Religionsgeschichtliche Schule is a term that has dominated the study of Christianity in academic circles for 150 years. It is translated from the German as “History of Religions School.” In this case it means ‘school of thought’ rather than a physical place, and is a reference to a group of influential scholars. They are important because most of their core ideas are still going strong on the internet and are currently taught in the Religious Studies Departments of many universities.
A number of bad ideas got their start with the religionsgeschichtliche Schule, including “Pagan origins” of Bible stories and the idea that the divinity of Jesus developed late in the history of the Christian movement.
A colloquium was held at the University of Edinburgh a few weeks ago, titled “Varieties of Theism in Antiquity,” and amounted to a series of new scholarly papers presented by a group of academics who celebrate the countervailing views that have debunked the ideas of the original religionsgeschichtliche Schule.
Last year I wrote a dozen posts to report on the assaults by mass media on Evangelical Christians. I cited the many hatchet-job articles and a representative handful (out of many dozens) of editorials from mass media to document their collective attempt to suppress Trump voters and boost Democrat prospects in the 2018 midterm elections. Things quieted down after Christmas, but then heated up over abortion when a number of red states were working on bills to restrict abortion. The focus stayed on Culture of Death issues all spring, with a few occasional bursts of Catholic-bashing thrown in.
But now I see signs of a renewed energy in media attacks on Evangelicals. This looks like the ramp-up to 2020 campaigning. I am not alleging any conspiracy. All I am pointing out is that journalists as a group hate President Trump and hate the voters who put him in office. Since they are overwhelmingly irreligious, they neither understand nor wish to understand the concerns of Christians.
Journalists have latched on to the statistics about the overwhelming support from Evangelical Christians who form the core of President Trump’s voters. In particular, media accounts like to cite the statistics about white Evangelical support, as they set up a ‘people-of-color v whites’ meme going into the campaigns. Evidently they feel that they own non-Christian white women and have given up on white men entirely (except for gays and the Leftist elite white men who work in media or academia or Democrat politics).
Although Evangelicals have considered mass media to be hostile ever since the rise of Jerry Falwell Sr. and the Moral Majority in the Reagan era, the hostility expressed towards Evangelicals by mass media has only grown in the decades since then, and became an uproar after the election in November of 2016. Since it is old news now, the energy behind mass media attacks on traditionalist Christians is reduced, but it will resume its previous intensity as the 2020 election approaches.
The thrust of most of the coverage I have seen in the first half of 2019 was a trickle of articles either by or focused on theological liberals. These are Christians who have “emerged” beyond the Bible, and in many cases have “emerged” beyond Jesus. They still claim to be Christians, but that is a dishonest label for these heretics. Mass media love them because they complain bitterly about how traditionalist Christians have “tossed morality aside in their rush to embrace President Trump.” It seems to me that the main emphasis in these articles is to cause weak-minded Christians to fall away from support of President Trump.
Now, to recent activity:
In March, Pew Forum printed an article with new sifting of polling results. Their article was titled “Evangelical approval of Trump remains high, but other religious groups are less supportive.” Several articles and editorials were published that cited this poll. What the poll asked is “Do you approve of the way President Trump is handling his presidency?” Then they made a big deal out of the fact that the highest support for President Trump is among white Evangelicals.
Well now, when it comes to that, I might say I disapprove of the way President Trump is handling some aspects of his presidency, even though I enthusiastically approve of President Trump’s nominees, policy moves, and foreign relations. If you asked me right after some particularly cringeworthy tweet from the President, I might give you a negative answer. Especially I would think it is probably my duty to give a false answer to pollsters, just as a matter of principle. So I don’t think Pew’s finding is particularly meaningful, though I don’t doubt the finding.
At any rate, this became background for more recent ramping up of anti-Trump-voter media shenanigans.
In April, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend Indiana formally announced his candidacy for president in 2020. He was immediately treated to a round of fawning articles by media. They all took pains to quote Mayor Pete B.’s comments about his theologically liberal Episcopalian religion, and then they delighted when he went on the attack against Mike Pence. Pence, who had previously had friendly terms with Mayor Pete for several years, was caught blind-sided, but was gracious in his responses, indicating that he considered Buttigieg’s attacks to be just politics and not really personal. Buttigieg, as an out homosexual in a homosexual marriage, was swamped with a mountain of money from Big Gay, which garnered him even more media attention (they all reported the size of the contributions received and carefully did not report where they were coming from).
Buttigieg’s attacks on traditionalist Christian Mike Pence followed the typical template long established by Leftists for leveraging theologically-liberal religion in attacks against traditionalist Christians by proof-texting verses from the Bible. There really isn’t anything new there. It is very formulaic.
Buttigieg understands that the remarks he makes regarding religion are the remarks that hook reporters’ interest the most. They love attacking the GOP on the subject of religion, since they are unbelievers who think all religion is hypocrisy anyhow. Buttigieg has used religion as his main platform on several occasions. Regarding the border, he railed about Trump Administration treatment of minors and declared that the GOP “has lost all claim to ever use religious language again.”
