Flashback: Believe it or not: Roger Stone finds Jesus
'Those who want to scoff, scoff,' the hardball operative, Trump confidante answers skeptics
The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook
President Donald Trump's longtime friend and campaign adviser Roger Stone says he was never worried about going to prison.
Just days before he was set to begin serving a 40-month prison sentence after being convicted of lying to lawmakers who were investigating whether Russia influenced the 2016 elections, Trump commuted his sentence.
“Praise be to God. I was never nervous or worried because I had prayed so fervently for deliverance from my persecutors and I knew in my heart that He would Protect me,” he told me.
He says that's because he gave his life to Jesus 6 months ago, in what he called was the greatest decision he ever made.
Tune in Wednesday to The Pod's Honest Truth for the full interview with Roger Stone on what's next for him as a freed man.
Editors note: The following story was published on 3/23/2020
If you’ve ever visited one of the many Ripley’s Believe It or Not museums, you’ll find a place teeming with a plethora of bizarre or strange items, all purportedly true. The latest entry for a new exhibit could easily be this: Roger Stone’s Journey to Jesus.
Yes, that Roger Stone, the one facing jail time after being convicted of lying to Congress, witness tampering, and charges of obstruction in connection with the now-debunked claims that the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia in the 2016 election.
“It doesn't matter how grievous your sins may be, they can be washed away, if you will simply accept Jesus Christ as your Savior,” Stone told Just the News in a podcast interview on The Pod’s Honest Truth with David Brody. “This is the greatest decision that I've ever made. And I'm very at peace with it.”
For decades, Roger Stone’s life has been full of controversy and swagger as he relished the role of “political bad boy.” It was all very well documented in a recent Netflix documentary called “Get Me Roger Stone.” The longtime advisor to Donald Trump was notorious for his hardball political tactics, self-promotion, and a penchant for sexual promiscuity.
“I certainly admit that I had some wilder days,” Stone confessed to Just The News. “I mean I was a sinner. We've all sinned. The good news is we can all get right with God.”
Stone is also known for an exuberant adoration for one of his favorite presidents: Richard Nixon (he has a tattoo of Nixon’s face on his back). While the tattoo remains, the spiritual imprint that now overshadows everything in his life is Jesus.
Stone’s transformation began in earnest in the midst of all the federal charges that were brought against him last year. “I was having a very hard time dealing with it,” Stone recounted. “All of the emotions involved of uncertainty, anger, a need to defend yourself and so on.”
In January of this year, about one month before his sentencing date, he attended a Franklin Graham rally in Boca Raton. He was encouraged to go by a man named Randy Coggins, a Florida evangelist with whom he became fast friends after meeting him at a Trump rally. For a period of time before that rally, Coggins and Reverend Mark Burns from South Carolina had been imparting some frank spiritual advice: You need Jesus.
When Franklin Graham’s evangelical rally came to Florida, Coggins arranged for Stone to meet with Graham in private before the event began. “I kind of laid my problems out for Franklin Graham, and I asked for his help, and he essentially said, ‘It's not my help you need, you need God's help,’” Stone recalled. “He said, ‘You just need to reach out to God to cleanse your sins, to receive Christ as your Savior, and then you can stop worrying.’”
At the end of the rally, Graham asked those in the crowd if any of them were ready to accept Jesus right now. The time had come. Roger Stone, along with hundreds of others, stood up and raised his hand.
“I know I felt the calling, and we confessed our sins, and we got right with Christ,” Stone says. “I was looking for some political fix, but what I was really looking for was a spiritual fix.”
Likening the feeling of relief to “a cement block being removed from my chest,” Stone now declares, “I've chosen to walk with the Lord, and that has really made my burdens so much easier.”
Since that rally, Franklin Graham’s team has followed up by sending Stone texts nearly every day as they walk alongside his faith journey. Franklin Graham personally sent him a special Billy Graham Bible.
