I’m not at all surprised that the president was a little “hot” last night. I suspect that any of us would be eager to defend ourselves and set the record straight if we had been subjected to similar treatment. We would also be furious over what had been done to us.
My friends, don’t forget what President Trump has had to endure the last four years.
Many leftists refused to accept the results of the 2016 election.
The “resistance” rioted during his inauguration.
The Deep State spied on his campaign and undermined his presidency.
His friends and supporters have suffered all kinds of harassment, investigations and prosecutions.
Democrats impeached him over a phone call, and they are threatening to impeach him again.
The left has viciously smeared him time and again. (More on that below.)
Anyone so upset about the president’s style that they are thinking about not voting or voting third party needs to seriously think about whether their frustration with Trump outweighs their love for our country and our values.
Joe Biden is no moderate. And you don’t have to take my word for it. He is running on a platform written by Bernie Sanders and well to the left of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Whatever Trump has had to “endure” was of his own making.
Bauer seems to be supporting Trump’s claim that he will not accept the election results if he loses.
The Deep State is a useful conspiracy theory for people like Bauer.
Trump did nothing wrong with his “perfect call” to the Ukraine
Joe Biden is not a socialist or a man of the left and he made that clear multiple times last night in the debate.
This is a perfect example of how the Christian Right uses Twitter to spread misleading information without any larger context. This is why contextual thinking is absolutely essential if we want to restore democracy. Social media is destroying us and Charlie Kirk is contributing to this.
Jenna Ellis loves Rudy:
Unlike other conservatives, Jenna just can’t admit Trump blew it. Nope, this evangelical Christian and fellow at the Liberty University Falkirk Center is defending Trump:
She also retweeted Trump’s racist tweet about blacks coming into the suburbs:
Jeh Johnson was Barack Obama’s Secretary of Homeland Security. Today he spoke to Liberty students about character and leadership. Though he didn’t mention Donald Trump, much of this speech was about Donald Trump (and perhaps Jerry Falwell Jr.) During the Q&A he tells campus pastor David Nasser that he believes racism is a systemic problem.
Good leaders, Johnson argued:
Tell people the truth
Build consensus (and do not merely find consensus).
Surround themselves with people willing to offer hard truths
Never ask someone to do something they wouldn’t do themselves. (Like separating immigrant children from their parents).
Live by the Golden Rule
Click here for Politico‘s story on Johnson’s visit.
Two days earlier, campus pastor David Nasser spoke about race in America and on the Liberty campus. He still seems skeptical about systemic racism and believes that a religious revival will solve everything, but before you say he doesn’t go far enough, please try to understand his speech in context. Nasser is trying to address important issues and understands his audience. These are worthwhile steps. Nasser says he is getting some blow-back on campus for his efforts.
People on the Christian Right are noticing what Nasser is doing at Liberty and they are not happy about it. The right-wing Christian website Capstone Report is upset about a recent event on Liberty’s campus:
According to the source, a Liberty University dean promoted a Christian study of the book The Heart of Racial Justice. The book study is an attempt to radicalize young nursing students in the Social Justice rhetoric, we were told by worried conservatives at Liberty.
The book promotes what are now common tropes among the Critical Race Theory-Intersectionality and Social Justice Wokevangelical movement. Namely, that American Evangelical Christianity is defective, individualistic and promoted evil power structures.
On page 209, the authors assert that the Christian West has used its power to preach an “individualistic gospel” over true forms of Christianity. Instead some type of communitarian form of Christianity is promoted and preferred.
And on pp. 88-89, the authors preach an anti-corporate message claiming that White Americans “must face what people of their ethnicity have done to others” and that “Western government and corporations are the world champions of spin doctoring and spin control” and that the West pursues economic and military conquest of others around the globe.
If this book were written in 1979 instead of 2009, everyone would recognize the Marxist roots of that critique.
The core of the book teaches white people enjoy white privilege and have exploited other people groups historically. There is no nuance in this view showing the historical reality that every people group in history has done something like the authors allege—it is what the pages of history continue to show—whether the Islamic invasion of Europe reversed only by Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours or the vast invasion of the West by the Great Khans of the Steppes.
On the day (Thursday) between Nasser’s remarks and Johnson’s visit, the Falkirk Center, Liberty’s culture war wing and public voice, held a conference on campus. The folks at the Capstone Report sound just like what I heard yesterday at the Falkirk event. Liberty University is trying to address racism on campus, but their public image, as represented the Falkirk Center, remains the same. As might be expected, the university is in the midst of a post-Falwell identity crisis and we are seeing it all play out on YouTube and online.
Annie Thorn is a junior history major from Kalamazoo, Michigan and our intern here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home. As part of her internship she is writing a weekly column titled “Out of the Zoo.” It focuses on life as a history major at a small liberal arts college. In this dispatch, Annie writes about her church’s journey toward racial reconciliation—JF
On June 14, 2020, I logged into my laptop and connected it to my family’s living room television for our weekly Sunday morning church live stream. Nibbling on my strawberry toaster strudel and trying not to drip the icing on the journal I use for sermon notes, I watched the pre-service announcement slides cycle-through on the screen. My parents settled into their usual spots on the couch as we waited for the five-minute countdown to reach zero. I was still in my pajamas. It seemed like a regular Sunday.
The break from normalcy came after the first worship set came to close. Pastor Bryan Tema took the stage, but the typical table he usually uses during sermons was replaced by two armchairs. “Today is a very unique day in that we are going to have a conversation,” he explained. Pastor Michael Brown, the CEO and President of the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission, would be joining us to talk about what’s been going on in the news–but not about politics or the coronavirus pandemic. Pastor Brown, Tema explained, would be leading the congregation in a conversation about race.
Pastor Brown had given sermons at gracespring before, but this time he spoke words I never expected to hear at my church in the middle of Michigan suburbia. He talked about the Black Lives Matter movement, explaining that using the term “All Lives Matter” is like spraying a fire hose on a whole neighborhood when only one house is burning. Pastor Brown shared his own weariness, expressing that people of color in the United States are just plain tired of the way they’ve been treated. He pointed out that in order for meaningful change to take place, we’re going to have to shake things up. We’re going to have to leave our comfort zones.
At the end of the service, Pastor Tema offered a next step. Whoever was interested in learning more about racial reconciliation was invited to participate in a virtual book club led by my old youth pastor, Kenneth Price and his wife Monica. I signed up the very next day. Over the next several weeks, we progressed through Latasha Morrison’s book, Be the Bridge. Like during Pastor Brown’s sermon, in the book club I heard words–like “white privilege,” “microaggressions,” and “whitewashing”–that I never thought would be uttered at church. Three generations of congregants gathered over Zoom every Wednesday night to learn how to lament our nation’s racist past, confess our own stereotypes and complacency, repent and seek reconciliation. We learned how to build bridges of racial reconciliation and even talked about how our church, our “family” as Kenneth puts it, can continue to build more bridges in the weeks, months, and years to come.
This is what the Church is supposed to look like. Brothers and sisters in Christ coming together with open hands and open hearts, ready to listen and learn. Believers seeking justice instead of passively accepting injustice. Christ-followers refusing to shy away from conversations because they’re uncomfortable or because the work of reconciliation is too hard. Family members celebrating diversity, seeking understanding, and spurring one another toward love and good works.
