Robb Ryerse: An Evangelical, Pro Gay Rights, Small Government, Medicare for All, Anti-Abortion, Anti-Confederate Monument, Pro Tax Reform, and Green Energy Republican Who Ran for Congress in 2018

Learn more here:

Ryerse is a graduate of Summit University (formerly Baptist Bible College) in Clarks Summit, PA and Biblical Theological Seminary in Hatfield, PA.   Summit University has roots in the fundamentalist General Association of Regular Baptist Churches.  Biblical Theological Seminary is a generally evangelical seminary founded when theologian Allen McRae broke ranks with fundamentalist crusader Carl McIntire.  Ryerse has since left fundamentalism and now pastors a more progressive evangelical congregation.

At one point early in the film, Ryerse notes that one his favorite books is “Feinberg’s Systematic Theology.”  I did not know that John Feinberg, Paul Feinberg, or their father Charles Feinberg ever wrote a complete systematic theology.  Perhaps I did not hear this correctly.

He is considering another run in 2020.

759,935 American Voters Pulled a Lever for Members of “The Squad” in 2018

Squad

In 2018:

110,318 voters in New York’s 14th Congressional District voted for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  This district is 18.41% white.

267,703 voters in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District voted for Ilhan Omar.  The district is 67.39% white.

165,355 voters in Michigan’s 13th District voted for Rashisa Talib. The district is 33.4% white.

216,559 voters in Massachusetts’s 7th District voted for Ayanna Pressley.  The district is 33.69% white.

The President of the United States says that these four women of color should leave the country because they don’t love America.  Would he say the same thing about 759,935 people who voted for this members of the House of Representatives?  These women were duly elected by their constituencies.  Unless, of course, the elections were rigged.  🙂

Stacy Abrams Meets With American Historians

Abrams

Stacy Abrams, who lost a very close race for Georgia governor in November, was in Philadelphia on Friday to talk to American historians in town for the annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians.  The topic was voter suppression.  Here is a taste of  Jennifer Schuessler‘s piece at The New York Times:

...last Friday, Ms. Abrams dropped in on a much quieter venue: the Library Company of Philadelphia, founded in 1731 by Ben Franklin, which bills itself as the oldest cultural institution in the United States.

It wasn’t a stop on Ms. Abrams’s book tour. Instead, she was there to participate in an intimate two-hour conversation about the history of voter suppression with four leading scholars. It will be published next year by the University of Georgia Press as part of a new series called History in the Headlines, which aims to bring historical expertise to bear on today’s most hotly debated issues.The Trump era has been a red-alert moment for many historians, who have mobilized in the classroom, on op-ed pages and on social media to combat what they see as the erosion of democratic norms and an attack on truth itself.

For the conversation, the moderator, Jim Downs, a professor at Connecticut College, had recruited what he called a “dream team”: Carol Anderson, the author of “One Person, No Vote;” Heather Cox Richardson, an expert in the history of the Republican Party; Heather Ann Thompson, the author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning account of the Attica prison revolt; and Kevin Kruse, who has become famous for his epic Twitter threads smiting the dubious historical claims of pundits and politicians.

Before the event, they seemed galvanized at the prospect of talking with someone who has, as Mr. Kruse put it, skin in the game.

“When the email went out saying she was coming, I was like —,” Dr. Anderson, a professor at Emory University, said, clutching her heart. A few minutes later, Ms. Abrams approached.

Read the entire piece here.

Why Do Rural Whites Vote GOP?

Rural

Daniel K. Williams of the University of West Georgia explains why rural white voters, once a stronghold of the Democratic Party, started voting Republican.  Here is a taste of his piece at History News Network:

If there was one demographic group that blunted the force of the “blue wave” in this month’s midterm elections, it was rural white voters. Even as Republicans lost control of the suburban areas that had been their strongholds in the 1980s and 1990s, Republicans extended their hold over rural America. The GOP is now on the verge of uniting nearly all rural white voters into a single party – which has never happened before. 

For most of the Republican Party’s history, the notion that the GOP would become the party of rural whites was unimaginable. Rural whites were the last voter group in the South to leave the Democratic Party; they did not begin consistently voting Republican until the 1990s, nearly a generation after suburban white southerners entered the GOP. But now rural whites in both North and South are the stronghold of the GOP and the key to the party’s future. 

Why have rural whites throughout the country started voting Republican? And why have Democrats been unable to win them back, despite making an effort to do so in 2018? 

Read the rest here.