New rape accusation leveraged by Nevers
E. Jean Carroll released a new book in June, in which she accused President Trump of rape in a 1996 incident. NeverTrump David French led the immediate charge, using the new allegation for a fresh attack against Christians who support President Trump. Other Nevers and several Leftist “Christians” jumped on that bandwagon. Mostly, they simply cited the new allegation and then proceeded to recycle stuff they have been saying interminably since 2016.
That story quickly faded since Ms. Carroll has absolutely nothing in the way of supporting evidence and there are some inconsistencies between the book and remarks she made pre-publication and post-publication. President Trump strenuously denies the allegation.
More of the old stuff recycled
A Democrat you never heard of gave a speech and followed up with tweets saying that it is un-Christian to support President Trump. Yawn.
A Leftist journalist with ties to a liberal church wrote a long feature trashing Evangelical whites.
The Washington Post wrote another feature about Paula White. Rev. White is a fave of President Trump. She is a “prosperity gospel” preacher. WashPo has written several previous features about her; they seem to think she is a sinister influence on the President, whom they hate. This feature is more mocking, scoffing and feigned shock; simply a rehash of their previous features on this topic.
(I am using the word “feature,” because these are longer than average and contain so much editorial content buried in an “article” that you cannot call it either an article or an editorial.)
The Atlantic ran another interminably long feature by Peter Wehner to trash Evangelicals. Wehner has Republican credentials on his resume, but went so strongly NeverTrump that he has been carrying water for the Left for over two years. (Wehner is associated with the Ethics and Public Policy Center, which Wikipedia calls “conservative.” They are conservative in the sense that they have religion, but it is “centrist” at best, in the sense that their positions are what you would expect from “conservative” Democrats from liberal churches. EPPC is the outfit that gives Mona Charen her “ethics” credential.)
Wehner’s feature cites and links to other Atlantic features that slime President Trump and the Trump Administration as “cruel” “immoral” “klansmen,” “guilty” of “white supremacy,” “angry” “ethnic cleansing” and a host of additional fevered-imaginary “malignant” “crimes.”
Wehner’s feature got a round of approval from the usual suspects. WashPo leveraged it by running a companion piece in which Jennifer Rubin interviewed Wehner. Salon and most of the Leftist blogosphere cited Wehner’s feature, and used it as a hook for launching their own opprobrium.
It is only notable for the way it directly attacks white Evangelicals. Here is a sample:
The enthusiastic, uncritical embrace of President Trump by white evangelicals is among the most mind-blowing developments of the Trump era. How can a group that for decades—and especially during the Bill Clinton presidency—insisted that character counts and that personal integrity is an essential component of presidential leadership not only turn a blind eye to the ethical and moral transgressions of Donald Trump, but also constantly defend him? Why are those who have been on the vanguard of “family values” so eager to give a man with a sordid personal and sexual history a mulligan? …
Politico correspondent Tim Alberta had a new book release about the 2016 campaign. There was a flurry of articles that are derivative of things in the book. Some are recent, but most of the quotes are from the context of the primary season in early 2016. But some old news made it into anti-Evangelical headlines that then got featured by the Google News aggregator. Here are two examples:
An article at BusinessInsider had this:
Michael Steele, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, called evangelical Christians who support President Donald Trump “the biggest phonies of all,” in a new book by the journalist Tim Alberta. … He went on, “These are the people who spent the last forty years telling everyone how to live, who to love, what to think about morality. And then this motherf–ker comes along defiling the White House and disrespecting God’s children at every turn, but it’s cool, because he gave them two Supreme Court justices. They got their thirty pieces of silver.”
TalkingPointsMemo recycled this:
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) had some pointed words for evangelicals who supported then-candidate Donald Trump.
“If you’re a faithful person, if you believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins, emerged from the grave three days later and gives eternal life, and you’re supporting Donald Trump, I think there’s something fundamentally wrong with you,” he said according to Politico Magazine chief correspondent Tim Alberta book “American Carnage” obtained by the New York Times.
They loved those quotes from 2016 so much they just had to run them again. We will see them all several more times before November of 2020.
Most recently I heard a feature at NPR. Yeah, I know. I listen so you don’t have to. Nothing they had to say is worth repeating. As journalism, it was not bad quality, in that the reporters did not add a lot of editorializing. Of course, they did not need to add anything because they only covered one side of the story. They ran quotes from two Democrat consultants, two Democrat office holders, and then for balance they interviewed one woman described as:
“…child advocate Kelly Rosati, a Colorado-based evangelical activist who promotes adoption, foster parenting and orphan care. Rosati abandoned the Republican Party after concluding it was insufficiently compassionate, but neither does she identify as a Democrat, largely because of the party’s stance on abortion issues.”
So much for “balance.”
Actually, I am not much bothered by the lack of conservative voices. I have been thinking for years that all Republicans and conservatives should quit returning calls to NPR. They are a hostile entity.