Ten weeks later, my Be the Bridge book club has finally come to an end. I actually finished the last two weeks of the study from the basement of Messiah University’s Harbor House. I’m not sure what my next major steps will be on this journey, but until I do I’ll keep studying history and reading The Hate U Give. I’m not sure what the future holds for gracespring either, but I pray this summer will prove a catalyst for a family-wide journey towards racial reconciliation.
In case you missed it, Donald Trump discovered critical race theory over the weekend. Here is Friday’s memo from Russell Vought, the director of the president’s Office of Management and Budget:
September 4, 2020
MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES
FROM: Russell Vought Director
SUBJECT: Training in the Federal Government
It has come to the President’s attention that Executive Branch agencies have spent millions of taxpayer dollars to date “training” government workers to believe divisive, antiAmerican propaganda.
For example, according to press reports, employees across the Executive Branch have been required to attend trainings where they are told that “virtually all White people contribute to racism” or where they are required to say that they “benefit from racism.” According to press reports, in some cases these training have further claimed that there is racism embedded in the belief that America is the land of opportunity or the belief that the most qualified person should receive a job.
These types of “trainings” not only run counter to the fundamental beliefs for which our Nation has stood since its inception, but they also engender division and resentment within the Federal workforce. We can be proud that as an employer, the Federal government has employees of all races, ethnicities, and religions. We can be proud that Americans from all over the country seek to join our workforce and dedicate themselves to public service. We can be proud of our continued efforts to welcome all individuals who seek to serve their fellow Americans as Federal employees. However, we cannot accept our employees receiving training that seeks to undercut our core values as Americans and drive division within our workforce.
The President has directed me to ensure that Federal agencies cease and desist from using taxpayer dollars to fund these divisive, un-American propaganda training sessions. Accordingly, to that end, the Office of Management and Budget will shortly issue more detailed guidance on implementing the President’s directive. In the meantime, all agencies are directed to begin to identify all contracts or other agency spending related to any training on “critical race theory,” “white privilege,” or any other training or propaganda effort that teaches or suggests either (1) that the United States is an inherently racist or evil country or (2) that any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil. In addition, all agencies should begin to identify all available avenues within the law to cancel any such contracts and/or to divert Federal dollars away from these unAmerican propaganda training sessions.
The President, and his Administration, are fully committed to the fair and equal treatment of all individuals in the United States. The President has a proven track record of standing for those whose voice has long been ignored and who have failed to benefit from all our country has to offer, and he intends to continue to support all Americans, regardless of race, religion, or creed. The divisive, false, and demeaning propaganda of the critical race theory movement is contrary to all we stand for as Americans and should have no place in the Federal government.
Trump has been tweeting about this:
And here are a few of Trump’s retweets this weekend:
So what is happening here?
What is critical race theory? You can learn all about it here.
Critical race theorists believe that racism is a systemic problem in the United States. In other words, racism is more than just individual acts of prejudice executed by a “few bad apples,” but a system of injustice woven deeply into American culture.
I have read several stories on Trump’s attempt to ban critical race theory and it is still not clear to me exactly which federal training programs Trump is talking about here or how critical race theory is being taught in these programs. I think it is fair to say that Trump knows absolutely nothing about critical race theory apart from the fact that his political base is against it.
And what should we make of the fact that a memo from the Office of the President condemning a federal government training program cites “press reports” as its primary evidence? Trump’s seems to have learned about critical race theory from this segment of the Tucker Carlson Show on Fox News:
Chris Rufo, the guy who appears in this video, works for the Discovery Institute, a conservative Christian think tank. You can read his other writings here. You can learn more about others connected to the Discovery Institute here.
So what should we make of critical race theory? Like all academic theories, we should engage it thoughtfully. Critical race theory is one way of helping us come to grips with the fact that some groups in society oppress other groups. In the United States, there has been a long history of White people oppressing Black people. As a result, White people have had advantages–privileges even–that Black people and other people of color have not.
It is hard to study American history and not see this oppression. It is also difficult to study American history and not see continuity between the past and present. The legacies of slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, lynching, and white supremacy are still with us just like the founding fathers’ ideas of liberty and freedom and individual rights are still with us.
This past week I was teaching the students in my U.S. history survey course about seventeenth-century Virginia. This colonial society passed laws that made Black men and women slaves in an attempt to quell disgruntled poor whites who had shown a propensity for political rebellion. The codification of race-based slavery in Virginia law resulted in the social, economic, and political advance of the former white indentured servant population in Virginia.
Were there individual acts of racism in colonial Virginia? Of course. But what the Virginia government did was systemic–its leaders embedded racism in the culture of the settlement. While this is an early example of systemic racism, we can point to many other examples in American history where White people were able to achieve something called the “American Dream” on the backs of slavery and other oppressed and marginalized people.
I have a hunch that Rufo is a Christian. And I have no doubt that Trump’s decision to root out critical race theory will win him points with his evangelical base. So what should a Christian think about critical race theory?
Christians should expect injustice and oppression in this world. The world is fallen. We learn this from reading Genesis 3. Sin pervades this world and manifests itself in both individual transgression and cultural systems. We place our hope in Jesus Christ, a suffering savior whose death for our sins initiated a new kingdom–the Kingdom of God– that will one day reach its fulfillment in a new heavens and a new earth. God redeems our individual lives and will one day redeem His creation, which Romans 8 tells us is “groaning” with “labor pains” as it awaits redemption.Until Jesus returns, citizens of God’s Kingdom are called to live justice-filled lives. And those who care about justice will privilege standing with the poor and oppressed.
So if theologians like James Cone, critical race theorists, or American historians can help me better understand oppression, the ways I have benefited from such oppression (even if I don’t commit overt acts of racism), and teach me how to have greater solidarity with my black brothers and sisters, why wouldn’t I want to learn more about it?
As a Christian, I prefer to see the world through the eyes of my faith. In other words, I want my “theory” to be the teachings of the scriptures and the Christian tradition. This may mean that I embrace parts of critical race theory and reject other parts. This might also mean that I reject the way critical race theory is applied, especially when it leads to violence. But Christian’s shouldn’t be afraid of it.
If we want to use jargon that is common in today’s political climate, I think it is fair to say that Trump is “canceling” critical race theory. Trump and his followers want open discourse, debate, and the free exchange of ideas, but only with those ideas that they find agreeable. Critical race theory appears to have become a new kind of McCarthyism. How else should we interpret Trump’s call to “please report any sightings.”
Finally, let’s acknowledge what is really going on here.
Second, Trump is trying to scare Americans, especially his white evangelical base, into voting for him in November.
Third, by attacking a theory he knows nothing about, Trump continues to engage in the subtle (but premeditated) racism that has defined his entire presidency. We saw it in Charlottesville. We saw it in Kenosha. We saw it following the Floyd murder. And we see it whenever he talks about the suburbs.
Fourth, this whole incident shows us, once again, that we have an incompetent president who watches Fox News and then impulsively tweets policy proposals based on what he has seen.
The NBA players boycotting for racial justice are morons:
The Lakers and Clippers have voted to boycott the NBA season. Great! No one wants to watch these millionaire morons tell us how “awful” our country is. They are bought by China and a disgrace to America!
The Lakers and Clippers have voted to boycott the NBA season. Great! No one wants to watch these millionaire morons tell us how “awful” our country is. They are bought by China and a disgrace to America!
