Alabama Department of Archives & History apologizes for promoting a Confederate view of history

Archives and history

Here is the statement from the Department of Archives & History:

As our state and nation struggle to navigate through a place of contention, fear, and uncertainty, the Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH) recommits itself to the mission of illuminating the path that brought us here, and thereby equipping all of us, together, to build a future characterized by justice, human dignity, and a commitment to the wellbeing of all people.

Our recommitment includes acknowledgment of these truths.

1. Systemic racism remains a reality in American society, despite belief in racial equality on the part of most individuals. Historically, our governments, our economy, and many private institutions seeded or perpetuated discrimination against racial minorities to the political, economic, and social advantage of whites. The decline of overt bigotry in mainstream society has not erased the legacies of blatantly racist systems that operated for hundreds of years.

2. The ADAH is, in significant part, rooted in this legacy. The State of Alabama founded the department in 1901 to address a lack of proper management of government records, but also to serve a white southern concern for the preservation of Confederate history and the promotion of Lost Cause ideals. For well over a half-century, the agency committed extensive resources to the acquisition of Confederate records and artifacts while declining to acquire and preserve materials documenting the lives and contributions of African Americans in Alabama.

3. As an organization, we remain mostly white, especially in agency leadership and in our archival and curatorial staffs. Even with a serious, sustained commitment to understand the historical roots of injustice and its present manifestations, we cannot know the full measure of fear and frustration experienced by African Americans who have lived different realities in the past and today. We listen and study with intent and with sympathy, but our understanding requires ongoing work.

Our recommitment includes these objectives.

4. We will continue and expand efforts of the past four decades to document and tell a fully inclusive story of Alabama’s role in the American experience. If history is to serve the present, it must offer an honest assessment of the past.

5. We will be a facilitator of public dialogue, seeking opportunities to build bridges through mutually respectful discussions of personal, community, and state history. These voices will help shape our exhibitions and public programs.

6. We will pursue greater diversity at the ADAH through robust recruitment initiatives. These will include introducing high school students to career opportunities in public history and providing paid internships to undergraduate and graduate students. We will offer a welcoming, inclusive community of colleagues, and meaningful opportunities to contribute to the work of the agency.

7. We will model and advocate for responsible stewardship of historical materials held by collecting institutions as well as in the public square. As communities struggle with decisions over Confederate iconography, we assert that options are not limited to static persistence, on the one hand, or to destruction on the other.

Our recommitment includes the continued development of resources such as the following, useful for gaining a greater understanding of racism’s origins and consequences.

8. We the People: Alabama’s Defining Documents was a special exhibition of Alabama’s six constitutions during 2019, the state’s bicentennial year. The exhibit website and catalog let the historical record speak for itself in explaining how Alabama law stacked the deck against African Americans during slavery, after emancipation, and for two thirds of the way through the twentieth century.

9. Family history can be a challenging pursuit for anyone, sometimes resulting in dead ends and unanswered questions. For African Americans, genealogy comes with added complexity because black ancestors almost universally lived in slavery. When African Americans can be found in antebellum historical records, it is often in a bill of sale written by a slave trader or in an estate inventory, listed alongside livestock and pieces of furniture. To better understand how race has bearing even on researching family history, watch our two-part guide to “Tracing Your African American Ancestors.”

10. For more than thirty years, the Friends of the Alabama Archives have sponsored Food for Thought, a monthly lecture series bringing scholarship to public audiences. On our YouTube channel, explore playlists containing talks on topics such as “Slavery, Emancipation, and Reconstruction,” “Race and Equal Rights,” or “The Civil Rights Movement.”

11. Take a visual journey through African American community life in the 1960s with the Jim Peppler Southern Courier Photograph Collection, containing eleven thousand images of political activism, religious life, music, sports, and black neighborhoods.

12. Find more content from the ADAH and our partners at Alabama History@Home. Steve Murray, Director, and the Board of Trustees Alabama Department of Archives and History

Mike Cason is covering this for Alabama.com.