Well, that is the state of media’s ongoing never-ending campaign for the Left, in so far as their assaults on Evangelical Trump voters.
Journalists are the Enemy of the People.
At least 95 % of them are.
Please do everything possible to spread ridicule on mass media Fake News. They oppose America and everything that America ever stood for. They oppose Christ and Christianity. They oppose liberty. They oppose traditional family formation. They oppose truth. They are working to bring about the collapse of western civilization.
Jihadis murdered over 7,000 civilians in Nigeria last year. They continue the killing spree. It goes unnoticed by western mass media. It gets a little bit of coverage by Christian niche media.
I saw a headline at the Google News aggregator site, in the sidebar for “fact check.” It was clickbait just like all the other “fact check” headlines.
“Did ‘Muslim Militants’ Kill 120 Christians in Nigeria in February/March 2019?”
I knew what to expect. Sure enough, Snopes rated that statement as a half-truth. Of course, they confirmed that Muslim Fulani tribesmen attacked Christian churches and murdered 120 civilians. The part they said was untrue was the description of the murderers as “Muslim Militants.” They said that the violence is just normal clashes between herders and farmers. They took the occasion to state that the Christian Post and Breitbart are whipping up false outrage.
But the article at the Christian Post calls them “militant Fulani” and “Fulani militants.” The words “Muslim” and “Islam” do not appear in the cited article. Snopes is attacking a straw man, in order to advance a Leftist narrative. Their problem is that the Christian Post correctly identified the victims as Christians, and made several references to “persecution” of Christians.
The Left does not want you to know the full extent of worldwide persecution of Christians. Journalists have been working hard to strangle the news about the bloody violence that rages around the world.
So, Snopes dutifully brushes off the Muslim attacks against Christian villages as just normal herders versus farmers clashes. Nothing to see here, don’t cha know.
So allow me to provide some context for this violence.
Approximately 8,000 civilians were murdered in this violence in 2018. Over 6,000 of the victims were Christians. Approximately two thirds of the remaining victims were adherents of tribal Pagan religions (either animism, spiritism, or ancestor worship, or a mix, depending on the village). Several dozen Muslims were killed by Christian mobs in reprisal attacks.
That breakdown has held up for the past fifteen years. The numbers clearly depict a pattern of repeated Muslim attacks against Christians, with occasional reprisals from Christians. This plays out against a backdrop that includes infrequent government interventions that generally scare Boko Haram militants into hiding for a while but have not changed the situation on the ground.
Ancient Land Dispute
For many centuries the Sahara Desert has been growing. The desert has inexorably gained territory since long before the beginning of human history. In historic times, one of the primary reasons for the growth of the desert is overgrazing by the herders. The herders keep pressing out into settled farming territory, and conflicts arise. This has played out over and over again over many centuries.
For the past 800 years, the herders have been increasingly Muslim, while the farmers increasingly converted to Christianity. The herders’ imams have been able to enforce Muslim hegemony among the Fulani. Among the farmers, the majority is Christian, but there is still a vibrant Pagan minority.
What happened to change things in this current century is the rise of Islamicism. Al Qaeda’s fabulously successful attacks on 9-11-2001 sent a lightning bolt of excitement through the Muslim world. While many Muslims were dismayed at the news, there was rejoicing in the streets in many parts of the Islamic world.
One thing that happened was a surge of fresh money into the coffers of the Wahhabi Imams who had been the spiritual mentors of the guys that led al-Qaeda. They used some of the money to reward firebrand professors at western-style universities. They used some of the money to provide scholarships to bright young men who wanted to study in Wahhabi madrassas. They used some of the money to start new madrassas in places where they could teach Wahhabi theology unmolested by government authorities who generally view Wahhabi madrassas as subversive.
For nearly 1400 years Islam has been at war with the rest of the world. Wahhabi theology is a theology of violent jihad, exhorting Muslims everywhere to take up arms against non-Muslims. There are conflicts whereever there is a large number of Muslims living near groups of non-Muslims. With fresh funds, the Wahhabis went to work to exploit old tensions and conflicts all over the world.
The southern fringe of the Sahara Desert was ripe for Wahhabi activism. Starting back in the 1990s they sent some freshly-minted young firebrand preachers, to preach jihad to Muslims who already had grievances with their neighbors. Those young imams identified bright young men from among the Muslim tribes, and gave them scholarships to go attend madrassas in Sudan and Somalia. A new generation of homegrown Wahhabi firebrand imams was produced and sent into a world of conflict.
Then, in this century, the surge of Wahhabi money was used to buy black market guns and give them to the Muslim herders. Herders who could not begin to afford such weapons were steadily acquiring an arsenal.
These facts were easily available to anyone with an internet connection and some curiosity. But they did not ring alarm bells in places where they should have.
As clashes between Fulani Muslim herders with non-Muslim farmers increased in the level of violence, the corrupt Nigerian government reacted slowly, incompetently, and, typical for corruption, were sometimes bought off by the Fulani. Then about ten years ago when the violence escalated, the Nigerian military was embarrassed in a couple of incidents that went badly and left a lot of dead civilians.
