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Frances FitzGerald on how evangelicals lost their way

Evangelist Billy Graham, center, is flanked by GOP Presidential candidate Richard Nixon, right, and Gov. Spiro T. Agnew, the vice-presidential choice, left, as he delivers the benediction at the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach in 1968. Mr. Graham prayed for the unity and welfare of the nation. Religion News Service file photo.

Evangelist Billy Graham, center, is flanked by GOP presidential candidate Richard Nixon, right, and Gov. Spiro T. Agnew, the GOP vice presidential choice, left, as he delivers the benediction at the 1968 Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Fla. Mr. Graham prayed for the unity and welfare of the nation. Religion News Service file photo

(RNS) The most important new book on evangelicals in many years has been released just in time for Easter. Frances FitzGerald’s massive new tome is called “The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America.” Everyone who cares about religion in America must read it. I will be moderating a conversation with the author on Wednesday night (April 12) at the Atlanta History Center.

Reading this book during the Lenten season, and completing it during Holy Week, may be contributing to my primary take on the book: Evangelicals very badly lost their way. And they did so because their gospel stopped being about the love of God in Jesus Christ, demonstrated most profoundly at the cross, and instead became a reactionary jeremiad about saving America by electing Republican politicians and fighting culture wars.

The author is not an evangelical insider and does not make that claim. But she offers all the evidence necessary for me to make it, aided by nearly 40 years as a participant in American evangelical Christianity.

That’s not all the book is about, of course. FitzGerald offers a comprehensive history of American evangelicals that traces their story all the way back to the 18th century. With considerable though not flawless grasp of detail, the book tells the American evangelical story with remarkable comprehensiveness. I was especially struck by her tracing of distinctive northern and southern evangelicalisms, her description of the explosive growth of Pentecostalism and her elegiac take on the arc of Billy Graham’s career, whose entanglement with Richard Nixon ended up foreshadowing the later course of politicized evangelicalism.

“The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America” by Frances FitzGerald. Image courtesy of Simon and Schuster

The last half of the book slows down, covering only the period since the rise of Jerry Falwell and the Christian right in the 1970s. FitzGerald has reported directly on conservative evangelicalism since that period, and that reporting shows up in these lengthy chapters. Pretty much everything there is to be said about Falwell, Pat Robertson, Ralph Reed, Richard Land, James Dobson and a cast of thousands of earnest (and sometimes clownish) Christian rightists can be found here.

Perhaps newer to most readers will be FitzGerald’s discussion of the splintering of American evangelicalism in the aftermath of what she calls the “unfortunate George W. Bush.” As a participant in much of the history she recounts, I know most of the people she describes as “new evangelicals” (like Joel Hunter, Richard Cizik and Jim Wallis) as well as those in a still-conservative but less rigid group like Russell Moore. She tells this post-2006 story very well indeed.

FitzGerald concludes that the old angry white guy Christian right is slowly dying out, and shows that the political energy of the white conservative Christian right mainly moved to the Tea Party by 2010 and then to the Trumpistas in 2016. That still makes them a potent political force (for a while longer), but this version of “Christian” politics is even more morally compromised and less recognizably Christian than in the Falwell-Robertson days.

FitzGerald’s subtitle is “The Struggle to Shape America.” Therein lies the problem, not with the book, but with the movement. The Christian faith is not fundamentally about shaping America or any other country. It is fundamentally about nurturing a community of human beings who will faithfully follow Jesus. This is where American evangelicals went wrong.

FitzGerald knows that evangelicalism is a global community but shows that American evangelicalism is very deeply American. So even from the 19th century American evangelicals had a tendency to identify their own community and its concerns with that of America writ large.

She especially shows that after the massive social changes of the 1960s, evangelicalism became very deeply white-male-reactionary American. This evangelical white-male-reactionary-Americanism came to override the Christian gospel or even to define it. The gospel was not about Jesus, but about nostalgia for a lost America where our guys, and our values, were unquestioned.

