Georgia reclaims its Judeo-Christian heritage

Today I was a guest on The Meetinghouse, a radio show hosted by Dwight A. Moody, a Southern Baptist pastor and former dean of the chapel and professor of religion at Georgetown College in Kentucky. We were talking about the Georgia election and the fact that The Peach State just elected a Christian pastor and a Jewish writer to the U.S. Senate.

We are glad to see that Georgia is advancing its Judeo-Christian heritage! 😉

On another note, I think my daughters will now stop playing this TikTok:

What happened today is a fitting ending to the worst presidential administration in American history

In Donald Trump’s inaugural address he talked about “American carnage.” Well, we got American carnage today.

A pro-Trump mob made up of people who believe that Trump won the 2020 presidential election breached police barriers and desecrated the inside of the capitol building, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s office. Trump and his surrogates encouraged this event–both directly and indirectly– and they are to blame for everything that happened today. History will hold them accountable.

Anyone who has followed Trump and his supporters over the last four years should not be surprised. The insurrectionists appeared brave and courageous in the execution of their goals, but it was actually fear that motivated them. The United States is changing. This morning we woke-up to find that a southern state, the home of the Vice President of the Confederacy Alexander Stephens, elected its first Black and first Jewish U.S. senators. Today’s rioters are scared to death about such change and for the last four years they have had a president who validated their fears and encouraged them to act upon them.

Many pro-Trumpers who were not involved in today’s insurrection are condemning today’s violence. Poppycock! Everyone with a platform, influence, and large numbers of social media followers who supported Trump’s outrageous voter fraud claims bear responsibility for what happened today.

The Trump presidency started with a reference to carnage and ended with carnage. What happened today is a fitting ending to the worst presidential administration in American history.

As all of this was going down today, I was strolling through Longwood Gardens on a scheduled outing with extended family. I am still catching-up on things and I think it might be best if I cover the day’s events in a series of posts rather than one long post. Stay tuned.

Why white evangelicals criticize the Black church

In the 1980s, when I was a student at a small Christian college, some of my professors warned us about the “liberal theology” of the civil rights movement. What Martin Luther King Jr. did was notable, they said, but he could not be trusted as a theologian. As I look back on this now, I think it is fair to say that a lot of my classmates at the time interpreted this teaching to mean that the civil rights movement was somehow flawed, even unGodly, because its leaders did not tow the line of traditional evangelical theology. That is certainly how I interpreted it.

We now know, through some really good historical work, that white evangelicals were never completely on board with the civil rights movement. What I was getting in college was pretty standard stuff.

Back then I understood why my professors warned us about the civil rights movement. The school I attended had its roots in the fundamentalist-modernist controversy of the early 20th century. (It was founded, in part, by C.I. Scofield). The fundamentalists were not only fighting liberal theology in the denominations, but they were also, by extension, at war with the “social gospel,” the Protestants who believed that Christianity required its adherents to work for social justice as a means towards Christianizing the nation. Fundamentalists believed that social gospelers confused the true Gospel with moral activism. The true Gospel was about getting people “saved.” The social gospel was a form of “works righteousness.”

When it comes to race, we are in the midst of something similar to the fundamentalist-modernist controversy of the early 20th century. The stuff they taught me in college is still with us. The Black church’s roots in the social gospel scares a lot of white evangelicals today. Consider Audrey Farley‘s recent piece at The New Republic: The Conservative War Against the Black Church.” Farley writes in the context of the upcoming George senate run-off between Raphael Warnock and Kelly Loeffler.

A taste:

Conservatives claim long-standing tradition for their suspicion of the political, citing scripture on the supremacy of the spiritual realm, ignoring scripture on structural sin, and generally pretending that Jesus and centuries of his followers didn’t make broad demands for a new society and instead sought merely crumbs for the poor and outcast. History, however, reveals the privatization of sin and the intense cynicism toward material politics to be relatively recent inventions, developed precisely to counter racial progress and other social reforms. It illuminates how conservatives’ individualist theology is little more than a pretext for upholding the status quo—a ruse that secular institutions have nevertheless taken seriously.