It was about that time that a missionary couple came to visit my congregation. They had been at work for many years as Lutheran Bible Translators. They were stationed in the jungles of southeast Nigeria. I asked them about the budding religious war in northern Nigeria. They assured me that it was just an ancient land dispute between herders and farmers, and nothing to get distressed over. That was the party line and they were sticking to it.
In 2014, the Nigerian military were embarrassed again over the kidnapping of the Chibok schoolgirls. The result was that, though Muslims are a minority of Nigerians, and though Boko Haram was famously killing and rampaging across the north of Nigeria, Nigerians elected a Muslim president in 2015. Muhammadu Buhari ran a successful campaign against government corruption.
I do not know if President Buhari has had any success in dealing with government corruption in Nigeria. The increasing violence shows that he has made no headway against Boko Haram.
Since I am a conspiracy theorist, I think I see some opportunism in this post at Snopes. The article appears at a very convenient time. See, the largest reprisal attack occurred not long ago. A Christian mob is alleged to have killed 130 Muslims (the true number is at least over 60, may be over a hundred, and it is really hard to get good information). So the Snopes article points out that recent attack, portraying the 120 Christians killed in February as balanced out, indicating a tit-for-tat situation, and then they throw up some more dust about “ ongoing herder-farmer conflict.”
I smell a Leftist rat. I searched Google News for “Nigeria.” Sure enough, the top hit was a post blaming “right-wing media platforms” for fearmongering about Muslim violence against Christians. Quartz has a post up that blames the Christchurch shooter on this. Here is their headline:
“Nigerian Christians are pawns in US right-wing media’s response to the New Zealand attack”
They are pushing the “ancient land dispute” narrative. They cite the Christian Post and Breitbart. This is business as usual for the Left.
And I see that Snopes’s “fact check” is something they waited to run for an opportunity immediately after a Christian reprisal attack, which has been relatively rare, considering the many years of violence. They are anti-Christian opportunists. Google highlighted their clickbait trash. Shame on all of them.
I am continually disappointed in the disinterest in the global persecution of Christians by conservatives in America. I learned that Ratburghers value Asian lives at less than 1/100th of the value of an American life. I suppose that Africans go for an even lower value.
This is the last of a series. Yes; I know it is 2019; this is late because government shutdown. I will provide an index to the other entries in a comment. I have been posting periodically on the hostile coverage of Evangelicals on the part of Big News Media. It is clear that a large driving force in the hostile media accounts was Donald Trump. Big Media has sought to divide Evangelicals from President Trump. They sought to divide Evangelicals from each other, they trashed Evangelicals at every opportunity, and primarily they sought to convince Evangelicals not to vote for President Trump or for any politician who expressed support for President Trump. They wanted Evangelicals to believe it was hypocritical for Christians to support President Trump. They wanted Evangelicals to believe that Republicans were all going to lose badly so it was a waste of time to vote. I don’t know how much success they actually achieved, but they were hard at work to accomplish real voter suppression, while spouting accusations of voter suppression at Republicans.
The cascade of articles seemed to abate, oddly, during the runup to the midterm elections. That was primarily because all of Big Media was in full hair-on-fire excitement over the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. They got themselves worked up real good, anticipating a major defeat for President Trump, and they focused all their energy on that. Other issues were pushed aside. Then, with about two weeks before election day, they resumed running attacks on Evangelical voters.
There was nothing really notable. It was just the usual stuff that I have been observing in nine previous posts in 2018.
I did observe some interesting postmortems about the awfulness of mass media news in the runup to the midterm elections. My favorite media critics at GetReligion put up the best ones. They are putting a happy face on the field of journalism. Mostly they are explaining to Evangelicals just why they have been trashed so badly for years, and attributing the problem to ignorance rather than malice.
In part, I see their point. Journalists as a group are very ignorant when it comes to matters of religion. While 80 percent of Americans generally say they “believe in God,” this is only true for 20 percent of journalists. In comparison to average Americans, journalists are three times as likely to say they are Atheist, and five times as likely to say they are Agnostic. Journalists either grew up without religion at home, or in homes with mixed religions, or else they are openly hostile to the faith of their parents.
Journalists do not recognize religious jargon and do not understand the differences between religious groups. Ignorance on their part can go a long way to explaining a lot of bad reporting on religious people and religious issues.
But there is a lingering matter of open hostility on the part of journalists expressed towards people of faith. This explains some anti-Catholic bias and general anti-Christian bias.
As Leftists, journalists also share a hostility to all conservatives. This shows up as the “pew gap.” The pew gap is a phenomenon that first got talked about in the 1980s. People who attend regular worship services are more likely to vote Republican. People who rarely attend worship are more likely to vote Democrat. This divide has been increasing for forty years.
In terms of journalism, the upshot is that religious people are usually on the opposite political side from Atheists and agnostics. Which is, I think, the root of so much hostile coverage of Evangelicals. For most journalists, politics is their religion.