In the end, the result was an unholy marriage of top evangelical leaders to the Republican Party and conservative lobbyists and operatives. In reaction, a smaller group of evangelical progressives also became involved in similar conjugal relations with the Democrats and their lobbyists and operatives.

When religious folk get entangled with secular politicians in the political arena, the politicians always win. They have home field advantage. The earnest religious types get played. And the people in the pews start heading for the exits.

Faithful Christian discipleship does involve bearing witness to Christian convictions in public. But drawing the line between this dimension of Christian proclamation, on the one hand, and getting used by politicians, on the other, has proved very difficult for evangelical Christians since at least Billy Graham. It’s a sordid story, and it has shaped American religion and public life for more than a generation.

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David Gushee

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  • Southern evangelism has never put Jesus first. It has always put hierarchy first, especially the hierarchy that puts white Southern males on top. The first time I heard a Fundamentalist preacher speak was on Palm Sunday 40 years ago. He said that although we were gathered here to celebrate the coming of Jesus, he had something even more important to talk about instead. The women of the church had become too uppity, and he lectured us on Paul’s words about women’s place instead. He said women should show their understanding of their inferior place by not dressing up on Easter, since it wasn’t that big a deal anyway. The big deal, he emphasized, would be the multi-week sermon on Paul that would begin immediately after we had dispensed with the tedious necessity of noting Christ’s resurrection. I knew something was very wrong when the Good News about Jesus was considered less important than the subjugation of women, but in hindsight it was a remarkably clear distillation of their beliefs.

  • Sounds like you had a weird pastor there; I’m very sorry to hear your story.

    These days you can find weird clergy all over the American Christian spectrum, including the Black Churches and the Evangelical Left. If the Christian faith is “… fundamentally about nurturing a community of human beings who will faithfully follow Jesus”, then all sides have gone wrong somewhere (although I say that the religious leftists are considerably more wrong).

    But sure, white evangelicals have gone wrong too. Everybody else and all their denominations, as well. We all have looked to politics, politicians, and promises to get results, instead of relying on Scripture and the power of Christ. And you can see the results.

    These are simply hard times for ALL of us, and they’re going to get worse — much worse, yes — unless genuine revival comes to our churches.

  • Having met many other Fundamentalist preachers in the intervening 40 years I would say he was fairly typical, if not somewhat tame. The problems are systemic and inherent in a system that values hierarchy over problem-solving.

  • Funny, I have gone to many a “leftist” church, but never once seen anything like the problem I have seen at “rightist”, in other words, Fundamentalist churches. Liberal churches have sometimes annoyed me. Fundamentalist churches have made me fear for my very safety and that of my children.

  • It often takes an outsider to see what is.

    Those inside a group of any kind need those outside perspectives to have a hope of good reflection and change. Sounds like this book could be that.

  • Well, that’s part of the divide between us all. A lot’s at stake on all sides, it seems.

    You are concerned for your very safety and that of your kids (again, I’m sorry to hear that.) I am concerned for a genuine De-Facto-Repeal of my constitutional speech & religion freedoms, and especially those of my kids.

    The Baronelle Stutzmann case clearly shows just how far the angry Vengeance can go (and yes, it DID include death threats on top of all the other heavy mess.) So yes, I’m concerned about things.

    All I can say is, don’t visit any church, don’t visit any public gathering for that matter, where you don’t feel safe. I know I won’t be doing so.

  • What does your “constitutional speech and religion freedoms” mean to you?

    People seemed to be worried about it. I hear that kind of plea but haven’t seen those infringed upon yet.

  • Baronelle Stutzmann has seen her religious freedom totally infringed, all the way. Kim Burrell has seen both her speech and religious freedoms viciously disrespected, (though not legally infringed.)

  • You’re not any of you fundelibangelists having a hard time, except that people are no longer asking your permission, getting uppity, and thinking that perhaps you are not really entitled to dominion over their lives. That’s your “hard time”: you’re displeased.