Court evangelical journalist David Brody has a partial list of court evangelicals who will be at Trump’s acceptance speech tonight:
NEW: More than 100 evangelical leaders to attend HUGE @POTUS#RNC2020Convention acceptance speech tonight: Robert Jeffress, David Jeremiah, Greg Laurie, Ralph Reed, Eric Metaxas, Samuel Rodriguez, Paula White-Cain, Jack Graham, Marcus & Joni Lamb & more. See partial list. pic.twitter.com/7PnzTv3Vak
The list includes Johnnie Moore, Jenetzen Franklin,Paula White-Cain, Tim Clinton, Greg Laurie, Samuel Rodriguez, Eric Metaxas, Gary Bauer, Jack Graham, Harry Jackson, Cissie Graham Lynch, and Ralph Reed.
Trump hasn’t even given his speech yet and Robert Jeffress is already calling it “historic”:
I’ll be on “Fox & Friends First” tomorrow morning from DC at 4:20am ET/ 3:20am CT discussing President @realDonaldTrump‘s historic speech tonight from WH. Tune in!
Ironically, earlier in the day Graham tweeted this:
Thinking a lot this am about the power of God’s Word. The Bible is the living eternal word of God. Perfect. Pure.Life-giving . Love, receive,believe and trust His Word. Obey its principles and live it out everyday in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Thinking a lot this am about the power of God’s Word. The Bible is the living eternal word of God. Perfect. Pure.Life-giving . Love, receive,believe and trust His Word. Obey its principles and live it out everyday in the power of the Holy Spirit.
There are a lot of historical problems with this video, but the one of the most overt problems is Barton’s claim that most 19th-century Americans were abolitionists. Apparently Barton believes that those who used the Bible to defend slavery were the “exception to the rule.” The only way such a statement is true is if you believe that the South was not part of the United States during the era of slavery. I am sure Barton knows that the Southern Baptist Church, the largest Protestant denomination in America today, was born out of a reading of the Bible that justified slavery. Exception to the rule?
Barton also confuses slavery and racism. (The conversation takes place in the context of a condemnation of the Black Lives Matter movement). He claims that 75% of New England clergy signed a petition condemning slavery. I don’t know if this is true, but I don’t think it would surprise any historian that 75% of New England clergy would sign such a petition. This region was the center of anti-slavery activism in the 1850s.
Melish explores the origins of racial thinking and practices to show how ill-prepared the region was to accept a population of free people of color in its midst. Because emancipation was gradual, whites transferred prejudices shaped by slavery to their relations with free people of color, and their attitudes were buttressed by abolitionist rhetoric which seemed to promise riddance of slaves as much as slavery. She tells how whites came to blame the impoverished condition of people of color on their innate inferiority, how racialization became an important component of New England ante-bellum nationalism, and how former slaves actively participated in this discourse by emphasizing their African identity.
As some of you know, I have been reading David Blight’s biography of Frederick Douglass. Blight notes how Douglass faced overt racism in New England following his escape from slavery. Here is just one small passage from Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom:
The distances between the young abolitionist’s private and public lives were thrown into stark contrast, which would only grow with time. Twice in September [of 1841] Douglass was insulted, accosted, or thrown off the Eastern Railroad, the second instance occurring at the Lynn depot. On September 8, Collins and Douglass had purchased train tickets in Newburyport to travel north to Dover, New Hampshire, to speak at the Strafford County Anti-Slavery Society. The two were sitting in one double seat as the gruff conductor ordered Douglass to immediately move forward to the Jim Crow car. For Douglass such constant practices of segregation were always about dignity, as much as the “mean, dirty, and uncomfortable” space of Jim Crow cars. Collins vehemently objected on behalf of his black companion….With the conductor’s “little fist flourished about my head,” Collins reported, he too was ordered to leave the car. “If you haul him out, it will be over my person, as I do not intend to leave this seat,” proclaimed Collins. The conductor brought in several of the railroad’s hired thugs to do the deed. With Collins loudly protesting this was “no less than lynch law,” five men dragged the strong Douglass over Collins’s unmoved body, “like so many bloodhounds,” and “thrust him into the ‘negro car.'” In the fracas, Douglass’s clothes were torn and Collins described himself as “considerably injured in the affray.” Not missing an opportunity to make a Garrisonian doctrinal point, Collins told of a second conductor who went into the Negro car to console Douglass with the intelligence the railroad’s policy was not so bad after all, since so many churches “have their ‘negro pews.'”
Please don’t get your American history from David Barton.
The scholarship, named after the Black man killed by police during a May 2020 arrest in Minneapolis, is open to “incoming African American and Black students in all Bethel’s schools.” The scholarship was established “to invest in the future of diverse leaders.”
Bethel president Ross Allen, who attended Floyd’s memorial service in Minneapolis, wrote: “The deaths of George Floyd, Philando Castille, and so many others are evidence of the pain and persistence of racism…as followers of Christ, we are called to seek Jesus by seeking justice–and we will do so imperfectly yet consistently, until the inherent worth of all people is respected, cherished, and protected.”
Over at the the Clarion, the Bethel student newspaper, Emma Harville reports that the response to the George Floyd Scholarship has been mixed. Here is a taste of her article:
Bethel University received support, but mostly criticism, from alumni and community members on social media following its Monday announcement of a George Floyd Memorial Scholarship for incoming African-American and Black students.
Most comments criticized Floyd’s criminal history, claiming Floyd was a drug addict, felon and “not a man to look up to.” A couple even questioned why white students could not apply for the scholarship, too.
“Shame on you Bethel…The Lord is removing His hand from you!” Bethel alum Linda Koblish wrote under Bethel’s Facebook post announcing the scholarship.
Bethel junior S.I. Washington said he and a couple of his Black friends from Bethel met over FaceTime after they found out about the negative comments circulating Twitter and Facebook. To them, Floyd’s death was something that “brought all of us together.”
“They’re so focused on [Floyd’s] life,” Washington said. “But his death meant everything to us. Yes, his life wasn’t amazing. But his death was everything.”
The announcement at the Bethel University Facebook page currently has 66 comments. I think it’s fair to say that this a pretty good cross-section of how evangelicals are thinking about race in the wake of Floyd’s death.
Here are a few of those comments:
–As an alum, I am also looking forward to the ways that Bethel will announce how it will not just get black students through the door, but will fundamentally care for those student while they are there by making major policy, theological and environmental shifts by committing and ensuring students thrive by being protected, supported, centered, seen, and listened to – moving beyond perforative actions and into true repentance and transformation.
–I’m proud of Bethel’s actions in creating this scholarship in the name of George Floyd. As many have also expressed, I’d be interested and excited to hear more about additional and forthcoming anti-racism measures–especially those that focus on supporting BIPOC students throughout the years they attend. #BLM
–This is an amazing first step. As Christians it is our job to stand up and fight for those who are marginalized, serve them , love them, walk beside them the way Jesus did. This scholarship opens a door and I hope that bethel continues to do so in supporting our students of color during their time there too !
–As a Converge pastor, I find this to be virtue signaling and pandering and I can’t in good conscience recommend a school that is going to do this. I could support a scholarship, but it should not be named after a career criminal who was high, passing counterfeit money, and resisting arrest when he died. What I could support was something that would actually help our black brothers and sisters. Like addressing broken families, doing something to help with money management, sponsoring a charter school in at risk communities to give better education options (maybe connecting that with a scholarship), doing something to improve training of officers, etc.
—I’m proud of my university for creating such a scholarship–this, and more scholarships like it, are a good first step toward making Bethel a place that can both reflect and honor the true diversity of the body of Christ. I hope, at the same time, we can keep working on Bethel’s *culture* to make it a place where BIPOC folk can feel entirely at home in the community, down to the level of each everyday interaction. That’s going to take a lot of intentional work from everyone.
