Do Evangelicals Have a Porn Problem?

AddictedYes and no.  Or at least this is the argument of Oklahoma University sociologist Samuel Perry in his new book Addicted to Lust: Pornography in the Lives of Conservative Protestants.

Perry argues that evangelical men who take their faith seriously and try to practice it in everyday life view porn less than non-evangelicals.  The real porn problem is the church’s perception that is has a serious problem.

Here is a taste of Jana Riess’s interview with Perry at Religion News Service:

There are several. Drawing on numerous studies, Perry finds that:

Despite the statistical finding that conservative Christians are less likely to use porn, the perception within evangelical churches is that this has become an enormous problem for the faithful. To them, the fact that only 40% of conservative Protestant men under age 40 have seen porn in the last year is not cause for rejoicing but for alarm—and the alarm itself may be creating, or at least exacerbating, psychological and marital problems for those Christian users.

Whereas many other Americans seem to be able to view porn without it causing significant mental health problems, for conservative Christians it’s different. The church’s zero-tolerance policy for porn means those who consume it only occasionally might see themselves as addicts from the first viewing. Even though conservative Christians use porn less than other Americans, they are statistically twice as likely to consider themselves “addicted” to it. Their shame can be soul-crushing.

Read the entire interview here.

*Believe Me* Interview with Jana Riess of Religion News Service

Believe Me 3d

I can’t thank Jana Riess enough for her encouragement, friendship, and support of my work.

As some of you know, she was the editor of my Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?: A Historical Introduction.  We had a nice little run with that book, including a day at Mount Vernon in June 2011 where we were honored as a finalist for the George Washington Book Prize.   We had lunch at the Mount Vernon Inn, climbed to the cupola of Washington’s house, and hobnobbed on the lawn with the D.C. elite, including Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito.

Needless to say, I was thrilled when she agreed to blurb Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump:

“It would be enough for John Fea to marshal his considerable prowess as a historian in proving how evangelicals have been propelled by fear, nostalgia, and the pursuit of power, as he does so compellingly in this book. But he also speaks here as a theologian and an evangelical himself, eloquently pointing toward a better gospel way. This is a call to action for evangelicals to move beyond the politics of fear to become a ‘faithful presence’ in a changing world.”

Today, Religion News Service published Jana’s interview with me.  Here is a taste:

RNS: Your second point is that white evangelicals have bought into the idea that the only way to have an impact on the culture is to seize upon worldly power. What were the roads not taken? What else could they have done instead?

Fea: The history of American evangelicals appealing to political power is a relatively new history, maybe going back to the late 1970s and 1980s with the rise of the Christian right. I argued in Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? that evangelicals had been in power in America up until the 1960s in terms of determining what would be America’s cultural symbols, understanding of marriage, and position on other social issues. It’s not until those traditional values become challenged in the 1960s that evangelicals begin this new strategy of pursuing political power as a way to reclaim the culture.

Since the 1960s, there have also been some evangelical approaches to politics that are unrelated, or do not call for the pursuit of political power, like James Davidson Hunter’s idea of “faithful presence” or Michael Gerson’s call for evangelicals to learn more from Catholic social theory. Or there are Dutch Reformed people who are followers of Abraham Kuyper, who did not advocate seizing political power in the way the Christian Right wants to do. And since the early 1970s, people on the evangelical Left, like Jim Wallis and Ron Sider, have called for a different kind of evangelical power. But the Right refuses to adopt any of these models, and has instead built their entire political philosophy on changing the culture by trying to elect leaders who will follow their agenda.

Read the entire interview here.

Inside the Mind of the Book Editor

What Editors DoIf you have written an academic book or hope to write one soon, you need to read Rachel Toor‘s interview at The Chronicle of Higher Education with Mary Laur and Peter Ginna, the editors of What Editors Do: The Art, Craft, and Business of Book Editing.

Here is a taste:

What are some of the main commonalities that emerged between the different types of publishing that might be of use to academic authors?

Peter: I make the argument in the book that editing has fundamental similarities across categories of publishing. There are real differences between, say, trade and scholarly presses, but for editors at both, the single most important question is: Should I acquire this book? And related to that: Who is the audience for it? And do I know how I can get that audience excited about it? We often need to think about an audience bigger than the one that’s on the author’s mind. That is, the author may be more worried about a tenure committee than about the New York Review of Books.

Editors also ask themselves, What is working with this author going to be like? Do I want to spend a year (or several) bringing this person’s work into print? At one place I worked, some authors were known as “LITS” — “Life is too short.” Most authors are a pleasure to deal with, but either way it’s an intimate relationship. You want the author to be a partner in the publishing process, so how you get along with them is important. Finally, whatever kind of book you’re publishing, editing the text comes down to reading it with loving care and trying to make it the best version of itself it can be.

I have worked with some great editors over the years, including Bob Lockhart, Jana Riess, Cynthia Read, Charles Van Hof, Lisa Ann Cockrel, and David Bratt.  They have all been great. When my book Was America Founded as a Christian Nation: A Historical Introduction was picked as one of the three finalists for the George Washington Book Prize, Jana came with us to Mount Vernon for the big awards ceremony!

Read Toor’s entire interview here.

“A little bit of pique and a little bit of anger, but not too much”

Noll and Wilson

John Wilson (former editor of Books & Culture) and Mark Noll were apparently talking about Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump earlier today in South Bend at a conference honoring Noll and his work.  Or at least that is what Twitter tells me:

A blurb from Jana Riess is forthcoming. Here is Mark Noll’s “official” blurb:

Noll Fea quote

A “massive religious realignment in America”

millennial;s

Over at Religion News Service, Jana Riess interviews Daniel Cox, research director at PRRI (Public Religion Research Institute), on a new study on the religious beliefs of Millennials and Generation Z.  The study is titled “Diversity, Division, Discrimination: The State of Young America.”

Here is what I learned from Jana’s interview:

  • Young people believe that Americans are more divided over politics than race or religion
  • Young people are not much different than older Americans on abortion, but on all other issues of human sexuality, including marriage, they are more liberal than older Americans.
  • Young people are much more tolerant of non-traditional families
  • Barack Obama is viewed favorably by young people, but less so among white young men
  • Only 25% of young people “have a favorable impression of Trump.”
  • Young people believe that Muslims in America are facing discrimination

Read the entire interview here.