The unsettling similarities between a 1964 George Wallace letter and the rhetoric of Donald Trump

Earlier this week, presidential historian Michael Beschloss tweeted a 1964 letter written by segregationist Alabama governor George Wallace to a woman in Cedar Spring, Michigan:

Wallace letter

Here is the text of the entire letter:

Dear Miss Martin:

This will acknowledge and thank you for your letter of April 8, 1964, in which you request literature on the subject of segregation in the South. We have no material on this subject in our office. As a matter of fact, we have never had a problem here in the South except in a very few isolated instances and these have been the result of outside agitators.

Contrary to reports of many of the national news media and the propaganda distributed by various organizations, our efforts here in the South are not against the Negro citizen. We fight for the betterment of all citizens in our State.

I personally have done more for the Negroes of the State of Alabama than any other individual. I sponsored the Bill which established and provided for the three largest Negro Trade Schools in the South when I was a member of the Legislature. I served on the Board of Trustees of Tuskegee Institute, one of the finest Negro Institutions in America, for a period of two years. Since I have become Governor, I sponsored the program which has provided for two new Negro Junior Colleges and Trade Schools in the State of Alabama, and for the improvement of three already in existence. Through my efforts, all Negro Educational Institutions in the State have the largest appropriations in their history.

In addition, the State of Alabama enjoyed its greatest year of industrial development in 1963. Over 20,000 new jobs were created for the cities of Alabama. Many of these jobs [2] will be filled by Negroes. This industrial expansion will bring about better economic conditions in our State and will offer equality of opportunity.

Negro school teachers in the State of Alabama receive average higher pay than white school teachers. A check of the per capita income of the Negro Citizen of the State of Alabama will disclose that they receive income which is much greater than nearly any other State in the United States.

Our efforts are keyed to a fight to preserve Constitutional Government and States’ Sovereignty –not to hurt our Negro citizens.

White and colored have lived together in the South for generations in peace and equanimity. They each prefer their own pattern of society, their own churches and their own schools – which history and experience have proven are best for both races. (As stated before, outside agitators have created any major friction occurring between the races.) This is true and applies to other areas as well. People who move to the south from sections where there is not a large negro population soon realize and are most outspoken in favor of our customs once they learn for themselves that our design for living is best for all concerned.

With best wishes, I am

Sincerely yours,
George C Wallace

P.S. I am forwarding to you under separate cover copies of two of my speeches. One is on the Civil Rights Bill, the other on Communism.

Wallace writes, “we have never had a problem here in the South except in a very few isolated instances and these have been the result of outside agitators.”

Here is Donald Trump:

Here is Attorney General Bill Barr on May 30, 2020: “Groups of outside radicals and agitators are exploiting the situation to pursue their own separate, violent and extremist agenda.”

The White House retweeted this on June 9:

Read this for a short history of the phrase “outside agitators.” Also, read Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

Here is Wallace again: “Contrary to reports of many of the national news media and the propaganda distributed by various organizations, our efforts here in the South are not against the Negro citizen.”

And Trump:

Wallace again: “We fight for the betterment of all citizens in our state” (Italics mine).

And Trump:

Or watch this:

Wallace wrote, “I personally have done more for the Negroes of the State of Alabama than any other individual.”

Trump:

And this:

Here is Wallace:

I sponsored the Bill which established and provided for the three largest Negro Trade Schools in the South when I was a member of the Legislature….Since I have become Governor, I sponsored the program which has provided for two new Negro Junior Colleges and Trade Schools in the State of Alabama, and for the improvement of three already in existence. Through my efforts, all Negro Educational Institutions in the State have the largest appropriations in their history.

Here is Trump:

Get the full story here.

Wallace again: “In addition, the State of Alabama enjoyed its greatest year of industrial development in 1963. Over 20,000 new jobs were created for the cities of Alabama. Many of these jobs will be filled by Negroes.”