Journalists howled when President Trump labeled them the “Enemy of the People.” I think that label is accurate. They are certainly the Enemy of traditionally religious People. They are the Enemy of conservative People.
Mass media, the legacy media, you know, those “Lamestream” guys, are keeping me busy tracking their continued attempts to wedge Evangelical voters away from President Trump. One way they do this is to pound on the hypocrisy angle at every opportunity. Of course, Evangelicals continue to provide lots of opportunities.
Hence the #MeTooForChurch series of exposes to detail those Evangelical pastors who have been caught in sin. Particularly notable this summer was the philandering scandal at Willow Creek, which is an Evangelical megachurch with a network of associated churches. Pastor Bill Hybels and his leadership team are out and the church is reeling. Almost every mass media outlet covered it, but all the articles seemed to be derivative of reporting by the Chicago Tribune and Religion News Service. There wasn’t an anti-Trump hook to this story, so it played out in the press the way most church scandals do.
Russkies at the Prayer Breakfast
The New York Times wins the prize for this latest reporting period for an article about the National Prayer Breakfast. The article ran on July 27. The National Prayer Breakfast happened back in February. Why such a late-breaking article? Well, the obvious answer is Russians.
Yes, the NYT ran a hatchet job about the National Prayer Breakfast in which they noted that a couple of Russians were in attendance, including Maria Butina, which, according to them, taints the whole affair and confirms Trump colluded with the Russkies to derail her highness’s path to victory. Now, I would have been content to scoff them and mock them and call them “fake news,” but I saw that one of my favorite media critics, Julia Duin, took them seriously and provided a better response. Here is an excerpt from her post, which includes a quote from the NYT:
The bottom line: I’m just surprised it took the Russians this long to discover what everyone else knew – that the breakfast and its parent organization, the International Foundation, have been organizing “secret” meetings between foreign government leaders and U.S. politicians … for years.
Doesn’t the same sort of thing happen at Vatican embassies around the world? Is this news all that surprising? The key question is documenting the money involved.
What’s more, participants appear to see ultimate value in meetings and relationships seemingly irrespective of the motives of those present.
I would sub in “evangelistic value,” in that the motive behind the breakfast is to pave the way for the spread of the Gospel in foreign countries by inviting their government officials to the breakfast.
Remember, the folks at the breakfast – and the Foundation – are using this as an opportunity to reach the Russians (and others) just as much as the folks from overseas are using it as a way to reach influential Americans.
Well, yes, one of the original reasons for holding a prayer breakfast targeted to Washington politicians was to use it to reach out to leaders of non-Christian nations to persuade them to treat their Christians better, and possibly to persuade both American and foreign politicians of the truth of the Gospel.
Of some interest over the summer were media digs at Evangelicals in ways devised to emphasize that journalists think Evangelical Trump voters are all hypocrites. Salon ran an article, but since it is Salon, maybe they don’t qualify as news media. Their article excoriated Evangelicals for being hypocrites on account of Trump’s immorality, and then they paused to celebrate the general rise of sexual immoralities, and then they also celebrated the rise of people who have dropped out of traditional churches. Typical.
The only reason to mention Salon is because they get promoted in the feed at the Google News aggregator. Google promotes their catchy headline, and that is what puts them on my radar. Their headline stayed in the Google News Spotlight for several days.
Mike Pence, Christianist monster
There was a spate of articles that seemed intended to wedge Mike Pence away from President Trump, or to simply portray Mike Pence as a monstrous theocrat. Since they were all simply rehashing stuff I have written about before, there is no need to give a blow-by-blow. SSDD.
There was a more recent example. It was from an Alabama newspaper, but it also got featured prominently near the top of the default Google News page. This one was also intended to chide Evangelicals because they support immoral President Trump. They found a liberal Baptist history professor (he also has an MDiv but I don’t know if he was ever ordained). They quote him extensively saying the usual Leftist stuff:
There are broader issues at play, too, with Trump’s stand on Muslim immigration echoing past religious right alarms against non-Protestant immigrants changing the nation’s faith demographics.
“Trump is, at best, racially insensitive, if not racist,” said Leonard, a former religion professor at Samford University and retired divinity dean at Wake Forest University.
But many evangelicals like his style, Leonard said.
“Fundamentalists vest great power in the authoritarian leader who brooks no disagreement,” Leonard said. “They have an appreciation for Trump as an authoritarian figure.”
Baptists traditionally supported the separation of church and state, but shifted with the rise of the Moral Majority in 1979 and the election of President Ronald Reagan in 1980. Despite being divorced, Reagan was the choice of evangelicals over Jimmy Carter, a born-again believer and Baptist Sunday school teacher who did not agree with the religious right on many issues.
