email or message type thing to one of the girls [Blue, Diana, Diane or Merilee] & they’ll give you my email – I think you must have the facebook for one of those fine women so you can ask for it.

                I don’t do Social Media at all nor this site now, but I got told about this Michael Arse-trumpet geezer & had to respond. Exchange emails & set up a Zoom face-to-face [or something like Zoom] if you fancy it – I’d enjoy a chat over the wires. Especially as I’m isolated correctly – not out there walking dogs or feeding fowl.

                Peace & Love.

                Mícheál Mac Mic Iascaire

              2. Very good! I need adult convo with a similiarlyfrazzle-minded unnarcissisticated person blessed with a sense of humour – [yes, that’s you] while drinking my stockpiles of booze. Better start soon as you’re getting pretty old. 🙂

              3. I think I have a bottle of port I could use for that purpose. I’ll be in touch.

              4. I have three of those & raise you a Cognac! Diana said you’d been in touch, got your email & I’ve replied with reasonably understandable nonsense. Quick eh?

              5. Nah. It’s all THE REST [‘cept ‘the girls’ the Longworthian Idahoan & a few scattered Kens, beginning-with-Ys, one Paul & an errant GBJ] who will be against the wall come the revolution – or merely left behind as they get older & grumpier 🙂

  14. I kinda feel bad for Ireland though…they get special envoy Mulvaney, good riddance for us though.

    1. “Special envoy to Northern Ireland” — Kinda like the poet Ovid being exiled to Tomis on the Black Sea for incurring the wrath of the Emperor Augustus, huh?

      What Mulvaney gets for admitting to a “quid pro quo” on live teevee at a presser.

      1. Yes, you get shit-canned when admitting the Emperor is nude, or admitting any other blatant malfeasance the Emperor is involved with. Trump knows that Meadows will see his nakedness and promote his great taste in Chinese-made suits and ties.

    1. A Kevin comment incoming:

      “Surely evolution & global warming are not equivalent tests of one’s adherence to fact”

      yes they are Kevin, but who could know what’s going through you mind when you declare that? What is your intent? Decades ago you decided to be the boring Caribbean version of James Joyce sans the poetic, rhythmic a literary skills. You hoped that being inscrutable would stand in for intelligence, but you’ve been rumbled. You’ve been rumbled for years & nobody is fooled. You’ve got nuthin.

      Your “Kevin Baldeosingh” comment here – conforms to your satirical brand & lacks heartfelt expression. A long time ago [around two decades I think] you allowed a newspaper in your region of the world [Trinidad & Tobago] to [mis]present you as a “public intellectual” – & you’ve continued to feed the lie that you are some kind of polymath who…

      “…deals with issues ranging from philosophy, literature, science, social psychology, religion, pedagogy, economics & policy matters…”

      I also understand you display as a “humanist” – you are, to quote your old blurb…

      “co-founder & chairman of the Trinidad & Tobago Humanist Association, the only organization of its kind in the Anglophone Caribbean”

      So why, being as you are a communicator – your professed core skill – do you write exclusively in non sequiturs? Why is your Twitter account @SatiristVulcan just a stream of quotes you’ve garnered from the particular article you link with no commentary from you at all? The only way this style [that you’ve adopted] works is if your readers understand your game, but since 2016 you’ve only picked up 98 followers! You’re not succeeding unless it’s some sort of living art project.

      Come on man say something. Anything. And show your workings or I’ll put you in the cloakroom ’til dinner break you wee whipper snapper.

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