Trump:

History rhymes.

Trump in Tuscaloosa

Trump blowup

After he was booed in Washington D.C. at the World Series and in New York at a UFC fight, Donald Trump appears to have found a generally friendly audience in Tuscaloosa, Alabama at a University of Alabama football game.  ESPN explains:

Trump, sitting one tier above the field, waved as fans turned around to look up at the president. He smiled, gave a thumbs-up a few times and threw a couple of fist bumps into the air as the Alabama fans waved red and white pompoms in response. First lady Melania Trump got an equally enthusiastic welcome.

While the president might have received a largely warm reception inside the stadium, there were also signs of protest in Tuscaloosa before the game.

An inflatable figure depicting a baby Donald Trump wearing a diaper, which has been seen at protests around the world, was set up in a park but was deflated after being attacked with a knife. Jim Girvan, the organizer of a group that “adopts” out the Baby Trump balloons for protests, said a man charged the 20-foot balloon and cut an 8-foot-long gash in the back. Girvan said the unidentified man was arrested, and videos on social media showed police detaining a man nearby. Tuscaloosa police did not immediately respond to a request for more details.

Robert Kennedy, a volunteer “babysitter” who brought the balloon to Tuscaloosa, said the balloon immediately began to sag after it was cut. The day had been going mostly smoothly, Kennedy said, with some people yelling, “Trump 2020” as they passed while others posed for selfies with the balloon.

Elsewhere, one protester carried a sign that said, “Roll Tide Impeach 45,” and a woman held a signing saying she had sold her game ticket and donated the money to the Alabama Democratic Party. But there were more pro-Trump signs. One woman wore an oversized red MAGA hat and carried a sign saying: “Make BAMA #1 Again.” There were flags emblazoned with “Trump 2020” and banners that read: “Keep America Great Trump 2020.”

There was also plenty of bipartisan grumbling about the long lines to get in to the game due to enhanced security.

Read the entire piece here.

Christian Right Leader Urges Trump to Clean-Up His Act

Wallace Henley is the Associate Pastor at Houston Baptist Church, a 69,000 member megachurch.  He worked as a White House aide in the Nixon administration, served as president of the Alabama Baptist Convention, and was an award-winning journalist for The Birmingham News.  He writes Christian books and seems to have a following on the Christian Right.   Henley is a columnist at the Christian Post website. His forthcoming book The Trump Enigma (Thomas Nelson, 2020) appears to be a defense of Trump.

In his 2005 book, Alabama Baptists: Southern Baptists in the Heart of Dixie, historian Wayne Flynt writes about Henley:

President Richard Nixon had portrayed himself as a deeply religious man by bringing ministers to the White House to preach . The impressive surroundings and aura of power overwhelmed visiting Baptist ministers as normally cautious as Billy Graham.  One young Alabama Baptist flew particularly close to the alluring flame of presidential power.  Wallace Henley was a Samford University graduate, minister, and religion reporter for the Birmingham News when he became active in the 1968 campaign.  Three years later the White House invited Henley to become assistant director of the cabinet committee on education.  Later he became director of public and congressional affairs in the Justice Department.  Although Henley could not have known it at the time, he was also a pawn in a political strategy.  Nixon believed that Alabama governor George Wallace was the chief barrier to his reelection in 1972.  By splitting the antiliberal vote between himself and Wallace, Nixon feared a Democratic victory.  The appointment of southerners like Henley was designed to appeal to Southern Baptists and neutralize Wallace’s popularity in the South.  Like John Buchanan, Henley initially defended the president during the Watergate scandals but quickly realized the ethical quagmire in which he found himself.  He resigned in 1973 and wrote a book (Enter at Your Own Risk, 1974) to explain how he had allowed his support of Nixon’s political ideology and the trappings of presidential power sucked him into a cynical world where politicians used religion to manipulate a gullible public.  The autobiography was the first step on a path that led Henley back into the pulpit, to the presidency of the state convention, and ultimately into the charismatic Baptist ministry.

