“Evangelical” used to be a word that I could stomach as a term of identity. It sounded respectable — a heck of a lot better than “holy roller,” “fundamentalist” or “religious.”
I now view it as an epithet. I haven’t abandoned my faith, but I feel like the people I thought were something akin to family have left me.
With their embrace of Donald Trump, white evangelicals have lost all credibility, every last shred of it. Jesus said that the world at large would know his disciples by their love, but I see judgmental attitudes and hate where there should be empathy and compassion. I see little resemblance to the Savior we purport to serve.
The Christian Scriptures tell us: “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” This has not been followed.
I’m not sure I have the emotional fortitude to have these conversations, but I hope someone does. These questions demand answers.
This expectation will put many pro-democracy activists in an unusual position. Atheists, agnostics, Jews, liberal Catholics, mainstream protestants, and many thoughtful people with other beliefs aren’t exactly well practiced at proselytizing. Those who typically view religious faith as a personal and private endeavor, will find it difficult to do what I suggest here.
Yet many of us have family and friends who, within the chosen safety of their evangelical enclaves, are never held accountable or asked to explain the many ugly national sins that made their candidate’s rise possible — the mendacity, bigotry, xenophobia, misogyny, and language of violence that so clearly energized the Trump phenomenon. These unconfessed sins, as well as ongoing support from evangelicals, are precisely what will keep Trump in power or drive him from it. Given the circumstances, it’s appropriate to expect, if not demand, religious answers to questions we ourselves may not find particularly religious.
Our conscience, and the weight of this historical moment, should serve as a reminder that this strategy is more than an exercise in irony. We can now refuse the inevitable attempts by Trump evangelicals to revert to arguments no longer relevant under new dynamics of governance. We can also ask them to explain the connection they make between their chosen president and their own heartfelt religious convictions.
Understandably, many evangelicals—perhaps even some who voted for Trump—want to distance their faith from its association with the president-elect. Trump is a tyrant and a demagogue who demonstrates no Christian principles, evangelical or otherwise. Evangelical critics of Trump are right to worry about how their fellow believers’ strong support for him will damage their faith’s reputation and public witness.
But advancing historically indefensible claims and naïve predictions that white American evangelicalism has ever been or will ever be anything other than steadfastly conservative in its politics and public influence is no way to handle the fallout from its linkage to Trump. That relationship represents neither a historical anomaly nor a minority position. To suggest otherwise only magnifies the lie.
Another day, another disastrous appointment from the perspective of those of us concerned with facts and reality.
“The nomination of Congressman Mick Mulvaney to lead OMB, like many of Trump’s other cabinet level nominations, raises alarm about the direction in which our country is headed. The White House Office of Management and Budget is central to good government—including its role overseeing science-based public health, safety and environmental protections. Rep. Mulvaney has a long record of supporting legislation that would roll back and undermine those protections. He has backed legislation to change the regulatory process in ways that would give an even stronger influence to industry, increase political interference and undermine science-based decision-making. This is directly contrary to public health and safety, and the public interest generally. Real people’s lives will be at stake in the decisions Mulvaney will make at OMB.
Yeah, appointing a guy who questions whether the government has a role to play with respect to researching issues like the Zika virus is disastrous. There’s no other word for it. Other than catastrophic, maybe.
Whose words from 2008 have become disquietly prophetic. If only we had listened.
Instead, we – white Christian America – chose to make people who don’t look like us someone else’s problem. Again.
I pray I can rediscover the hope contained in this speech again someday soon.
Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, “Not this time.” This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn; that those kids who don’t look like us are somebody else’s problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.
This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don’t have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.
This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn’t look like you might take your job; it’s that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.
This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should’ve been authorized and never should’ve been waged, and we want to talk about how we’ll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.
We seem to have taken a ponderously grim turn here. We started with a whimsical riff on the new Star Wars movie and now we’re suddenly knee deep in Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem. But, alas, that important book is unavoidably pertinent these days — and not because there’s a new Star Wars movie coming out.
It’s pertinent because soon — and more explicitly than ever before in my lifetime — we may ourselves be asked to comply with and cooperate in the construction of the machinery of death. We may be asked to participate in that machinery, to fortify and amplify it, in ways we may have (mostly) avoided before now. Registrations, deportations, disenfranchisement, torture, war crimes, the denial of medical care, generational theft on a massive scale — these things are not hypothetical possibilities, but campaign promises now being planned and begun.
Our participation in this machinery of death is expected. It is being requested. And it may come to be compelled — whether through threat of punishment or economic necessity. The machine will need us to help build it. That means we have the opportunity and the obligation — and the power — to prevent it from being built.
In a country that has just elected a climate science denier who’s busy appointing other climate science deniers, local governments live in reality with the rest of us.
The more you follow government down to the local level, the harder it is for decision-makers to pretend climate change isn’t real. Coastal cities in particular can see what’s coming, and their officials understand that people can’t just sit on their hands. When you’ve cleaned up after storm surge flooding before, the risk of more severe flooding feeds a concrete urgency. One of the first cities to get the ball rolling was Boston, which recently released a new report laying out a roadmap for a “Climate Ready Boston.”
You, Lord, have abandoned your people,
the descendants of Jacob.
They are full of superstitions from the East;
they practice divination like the Philistines
and embrace pagan customs.
Their land is full of silver and gold;
there is no end to their treasures.
Their land is full of horses;
there is no end to their chariots.
Their land is full of idols;
they bow down to the work of their hands,
to what their fingers have made.
So people will be brought low
and everyone humbled—
do not forgive them.
This great blog post gives voice to so many things I’ve felt but struggled to articulate in the last month, in which I, too, have not gone to church. Like Holly, I feel completely homeless.
Go read the whole thing here.
The truth of the matter is that it’s hard for me to go to an evangelical church in the wake of Trump’s election. I don’t think I belong there anymore.
I don’t belong with a group of people that by and large believes Trump is worthy of being president.
I feel uprooted, disoriented. Homeless. The evangelical church is the body into which I was born and raised, where I was educated and how I came to faith. I’m not sure where to go next.
Knowing that 80% of white evangelicals voted for Trump, I was interested to see how the leaders at our new church here in Atlanta would handle the election aftermath. Would they be silent about it? Call for unity? Reference it obliquely? Or speak out against Trump’s nativism, racism, mysogyny, etc.?
I love this new term from Slacktivist: “concordance-ism.” It is fantastic.
“Look up eunuch in the whole of the Bible.” That’s white evangelicalism in a nutshell. It’s irrelevant that Wellington Boone is, himself, black. This is the crux of white evangelical biblicism — the white theology that was designed and tailored and mandated in defense of whiteness.
It doesn’t ask us to read the Bible. It asks us to “look up” things in the Bible — to consult the Bible without reading it.
Scot McKnight is working through Christian Smith’s The Bible Made Impossible in a fine series critiquing this standard white evangelical biblicism. But I’m not even sure “biblicism” is the right word. It’s more like Concordance-ism.* A concordance is, after all, the only way to “look up” something “in the whole of the Bible.” (Or you can use the concordance-like search function of an online Bible.)
I would say this is a terrible, terrible way to read the Bible, but, again, it doesn’t actually involve reading the Bible at all. And it often winds up being terribly misleading. Such concordance-driven “word studies” abstract and obscure the meaning of the specific passages they extract from the text and context around them. They obscure more than they reveal — obscuring even the fact that they’re obscuring. The choice of search terms shapes the outcome of the search. And, of course, the whole project is based on the illiterate premise that every relevant passage will include an explicit term labeling it as such.