Read the entire piece here.

When it comes to Raphael Warnock, I think it is fair to say that white evangelicals have an antagonistic relationship with the black church. But I also think that white evangelicals in Georgia will not vote for Warnock because he claimed to be a “pro-choice” pastor. In other words, white evangelicals in Georgia will not vote for Warnock for the same reason they will not vote for Jon Ossoff: abortion. The story of American evangelical political engagement is indeed a complicated one.

Trump may be giving the Democrats a fighting chance in the Georgia Senate race

On January 5, Georgia will hold two run-off elections to decide who will fill the state’s U.S. Senate seats. Incumbent David Perdue (R) is running against Jon Ossoff (D) in one race. Incumbent Kelly Loeffler (R) is running against Rafael Warnock (D) in the other race. Perdue and Loeffler got the most votes in their races on November 3, but neither candidate got 50% of the vote. Georgia law states that if a candidate does not get a majority of the votes a run-off takes place between the top two candidates.

This election is so important because if Ossoff and Warnock can upset their GOP opponents the Democratic Party will gain control of the United States Senate, giving Biden’s party control of both houses of Congress.

Republicans are getting nervous and it has everything to do with Donald Trump’s refusal to concede the presidential election. Here is Andrew Desiderio and Marianne Levine at Politico:

…Republicans are increasingly seeing Trump’s posture as not just rhetoric. They view it as a self-serving quest that could imperil the GOP’s grip on the Senate by depressing turnout in two runoffs races that will decide which party controls the upper chamber. And they are publicly hoping he will refrain from pushing his false fraud claims when he visits the Peach State this week to campaign for Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.

Even as Trump urges his supporters to vote for Perdue and Loeffler, he is continuing to hammer Georgia’s secretary of state and governor — both Republicans — for what he calls a “fraudulent” result in favor of Biden. Trump even said he was “ashamed” of his endorsement of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in 2018, and on Monday called him “hapless.”

Republicans in Georgia are exasperated with his rhetoric, and they’re publicly urging the president to avoid talking about the Nov. 3 election.

“It’s time for this to be over,” said former Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), who previously held Perdue’s seat. “When he comes he needs to not be talking about his race, he needs to be showing his support for the two candidates in Georgia and put to rest anybody who makes any comment about the fact or has any idea about not voting because they might think these two candidates aren’t doing enough to question the election.”

Read the entire piece.

Here is your Thursday morning court evangelical update

More and more Republicans are implying that it is time to move on from this election and admit defeat. I wish more would step up and proclaim Biden president-elect so that the country can move forward, but most of them seem more concerned about party loyalty than what is good for the nation right now. Many are probably afraid that Trump will somehow exact some kind of revenge if they dare speak out against his claims of widespread voter fraud. Others are worried that if they criticize Trump it will hurt the Republican cause in the two Georgia Senate run-offs on January 5. If Trump voters don’t show-up for that run-off election, and the the Democratic candidates (Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock) win, the Democrats will gain control of the U.S. Senate.

Let’s check-in if anything has changed among the court evangelicals. Remember, I have used this term to describe the pro-Trump evangelical leaders who regularly visit the White House for photo-ops with the president and to supposedly advise him on policy matters. Based on this definition, I am not a Biden court evangelical. I have never been to the White House. Nor do I expect to be part of some kind of Biden faith-advisory council! 🙂 )

The folks at the Falkirk Center at Liberty University is still pushing voting fraud. Today they interviewed Rudy Guiliani:

Today in my Pennsylvania History class we continued our conversation about the Whiskey Rebellion. We talked about how George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and the Federalists believed that the followers of Jefferson and the members of the Democratic-Republican societies they established in the west were a threat to American ideals. But many of these societies were articulating their grievances against Hamilton’s excise tax on whiskey in very American ways. In other words, they were appealing to the principles of the American Revolution, particularly the resistance to the 1765 Stamp Act.

Washington condemned the whiskey rebels and their societies as threats to national unity, but despite all Washington’s well-rehearsed concerns about partisanship he was not above the fray. He wanted national unity on his terms. He failed to understand that in the 1790s there were two visions of American identity among the people and these visions were at odds with one other.