Henley does not seem to have any real beef with Donald Trump’s policies, but he is upset about his language.  He recently wrote an “Open Letter” to Trump at the Christian Post.  Here is a taste:

Along with millions of people of many faiths I thank you for the bold stand you have taken for religious freedom. The eloquent speech you gave at the United Nations was one of your finest moments—in fact, one of the finest of any president.

I have worked in the White House, and I have written about the presidency since the 1970s, but have never seen nor heard a president of the United States so powerfully defend the right of people to choose what they believe about God and to worship freely.

I also join my voice to the millions so grateful to you for your unrelenting defense of the fundamental right to life of the unborn. Your firm stance against the abortion movement that has escalated to shocking levels is crucial. It is unconscionable that there are those in the industry who are willing to take human life almost at the point of birth.

Christians of many denominations and movements, along with many in other religions are thankful for your leadership in these areas.

Nevertheless, many Christians remain troubled by your careless speech….

You are in the Oval Office largely on the strength of the conservative Christian vote, and I appeal to you not to continue to insult and embarrass us through your speeches and actions. Rather than contributing to the coarseness of contemporary culture, set a presidential example that elevates discourse.

In short, sir, you need to clean up your act.

Last summer, at a rally in Greenville, North Carolina, you invoked the darkest of imprecations when you twice used the G-damn word in your speech. The evangelical Christians who support you have as their greatest passion that of helping people escape eternal damnation through the grace of Jesus Christ.

Many, when they heard or read that horrible curse coming from your mouth felt literal pain. Democrat Paul Hardesty, a state senator from a coal-mining district, who, though a Democrat, supports you, spoke for many of us when he wrote you that there is “no place in society… where that type of speech should be used or handled. Your comments were not presidential.”

Nor were they Christian.

Mr. President, you said once that you had never felt a need to ask forgiveness. You have one now. And maybe more as you allow the Spirit of God to search your soul. (Psalm 139:23)

Many evangelicals and other Christians take seriously Daniel 2:21 that says that it is God who “removes kings and establishes kings.” If that verse is true and conveys a principle applied across history, then bring yourself completely under His rulership, and you will be a blessing to the nation and world.

Read the rest here.

Henley talks about the letter in the video above.  I am not sure if this interview is noteworthy, but it is interesting to see pro-Trump Christian Righters speaking-out against Trump’s discourse.  Henley’s line about the Old Testament prophet Amos is worth considering.  He seems to have learned something from his days in the Nixon White House.

The Author’s Corner With Thomas Balcerski

BalcserskiThomas J. Balcerski is Assistant Professor of History at Eastern Connecticut State University.  This is interview is based on his new book Bosom Friends: The Intimate World of James Buchanan and William Rufus King (Oxford University Press, 2019).

JF: What led you to write Bosom Friends?

TB: Bosom Friends began as the first chapter of my dissertation at Cornell University. One of my central research questions since graduate school has been the role of bachelors, and more generally the unmarried, in U.S. politics before the Civil War. From bachelors, I came to the historical category of friendship, about which I wrote my first article, published in Pennsylvania History in 2013. In the dissertation, I looked at several examples of intimate male friendships in the antebellum period, but for the book, I decided to dig deeper into the relationship of James Buchanan of Pennsylvania and William Rufus King of Alabama. Given that the focus had shifted from a range of actors to just two individuals, I decided to write the book as a dual biography.

Famously, James Buchanan is our only bachelor president (or more properly, the only president never to marry, since Grover Cleveland was elected a bachelor in 1884). Less well known to history is William Rufus King, who was elected vice president under Franklin Pierce in 1852. King is perhaps most widely remembered for being the only president or vice president ever inaugurated outside the United States, having done so on his deathbed in Matanzas, Cuba. The pair, Buchanan and King, served together in the U.S. Senate from 1834 to 1844, during which time they often lived together. From there, the bosom friends separated, but their correspondence increased, which reveals a portrait of two Democratic bachelor politicians striving to obtain power. While both men lived, they wanted nothing more than to unite the North and the South in a bachelor ticket; however, it did not come to pass.