The Evangelical Vote in Key 2018 Elections

Church voting

Last week we pointed out a few key races in the 2018 midterm elections where evangelicals might make a significant difference.  Over at New York Magazine, Ed Kilgore tells us how white evangelicals actually voted.  Here is a taste of his piece:

The perception that white Evangelicals are especially happy with Trump was reinforced by their voting behavior in some of the key 2018 Senate races where POTUS was heavily involved. In Indiana, where Trump campaigned twice during the last week of the midterms (alongside his conspicuously Evangelical Hoosier vice-president Mike Pence), white Evangelicals rose from 39 percent of the electorate in 2016 to 41 percent, and gave GOP Senate nominee Mike Braun 72 percent of their vote (three points higher than winning Republican candidate Todd Young in 2016). Braun won. In Missouri, Trump also made a late appearance for GOP Senate candidate Josh Hawley. The percentage of the electorate represented by white Evangelicals rose from 35 percent to 38 percent, and Hawley got 75 percentof it, a higher percentage than winning GOP candidate Roy Blunt in 2016. In Florida, Trump campaigned for Senate candidate Rick Scott and gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis. The white Evangelical share of the vote there rose by an amazing nine points, from 20 percent in 2016 to 29 percent this year. Scott won 80 percent of this elevated vote, and DeSantis won 77 percent (not quite as much as the otherworldly 84 percent won by Marco Rubio — a particular Evangelical favorite — during his easy 2016 win, but still an impressive showing).

In some states white Evangelicals were already so wildly pro-Republican in 2016 that matching or beating their performance in that landmark year was a nearly impossible goal. In Georgia’s very close gubernatorial election, white Evangelicals represented just over a third of the electorate, and gave 88 percent to Brian Kemp — four points less than the 92 percent Trump won in that demographic in 2016. In Texas’s very close Senate race, where white Evangelicals were just over a fourth of the electorate, Ted Cruz got 81 percent of this vote — again, four points less than Trump’s 85 percent in 2016. These are all astounding numbers for a group of people that spans every income and educational level, and a lot of religious denominational differences as well.

Read the entire piece here.

Why Did So Many Hispanics in Florida Pull the Lever for DeSantis Instead of Gillum?

Governors race

The pundits seemed baffled by the 2018 Florida gubernatorial race between Rep. Rick DeSantis (R) and Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum (D).  Here is a taste of an article at the Atlanta Black Star:

Initial Election Day results showed that a significant chunk of Latino men and women voted in favor of DeSantis, who once cautioned Florida voters not to “monkey this up” by electing Gillum as their next governor. According to the numbers, 46 percent of Hispanic men voted for the GOP candidate while 38 percent of women did the same.

Social media critics couldn’t help but notice the trend, and were left scratching their heads over how Latinos could vote for someone who’s backed President Donald Trump‘s tough stance on immigration.

“At some point we need to have a frank and non-judgmental conversation about these Hispanic numbers,” Twitter user @chukroxx opined. “I don’t understand them … And, emotionally, it mid-key stings. What’s happening here y’all?”

“I’m truly just tryna comprehend,” he continued. What about the republican platform is so inviting? Especially considering their immigration stances? Why wasn’t the racism Desantis off putting?”

Radio host Ebro Darden offered this explanation: “Some Latinos are white and even racist against Black & Brown. Many are evangelicals … just cause someone makes seasoned food and is stereotyped by the oppressor as murderous and criminal does not mean they don’t wanna be just like their oppressor.”

Other Twitter users chimed with their own ideas, pointing out some Latino’s allegiance to America prompts them to vote red.

I don’t know much about the Latino electorate in Florida, but I wonder if they voted for DeSantis because he is pro-life on abortion.  Many Latinos are evangelicals who take traditional positions on social and cultural issues.  Perhaps they placed their moral commitments over identity politics.  Just a thought.  Perhaps someone who knows more about this subject might be able to offer some insight.

It seems like the same argument could be made in other gubernatorial races as well.

“If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row”

Hyde Smith

Cindy Hyde-Smith is a Republican politician who represents Mississippi in the United States Senate.  On November 27 she will face Mike Espy, an African-American Democrat and former Mississippi Secretary of Agriculture, in a run-off election.  Donald Trump has endorsed Hyde-Smith.

At a campaign stop on Sunday, Hyde-Smith referenced a local rancher with these words: “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”

Patrick Connelly, a history professor at Mississippi College in Clinton, provided some historical context on his Twitter feed:

 

The “Good News” for Trump is that White Evangelicals “Just Don’t Care”

Marsha

Trump with evangelical Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn

75% of white evangelicals voted Republican yesterday.  Writer Jacob Lupfer offers his take on what this means.  Here is a taste of his Religion News Service piece: “As evangelicals win with Trump, little ‘good news’ is left in the religious right.”