—Sounds like you’re joining the race to the bottom of the Woke Sea. An AA scholarship program sounds fantastic, but too bad you couldn’t pick from the myriad options of unbelievable historical black contributors to the nations history.
–Bethel could have and should hang their scholarship hat on a more deserving individual. His criminal past does not warrant the honor even if he was murdered. Better to name it after one of the children murdered in Chicago during the protests.
–George Floyd used to be a thug. He once held a gun to a pregnant womans stomach. Bethel University, bad idea. This is your role model? He indeed should never have been killed but still there is a lot to consider.
–I just lost all respect for Bethel. It is not the college we used to love! With many grandchildren coming of age to pick their college…Bethel will not be one of their options. You are supporting terrorism and a drug addict, felon and Covid-19 positive person who didn’t care who he spread the virus to. Everyone should be welcome…and if you are presenting the Christian faith…you should not distinguish between any race…rather you should be promoting that in Christ we are all one race and one body! Shame on you Bethel…The Lord is removing His hand from you!
–Thank you for acknowledging the persistence of racism. Looking forward to seeing Bethel make more steps in the direction of change!
–So proud of being Bethel University Almuni💪💪💪#BLM
–Thank you for creating this scholarship. This is a good first step, I will be anxiously waiting for what comes next.
Former Bush speechwriter and Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson sets the record straight on a recent claim by court evangelical Eric Metaxas. Here is a taste:
Evangelical writer and radio host Eric Metaxas is one of those figures on the right who has been miniaturized by his association with President Trump. The author of a flawed but serious biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer is more recently the co-author of the children’s book “Donald Builds the Wall!” From Dietrich to Donald is a fall of biblical proportions.
Now Metaxas has stirred controversy with a tweet contending (or assuming) that Jesus was White. His claim was made in reaction to news that the United Methodist Church is partnering with Robin DiAngelo, the author of “White Fragility,” to produce a video series on “Deconstructing White Privilege.” Metaxas’s response read in full: “Jesus was white. Did he have ‘white privilege’ even though he was entirely without sin? Is the United Methodist Church covering that? I think it could be important.”
Metaxas has subsequently attempted to place his claim about Jesus’ ethnicity into context. But there is no context in which this statement makes historical or theological sense. In attempting to debunk the idea of white privilege, Metaxas employed a traditional affirmation of white supremacy.
Not all Christian colleges are the same. Some of you may recall a post in which I compared Messiah University to Liberty University. If you have a child considering a faith-based college I encourage you to read that post.
Liberty University recently established something called the Falkirk Center. In previous posts I called it a “think tank,” but after watching this organization develop over the last several months I now think it is more of a propaganda machine for Christian Trumpism.
In the last few days, the Falkirk Center Facebook page has been posting on race in America.
Here is a post from last night:
Woke Christianity is a manipulation of the Gospel. It intentionally twists the Bible to accommodate and achieve leftist political aims and purposes. This has been evidenced in past cries of “Jesus was an illegal immigrant!” Or “Jesus was a socialist!” Now, it is shifting to an idea that Jesus would have praised and been part of the Black Lives Matter organization. The Gospel is the free offer of salvation based on the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ at the cross at Calvary. The Gospel tells us we are all sinners and we will all likewise perish unless we repent and believe in Christ. As Christians, we must preserve the Gospel and proclaim the truth until his coming. We must also speak out against heresy both inside and outside the church which includes Woke Christianity, Social Justice, Critical Theory and Intersectionality.
There is no such thing as “woke Christianity.” The Christian scriptures do not endorse a particular political program–Left, Center, or Right. The Christian scriptures do not endorse capitalism or socialism. Fair-minded Christians around the world have used the scriptures to argue for both of these economic systems.
Would Jesus have been a member of Black Lives Matter? I have no idea. But Jesus would have certainly endorsed the idea that black lives matter. Do you see what the politically-charged Falkirk Center is doing here? They focus all of their attention on the official Black Lives Matter movement as a way to avoid talking about why black lives matter. If they can convince everyone that Black Lives Matter is a direct and immediate threat to our democracy they can get Trump re-elected and advance their political agenda. Don’t let Jerry Falwell and Charlie Kirk manipulate the teachings of Jesus for political gain. Don’t let them take the New Testament and filter its teachings through a Christian Right lens. It’s all politics.
The Falkirk Center says, “As Christians, we must preserve the Gospel and proclaim the truth until his coming.” Amen. So how does a belief in the proclamation of truth relate to the Falkirk’s support for the pathological liar in the Oval Office? How can an organization with a platform such as Liberty Univeristy fail to speak out about this? How long will evangelicals send their tuition money to a place whose leadership remains silent on this most basic moral issue? The Kingdom of God is a kingdom of love, justice, and compassion. The citizens of this kingdom–the scriptures call them a royal priesthood– are in the business of announcing the arrival of this Kingdom to those in power.
Don’t be fooled by all these references to “Woke Christianity,” “Social Justice,” “Critical Theory,” and “Intersectionality.” They are big words used to scare ordinary Christians. Followers of Jesus Christ, as citizens of his Kingdom, will always fight for justice in the world. They will oppose both individual acts of injustice and systemic acts of injustice. They will fight for the poor and oppressed. American history teaches us that there white people have always oppressed Black people and stomped on their human dignity. This oppression is now embedded in our social institutions and it must be considered when Christians think about how to engage the world. We can uphold these things without necessarily embracing every dimension of “critical theory” or “intersectionality.” Frankly, I think these words are just distractions. They prevent Christians from getting-on with the business of building the Kingdom. But let’s remember that they are meant to be distractions.
Here is another Falkirk Center post from yesterday:
The founding fathers worked tirelessly to create the most just and free nation in human history. We owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude for their ingenuity. Rather than be grateful for America and appreciate her system of government, however, the left has chosen to spite the founding fathers and all that they created, showing no appreciation for the price that has been paid for them to live in America and use their very freedoms to destroy the country that protects them. Leftist thinking is detrimental to a free and just society and is rotten at its core. We must do everything in our power to preserve the true story of the founding fathers, the noble history of America, and teach future generations of the sacrifices necessary to preserve, protect, and defend freedom and liberty in America.
The nation that the founders created in 1776 was not just. It was built upon universal Enlightenment principles such as “liberty,” but these principles were not applied to all people. In this sense, it is very difficult to say that the founders wanted to establish some kind of “Christian nation.”
The nation’s founders left a legacy of freedom and liberty that was eventually applied to most citizens. But by the time American leaders got their act together and started applying these ideals to African Americans and others, certain systemic injustices were already baked in the national cake, the product of decades of failure.
All of this has led to much debate among historians. No good historian would reject the idea that the founders were products of their time. The debate is over how rapidly the ideals of the white male American Revolution found their way into the mainstream of national life. Some say that the American Revolution was “radical” because it set the stage or prepared the way for women’s rights, the emancipation of slaves, civil rights, etc. Others argue that the Revolution was not radical because it failed to apply these ideas immediately. The founders made deliberate choices to keep injustice in place when they could have chosen the opposite course. These debates are good for American democracy. Let’s keep having them. Neither of them should be “canceled.”
This is our country. Let’s tell the story honestly.