I thought of this again as I read a Falkirk Center tweet from Ryan Helfenbein. He wants to “proclaim Christ and defend America.” Whose America?

At one point in this video, David Barton, a self-proclaimed historian, suggests that Donald Trump’s tweets about election fraud should be taken seriously as a legitimate primary source. One of the first things we teach history students at Messiah University is how to evaluate sources. Barton is treating the Trump claim of election fraud in the same way he treats the American past. He collects stories about supposed fraud, adds them up without any larger context, and claims something happened. When he engages with the past he collects quotes from the founding fathers, adds them up without any larger context, and claims America is a Christian nation.

Eric Metaxas is encouraging people who are “losing hope that Trump can pull this off” to stay the course. He continues to speak with a sense of certainty that Trump will win this election. He also says that “Fox News has gone over to the dark side” and even implies that Fox is now working with George Soros. Then he tells his audience that he, Eric Metaxas, is now one of the only sources of honest news out there right now.

Metaxas says the Democrats are trying to steal the election and “there is nothing more disgusting” than this. Apparently at Metaxas’s prayer meeting on voter fraud the other night some guy blew a red, white, and blue shofar.

Robert Jeffress wants to make sure he is not misunderstood. He is still a court evangelical:

Gary Bauer is fighting the good fight as he sees it. He apparently has some disagreements with Twitter about Trump’s recent tweet.

Tony Perkins is still sowing seeds of doubt among his followers:

I am not sure Trump is doing much “leading” right now.

The people of Georgia will decide if the Senate remains in Republican hands

Two January 2021 run-off elections in Georgia will decide whether Republicans will remain in control of the Senate. Amber Phillips explains at The Washington Post:

Here’s what’s happening.

Georgia election rules set up a runoff between the top two vote-getters if no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote. There’s a special election Senate race that was already certain to go to a runoff. It will feature the incumbent, appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R), and Democrat and first-time candidate and pastor Raphael Warnock.

Georgia’s original 2020 Senate election with Sen. David Perdue (R) trying for a second term has suddenly come back online for Democrats. Perdue had more than 50 percent of the vote after initial votes were counted, but that’s steadily and slowly narrowed as Georgia finishes counting its ballots. With 99 percent of the vote in, Perdue has 49.8 percent. Democrat Jon Ossoff is exactly two points behind, 47.8 percent.

Which means Ossoff and Warnock will get another chance to unseat these two Senate Republicans in a little under two months.

But if you look at the data from November’s election, you’d rather be the Republicans than Democrats in these next round of races.

Let’s start with the special election. Warnock actually got the majority of the vote of any candidate, winning with nearly 33 percent to Loeffler’s 26 percent. But Loeffler wasn’t the only major Republican in this crowded race; she beat Rep. Douglas A. Collins (R). When you add in Collins’s votes into the general Republican tally, you get 46 percent voting for a Republican senator, a full 13 points more than Warnock.

Read the rest here.

Things are getting intense in Georgia

Senator David Perdue canceled his third scheduled debate with challenger Jon Ossof after this happened:

Here is The New York Times:

Senator David Perdue of Georgia withdrew on Thursday from the final debate in his tight re-election race, a day after his Democratic challenger, Jon Ossoff, called him a “crook” and accused the vulnerable Republican of trying to profit from the coronavirus pandemic.

The rivals had been scheduled to face off on Sunday on the Atlanta television station WSB, the third debate in one of two pivotal Senate races in Georgia that could determine which party controls the chamber. The candidates had committed to the debate in September, according to Mr. Ossoff’s campaign.

The news first broke Thursday evening when Mr. Ossoff wrote on Twitter that Mr. Perdue had canceled on him.

“At last night’s debate, millions saw that Perdue had no answers when I called him out on his record of blatant corruption, widespread disease, and economic devastation,” Mr. Ossoff wrote. “Shame on you, Senator.”

Read the rest here. It looks like all Perdue could offer in response was talking points about Ossoff’s apparent “radical socialist agenda.”

According to Real Clear Politics, it looks like this is a dead heat.