Trumpism is now business as usual for white evangelicalism, and white evangelical politics are inseparable from Trump’s.

This is a dangerous equation for the religious right, which once justified its alignment with the GOP by saying it could dictate social policy because of the votes it could marshal at election time. But now conservative Christians depend on Trump, not the other way around. Democrats may control the House, but the Republican caucus is even more dominated by Trump disciples as many decent GOP members retired or lost their re-election bids.

Across Capitol Hill, the Senate is now another Trump property. The president believes, with good reason, that the new crop of Republican senators owes its election to his strong support. Even the evangelical senators who occasionally challenge the president’s worst excesses (though always through speeches, never their votes) look as weak and irrelevant as ever.

The word “evangelical” comes from the Greek New Testament. It means “good news,” in reference to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Evangelicals at their best are a religious revival movement, not a voting bloc. True Christians would never abide the race-baiting, lying, dehumanizing rhetoric that Trump spews daily.

The “good news” for Trump is that they just don’t care.

Read the entire piece here.

What Should We Make of Yesterday’s Exit Polls on Religious Voters?

Vote church

Mark Silk of Religion News Service interprets the exit polls:

  • White evangelicals voted for Republicans.  (Surprise!)
  • Protestants constituted less than half of the electorate for the first time in U.S. history
  • Catholics were split, but they leaned Democratic.  This may be because of the Latino vote.
  • Trump’s support of Israel did not sway Jewish voters.  In fact, their support for Democratic candidates doubled
  • “Nones” voted Democratic

Silk concludes: “The bottom line, as moving parts of the American religious system continue their recent trends, is clear: Republicans beware.”

Read the entire piece here.

Who are the “Good Christian People” Who Re-Elected Steve King?

King and trump

Last night the people of the 4th Iowa Congressional District re-elected Steve King.  Here is King’s track record:

And we could go on.

Yet, he continues to win re-election.

One of his constituents, Dordt College professor and writer James Calvin Schapp, is not amused.  Here is a taste of his post “Tribal politics“:

Almost 75 percent of my neighbors, just about all of them church-goers, voted for a man who was scolded by his own Republican party’s election chairman for his unseemly bigoted comments, a man who on the day before the election offered up a slur to two Supreme Court justices for no other reason than what he said is what he thinks, what he believes. 

Just about 75 percent of Sioux County voted for Steve King, the man internationally derided for bigotry, even by his own. No other member of Congress so willingly and frequently says things so universally recognized and understood as putrid. 

Yesterday, the good Christian people returned Steve King to Congress. It’s impossible not to wonder about “good Christian people.”

Sometimes people who are not from here ask me how it is that northwest Iowa voted so overwhelmingly for a presidential candidate like Trump. The answer, sadly enough, has become more and more clear every day: because they voted their values. 

In my many years as a writer–fiction, plays, meditations, histories, occasional essays–I’ve honored my religious and ethnic heritage. I’m a board member of the Sioux County Museum because I really do appreciate the history of my people, my tribe. It’s a story I love to tell–and have in many ways.

This morning I feel disowned. 

Yesterday I said some would be angry and sad this morning, the morning-after. 

Well, I am. I’m downright sick at heart and soul. Almost 75 per cent of Sioux County, Iowa, approve of Steve King. 

They’re not my tribe. They’re his.

Read the entire post here.

Thanks to my friend Doug Anderson for bringing Schapp’s post to my attention.

Post-Election Spin From the Court Evangelicals

Here is what the court evangelicals are saying today:

I agree here with Jack Graham. Yes, life and liberty were on the ballot yesterday. Life in the womb and after the baby is born. Liberty for all men and women:

Robett Jeffress makes a prediction:

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council made a statement.  He thinks that GOP victories last night were largely because of abortion.  His statement also reveals that he has no interest in finding any common ground with his opponents:  “We will stand with President Trump and Majority Leader McConnell in working to repel the Pelosi agenda that is at odds with the values that made America a great nation.”  At least Tony Perkins is honest.

Here is Samuel Rodriguez:

I have no idea what Eric Metaxas and Jerry Falwell Jr. are saying.  They both blocked me.

Was there a court evangelical viewing party?

Taking Care of Business

OnTheRoad

7:45am:  Voted at my local polling place

12:00pm:  At Princeton University for an event on Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump co-sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson Center and the Center for the Study of Religion.