And then there is this from a day or two ago:
Unfortunately, the faith that used to unite our country and carry it through its darkest hours, is now viewed as superstition and a detriment to society. Secular leftists are working, daily, to to infringe on religious liberty by prohibiting religious exercises or expressions and forcing groups to hire people whose beliefs do not align with that group’s religious convictions. As Christians- now more than ever- we must be attentive to and engaged with political and cultural events. Failure to do so is an abandonment of our duty to be good citizens of our country and it leaves the liberties this country was created to protect at risk of being taken away by those whose end goal is tyranny.
The first sentence presumes that the founders were trying to found a nation united by Christian faith. This is a problematic assumption that I have spent the better part of my career as an American historian trying to address. Start here.
Many white evangelicals are very upset that governors are shutting down churches due to the prevalence of COVID-19. These evangelicals believe that these local officials are curbing their right to worship. Is the prevention of Christian worship in a time of pandemic a violation of the First Amendment? That is an issue for the courts. But many of the founders thought that republics survived when people were willing to occasionally sacrifice their “rights” for the greater good of their neighbors. This is one of those moments when Christians can lead by example. Instead, many evangelicals, like the Falkirk Center, have chosen to mount a rights-based attack on masks, social distancing, and science that most of the founding fathers would fail to recognize. I don’t think the first-century church would recognize it either. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in The Cost of Discipleship: “In the right confrontation with the world, the Church will become ever more like to the form of its suffering Lord.”
I am sympathetic to some of the religious liberty concerns mentioned in this post. I hope the Supreme Court will continue to defend religious institutions to hire according to their deeply-held theological convictions. This, it seems, is a mark of a healthy pluralism.
In his 1994 book, “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind,” evangelical historian Mark Noll explained that evangelical culture encourages “intense, detailed, and precise efforts … to understand the Bible.” White evangelicals have not made a parallel effort “to understand the world or, even more important, the processes by which wisdom from Scripture should be brought into relation with knowledge about the world.”
When the Gulf War broke out in 1991, Noll recounted, evangelical publishers quickly produced, and evangelicals bought in bestselling numbers, books reading the crisis as a direct fulfillment of biblical prophecy signaling the end of the world.
These books, said Noll, “shared the disconcerting conviction that the best way of providing moral judgment about what was happening in the Middle East was not to study carefully what was going on in the Middle East,” but instead to draw “attention away from careful analysis of the complexities of Middle Eastern culture or the tangled 20th-century history of the region toward speculation about some of the most esoteric and widely debated passages of the Bible.”
Has white evangelical culture changed enough since Noll wrote these words to encourage a meaningful exploration of how American laws and policies have shaped the lives of our Black brothers and sisters since our nation’s founding? Will evangelical churches have the courage to host uncomfortable conversations that don’t pretend our nation’s history of racism stopped with Brown v. Board of Education in 1954?
If they look to their Bibles, they might. Recognizing the reality of structural racism is squarely in line with evangelical theology, which recognizes that human beings often sin corporately; the nation of Israel does so repeatedly in the Old Testament. “Sin corrupts every institution and every system because, one way or another, sinful human beings are involved,” Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler Jr. has said. This means that “laws, policies, habits, and customs are also corrupted by sin.”
Evangelicals have recognized legalized abortion as a structural injustice afflicting American society since Roe v. Wade was issued in 1973. Are they ready to recognize the extent to which the structural injustice of racism continues to afflict our country?
James Robison does not like the “anti-God” mindset in our country:
The anti-God mindset that is controlling too much of our country is determined to take over. When the father of lies rules, death and destruction follows. We will choose – life or death, good or evil. Life to everything that matters; or death to everything that matters.
I am guessing here that Robison does not see any direct connection between the POTUS he supports and the “father of lies” mentioned in this tweet. How could a man with decades of ministry experience be so deceived?
Jentezen Franklin is preaching about honor. One of Merriam-Webster’s definition of honor is “a keen sense of ethical conduct: integrity.
Shouldn’t church leaders be concerned about coronavirus spreading in churches as well as beaches and open-air demonstrations? My Pennsylvania evangelical church is requiring masks. Jeffress’s church is “strongly encouraging” masks.
Some of you may recall my post last week about a friend of friends who visited the Gettysburg National Military Park on July 4, 2020 and encountered overt racism. You can read it here.
We now have a video of what happened.
The man debating these white supremacists at the Robert E. Lee monument is Scott Hancock, professor of history at Gettysburg College. Scott, as you can tell from the video, is a man with an incredible amount of patience and self-control. He is a Christian who attends my evangelical church.
John Hagee invited Fox News commentator, conspiracy theorist, disgraced Christian college president, and convicted felon Dinesh D’Souza to speak at the Sunday evening service at his Cornerstone Church in San Antonio. Watch:
D’Souza tells the audience that American exceptionalism is ordained by God and it is under attack. He then moves into his usual critique of socialism. This then devolves into a rejection of systemic racism. If the camera shots of the audience members nodding their heads and cheering is any indication, D’Souza seems to be getting through to them. This is what pro-Trump megachurches have become. It’s pure fearmongering.
The Supreme Court made an important religious liberty decision today, but some court evangelicals and other Trump evangelicals are still fighting. They continue to stoke fear about threats to religious liberty.
Why it’s paramount to never allow a Democrat activist in the White House. American liberty and our rights depend on it. Elections have consequences. https://t.co/Opm7oqWnYA
“Christian” politico Ralph Reed turns a SCOTUS victory into a chance to get revenge against his enemy.
Tremendous victory for religious freedom in #SCOTUS decision in favor of Little Sisters of the Poor. It was Joe Biden & Obama who persecuted these nuns and threatened to fine them millions. Trump stood with them.
Johnnie Moore, the self-professed “modern day Dietrich Bonhoeffer,” responds to the SCOTUS decision in a way Bonhoeffer would not have recognized as Christian. Perhaps Johnnie needs to read The Cost of Discipleship.
When you think David French is an “irrational woke liberal” and mock someone’s military service it speaks volumes about you and the institution you work for. In Jenna Ellis’s case it is Liberty University. Remember, not all Christian colleges are the same.
David French’s transformation into an irrational woke liberal is complete.
Military service doesn’t mean that every idea one offers is inherently correct simply because of their service. Duckworth’s facts are wrong and political ideas anti-American. https://t.co/Uej2mSAQLZ
Jenna Ellis was on the Eric Metaxas Show today talking about Trump’s Mount Rushmore speech. Metaxas, who is also a spokesperson at the Falkirk Center, says anyone who criticized the speech is “loony.” He mocks the Sioux leaders who pointed out that Mount Rushmore was on Lakota land: “They have benefited from this country.” Ellis thinks that Trump gave the nation an “honest history lesson” during the speech. Again, this should be offensive to any serious classroom teacher who is working to give American young people honest history lessons. In one of the more comical moments of the interview, Ellis praises Trump for his love of the nuclear family and commitment to the institution of marriage.
Wait a minute, I thought Biden was working with Black Lives Matter to undermine America?:
1/4 At Mount Rushmore, President Trump eloquently articulated American exceptionalism, noting that “our Founders” launched not only “a revolution in government, but a revolution in the pursuit of justice, equality, liberty, and prosperity… It was all made possible by… the
2/4 Declaration of Independence,” which “enshrined a divine truth… ‘all men are created equal’.” As President Trump observed, these “immortal words set in motion the unstoppable march of freedom.” President Trump also noted that our rights were given to us “by our Creator in
3/4 heaven.” This is the fundamental difference between the enduring success of the American Revolution as opposed to the collapse and savage bloodshed of the French Revolution, which came along only thirteen years later. The French Revolution asserted “liberty, equality, & fra-
4/4 -ternity” based on the mere human assertion of these rights, which proved to be a woefully inadequate foundation, compared to their being divinely conferred. When our forefathers declared their independence from Great Britain they did not declare their independence from God. pic.twitter.com/iGSmbgimyN
Make no mistake about it, the same anarchism that wants to erase American history and heritage will be coming after Biblical history next. Next up after the founding fathers will be Jesus and the apostles.