That is pitiful dreck through and through. “Trump’s stand on Muslim immigration echoing past religious right alarms against non-Protestant immigrants changing the nation’s faith demographics.” This assumes the Leftists’ worst construction of “religious right alarms” about Muslim immigration, insinuating that the concern is with all “non-Protestant immigrants” and alleging that the problem with Muslim immigrants is demographic, which of course is code for racist. I am calling B.S. on Dean Leonard and AL.com and the reporter, Greg Garrison.
I think Dean Leonard has slandered Fundamentalists as well as President Trump.
I recall debates among traditionalist Christians regarding the difficult choice between irreligious divorcee California actor Reagan versus Baptist Georgia farmer Carter. We voted for Reagan. I don’t recall anyone being called “immoral” for making that choice. But I have been called immoral for voting for President Trump, and in fact, I saw that “immoral” smear tossed around again just this week by NeverTrumpers.
And I resent Dean Leonard’s slander that “Baptists traditionally supported the separation of church and state, but shifted with the rise of the Moral Majority….” Did Baptists stop supporting the separation of church and state? He alleges in that article that Baptists want to use the power of the state to re-establish their dominant political position. He is wrong. Baptists are appealing to government to stop coercing Christians into forced speech that celebrates the sins of the protected classes. Baptists and other traditionalist Christians are appealing to government to stop meddling in local bathrooms. The key for Baptists and other Evangelicals is that Team Obama was using the federal government to elevate non-traditional religion over traditionalist religions; we simply wanted the State to cease establishing Leftist religion.
Evangelicals, whether Baptist or not (I am not a Baptist), are politically active because we are defending ourselves against the attacks of the Left, who have been using the power of government, as has been discussed here at Ratburger.org on previous occasions. Leftists may cry “theocrat” but the truth is that they are the ones on offense and we are the ones on defense, and it has been this way ever since the Reagan Administration.
I will close this time with an opinion column that ran at The Atlantic. It was by Peter Beinart, a professor of journalism at CUNY. It was more of the ‘Evangelicals are racists’ stuff that I have been writing about all year. This one seemed to pivot; Beinard did not address himself to Evangelicals and gave no indication that he expected to have any Evangelical readers. He was not trying to wedge Evangelicals away from President Trump. He was giving Leftists permission to consider Evangelicals to be horrible racist, sexist, homophobic, mean persons, as a way to encourage Leftist political activisms. He wrote on the topic of corruption, brushing off all allegations of corruption by Hillary, and focusing on the corruption of Trump. He wrote that Evangelicals were more concerned about people of color corrupting the complexion of America than about Trump’s political corruption.
I think we will see less of the media attempts to wedge Evangelicals away from President Trump. We have seen a number of pundits and journalists wailing about how, for all their attacks, articles, shows, editorials, histrionics and shouting, the needle has not moved; Evangelicals who support President Trump have remained unmoved.
There is a Liberal strain of Evangelicalism that gets a lot of favorable coverage in Leftist Mass Media. They are both political liberals and theological liberals. The thing that makes them popular with Big Media is the way their spokespersons use credentials as “Christians” to bash American Christianity. In particular, these are the liberal Evangelicals who are Democrats who oppose President Trump, and they oppose Christians who support President Trump. So we are at the intersection of religion and politics and the culture war. Lamestream media promote Leftist Christians as a way to drive a wedge between President Trump and his base.
I am writing to address one particular thing that gets said by liberal “Christians.” I saw it recently on several Leftist blogs, where they were riffing on coverage of the release of a new book. It did not generate much in the way of media coverage, primarily because Big Media was chasing Mueller investigation squirrels and Charlottesville anniversary racism squirrels. However, I thought it worth addressing because we have seen it before and we will see it again.
The topic was “Fear.” It was said that 81 percent of ‘Evangelical Voters’ had been motivated to vote for Donald Trump by fear.
Well, I agree, but, I strongly disagree with the things that were said. Some of the things that were said are that the Evangelicals who support President Trump are “mean” “selfish” “racist;” you know, all the usual Leftist blather. But stick with me and eventually I will get around to a theological point.
The book this time is Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump, by John Fea, who is a liberal Evangelical and a history professor. Last month The Atlantic ran a long feature by Fea. Near the top, the professor gets to spiritual issues:
Moses told the Israelites to “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today.” The Hebrew God told Job: “At the destruction and famine you shall laugh, and shall not fear the beasts of the earth.” The Psalmist wrote: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.”
The Gospel of John teaches Christians that “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” St. Luke writes: “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
Despite all these scriptural passages, it is still possible to write an entire history of American evangelicalism as the story of a people failing miserably at overcoming fear with hope, trust, and faith in their God. But it is also possible to find evangelicals, drawing deeply from Christian theological resources, who sought to forge an alternative history.
Fea then launches into a diatribe, reviewing historical points to trash American Evangelicals of the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. He grinds the ax of how American Evangelicals were fearful anti-intellectual xenophobic racists. After too many words, he wrapped that up with remarks about racist fear of Obama, and homophobic opposition to SSM. He pivots to current times with this:
After a recent lecture on Trump and his evangelical supporters, a woman approached me at the lectern and identified herself as an evangelical who voted for Trump. “I am part of the 81 percent,” she said, “but what choice did I have?” I have heard something similar many times from evangelicals who voted for Trump.