    You as a black man of a certain age should be well aware of the rancor directed at those who are uppity.

  • The key word in this whole thing is “uppity”…

    Uppity women, uppity black people, uppity gay people, uppity anyone who insists that their lives are every bit as important and valuable as those who are already up– white, male funamantlists and evangelicals– and who are deathly afraid that their “up” becomes “equal.”

  • But how?

    They can attend church. They can say whatever they want (provided it doesn’t break laws, threaten anyone, isn’t liable, etc like ever other person). They can practice their faith so long as it doesn’t infringe on others (like all religious freedoms). I don’t see the restriction?

  • ” . . . evangelicals very badly lost their way. And they did so because
    their gospel stopped being about the love of God in Jesus Christ,
    demonstrated most profoundly at the Cross, and instead became a
    reactionary jeremiad about saving America by electing Republican
    politicians and fighting culture wars.”

    I fully concur with Frances FitzGerald’s statement above, as well as the thesis of her article on how evangelical Christians lost their way. The same can be said of liberal, mainline Protestant Christians. It happens when a church stops trusting in the Gospel of Jesus Christ to transform both the individual and society to instead, place their trust in partisan politics–whether conservative or liberal–for that transformation. Evangelical Christians look to conservative politicians to make the claim that GOVERNMENT will lead us in the paths if righteousness; liberal, mainline Christians try to persuade us to believe that the individual and the world will be transformed by their political gospel, centered on social justice and enforced by GOVERNMENT!

    I take issue with the writer on one point: Jim Wallis is definitely no evangelical! I know of his work and writings with his Sojourners magazine. It would be hard to find a more liberal Christian leader who trusts in social justice and government’s power to bring about the transformation of lives!

  • Sure; let’s discuss Baronelle Stutzmann’s religious freedom, which is being totally “restricted” and infringed, all the way. (I’ll do the rest later).

    Nobody said Stutzmann couldn’t attend church, THAT ain’t it. No, she is being forced & threatened by government, (even to the insane point of taking away the 70-year-old’s house, retirement and life savings!!), to participate in something totally OPPOSED to her religion (Christianity).

    That, is a clear and gangrenous infringement of her Bill of Rights freedom.

    “It’s wrong for the state to force any citizen to support a particular view about marriage or anything else against their will. Freedom of speech and religion aren’t subject to the whim of a majority; they are constitutional guarantees.”
    — Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Kristen Waggoner.

  • You’re right. I am well aware of the all the rancor, injustice and death-threats that have been hurled at Baronelle Stutzmann,
    because she indeed got uppity,
    and said a simple and humble “No, I can’t do this one thing because of my religion,” to a fascist, bullying, Gay Goliath.

  • Oh, good, you never used Big Bad gay Goliath, but you have added fascist to your repertoire.

  • This is why I was originally asking what you see “constitutional speech and religion freedoms” to mean. We’d just argue points back and forth with neither of us shifting. You’d talk about not supporting gay marriage, I’d say no one sees a transaction like this as support for, and round and round we’d go. We clearly see it differently so I was interested in how you see it. How far can a sincerely held religious belief go? when if ever does the gov step in?

    In this case I see the flower shop owner discriminating, you don’t. We aren’t going to see eye to eye on this, and I’m ok with that. I’m interested for you where discrimination starts or perhaps where religious expression ends?

  • So it would have been all right for her to refuse to serve black people and say that serving them was against her religion?

  • Specifics Alert: I never use the phrase “Big Bad”,
    but I have freely admitted using the correct phrase “Gay Goliath.” I also spelled out under what exact conditions the specific phrase would be retracted.

    And you’re correct once again. At my discretion, I now may attach the prefix words “fascist” (and also “bullying”) to “Gay Goliath”, to help provide clarity and specificity in describing its activities.

    Also I have NOT used any descriptive phrases such as “Brain-Eating-Amoeba-On-Steroids Plus Rat-Poison” in regards to this Goliath issue, but I am currently reviewing all the Disqus and RNS guidelines to see if such phrases are allowable.