JF: In 2 sentences, what is the argument of Bosom Friends?

TB: My book argues that an intimate male friendship shaped the political and personal lives of James Buchanan of Pennsylvania and William Rufus King of Alabama. I reveal the many intricacies of their conjoined lives and, in the process, help to clear up much misinformation about the pair.

JF: Why do we need to read Bosom Friends?

TB: The relationship of James Buchanan and William Rufus King is interesting both in a historical and historiographic sense. I find it fascinating how interpretations, both among academics and the general public, have changed about the pair. There’s no getting around the fact that, today, most people assume that they were gay and, further still, that they shared a sexual relationship. My book takes a different approach, as I read the evidence more carefully within the historical context of intimacy in nineteenth century America. For this reason, readers can expect a reassessment of what they think they know about manhood, friendship, sexuality, and politics in the era before the Civil War.

JF: When and why did you decide to become an American historian? 

TB: I credit an excellent high school teacher for my initial interest in American history. My class read Thomas Bailey’s American Pageant, and I was hooked. The narrative style, the memorable descriptions (John Adams as “frosty” lingers in my memory), and the idea that the past, somehow, actually mattered to the present made their impression upon me. I have always enjoyed the ebb and flow of the antebellum period—I like the contingency of events, the colorful characters who populated David Potter’s The Impending Crisis, and the sense that maybe, just maybe, the war could have been prevented. Beyond the graduate training that I received at SUNY Stony Brook and Cornell University, I realized that those initial passions for the causes of the Civil War are like a deep reservoir of historical research to which I come back to again and again.

JF: What is your next project?

TB: I am currently working on a history of the Democratic Party from its early origins in the Federalist era to its unraveling in the 1920s. Tentatively titled “The Party of No: When the Democrats Were Conservative,” I want to understand the longer history of an important question that I am often asked, a version of which: “When did the Democratic Party and the Republican Party switch their politics?” I think a study, part biographical of party leaders and part political history of the period, would help to explain the events that preceded this change.

JF: Thanks, Tom!

Why Jews and Muslims Might Claim a Religious Liberty Exemption to the Alabama Abortion Bill

Abortion Alabama

Steven Waldman, author of a new book titled Sacred Liberty: America’s Long, Bloody, and Ongoing Struggle for Religious Freedommakes a fascinating argument in a recent op-ed at Newsweek.  What happens when a pro-life position on abortion clashes with religious liberty?  Jews believe life begins at birth, not conception.  Muslims believe that life begins around the fourth month of gestation.  Are these deeply-held religious beliefs?

On the Christian Right, where anti-abortion legislation and religious liberty drive the political agenda of its members, heads are exploding.  What happens when religious liberty clashes with anti-abortion laws?

Here is a taste of Waldman’s piece “Alabama Abortion Law: Should Jewish and Muslim Doctors and Women Get Exemptions For Religious Freedom?:

There may be a strange, implied loophole in the Alabama anti-abortion law—that abortions can be performed … if the doctor is Jewish or Muslim.

Here’s the logic.  We are in a moment of history when the courts are leaning in the direction of providing religious exemptions to secular laws. This was the thrust of the Sisters of the Poor case, when a group of nuns said they should be exempt from the Affordable Care Act’s requirement for contraception coverage. They argued that the rule violated their religious beliefs so they shouldn’t have to participate. The “Bakers of Conscience” have made a similar argument—that they should be allowed to avoid making a cake for a same-sex wedding without being prosecuted under anti-discrimination laws—because their beliefs are grounded in religion.

The drafters of the law were at least partly motivated by their faith. “When God creates the miracle of life inside a woman’s womb, it is not our place as human beings to extinguish that life,”  said Clyde Chambliss, a sponsor of the bill.