He gives a brief review of the Hillary campaign, and then brings out the big trope:
Ironically, some evangelicals have found a savior. They sought after Trump, he answered them, and he delivered them from all their fears.
But other evangelical options are available. Evangelicals are people of hope, not fear. The practice of Christian hope points us to a life beyond this world, but it also requires us to act in such a way that models God’s coming kingdom. The Kingdom of God is characterized by the love of enemies, the welcoming of strangers, the belief in the human dignity of all people, a humble and self-sacrificial posture toward public life, and a trust in the sovereign God of the universe. Fear is a natural human response to social change, but evangelicals betray their deepest spiritual convictions when they choose to dwell in it.
This is a conflation of fears. Throughout this essay he does what we have seen so often before. He is mixing up spiritual fear with worldly fear.
Spiritual fear is fear of eternity. In death there are two directions for your soul to take. Eternal rest with Jesus, or else eternity in the place that is without God. Christians can look forward to eternity in the full confidence that the spiritual debt they owe has been paid in full because they have been adopted into the family of God. There is hope in the blood of Jesus there, and no spiritual fear.
Worldly fear is the fear of bad outcomes in this life. For most white American Christians this does not mean fear of bad guys in the neighborhood. That may be a real fear for some, but, politically, that is a law-and-order, justice system issue. There was a great deal of fearmongering over this issue, but little of the Trump vote in 2016 was manifested as votes for personal safety.
Rather, these votes were for a secure future for children and grandchildren. The fear was that America would descend into chaos. First, in rough neighborhoods in blue cities that foolishly degrade and impede their own police forces. But, later, nationally, as our overextended economy collapses into a new Depression. These are thoroughly worldly fears. They are genuine fears, and they are not much related to spiritual matters.
Further to the worldly fears of Evangelical Voters, we feared that the Democrat Party will transform America in an ugly way that will dismantle our free exercise of our traditionalist Christian religion. We remembered that Hillary said that traditionalist religion “will have to change.” She was running to become the theologian in chief.
Evangelical Vote for a Sinner
We preferred to vote for a flawed man with the baggage of a past history of sexual sins. He was pledging to preserve religious liberty. Our concern was not for our salvation, but for the ability of our grandchildren to live openly as Christians. They may be saved by the blood of Jesus, but they may find themselves enjoying their spiritual freedom from the confines of a gulag.
It is Democrats who have made Christian business owners in blue states into second-class citizens. It is Democrats who have threatened Christian colleges and high schools with a loss of accreditation. It is Democrats who have forced the promotion of sin and forced our children to celebrate sexual sin in public schools. It is Democrats who have said that traditionalist Christians should not be allowed to hold public office. It is Democrats who have demonized any personality who has publicly lobbied for limits on abortion. It is Democrats who promote euthanasia. It is Democrats who pressed federal meddling into state and local bathrooms. It is Democrats who deny real data-based science about the climate. It is Democrats who deny the science of embryology as they promote abortion. It is Democrats who corrupted the social sciences and humanities with anti-Western and anti-Christian activism.
So, yes, we fear the Party of Death. They are anti-police, anti-law, anti-justice, anti-religious, anti-Christian and anti-American. They are the Party that booed God.
We did not elect Donald Trump because we see him as some kind of spiritual savior. We elected Donald Trump to postpone the day when the Left triumphs and dismantles Western Civilization. That will be a dark day for everyone, not just for Christians. Our concerns that led us to vote for Donald Trump were temporal, not eternal.
But they are very real and valid concerns. Though they are not spiritual fears, the fears are well-founded. That does not make us “fearful;” it means we have grave concerns that we express as “fears.” There is a big difference.
Conflating theological concerns with worldly concerns is a deliberate attack on weak-minded Christians, intended to sew confusion and doubt among believers. They impute to our support for our flawed champion a support of his past sins. They called us “immoral” for voting for “immoral Trump.”
They are not being honest, which is their habit. Leftists have always been liars.
Trust Jesus, and trust your instincts. You knew you could not vote for Hillary. However much they harangue you with President Trump’s personal faults, just remember that we are not putting our faith in President Trump for spiritual guidance. The trust we place in President Trump is strictly worldly. And he has proved to be surprisingly worthy of our trust, far exceeding our expectations. President Trump should be rewarded with our full support. He has worked hard to deliver on his campaign promises, rewarding our votes with a political delivery that is unlike anything we have seen in our lifetimes.
The process is the punishment. Just a couple of weeks after the Supreme Court ended a six-year legal ordeal, the Human Rights Commission of the State of Colorado has started a new investigation of Jack Phillips the Christian Baker who owns the Masterpiece Cakeshop.
The complainant is a transgender person, who requested a birthday cake to celebrate “the 7th-year anniversary of my transition from male to female.”
