The First Leg of the *Believe Me* Book Tour Ends in Winchester, Virginia

Winchester 1

Thanks to the Winchester Book Gallery for hosting our Winchester, Virginia stop on the Believe Me book tour.  We had a small, but very engaged group last night that included a college president, a local pastor, and one of my former students!

Winchester 2

Awaiting the crowd to arrive!

In case you missed us in Harrisburg, Washington D.C., Pittsburgh, Columbus, Louisville, Charleston, Lynchburg, Raleigh, and Winchester, we have more dates coming-up and are going to be announcing some new ones soon.  Read about the previous stops on the tour here.

July 28, 2018
Chop Suey Books. Richmond, VA.  7:00pm
Book Talk: Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump

July 28, 2018
Chop Suey Books. Richmond, VA.  7:00pm
Book Talk: Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump

August 10, 2018
Hearts & Minds Bookstore, Dallastown, PA. 7:00pm
Book Talk: Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump

September 24, 2018
University of Chicago Seminary Co-Op Bookstore. Chicago, IL, 6pm
Book Talk: Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump

September 25, 2018
Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN 6:30pm
Lecture: “The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump”

October 2, 2018
Cornerstone University, Grand Rapids, MI, 11:30am
Lecture on Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump

October 2, 2018
Taylor University, Upland, IN, 7:30pm
Lecture on Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump

October 3, 2018
Hope College, Holland, MI, 7:00pm
Lecture on Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump

October 11, 2018
Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas
Public lecture on Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump

October 17-18, 2018
John Brown University, Siloam Springs, Arkansas
Public lecture on Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump

November 13-15, 2018
Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, Denver, CO
Session on Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump

March 21, 2018
Ward Lecture, Greensboro College, Greensboro, NC
The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump”

The *Believe Me* Book Tour Comes to Raleigh

Quailridge 1Thanks to Quail Ridge Books for hosting the Raleigh stop on the Believe Me book tour.  We had about forty people come out on a Sunday afternoon to talk about Donald Trump and evangelicals.

It was great to meet longtime blog reader and history teacher Jay Eldred.  He drove over two hours to come to the event!  Thanks, Jay!

Quailridge 4

One more stop left on this leg of the tour.  I’ll be at Winchester Book Gallery in Winchester, VA tonight at 6:00pm.  See you there!

The *Believe Me* Book Tour Comes to Lynchburg, Virgnia

Lynchburg 3Thanks to the good people at Givens Books for hosting the Lynchburg wing of the Believe Me book tour.  This is a great independent bookstore!

About thirty people came out for the event.  The group included Liberty University faculty and alumni, area school teachers, and The Way of Improvement Leads Home blog readers.  A few folks even drove-in from Charlottesville!

Givens Books

Let me address some of the questions I am sure you are asking about this leg of the tour:

Did court evangelical Jerry Falwell Jr. come to the event?  No.

Did I talk about Jerry Falwell Jr. at the event?  No.  (Although I did mention his father several times).

Were there pro-Trump evangelicals in the room?  Yes.

Did things get ugly?  No.  It remained very civil.

I spent time chatting with several Liberty University faculty and I am happy to report that in many cases (most cases?) there is a clear disconnect between the political sensibilities of the Liberty University faculty and the political sensibilities of the Liberty University president.

We are heading to Raleigh this afternoon. I hope to see you at 2:00pm at Quail Ridge Books.

P.S.  There is still much work to do.  On my drive from Lynchburg to Raleigh on Route 29 in southern Virginia I saw this:

Lynchburg 1


The *Believe Me* Book Tour in West Virginia

CHarleston 1We had a spirited group last night in Charleston, West Virginia.  It included Trump supporters, mainline Protestant ministers, and teachers at a conservative evangelical Christian school.  (And those were just the folks who introduced themselves).  We talked about everything from gay marriage and Christian America to church-state separation and the Kanawha County textbook controversy.

Progressive Episcopalian Rev. James Lewis, one of the key players in the aforementioned textbook controversy, was present.  He shared his story of dealing with the Christian Right in the city of Charleston.  (I did not know who he was until I looked him up after the event).  We talked about Anabaptism, Messiah College, sexual politics in the church, and the evangelical left.  It was a real honor.

Those in the room had some serious differences about politics and social issues, but things remained civil and we worked hard to find as much common ground as possible.  I left encouraged.  Thanks to Taylor Books for hosting this stop on the tour.

Today we will be in Lynchburg, Virginia at Givens Books.  I hope to see you there!

Some more pics:

Charleston 2

Charleston 3

It was also great to meet Melanie Phelps!

What is Catholic Social Teaching?