Striking members of Memphis Local 1733 hold signs whose slogan symbolized the sanitation workers’ 1968 campaign.
I have noticed a lot of conversation of late about the Judeo-Christian idea that human beings are created in the “image of God” (imago Dei). In his speech at Mount Rushmore last weekend, Donald Trump said “Every child, of every color–born and unborn–is made in the holy image of God.”
What do Christians mean when they say that men and women are created in the image of God?
Genesis 1:26-27 teaches Jews and Christians that humanity is created in the image of God. The Greek translations of the Hebrew Bible, as New Testament scholar Scot McKnight shows us, translates the word behind “image” with the word eikon. Icons are paintings, statues, or figures that aid us in our devotion to God. Genesis 1 teaches us that we are living eikons. Much in the same way that monuments try to help us understand more fully what happened in a particular historic place, the creation story teaches us that our lives are monuments–eikons that should point people toward a deeper understanding of God. We are image bearers. Genesis 1 and 2 will always remind Christians of their true identity.
We are created in the image of God and called to pursue relationships with God and His “good” creation. But Genesis 3 teaches us that we are also sinners who have abused the human freedom God has given to us. “Sin,” theologian Birch writes, “is the word we use to describe how shalom, wholeness, gets broken.” Or to use McKnight’s phrase, we are “cracked eikons.”
Today I am hearing Christians on the political Right invoking “the image of God” to argue against Black Lives Matter and systemic racism generally. They say “all lives matter” because “all lives” are created in God’s image. This is theologically true, but it is impossible to understand American history without thinking about the imago Dei in the context how sin has disrupted God’s shalom. For over four-hundred years, white Christians have not treated African-Americans as fellow image-bearers. As a result, racism pervades many of our institutions.
I think the violence needs to stop. It was wrong during the time of the American Revolution when it was mostly white patriots involved, and it is wrong now. There has been too much collateral damage. And I am not talking here about monuments, I am talking about human lives. But the peaceful protests, the righteous anger, and the many demands for racial justice are all, at some level, defenses of human dignity.
Those Christians who reference the imago Dei to fortify their “all lives matter” mantra need to read more American history, develop a deeper understanding of the pervasiveness of human sin, and pray for empathy. In the meantime, stop politicizing this foundational doctrine.
Greg Laurie is still suggesting that the United States was “born out of a revival.” I addressed the many problems with this view here. In fact, religious attendance and membership was at an all-time low during the Revolution.
Johnnie Moore, who calls himself a “modern day Dietrich Bonhoeffer,” loves Trump’s idea for a “National Garden of American Heroes.”
Trump announced a “National Garden of American Heroes” that will include statutes of
Frederick Douglass, &
Martin Luther King, Jr., et. AL.https://t.co/waupD89EDf
David Barton and his son Tim are on the Jim Bakker Show talking about monuments. For years, Barton ignored the parts of American history that did not fit with his Christian nationalism. Now he is talking about how we need to see the “good, the bad, and the ugly” of American history. At one point, David Barton compares himself and his son to the Old Testament prophets Elijah and Elisha. He praises Tim for training young people to go to their campuses and convince their professors to reject “cultural Marxism” and “cancel culture.” I have now said this several times–the small number of people who are tearing down non-Confederate monuments are providing fodder for this kind of stuff.
Any history teacher who watches this video, and hears the Bartons attack the “dumb” and “stupid” ideas being taught in schools, should be offended. I wonder how many times either David or Tim Barton have set foot in a public school history classroom.
This video is a clear example of the Barton’s Christian nationalist mission. And they are well-funded.
The Bartons came back for a second day on the Jim Bakker Show and basically told viewers that if they don’t vote for Trump the United States will become socialist. The fear-mongering continues. In this interview, they double-down on the idea that anyone who does not vote for Trump is not “thinking biblically.” According to Tim Barton, only about 10% of self-professed Christians are actually “thinking biblically.” The rest “love Jesus” but are ignorant.
Eric Metaxas is still playing to the extremes in order to scare his listeners. Most people in the United States are not engaged in the tearing down of monuments. Most local governments are not trying to remove non-Confederate monuments or erase history. He plays to these extremes because he wants Trump re-elected and he needs to keep his show on the air. This is what cultural warriors do.
Metaxas keeps pushing his seriously-flawed book If You Can Keep It. He says that the American history kids are getting in schools today is making them ignorant. As I said above in relation to David and Tim Barton, this is a sad attack on hard-working history teachers who are teaching students how to read primary sources, weigh evidence, detect bias, think contextually, appreciate complexity, and grasp how things change over time. When was the last time Metaxas talked with a K-12 history teacher or visited a history classroom?
The fear-mongering continues with Metaxas’s guest John Zmirak. Their discussion of the history of the French Revolution takes so many liberties with the facts that I am not sure where to begin with my critique. Perhaps a European historian can listen to this and comment. Zmirak then refers to political scientist Mark David Hall’s book defending a Christian founding. I haven’t read this book, but you can see a discussion of it here.
The Metaxas-Zmirak conversation moves to a full-blown rejection of systemic racism and a defense of Robert E. Lee monuments. The kind of hate that is now propagated on the Eric Metaxas Show–a show on “Christian” radio–looks nothing like the teachings of Jesus Christ. I don’t understand how Metaxas could have read so much Bonhoeffer and still engage in this garbage. I’ll stick with Charles Marsh on Bonhoeffer: here and here. I would also encourage you to read Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship and compare his words with what you hear on the Eric Metaxas Show.
In one of the more ironic lines of this episode, court evangelical Metaxas criticizes the Democratic Party for refusing to “stand against the madness.”
Samuel Rodriguez is upset about the prohibition on singing in California churches.
You cannot permit tens of thousands to march in protest without masks and demand that 100 worshipers refrain from singing. That my friend is the very definition of discrimination. @GavinNewsom please stop discriminating! #inalienablerights
Here is how Dietrich Bonhoeffer would probably respond to Rodriguez and Garlow.
Meanwhile, court evangelical journalist David Brody loved Trump’s Mount Rushmore speech:
This speech at #MountRushmore tonight by @POTUS was excellent. It fully captured the cultural battle ahead for America. Why sugarcoat it? @realDonaldTrump tells it like it is. What he said tonight is a winning message in 2020.
Memo to liberals who think @realDonaldTrump is going to lose: big celebrations at Mount Rushmore with military flyovers and patriotism galore resonate with the majority of Americans. I understand it doesn’t play well with far left latte sippers but you have a BIG blind spot
I don’t think you need to be a “far left latte sipper” to be troubled by what happened last night at Mount Rushmore. It was a “big celebration” during a pandemic with no masks or social distancing on a weekend in which the CDC warned people about gathering in large crowds. We already know that Don Trump Jr.’s wife tested positive for COVID-19. And don’t even get me started on Trump’s use of the American past to divide the country on Independence Day. I wonder what Frederick Douglass would have thought about Trump’s speech. By the way, I am not “far left” and have probably had ten latte’s in my life. I prefer the $1.00 large McDonald’s coffee on my way to campus. 🙂
Charlie Kirk, an evangelical Christian, bids his followers to come and die:
You must be willing to sacrifice everything for our country. America is worth putting everything on the line. Time to save America.