So the question becomes: does the law infringe on the religious beliefs of the woman or the doctor?

Though there are many interpretations in the Jewish tradition, the most common is that life begins at birth, not conception. Reform Rabbis have decreed that abortion is permitted if there is a  “strong preponderance of medical opinion that the child will be born imperfect physically, and even mentally.” If you’re a Jewish woman, you could argue that this law forces you to abide by a different definition of life (with roots in Roman Catholicism). 

If you’re a Jewish doctor who has sworn the Hippocratic oath—to perform medically appropriate procedures without discrimination—then it may be your religious belief that you have a duty to provide a Biblically-sanctioned abortion. By blocking you from offering that service, the law is forcing you to violate your Hippocratic oath and the guidance from your religion.

Read the rest here.

Alabama Governor Signs Anti-Abortion Bill One Day and Plans to Execute Someone on the Next Day

Alabama Governor

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey

Today I had a long conversation with New York Times reporter Adeel Hassan.  He was trying to figure out how Alabama could execute a convicted murderer on the day after the state passed a very extreme abortion law.  Here is his report:

A scholar of evangelical Christianity said that most evangelicals in Alabama probably feel no tension between support for the death penalty and opposition to abortion.

“Most conservative evangelicals wouldn’t think twice about executing someone and then going to a pro-life march the next day,” said John Fea, a history professor at Messiah College. He said their views have often been shaped by the political battles that have raged over social issues in recent decades, so that, for example, they also tend to oppose spending tax money on government programs that might reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies.

Progressive evangelicals see the issues differently, Mr. Fea said, but “they are a minority in the state of Alabama and most of the evangelical South.”

Read the entire piece here.

Trump is Signing Bibles in Alabama

trump Bible

Some of my thoughts on this story can be found in Sarah Pulliam-Bailey’s coverage at The Washington Post.  Here is a taste:

John Fea, a historian at Messiah College, a Christian school in Pennsylvania, said he has never heard of any president signing Bibles before. The American Bible Society, he said, produced a Bible commemorating President Dwight D. Eisenhower, but it came out after his death. There’s a tradition in many families that generations would sign a Bible.

Trump’s actions, Fea said, fit his appeal to many white evangelicals in the South.

“The fact that people are bringing Bibles to him says a lot about them,” Fea said. “It seems to imply that they see him not only as a political leader but a spiritual savior for the nation.”

Trump has appealed to them as someone who can protect them from the decline of a Christian nation, Fea said.

“The message of the Bible represents for many white evangelicals a source of spiritual comfort in the midst of suffering,” he said. “It says volumes about how evangelicals see … Trump as a figure sent by God to protect them from all storms of life.”

Read the entire piece here.

It is worth noting that Trump is signing a Bible distributed for disaster relief by the American Bible Society.

Oh the irony of it all!

Evangelical Fear in Alabama

Luverne

Check out Stephanie McCrummen‘s Washington Post excellent piece on a Southern Baptist, Trump-loving church in Luverne, Alabama. Many of the members of this church fear immigrants, think Obama is a Muslim, and hate Hillary Clinton because they claim that she hated them.  It is also worth noting that most of the pro-Trumpers in this church appear to be over the age of 60.

 

Two New Sites Dedicated to the History of Lynching Open in Montgomery, Alabama

Lynching

April 26, 2018 marks the opening of two public history sites in Montgomery, Alabama:  The Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice.  Both sites are operated by the Equal Justice Initiative, Bryan Stevenson’s non-profit organization dedicated to providing legal services to prisoners who may have been wrongfully convicted of crimes.  You can learn more about Stevenson here.  He is perhaps best known for his book Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.

Here is a round-up of articles devoted to the grand openings of these two sites:

NPR

Washington Post

New York Times

Los Angeles Times

The Conversation

VOX

Time

Montgomery Advertiser

CBS News

Someone Give the Governor of Alabama a History Lesson

We need historians more than ever.  Yesterday Kay Ivey, the Republican governor of Alabama, released this campaign ad:

Ivey says “we can’t change or erase our history.”  She is correct.  But just because a particular community has a past doesn’t necessary mean that the celebration of that past is the best way forward.  Sometimes our encounters with the past should shame us.