  • Nope, that’s a separate situation that’s covered by law. But your analogy would never have applied to Baronelle Stutzmann anyway, because she served gay customers and even employed gay employees for YEARS. Never refused at all.

    Plus she was even comfortable with legalized gay marriage, (which is a ceremony, not a person), as long as she wasn’t forced to personally participate in a gay marriage ceremony. Such participation would be against her religion.

    But that’s the kicker, Debra. Goliath said it wasn’t enough for her to serve gays. Goliath said it wasn’t enough to employ gays. Goliath said that it wasn’t even enough to support legalized gay marriage as a general principle.

    No, Goliath said Baronelle Stutzmann GOTTA PARTICIPATE in a gay wedding ceremony — or else lose everything, even to her home and her life savings.

  • Good question. Let me answer this way.
    Sophie Theallet is the big fashion designer who put all those kewl dresses to her customer, First Lady Michelle Obama. But this fashion businesswoman OPENLY discriminated against the next First Lady, Melania Trump:

    “As one who celebrates and strives for diversity, individual freedom and respect for all lifestyles, I will not participate in dressing or associating in any way with the next First Lady.” “The rhetoric of racism, sexism, and xenophobia unleashed by her husband’s presidential campaign are incompatible with the shared values we live by.” — Sophia Theallet.

    Notice how Sophia is directly appealing to individual freedom to refuse service to a customer, based on Sophia’s own moral values. This might have been illegal if Melania Trump was black, but since Melania is white and her name is Trump, there’s no liberal complaints, no media angst, no lawsuits, no courts. Dirty discrimination, using Sophia’s specific individual freedom arguments, is A-Okay.

    But notice something else. Baronelle Stutzmann didn’t even discriminate against any PERSONS like Sophia did. She only asked to NOT be forced to participate in a CEREMONY opposing her faith. So Stutzmann is in the (constitutional) right, regarding her religious expression. She didn’t do discrimination.

  • Ok, so fair to say in your mind the government should never step in when it comes to the purchase of goods or services then. If the seller has a personally held moral position that should be allowed to apply that in any way they see fit, such as denying service based on those morals.

    That’s what I’m reading and just wanted to be sure I understand.

  • So it would have been acceptable for her to refuse to serve a black couple a wedding cake if she said her religion was against black people marrying?

  • “Nope, that’s a separate situation that’s covered by law.”

    Now that’s funny. She violated the law in washington state, which forbids discrimination on the basis of religious belief and of sexual orientation. She violated the FEDERAL Civil Rights act of 1964, which forbids discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of religious belief.

    She participated in nothing. It’s just the lie you tell yourselves to justify malicious behavior.

  • starts where hte people he dislikes are the victims, ends wherever a religious person of that sort claims it ends.

  • Interesting. Have you guys heard of the new book “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb”? It suggests that the biggest threat to Christianity in America might actually be something called “American Christianity”. The book has been trending as a best-seller on Amazon in Christian Ethics. Check it out.

  • Looks to me as if the reviewer and some others may have fallen off the “evangelical” train in America (at least politically) some time back, before and despite the publishing of the book in question. What alternatives to the not-so-dead-yet “religious right” (which lately seems to be adding young and old, red , yellow, black and white..) are you proposing?

    “One that more closely resembles Jesus” is a straw man for folks who disagree with other biblically literate and practicing Christians in the areas of social, cultural and political engineering.

  • Eh. “Evangelical” has many meanings, but it is not a matter of being politically correct.
    The entire Religious Right apparatus is founded upon hatred, and history shows how that is an absolute fact. When Paul Weyrich, the Republican operative who approached Jerry Falwell (Sr.) to head up the political machine he was creating suggested antiabortionism as a platform plank equal to antipornography, antigay, and pro-forced religion, Falwell was at first very skeptical. “That’s a Catholic issue,” he demurred. But they parsed it out and found it had legs and was readily available for slut-shaming, one of their favorite pastimes.