West and George

Robert George and Cornel West

As the Believe Me book tour marches on, I have been talking a lot about the way white conservative evangelicals have adopted a playbook that teaches them to engage the world through the acquisition of political power.  This partly explains why 81% of American evangelical voters pulled a lever for Donald Trump in 2016.  I have suggested that thoughtful evangelicals have offered alternative playbooks, but the Christian Right has largely ignored them.  I wrote about some of those alternative playbooks here.

Over at First ThingsPrinceton’s Robert George explains one of these alternative playbooks:  Catholic social teaching.  The Catholic approach to social, political, and moral life has been getting a lot of traction among some evangelical thinkers and, as I see it, informs much of the National Association of Evangelical’s current thinking on these issues.

Here is a taste of George’s piece:

So we need to get at the truth, and here we’re blessed to know that the Church is a teacher of truth. There are truths to which we reliably repair because they are taught definitively by the Church. That doesn’t mean that there is no room within the Church for conversation and debate—but there are some important things that are settled. And let me begin with what I believe is the most important, most foundational principle of Catholic teaching about how we should conduct our lives and order our lives together: the principle of the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of each and every member of the human family. That is the “anchoring truth” (to borrow a phrase from my friend Hadley Arkes). All Catholic social teaching, all Catholic teaching about how we should conduct our lives, is founded on it.

Now there are debatable questions about how this principle should be applied, but there are some questions that are scarcely debatable for those who truly affirm the principle, who understand what each of these words means: “profound,” “inherent,” and “equal.” The principle means, for example, that we must respect and protect the life of every human being, from the tiniest embryo all the way to the frail, elderly person who is at the point of death. It means that we must respect and protect the life of the physically disabled or cognitively impaired person, and treat that person’s life as equal in value and dignity to the life of the greatest athlete, the most brilliant scientist, the most successful investment manager, the most gifted musician, the most beautiful fashion model or actress. It is hard for us to do this, and follow through on it consistently, because we naturally rank people, and for some purposes that’s a perfectly legitimate thing to do. It’s not wrong to choose the best basketball player for the team. It’s not wrong to feature the prettiest fashion model on the magazine cover. It’s not wrong to award tenure based on the quality of a scholar’s research and teaching. But when it comes to fundamental questions of human dignity and the protection of the laws, there can be no legitimate ranking, no distinctions, no discrimination. All are “created equal.” 

That means that we as Catholics must be fervent pro-lifers—tireless defenders of life, beginning with the precious life of the vulnerable child in the womb. This is non-negotiable. It also means that we must be fervent anti-racists, because to distinguish invidiously among people, to discriminate on the basis of some irrelevant feature like race, is to violate the principle of the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of each and every member of the human family. As Catholics we must understand that all of us are brothers and sisters. Nothing can change that. 

Read the entire piece here.

The *Believe Me* Tour Comes to Louisville

Louisville 1Thanks to everyone who came out last night at Carmichael’s Bookstore in Louisville, Kentucky.   It was good to see some old friends and make some new ones.   I even ran into some blog readers who saw my post about the Kansas Council for History Education t-shirts, bought a couple of them, and wore them to the event!  (Attention Emily Williams and Nate McAlister!)

Louisville 2

After the talk and signing I was honored to spend a few hours with some Southern Baptist seminary faculty and church history graduate students.  We had great conversation over coffee.

As I talk with the folks who come to these events for Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump, a narrative seems to be emerging.  People are deeply troubled about the state of evangelical Christianity in America.  Last night I heard stories of men and women deeply scarred by experiences with authoritarian, politically-driven evangelical Christianity.  Some have left evangelicalism for the Protestant mainline.  Others have left Christianity entirely.  Still others are in search of a more hopeful Christianity.  Evangelical pastors are wondering how they can minister to congregations divided by politics.

These people are telling me their stories–sometimes through tears.  The other night I spoke with an evangelical Christian who said that he felt more at home with the people he met at the book signing than he did at his own evangelical church.  What does this say about the state of the evangelical church?

I expected a lot of knock-down, drag-out political debates on this book tour.  Instead I am hearing from a lot of hurting people.  I am trying to offer encouragement and prayers.  But mostly I am just trying to listen.

We have reached the weekend.  Tonight I will be in Charleston, West Virginia.  On Saturday I will be in Lynchburg, Virginia.  On Sunday I will be in Raleigh, NC.  On Monday I will be in Winchester, Virginia.  I hope to see you at one of these great independent bookstores.

The*Believe Me* Tour in Buckeye Country

Columbus 4Last night the Believe Me book tour rolled through Columbus, Ohio.  Thanks to the good folks at The Book Loft in the Historic German Village neighborhood for hosting this stop.  This was my first outdoor event.  The Book Loft has a shade-filled porch in the back of the store that provided a great venue on a warm (but not too hot) summer night.