She adds: “To get where we are going, we need to understand where we’ve been.”  Again, this is true.  But I don’t think she means that we need to “understand where we’ve been” because “where we’ve been” was racist and because it was racist we must repudiate it. Let’s remember that we are talking about monuments to white racists here.  Ivey is telling us that the best way for Alabama to move forward is to celebrate a history of slavery, racism, Jim Crow, and segregation.  Ivey’s usable past is a past of white supremacy.

After the ad was criticized, Ivey defended it.  According to The Hill, she called out “folks in Washington” and “out of state liberals” for trying to take away Alabama’s Confederate monuments.

Here we go again with the “outside agitators” coming into racist Alabama and trying to change their precious way life.  This is what they said about the so-called “carpetbaggers in the 1860s and 1870s and Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in the 1950s and 1960s.

Someone get Governor Ivey a copy of King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail.

Jeff Sessions Gets It Right on the Cause of the Civil War (Yes, you read that correctly)

I did not hear the entire speech so I don’t know the larger context, but it does appear that Attorney General and former Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions knows a thing or two about the cause of the Civil War.

Here is Yoni Appelbaum‘s tweet:

Also this.

80% of White Evangelicals in Alabama (who voted) Voted For Roy Moore Last Night

Doug Jones

Exit poll data

In my view, the “values voters” in this election were non-evangelicals and African-American evangelicals.  The embarrassment for white evangelicals continues.

A few tweets from last night:

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https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Roy Moore and the “Invisible Religious Right”

Roy Moore,Patricia Jones

The phrase “court evangelicals” has made it into in a New Yorker article.  Read Benjamin Wallace-Wells’s piece here.

A taste:

As Trump became more prominent, a few significant figures from the religious right arranged themselves as what the historian John Fea, of Messiah College, in Pennsylvania, calls “court evangelicals.” These figures—such as Liberty University’s Jerry Falwell, Jr., or the Dallas megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress—were willing to cheer on the collapse of distance between the evangelical grassroots and the Republican Party. A few weeks ago, Jeffress welcomed Sean Hannity to his church. The young Alabama pastor I talked to had watched Hannity’s appearance, and thought of the liberal who might have entered the church that day on a spiritual quest, only to be alienated by Hannity’s rhetoric. “Then I had a second, more horrifying thought,” the pastor told me. “What about the lost person who comes in because he watches Hannity? He assumes he’s already a Christian. He’s not looking for grace, because he doesn’t realize he needs it.”

Also this:

One view that I heard from evangelical intellectuals is that Trump and Moore represent a last, furious spasm of the culture wars. John Fea, of Messiah College, pointed out to me how thoroughly the Trump and Moore campaigns were invested with a baby-boomer mixture of nostalgia and fear. “It’s like Pickett’s Charge,” Fea said. “The next generation may reject these political power plays among Christians.” But no such rejection had yet happened. The Roy Moore campaign in Alabama has not so much seemed like a battle in the culture war as a reunion of some of its most devoted veterans. “I am loyal to my friends,” Gonnella, of Magnolia Springs Baptist Church, told me, in explaining why he had stood by Moore. “I don’t desert them.”

Read the entire piece here.

Yes, I did teach the Civil War this semester.  This probably explains why I made the “Pickett’s Charge” reference.

I wish I had more time to blog about this whole Roy Moore mess, but I have been too busy with this.

Quote of the Day

From Heather Wilhelm in The National Review:

I’ll get this out the way: If you’re in Alabama and you want to vote for Roy Moore, vote for Roy Moore. But let’s at least try to keep things real: If you vote for Moore, you’re doing it because he’s not a Democrat, rather than because he’s some holy soldier on a special mission for God.

