Once again Sir Winston Churchill has been booted from the Oval Office. The bust of the old bulldog whose steely focus was on Donald Trump for the last four years is notably absent, to paraphrase a Washington Post report.
Getting booted is nothing new to Sir Winston.
As a child he was a poor student, sparking outright derision from his father who dreamt of a glorious career for his offspring. Lord Randolph Churchill did not live long enough to see his son become prime minister, but he did see the young lad fail in his schoolwork.
Winston’s morally wayward and shockingly neglectful father also saw his son twice fail entrance exams to Sandhurst, Britain’s noted military academy, finally to succeed only to get in at the lowest level.
The Admiralty (British Navy command) needed a scapegoat for a disastrous battle off the coasts of Turkey in 1914 and fired Winston Churchill from his lofty role as Lord of the Admiralty.
Churchill volunteered to be sent to the bloody trenches of Flanders as a somewhat common soldier. Following that period of service, Churchill returned to government as Secretary of State, only to get booted from that job.
Finally, on May 10, 1940, King George VI summoned Churchill, then a member of Parliament, to the palace and asked him to take on the immense task of serving as wartime prime minister and minister of defense.
Churchill, as history shows, was hugely successful in that role. After leading Britain to near-impossible victory he and almost everyone else were certain a grateful electorate would waft him back into office.
But in 1945 the British people voted him out.
Churchill, like Donald Trump flying back home to Mar-a-Lago perhaps in a daze, chugged back home to Chartwell in disappointment and shock.
Thus, the booted bust has had a journey somewhat like the man it represents.
The sculpture was loaned to the White House and President George W. Bush in 2001 and had a fairly long residency there. Then, in 2016, newly elected Barack Obama booted the bust. Despite rumors, it stayed in the White House, just outside the Treaty Room.
This prompted mild indignation from across the Atlantic, as then-London Mayor Boris Johnson pronounced Obama’s move a “snub to Britain.”
President Donald Trump brought Sir Winston’s head and shoulder-sculpture back to the Oval Office in 2017. Joe Biden booted Churchill one more time on January 20.
“The press got its first glimpse of President Joe Biden’s Oval Office on Wednesday, showing in a matter of hours the office has been transformed in both dramatic and subtle ways to reflect the taste and politics of the officeholder,” CNN reported.
What did the removal of the Churchill bust say about Biden’s “politics”?
Why would conservative occupants of the Oval Office keep it and those more to the left banish it? There is a clue in a speech Churchill made to the American people on October 16, 1938, when the future prime minister said:
“Since the dawn of the Christian era a certain way of life has slowly been shaping itself among the Western peoples, and certain standards of conduct and government have come to be esteemed. After many miseries and prolonged confusion, there arose into the broad light of day the conception of the right of the individual; his right to be consulted in the government of his country; his right to invoke the law even against the State itself.”
However, Churchill lamented that under the then-growing Hitler-Nazi movement, “the lights are going out.” Churchill added comments that are eerily suggestive of our times:
“We are confronted with another theme. It is not a new theme; it leaps upon us from the Dark Ages’ racial persecution, religious intolerance, deprivation of free speech, the conception of the citizen as a mere soulless fraction of the State. To this has been added the cult of war. Children are ... taught (this idea) in their earliest schooling...”
Churchill predicted that the Battle of Britain would soon begin, and dared to say that, “Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization.”
Churchill’s words replayed in our times violate the very heart and soul of political correctness. To many on the left today, “Christian civilization” needed to go. In its larger expression as “Western Civilization” they believe it is the source of staggering evils.
Mr. Obama understandably wanted a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. in his office, and who knows the full motive of Joe Biden in removing the Churchill bust? But to many on the left today — most residing politically among Biden’s Democrats — Churchill’s defense of the British Empire and his passion for “Christian Civilization” make him and his memory unacceptable, something to be “cancelled.”
I can attest that Churchill’s passion was genuine, and not just a political ploy.
In 2015 I co-authored with Churchill’s great grandson, Jonathan Sandys, God and Churchill (Tyndale House) a spiritual biography of Sir Winston. Jonathan sadly is now deceased, but I can still hear his words that we included in our book: “Great-grandpapa was serious in his mention of Christianity!”
We recalled Churchill’s own words when he said he might not have been a “pillar of the church,” but that he was a “flying buttress.” And that Sir Winston was. He saw himself as defending the Judeo-Christian worldview against the raw paganism of Hitler and the Nazis.
Jonathan told Churchill’s official biographer, Sir Martin Gilbert, about our book. Sir Martin, himself a Jew, encouraged us on, telling Jonathan that there was much unreported evidence about the Churchill’s spiritual views and history.
Is this among the “dramatic and subtle” reasons the left disdains Churchill, and Joe Biden booted Churchill’s bust?
Wallace B. Henley’s fifty-year career has spanned newspaper journalism, government in both White House and Congress, the church, and academia. He is author or co-author of more than 20 books. He is a teaching pastor at Grace Church, the Woodlands, Texas.