Does anyone want to help Kirk, the co-director of Liberty University’s Falkirk Center, reconcile the previous tweet (above) with the one below this paragraph? I am not sure he understands the meaning of “liberty requires responsibility.” As Christian moral philosopher Josef Pieper wrote, “It is the concern of the just man…to give others due rather than to obtain what is due him.” But what does Pieper, one of the great Christian intellectuals of the 20th century, know? He is not, after all, 26-year-old Trump wonder boy Charlie Kirk:
Liberty requires responsibility. If you are scared, stay home. Don’t make us stay at home. No more lockdowns. They don’t work, and do nothing but please tyrannical politicians. Open America!
Lance Wallnau is attacking another so-called “prophet” and, in the process, offers his own prophesy. He says the coronavirus, racial unrest, Christians “taking a knee,” and the tearing down of monuments are all judgments of God on America. If you have time, read the thousands of comments on the right of the video and then come back and let’s talk about my “fear” thesis.
Jenna Ellis, a spokesperson for Liberty University’s Falkirk Center, is getting into the “America was founded as a Christian nation” business.
If you’d like to know the true, full, legal and philosophical defense of our Judeo-Christian heritage in America’s founding principles and system of government, as provided in our founding documents, I invite you to read my book.https://t.co/FXthwWnlhh
This speech from @realDonaldTrump will be remembered as one of the finest & boldest defenses of America’s Judeo-Christian founding principles and our claim as one Nation & one people to our God-given freedom & liberty from an American President! ❤️🤍💙https://t.co/DQQVZDG9mQ
Tony Perkins is engaging in the same type of scriptural manipulation:
“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” – John 8:32 Consider the words of Jesus as we celebrate the 244th anniversary of our freedom as a nation. Our future freedom, both individually and as a nation depends upon embracing and upholding the truth.
Gary Bauer throws thousands and thousands of hard-working American history teachers under the bus by telling them that they don’t love their country:
@realDonaldTrump speech at Mt Rushmore was historic. Filled with truth. He identified the major reason we see the attacks on our symbols and memorials. He said “Our children are taught in school to hate their own country” We must rescue our kids!#MtRushmore#independenceday2020
The day before, Jeffress made his weekly visit with Lou Dobbs. Pretty much the same stuff:
Focus on the Family is running an interview with Eric Metaxas about his book If You Can Keep It. I point you to my review of this seriously flawed book. If you want to take a deeper dive into this, here is a link to my longer review. I assume that this was taped a while ago (the book appeared in 2016). As I listen to Metaxas’s radio show today, and compare it with this interview, it is striking how far Trump and the aftermath of the George Floyd killing has pushed him even further into a Christian Right brand of Trumpism.
Franklin Graham is quoting the Declaration of Independence. Here is a question: Was Thomas Jefferson right? I think the Christian tradition certainly values life. It certain values spiritual liberty in Christ. But what about political liberty? What about the pursuit of happiness? Perhaps this is something to discuss with your friends and family over the holiday weekend.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” -Declaration of Independence, 1776 #IndependenceDay
Jentezen is worried about the radical left controlling churches:
California’s Governor just banned singing/chanting at church. Catholics can’t recite mass; Evangelicals can’t worship out loud. The very definition of discrimination is to allow thousands to march and scream without masks while telling churches 100 or less that you cannot sing.
Jack Graham is asking people to wear their military uniforms to church on Sunday. Why do white evangelicals always appeal to the Armed Forces, and only the Armed Forces, on July 4th?
We’re looking forward to our annual Patriotic Service this weekend honoring all those who have bravely served or are currently serving our country in the Armed Forces. Please invite any of these heroes you know to join us so that we may honor them. pic.twitter.com/nEAN61wN79
I am really confused by both Paula White’s retweet and Samuel Rodriguez’s original tweet:
Rev. Rodriquez is correct! What the virus has revealed is how willing the radical left is to discriminate against religion. Treating comminunities of faith unequally is unconstitutional. It is illegal. https://t.co/ndWR9phkIn
James Robison makes it sound like “profanity, pornography, and exploitation” are new things in America:
If the ideas set forth by the purveyors of profanity, pornography and exploitation become the prevalent mind-set in America, the foundations of our freedom will have cracked. Ultimately, our nation will deteriorate and true freedom will be lost.
I’ve always wondered why so many Christian Right preachers stop after Matthew 28:19. Don’t they realize that the Great Commission continues into verse 20: “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
If the Great Commission means we should be observing all Jesus commanded us, Christians should rejoice when persecuted (Mt.5:11-12), be agents of reconciliation (Mt. 5:23-25), tell the truth (Mt. 5:37), turn the other cheek (Mt. 5:38-42), love their enemies (Mt. 5:44-46), stop practicing their righteousness before men (Mt. 6:1), judge not (Mt. 7:1-3), not cast their pearls before pigs (Mt. 7:6), practice the Golden Rule (Mt. 7:12), follow the 81% narrow way (Mt. 7:13-14), beware of false prophets (Mt. 7:15-16), pray for laborers (Mt. 9:37-38), fear not (Mt. 10:28), defend their rights deny themselves (Lk 9:23-25), celebrate the poor (Luke 14:12-14), and welcome strangers (Mt. 25:35).
Jeffress is also mad about the California prohibition against singing in church. It looks like he got the news from the alt-Right, white nationalist website Breitbart:
The “science” that allows for protests but prohibits singing in church is “fake science” that must be rejected. If being outside makes protests safe, then why are beaches being shut down? https://t.co/ofa12FBij8
Pastor Mark Burns thanks Trump for protecting Confederate monuments:
Thank you for standing strong and protecting American History. The Left sounds like Nazi Germany, when they begin to burn books and historical artifacts. Good or Bad, American History is American History and needs to be remembered.
The Falkirk Center at Liberty University is using Edmund Burke to defend Confederate monuments and the white supremacy they represent.
So called “progressives” have failed to realize that by erasing history and spitting on the graves of their predecessors, they are digressing rather than progressing. We cannot improve as a society if we do not recognize the good, the bad, and the ugly of the past. pic.twitter.com/RmKThENVki
I have many questions about this tweet, but here are two:
Would the Falkirk Center feel the same way about George III, Parliament and British tyranny? Would they tear down monuments?
Would the Falkirk Center like this “good, bad, and ugly” approach to American history to be applied to public school American history textbooks?
It looks like Trump will be “telling the truth” tonight in South Dakota. Here is what Falkirk Center spokesperson Jenna Ellis retweeted earlier today:
🚨 To celebrate Independence Day, @realDonaldTrump is going to tell the TRUTH about American history—and the truth about the people tearing down our statues/history. At the foot of Mount Rushmore tonight, our @POTUS will defend and celebrate America’s founding. TUNE IN! 🇺🇸
If you want to understand what is dividing the Southern Baptist Convention today, watch this documentary produced by a group called Founders Ministries :
The discussion of race in America picks-up at the 33:00 minute mark when Thomas Ascol of Founders Ministries starts talking about “critical race theory” and “intersectionality.”
Why are some Southern Baptists so afraid of critical race theory?