Stone, who was raised Roman Catholic, has decided to remain a Catholic but now actually attends church in Fort Lauderdale, where Father Michael Grady of St. Anthony Church is giving spiritual counsel. Stone spends every day in prayer and Bible reading, concentrating heavily right now on the Books of Psalms and Proverbs.
“I never really realized how practical the Bible is,” Stone marvels. “This is not just some history book. It doesn't matter what your situation is. There's solid practical advice throughout the Bible, regardless of what problem you're dealing with.”
Of course, Stone has not been a boy scout — and he knows it. He is self-aware and politically astute enough to expect widespread skepticism of what some will inevitably mock as a foxhole conversion, or even an opportunistic ploy. Stone is at peace with that too.
“A lot of people,” Stone acknowledges, “are going to say, ‘You know, Roger Stone, the guy's a showman, he’s a political animal. This is a pose. This is a head fake. This is posturing to gain public sympathy.’ The old Roger Stone would have been angry about that, but I'm not angry because I really believe that He, God, knows what's in my heart. He knows whether my conversion back to my faith is real or not, whether it is honest or not. And therefore, I'm perfectly at peace. With those who want to scoff, scoff. It does not bother me.”
Stone’s journey to Jesus brings to mind other notorious political operatives that “got right with Jesus.”
GOP operative Lee Atwater, was well-known for his aggressive, no-holds-barred campaign tactics, but after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, he accepted Jesus Christ as his savior and went on to write letters of apology to those he had done wrong.
Chuck Colson, the former special counsel to President Nixon is among the most famous political conversion stories. He was considered Nixon’s "hatchet man" during the Watergate Scandal and was found guilty of obstruction of justice. But shortly after, Colson became an evangelical Christian. That led to a dramatic turn in his life, culminating with the founding of the impactful Prison Fellowship Ministry.
Stone knew Colson from his days working for the Nixon campaign. “I got a chance to ask him before his death how it felt when all these people were scoffing at him and ridiculing him,” Stone recalled. “He said it didn't bother him at all because he knew his life's work was now cut out for him.”
Colson “was intent on proving his critics wrong,” said Stone. “Well, it's kind of the way I feel.”
So what’s next for Roger Stone? At the age of 67 in this time of coronavirus, he’s self-quarantined at home in Ft. Lauderdale. He misses his daily weight lifting and a good meal at a nice restaurant, but for now, he says he and his wife are cooking more than ever before. He’s also a great-grandfather for the first time.
As for his future, he’s facing three years in jail, unless President Trump decides to pardon him, something he couldn’t discuss due to the ongoing gag order on the case. Stone also has a motion pending for a mistrial based on juror misconduct.
Whether he serves a day in jail or not, Stone is at peace. But don’t expect a career change at this point. “Am I going to devote my life to Christ as a full-time preacher?” hs asks. “No, I don't think that's my best calling. I want to get back to trying to save this country.”
Though he’s not looking for a job with the Trump campaign or administration, he does want to help in other ways. “I would like to get back to being able to proselytize for his re-election, “ Stone said. “I want to get back to commenting on politics, writing about politics, and having that same kind of impact.”
Love them or hate them, both Stone and Trump have made an impact in American politics. They also have something else in common: skeptics who are lining up to question their faith in God. Stone says the critics are wrong about him and the president.
“I think he's a changed man,” Stone said. “I know some people scoff at that, but they're wrong. He's a person of deep faith. Maybe he wasn't always a person of deep faith, but it doesn't matter.”
Stone went even further. “I think he was put in place by God at the right time for the right reasons,” he said. “He ran because he wants to do something, much like Ronald Reagan [did]. He didn't run because of himself. He ran because of us. And that's why I believe that he was placed there by God to save this country.”
Stone acknowledges that his story and Trump’s story may one day indeed wind up in Ripley’s museum of Believe It or Not, but the way he sees it that’s the beauty of God’s saving grace.
“Everyone can be redeemed,” he said. “That's the most important lesson of the Bible.”