Now this is harassment of a businessman for trying to exercise his traditionalist Christianity in his shop. Even though the legal fees will be donated, this man has spent six years of time in a stressful series of hearings, interviews, interrogations, depositions, and other miscellaneous court proceedings, plus time spent with his own legal team. He has been facing bankruptcy the entire time as the weight of the State of Colorado makes it difficult for him to tend to his family and his business.
When Leftists scoff that Christians are not under threat in America, Jack Phillips is exhibit A of the rebuttal. He has just filed for a federal injunction against the Colorado Human Rights Commission.
“Colorado continues its practice of treating Phillips worse than other cake artists because it despises his religious beliefs and how he practices his faith,” the lawsuit claims.
The Catholic Diocese of Boston has quietly conceded defeat and did not put up a fight. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade of Boston is now a green copy of the Gay Pride Parade. The triumphant Mayor Walsh has just installed the leader of the front group he created as leader of parade arrangements for the 2019 parade. When I search for “St. Patrick’s Day Parade” at the diocesan website, there are no results.
The group OUTVETS was formed in 2014 by Walsh for the purpose of forcing an LBTQ presence into the parade. Here is an excerpt from a recent press release by the Catholic Action League:
OUTVETS was created in July, 2014 as part of Mayor Walsh’s campaign to force parade organizers to admit homosexual groups to the line of march. It was the third such contrivance fabricated for this purpose since 1992. Since 2015, OUTVETS has been marching in the parade with banners identifying their sexual behavior.
In December 2014, with Hurley infirm and absent, a minority on the Veterans Council, led by former Boston police officer Brian Mahoney, and current City Councilor Ed Flynn, seized control of the organization and colluded with Walsh to admit OUTVETS. Flynn would be elected to the City Council in 2015 with support from allies of the mayor.
For many decades the theme of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade could be characterized as “Irish heritage + American values + Catholic religion.”
Currently the parade theme is better characterized as “Irish heritage + triumphant anti-Christian sexual confusion.”
There were some interesting developments since my last post in this series. There were new instances of the continuing mass media assault on Evangelicals and new instances of mass media trying to drive a wedge between President Trump and his Christian supporters.
The drumbeat over Stormy Daniels and her sex affair with Donald Trump continued to be a daily item, most recently because the lawyer who originally paid her hush money had his home and office raided by the FBI, who seized a trove of records that are now the subject of a legal hoo-raw and media tempest. Every time they mention this matter, Nevers and mass media make sure to mention that Donald Trump is morally unfit to serve as President and is undeserving of Christians’ support.
James Comey announced his book. Copies were provided to friendly reviewers who immediately passed along Mr. Comey’s attacks on President Trump. They especially used Mr. Comey’s remarks to an interviewer while pumping for his book. Mr. Comey said that Mr. Trump is “morally unfit” for his office. This of course fed a new round of chattering about how Mr. Trump is undeserving of Christians’ support.
Some high-profile Evangelical leaders had high-profile articles appear about alleged sexual sins. Some of this was fresh news and some was old news that got recycled in order to add to the feeding frenzy. Nevertheless it amounted to an embarrassment for a number of Christian ministries. Bill Hybels is perhaps the most widely known of these ministers. Some of the coverage put me in mind of the “pedophile priests” scandal of fifteen to ten years ago. (At that time some of us observed that “pedophile” was an inappropriate name for the problem, that the Catholic churches did not appear to have a worse situation than Protestant churches, and that churches in general did not appear to have a worse situation than other institutions such as schools or government. The phenomenon is characterized as much by the herd mentality of the media as by the sexual sins in question.)
There was an interesting feature article that appeared at HuffPo. It was an analysis of findings revealed in the trial of Noor Salman, the widow of the jihadi who shot up the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. You may recall that Leftist mass media raised a clamor about how the shooter was motivated by a “climate of hate” and laid responsibility for the shooting on the “anti-gay atmosphere” created by conservative Christians and Republicans. To the credit of the Huffington Post they ran this really interesting post by Melissa Jelten, who reported that almost everything that had been said in the media about the shooter’s motives were wrong.
There was an interesting editorial in the New Yorker. It stirred up some outragey reactions from folk on the right. It was an anti-Christian screed aimed at Chick-fil-A for being popular in New York City, and thereby offending the godless writer and his pals.
Wheaton hosted a conference of Evangelicals, tilted leftward. The Washington Post headline reflects a (months-old) quote from Tim Keller: “There’s now a red evangelicalism and a blue evangelicalism.” As if this was news. Conservative Evangelicals have been looking askance at Liberal Evangelicals for half a century. The problems is that the Liberals became more and more Liberal, to the extent that some are still claiming to be Christian while espousing all sorts of heresies and syncretisms. Some have admitted that they have “emerged beyond Jesus.” Those are the media darlings. (Though they keep whining about the declining size of their flocks.)
So, nothing new here, just a continuation of mass media hostility to Christians in general, with a special level of hate and snark aimed at Evangelicals who support President Trump. I will put links in the comments.