Bizarrely, many high-profile Christian leaders seem hell-bent on convincing America that Moore is just that. Jerry Falwell Jr. recently threw in his support for Moore. Radio host and author Eric Metaxas has vigorously promoted theological defenses of why Christians can vote for Moore. Franklin Graham, who took the time to rip Matt Lauer for his “sin” on Twitter, is decidedly more sanguine in his defense of Moore: “Whoever is without sin, let them throw the first stone.”

Read the entire piece here.

Roy Moore Reminds Us When America Was “Great”

Moore RoyIt was during the era of slavery.

Read all about in this piece at VOX.

A taste:

Alabama’s Republican candidate for Senate, Roy Moore, says America needs to be a bit more like it was when it had slaves.

This is not a joke or exaggeration. When asked earlier this year when America was last great, Moore acknowledged, according to the Los Angeles Times, that the country had a history of racial tensions. Then he answered the question: “I think it was great at the time when families were united — even though we had slavery — they cared for one another. … Our families were strong, our country had a direction.”

The quote comes from a Los Angeles Times report published in September, but it was recently resurfaced by a viral tweet from former Obama administration official Eric Columbus.

There are so many problems with this remark that it’s hard to know where to start.

Read the entire piece here.

A Few Quick Thoughts on the Alabama Senate Race

Roy Moore,Patricia Jones

I contributed to this article at AL.com.  Also good to see Believe Me get its first plug.

Here is a taste:

At least two professors who are carefully watching the Senate race believe that let’s-just-win politics is taking a toll on evangelicals.

“I do think nationally, the Trump/Moore candidacies have hurt the reputation of evangelicals,” said Jason Roberts, a Falkville native who’s a political science professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. “It is not so difficult to respect a differing viewpoint if it is ground in core values like religion. … But I do think the continued support for Moore/Trump among religious leaders have made people realize that this support is not clearly grounded in religious differences.”

John Fea, chairman and professor of history at Messiah College in Pennsylvania, goes further. He’s written a book, “Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump,” to be released in the spring.

Fea said the efforts among Christian conservatives to “win back the culture from the forces of secularization” have been ongoing since the late 1970s. He calls it the evangelical’s “political playbook.”

The strategy, in short: Elect a president and members of Congress who will pursue laws aligned with evangelical views, and who will approve like-minded Supreme Court justices.

“The 2016 election put this playbook to the ultimate test,” said Fea, who describes himself as evangelical. “The playbook survived its greatest challenge, but only by separating the political agenda of the playbook from the necessity of Christian character.”

He said, “The political playbook has taught conservative evangelicals that they must maintain power at all costs, even if it means looking the other way when multiple women accuse a candidate for the U.S. Senate of sexual molestation and harassment.”

“First, it tells the world that Christians are in the business of forcing their views on others through legislation and executive actions,” said Fea. “Second, it neglects to remember that Christians follow a savior who relinquished worldly power even to the point of giving his life. Yet, my fellow evangelicals do not seem to see Jesus’s example as a model, or at least a starting point, for thinking about their engagement in the world.”

Read the entire piece here.

Why the Allegations Against Roy Moore May HELP His Political Career

Roy_Moore_2017_logo40% of Alabama evangelicals are now more likely to support Roy Moore after allegations that he sexually molested young girls.  Here is a taste of Carlos Ballesteros’s piece at Newsweek:

Talk about loving the sinner!

Nearly 40 percent of Evangelical Christians in Alabama say they’re now more likely to vote for Roy Moore after multiple allegations that he molested children, even as voters across the historically red state now seem to be punishing Moore for his past actions, a new poll shows.

A plurality of evangelicals — 37 percent — described themselves as more likely to support Moore because of recent sexual assault allegations levied against him, while only 28 percent were less likely to do so. Thirty-four percent of the supposedly devout Christians said that the allegations reported last week in the Washington Post made no difference in their support for Moore.

Read the entire piece here.