  • Stutzman violated the law and then whined about the penalty. She deserves zero sympathy.
    You have all the freedom you will ever need to utter your nonsense opinions. What you do not have and never will is the right to utter them free from criticism.

  • Stutzman is still free to be out there whining in front of suckers like you and gets a few bucks under the table from Jack Abrahamoff and the like.
    You do not have a right to respect unless you earn it.

  • That’s not a religious stance, it’s a commercial one. Her whining about having to serve all equally is like a Muslim butcher who goes to work for Hormel and complains there’s pig meat.

  • Liberal and evangelical are not mutually exclusive categories. Wallis is a dyed-in-the-wool, certified evangelical.

  • Criticism is fine, just don’t disrespect the public marketplace of ideas by stooping to censorship.
    (Obviously I am not accusing you of this item, it’s not you that I have in mind.)

  • See previous answer. The law is the law, and the law covers that situation. I’m good with that law, as are most Americans.

    But also see liberal big-name businesswoman Sophia Theallat”s clear answer (and her wide-open act of discrimination below, which neither the liberal media, liberal politicians, nor the courts have criticized.)

    Nobody wants to ask HER your question, and perhaps you don’t want to either. But I hope you do.

    Also, you’re still talking about discriminating against **persons**, when florist Stutzmann merely asked not to be forced to take part in a CEREMONY that totally opposes her faith. Do you insist on Jewish-baked Swastika Cakes for local neo-nazi rallies?

  • Except where already addressed by the federal law.
    Hope you don’t forget (or worse yet, ignore) that one important point. I support that law, as do most Americans.

    I offered some other points in there, but it is not clear that you want to engage them to any extent. So if you want to understand my position, at least understand that I support the current federal Civil Rights Act as it relates to businesses and customers.

  • Um, no. Nobody even knows for sure what the religion of the gay customers in question is, if they have a religion at all. Obviously they never notified Stutzmann of any specific religion.

    (Of course, Gay-Self-Identity is clearly a religion and not a innate biological orientation, but so far the courts don’t agree with my position.)

    So Stutzmann clearly did NOT discriminate against the two gay customers on the basis of their religion. No evidence of that, period.

  • That seems to be your particular view but the progressive left brings “hatred” to a whole new level. Falwell being dead and “slut-shaming” notwithstanding.

  • Please. Don’t pretend you’rethat stupid. it’s not becoming at all.

    Its’s not just the courts that disagree with you. Millions of gay people and virtually every professional organization on the planet don’t agree with you.

    And we’re not talking about THEIR religious beliefs, but HERS.

  • i thought LGBTQ people were protected under federal law. My mistake. so if sexual orientation were protected under federal law like say race, you would be OK with the law suit. but since LGBTQ are not protected under federal law it is at the discretion of the proprietor if they get service or not.

  • Eh, I don’t, and I don’t know any co-ideologues, who particularly “hate” PRRs, just what they do. Love the sinner, hate the sin, right?

  • I think I’m in agreement with you there. I have no respect for the campus clowns who prevented Milo Yiannapoulous from speaking at UC-Berkeley, for example. He should have been allowed to speak.

  • I pulled out my marriage certificate. The cake baker’s name wasn’t on it. Nor were they even at the wedding. So much for “participating in a CEREMONY”.

  • Does. Mr. Gushee mean to suggest that there are no “clowns” among the religious Left? From the tone and the comments he has made in this piece, one would certainly think so.

  • But there WAS a cake baker, wasn’t there? And yes, you DO remember their name.

    Well, they provided some goods (a wedding cake) explicitly designed to openly, unambiguously, publicly, affirm and celebrate your specific wedding ceremony.

    ***That’s participation.***

    Same for providing FLORAL arrangements, (like florist Stutzmann) which requires the vendor to actually visit the site and create that same open, public, unambiguous affirmation of a specific marriage ceremony using beautiful flowers. That’s participation, Debra.