2:15pm:  On Canadian television  (CBC News Network) to talk evangelicals and the election.

7:00pm: In Scranton, Pennsylvania area to watch the Mechanicsburg Area High School girls soccer team compete in the first round of the state tournament vs. Dallas High School.

9:00-12:00pm:  On call with Canadian Broadcast Corporation radio coverage of the 2018 midterms.

Long day.

What Will White Evangelicals Do at the Polls Tomorrow?

Marsha

Marsha Blackburn has strong evangelical support in the Tennessee U.S. Senate race

I see a lot of online articles on this topic.  The answer is simple.  The overwhelming majority of those who identify with the term “evangelical” will vote for Republican candidates.

Here are a some close races where the white evangelical vote will be significant:

  • In Texas, there is some anecdotal evidence that some white evangelical women might vote for Beto O’Rourke in the state’s U.S. Senate race.  But this is just anecdotal evidence.  Most white evangelical women will vote for Ted Cruz.  Nevertheless, if enough white evangelicals break from Cruz and vote for Beto (even if the number is small), it could be enough to get Beto over the top in a very close race.
  • If Josh Hawley defeats Claire McCaskell in the Missouri Senate race, it will be because white evangelicals backed Hawley, an attender of an Evangelical Presbyterian congregation.  I should add that pseudo Christian Right historian David Barton played a role in this campaign.
  • In Tennessee, Marsha Blackburn is getting most of the evangelical vote in a tight U.S. Senate race.  Blackburn is a member of Presbyterian Church of America congregation in Nashville.
  • If Scott Walker wins another term gubernatorial term in Wisconsin, it will be because white evangelicals rallied to his side.
  • In Virginia’s 7th congressional district, incumbent David Brat, a Hope College and Princeton Theological Seminary graduate with a Ph.D. in economics from American University, is going to need white libertarian evangelicals to help him hold off Abigail Spanberger.
  • In North Carolina’s 13th congressional district, incumbent Ted Budd is getting a strong challenge from Kathy Manning.  Budd is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and attends Twin City Bible Church in Winston-Salem. (In February 2018, Budd introduced a resolution in Congress to honor Billy Graham).
  • In North Carolina’s 9th district, an open seat, Mark Harris, a Southern Baptist clergyman, graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and employee of Campus Crusade for Christ, is running against Democrat Dan McCready, a former U.S. Marine and Eagle Scout.  McCready is also a man of deep Christian faith who claims that he was “baptized in the water of the Euphrates River” during his military service in Iraq.  The race is a toss-up.
  • In the Florida governor’s race, Democrat Andrew Gillum has an evangelical running-mate.  Chris King attends an Evangelical Presbyterian Church, was active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, was a member of Campus Crusade for Christ at Harvard, and once worked for progressive evangelical Jim Wallis.  (We covered him here).

Do you know of any other close races where the white evangelical vote might make a difference.  Tell us about it in the comments section.

Midterms-Related Twitter is on Fire Right Now

Here are a few random tweets:

Princeton American historian Kevin Kruse:

Conservative National Review writer David French:

The lies continue:

Former Christian Right leader Rev. Rob Schenck is voting straight Democrat:

Tony Perkins trusts God:

The Christian Right continue to build their political philosophy around a faulty view of American history. But what do I know? I’m a member of the academic elite. (If only the actual “academic elite” thought the same thing about my pedigree and the fact that I teach at Messiah College. 🙂 )

I got a little snarky here, but the scene in *The Ten Commandments* came to mind:

Even New York sportswriter Mike Lupica is getting into the mix:

Pro-Life Women for Beto O’Rourke

abortion

Earlier this month, New York Times religion reporter Elizabeth Dias did a story on evangelical women who are supporting Beto O’Rourke over Ted Cruz in the Texas Senate race.  One of the women quoted in that piece said “I care as much about babies at the border as I do about babies in the womb.”

Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa is a pro-life feminist and founder of an organization called New Wave Feminists.  In an op-ed in yesterday’s Dallas Morning News she explains why she just voted for Beto, a pro-choice candidate.  Here is a taste of her piece:

I run a large pro-life feminist group, not just a pro-life group. We were the ones removed as sponsors from the Women’s March back in 2017 because of our stance against abortion rights. And that was a real shame because while I am 100 percent pro-life, I’m also 100 percent feminist, and I saw the way Trump treated women as an absolute deal-breaker. Sadly, we were one of the few pro-life groups that took this position. 