Because of an error in local promotion, we did not have as large of a crowd as we had hoped we would, but those who did come out were deeply engaged with the subject of the book.  We had several members of a local Presbyterian Church in America congregation, a Liberty University student, and a few folks who drove to the event from Cincinnati!

The conversation was rich–the best on the tour so far.  I was encouraged as I listened to people of evangelical faith (and other forms of Christian faith) trying to make sense of our current political and religious moment.   The Liberty University student was an active critic of the pro-Trump stance of the school’s administration. We talked about how to speak the truth about Donald Trump without falling into cynicism. (Conclusion: it’s not easy!)  Nearly everyone in attendance had some connection–either in the past or present–to American evangelicalism.

After about two hours of conversation, I realized that the election of Donald Trump may be good for evangelical Christianity.  Some evangelicals seem to be coming to grips with the limits of power politics as a means to engaging the world.  Some are realizing that they need to put more trust in God rather than political strongmen.  In this sense, they are growing deeper in their faith.

Here are some pics:


Columbus 2

Columbus 1

I found a small “green room” on a library stool in the Book Loft’s travel section

We are in Louisville tomorrow night!  See you at Carmichael’s Bookstore!

The *Believe Me* Tour Comes to Pittsburgh

We had a nice turnout last night at Penguin Bookshop in Sewickley, Pennsylvania.  Thanks to all who came out on a hot and muggy summer evening. Susan Hans O-Connor was a great host.  Here are some pics:


Photo by Susan Hans O’Connor

Pittsburgh 1

Despite this picture, there was no singing last night


Pittsburgh 2

Historian, writer, and fellow Eerdmans author Eric Miller came out for the event.  So did historian Jay Green and his daughter Matilda (pictured above).

Pittsburgh 4

The Believe Me book tour will be in Columbus, Ohio tonight!  (Wednesday, June 11, 2018).

The *Believe Me* Book Tour is Coming to Pittsburgh!

Post Gazette

I hope to see some of you tomorrow night, Tuesday July 10, when the Believe Me book tour comes to Penguin Bookshop in Sewickley, PA.  I am grateful to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette religion reporter Peter Smith for his story on the book.  (And we made the front page!).

Here is a taste:

Author John Fea recognizes those moments when a statistic contains the power of language. So he dedicated his new book “To the 19 percent.”

Mr. Fea, professor of history at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg (and a prolific blogger), is writing about one of the most-discussed statistics of late.

An estimated 81 percent of self-identified white evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election, according to exit polls.

In his new book, “Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump,” Mr. Fea attempts to explain why many white evangelicals would coalesce behind someone that others — including his fellow 19 percenters — see as a racist, mendacious and sexually predatory.

Mr. Fea delves into academic and political explanations — and yes, the current Supreme Court vacancy is a key factor, one that many evangelicals say vindicates their vote.

But what’s more personal are Mr. Fea’s encounters with readers on his book tour, which brings him to the Penguin Bookshop in Sewickley at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

At his recent book launch in Harrisburg, “I had at least two people come up to me who said they were very much isolated in their evangelical church,” he said. “One person talked about his faith being challenged by seeing fellow Christians casting their lot with a president who clearly does not represent the best of evangelical values.”

He’s heard from ministers who are “counseling more people on political-related issues because they’re so angry.”

So how to explain the vote?

Read the entire piece here.

The *Believe Me* Book Tour is Underway!

The Believe Me book tour kicked off this weekend in Washington D.C.  We had a great turnout Saturday at Politics & Prose bookstore.  Thanks to everyone who came out.  It was great to see so many blog readers and Messiah College folks (and several former students!) in attendance.  Here are some pics:

Fea Politics and prose

Fea and Breen

Fea and Breen 2

On Sunday morning, I got up early and headed over to Capitol Hill to appear on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal.  I fielded calls and tweets for an hour on live television with CSPAN host Steve Scully, the man who John Oliver calls “The Most Patient Man on Television.”  Watch:

It was also a pleasure to have David Bratt, my editor at Eerdmans Publishing, and his wife Margaret with me at the C-SPAN studios!  They calmed my nerves, helped me navigate through Washington, and offered encouragement and moral support.  It is great to be part of the Eerdmans family of authors!

You can watch my appearance here.

A couple of pics:

Fea and Scully

Fea Capitol

I think I will be back in D.C. on Tuesday morning to tape an episode of “Rising” with Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton. Then it is off to the Penguin Bookshop in Sewickley (Pittsburgh-area), Pennsylvania for a talk and signing.

I hope to see many of you this week in Pittsburgh, Columbus, Louisville, Charleston (WV), Lynchburg, Raleigh, and Winchester.  Stay tuned to the blog for details or check out the tour page here.