I have never met a Southern Baptist who accepts every dimension of critical race theory. So I am imagining much of the concern regarding these ideas is best explained by the old slippery slope theory. In other words, critical race theory will lead to compromises in other areas of doctrine that will put Southern Baptists on the road to theological liberalism. These conservative Southern Baptists, like the fundamentalists of the early 20th-century, are always guarding against declension. In his wonderful book The Sin of Certainty, theologian Peter Enns compares this kind of Christian faith to “sentry duty.”
There is much that is true about critical race theory. For example, it forces us to come to grips with the fact that some groups in society oppress other groups. In this sense, there are parts of critical race theory that illuminate the impact of human sin on modern life. Is anyone in the Founders Ministries group going to say that white people have not oppressed black people in American history? Is anyone going to deny that white Christians have used their power in ways that are unChristian? Critical race theory might be one way to make sense of this. If James Cone can help me become more aware of racism and teach me how to have a greater solidarity with the oppressed, then why wouldn’t I want to read him, engage him, and employ some of his ideas in my work? All truth is God’s truth. This seems to be the general thrust of the so-called Resolution 9 discussed in this video.
So what is really going on in this documentary? It seems like the folks who created it want to avoid having hard conversations about racism in America. In fact, it seems like they don’t want anyone in the Southern Baptist Convention to have conversations that might lead to more effective efforts at dealing with racism in church and society. They are trying to scare ordinary Southern Baptists by telling them that there is some evil Marxist force working in subtle ways to undermine Christianity. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
When I watched this documentary, at least the parts related to race, it seemed like I was watching the Southern Baptist version of a debate that recently took place in the House of Representatives:
Let’s remember that the Southern Baptist Convention was born as a pro-slavery denomination and remained committed to white supremacy for much of its history. As a result, white supremacy is deeply embedded in all of its institutions and has been for 150 years. Repentance, apologies, and spiritual transformation through the work of the Holy Spirit is necessary, but so is structural change.
Those looking to bring such structural change to the convention should be glad that Founders Ministries felt the need to produce this documentary. As an outsider looking in, it tells me that despite the Trumpism of Robert Jeffress, Jack Graham, Richard Land, Greg Laurie, and Al Mohler, some things are starting to change in the Southern Baptist Convention.
But I am also sure that folks like Jarvis Williams, Matt Chandler, Dwight McKissic, Matthew Hall, and Curtis Woods would say that the convention has a long way to go. As University of Virginia sociologist James Davison Hunter reminds us, these kinds of deep structural changes often take generations and can only “be described in retrospect.”
Over at Religion News Service, Yonat Shimron has some good reporting on evangelicals and systemic racism. She quotes Redeemer Presbyterian Church founder Tim Keller: “You can’t simply say, ‘We’re going to convert everyone and convict them of the individual sin of racism and everything will be OK.”
Court evangelical Tony Perkins joins several other evangelical Trump supporters to talk about the 2020 election:
A few quick comments:
15:58ff: Perkins says that Christians “have a responsibility” to vote along “biblical guidelines” and “biblical truth.” He adds: “if you notice lately, truth is under attack.” As I said yesterday, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry when I hear Trump supporters try to defend truth. When will they speak truth to Trump? If Perkins wants to talk about biblical principles he should read about Jesus before Pilate in John 18 or Nathan’s words to King David in 1 Samuel 12. How dare Perkins sit there and say that “it is the truth that will make men free.”
Shortly after Perkins finishes speaking, the host shows a video comparing the GOP and Democratic platforms. The GOP platform, Perkins believes, is biblical. The Democratic platform, he believes, in unbiblical. “It’s like oil and water,” Perkins says. This is what we call the political captivity of the church.
And then comes the fear-mongering. Perkins implies that if evangelicals do not vote for Trump, the Democrats will come for their families, their religious liberty, and their “ability to worship God.” Listen carefully to this section. It begins around the 17:40 mark. I wonder what the earliest Christians would think if they heard Perkins say that unless America re-elects a corrupt emperor they would not be able to worship God. I wonder what the early Christian martyrs, those great heroes of the faith, would say if they heard Perkins tell the audience that “your ability to share the Gospel in word or in deed” rests on a Trump victory. As Bonhoeffer says in The Cost of the Discipleship, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
20:00ff: The audience does not start applauding until conservative pastor-politician E.W. Jackson tells them that Black Lives Matter is a “Marxist ploy to get people to buy into some sort of socialist, communist world view….” See what’s going on here. An African-American evangelical politician gives an audience full of white people the freedom to cheer against an anti-racist organization.
27:00ff: William Federer, probably known best in certain white evangelical circles for publishing a book of quotations from the founding fathers, implies that the CIA, Department of Justice, and FBI are planning a “coup” against Trump.
36:00ff: Tony Perkins says that if one believes human beings are created in the image of God, it will “direct all of your other policy.” He adds that the violence in the streets after George Floyd’s death was fomented by people who did not believe that women and men are created in the image of God. Was their unnecessary violence in the streets? Of course. But most of what happened in the streets after Floyd was killed had everything to do with the kind of human dignity Perkins is talking about here. How could he miss this?
41:35ff: Perkins notes the high levels of abortions among African-American women and blames the problem on Planned Parenthood. He fails to see that there is a direct connection between systemic racism, poverty, and abortion in Black communities. Of course, if one does not believe in systemic racism, then it is easy to blame Planned Parenthood and continue to ignore the structural issues of inequality and racism in our society.
1:30:00ff: Federer starts talking about the Second Great Awakening and how it led to abolitionism. This is partly true, but Frederick Douglass offers another perspective on this. When his master got saved during the Second Great Awakening, Douglass said that he became more brutal in his beatings. Why? Because he was now following the teachings of the Bible as understood by the Southern preachers who led him to God. Don’t fall for Federer’s selective history. It is a selective understanding of the past used in service of Trumpism. The 17th, 18th, and 19th South was loaded with white evangelicals who owned slaves and embraced white supremacy.
1:32:00: Perkins makes a connection between the Democratic Party and the French Revolution. He sounds like Os Guinness here.
There is a lot of other things I could comment on, but I think I will stop there.
And in other court evangelical news:
The Falkirk Center at Liberty University is tweeting a quote from Jerry Falwell Sr.
As Christians, we must re-engage in politics, or we will be controlled by those who are. The radical left wants to destroy western civilization and America’s foundations, which were born from the Judeo-Christian ethic and tradition. We cannot sit idly by and let them prevail. pic.twitter.com/Hhol2P0BmM
The idea that religion and politics don’t mix was invented by the Devil to keep Christians from running their own country. If there is any place in the world we need Christianity, it’s in Washington. And that’s why preachers long since need to get over that intimidation forced upon us by liberals, that if we mention anything about politics, we are degrading our ministry. —Jerry Falwell Jr.
I will counter with a quote from C.S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters. Screwtape (Satan) is giving advice to his young minion Wormwood:
Let him begin by treating the Patriotism…as part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the state at which the religion becomes merely a part of the “cause,” in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce…Once [he’s] made the world an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing.
Samuel Rodriguez is holding a 4th of July prayer meeting at his church. The meeting is built upon his “prophetic decree” that America is “one nation, under guide, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” I wonder if he would have received the same prophetic decree prior to 1954, the year the words “under God” were added to the pledge.
James Robison tweets about the founders as if slavery did not exist.
Our nation’s founders acknowledged & exalted a benevolent and righteous God and affirmed the worth and dignity of humanity, unlike the brand of liberty exalted by some today which rejects the values on which this nation was built. The absolute truth is: ideas have consequences.