However, during that election I started to see, as an independent, just how deep the GOP had its hooks in the pro-life movement. I saw the way these politicians used unborn children’s lives to get out the vote but then oftentimes forgot about those lives soon after. I saw the way pro-lifers compromised so many of their own upstanding ethics and morals to elect a man thrice married, who bragged about his infidelities and predatory behavior. And why? So they could get their Supreme Court seats.

And then I watched as they got two of those seats, and how they boasted that all of their compromise had been worth it because we now have a “pro-life” advantage on the Supreme Court and could possibly overturn Roe vs. Wade. All the while, Sen. Susan Collins was explaining that she voted yes to Kavanaugh only because he assured her Roe was “settled law.”

This was the last straw for me. That’s when the blinders came all the way off. This idea of eliminating abortion by simply making it illegal is far too low of a bar to set. Abortion must become unthinkable and unnecessary if we want to eradicate it from our culture. And the only way that will happen is by creating a post-Roe culture while Roe still stands.

Read the entire piece here.

Penn Live Endorses George Scott in Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District

George-Scott-1600x900

George Scott

A lot of his here in south central Pennsylvania are following the congressional race in the 10th District.  Trump loyalist and incumbent Scott Perry (R) is running against Lutheran clergyman (ELCA) George Scott (D).  Because of the newly redrawn congressional maps in Pennsylvania, the district that includes my hometown of Mechanicsburg is now up for grabs for the first time in decades.

Last week Penn Live (the online version of the Harrisburg Patriot News), endorsed Scott:

Here is a taste of the endorsement:

Scott, who aspires to be a “servant-leader,” is a political moderate at a time when American politics is badly in need of some moderation. 

He impressed the board with his views on healthcare, women’s reproductive rights and his commitment to increasing the minimum wage and expanding Medicaid coverage, among other issues. 

Unlike Perry, who has marched in lockstep with the House’s most conservative faction, Scott has said he will not support current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for House speaker should Democrats retake the majority on Election Day. 

His aspiration to bipartisanship in an institution where that tradition is a dying art was also refreshing. He told the board that “it all starts with personal relationships … not just with people in my party, but with folks on the other side of the aisle … who want to solve tough issues.”

He shares Perry’s commitment to the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

But unlike his Republican opponent, Scott also believes that right must be balanced with better regulation, including background checks for all gun sales and bans on products like bump stocks and high-capacity magazines.

Scott has also called for a strong federal policy to address climate change, and says one that has caught his eye is a carbon fee-and-dividend proposal advanced by the Citizens Climate Initiative that would tax fossil fuels at production or point of importation, according to the carbon dioxide (one of the top greenhouse gases)  produced.

The idea is to get business, industry and government to more quickly convert to conversion to renewables and other cleaner fuels.

After three terms in Congress, Perry has emerged as a sharp-elbowed partisan and loyal conservative foot soldier of the hyperpartisan Freedom Caucus, a coalition of GOP lawmakers whose main priority often seems to be less about effective governance and more about ensuring a permanent state of legislative paralysis on Capitol Hill. 

Perry has voted repeatedly to repeal the Affordable Care Act, without approving legislation that would have replaced former President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement.

In 2017, he voted in favor of the GOP-authored alternative, the American Healthcare Act. Despite recent attempts at Republican white-washing, the bill would have made it harder and much more expensive for people with pre-existing conditions to obtain insurance coverage.

Perry voted against a carbon tax proposal and has said his preference is to let market forces continue to attack the problem. He pointed to large emission reductions that have occurred organically in recent years as American power plants have moved from coal to natural gas as a fuel source.

Perry’s assertion to a constituent that he didn’t want to pay for maternity care for other women because “I have two children, and we’re not having any more,” is dangerously short-sighted and a profound violation of the social contract between Americans.

Perry joined with the Freedom Caucus to call for the impeachment of the Rod Rosenstein, the senior U.S. Department of Justice official, who oversees Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. 

And he made the bizarre assertion, without providing any evidence, that ISIS was behind the mass shooting in Las Vegas that wounded hundreds and resulted in the death of 59 people. Asked by the board to substantiate that claim, which he still stands by, Perry declined, saying he’d been given access to confidential information he could not share.

The Nov. 6 midterm offers central Pennsylvania voters a chance to forge a new direction, in a new district, with someone who truly represents their values. George Scott is that candidate.

Read the entire endorsement here.

Election Night with the CBC

CBC RadioIf you can pull yourself away from CNN or NPR on election night (November 6), I will be doing some commentary on the evangelical vote for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s radio coverage of the 2018 midterm elections.  More details to follow.  Stay tuned.