  • Honestly, I never even knew their name. It was one of a bunch of jobs I gave to my adoptive mother to keep her busy and out of my hair. However, providing a wedding cake was the wedding cake baker job. If they did not want to provide such a service they should not have advertised it. That amounts to false advertising.

  • From Mississippi, I would say that the “religious right” is still hemorrhaging followers not adding them. I don’t know a single person under 50 who grew up in a Fundamentalist church who is willing to let their children anywhere near one.

  • But Jewish bakers do not sell Swastika cakes to anybody. Nor should government hold their jobs (and their life savings) hostage and force them to comply with customer requests for such things.

    In my state, the state supreme court understands and upholds this principle. Unlike WA state, the Gay Goliath can’t get no bully action in my state. The Bill of Rights is upheld around here for all citizens.

  • But Jewish bakers don’t sell swastika cakes to anyone.

    Exactly my point. Thanks. In fact, it would be exactly like forcing a black baker to make a KKK cake. I suspect black bakers don’t bake them.

    But also, thanks for the nazi comparison. We Jews and gay people really appreciate, as it truly demonstrates the absolute poverty of your arguments.

  • Yes, it is exactly like that. And the Supreme Court has dismissed actual claims that serving black people would be against someone’s religion and therefore should be permitted. Nondiscrimination laws re commercial transactions have been found constitutional.

  • No, Goliath said if you are a baker you must sell cakes to all comers and that if you are a vendor of wedding flowers, you have to sell flowers to all comers. Providing a cake for a wedding or flowers for a wedding is not “participating” in a wedding any more than a janitor who cleans the venue is a “participant” in a wedding.

  • Anyone who sites “lifesitenews.com” is too dumb to discern the difference between fact and alt.fact.

  • “When religious folk get entangled with secular politicians in the political arena, the politicians always win. They have home field advantage. The earnest religious types get played. And the people in the pews start heading for the exits.” I wish that it were true that the people in the pews head for the exits when religious folk get entangled with secular politicians, but I don’t think that is the case. While there has been a (welcome) decline in the Evangelical church attendees recently, I doubt the cause is the politicization of right-wing churches. I suspect the causes of decline are many. Most Evangelical Christians are from a demographic that has been voting against their own interests for many decades and have been bamboozled by both their religious and political leaders. They tend to be low-information voters who are gullible followers of people like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.

  • Well, doc, some of us just find representing a black man as a chimpanzee, calling for people to die painful deaths, and rapturously denigrating others as scum to be offensive.

    Your mileage may vary.

  • I don’t think you meant that comment for Kangaroo, but for Floyd. Kangaroo is on YOUR Side.

  • Too many people want Christianity privileged to be above criticism. It’s Christian entitlement.
    The Christian right needs to move over; yours is not the only religions and by the way. Millions of us have left Christianity because of their disgusting, immoral, vile tactics and behaviors. Pedophile priests, the sanctimonious gov. of AL carrying on an affair while lecturing state leader on how they must make their godly vote. Then Trump saying of the children killed in Syria by Assad they are “children of god” and meanwhile he doesn’t even want Muslim children allowed in the USA. Hypocrites!!!

    Read The God Virus to see how the Christian ‘virus’ keeps infecting every new generation. You people are losing market share and you can’t stand it. Take your crybaby, self pity elsewhere.

  • Remember, Ms. Spellcheck, that many of us write not to convince the floyds of the world, because that is impossible, but to show others who are not commenting that there are alternative, logical, leave-people-alone and fact-and-not-bigotry ways of seeing the world.

    ?????

  • With all respect, that might come under the head of confirmation bias– you wouldn’t want to know someone like that. For myself, I know only two republicans, and only one of them thinks that being a republican is a good idea. ??????

  • I’m pretty sure that floyd was referring to little old me. There was one extremely vicious and vile poster a few days ago. I would never flag Floyd, but this guy was beyond a mere disagreement.

  • Good question. I used that term, “certified,” in a figurative sense. AFAIK there’s not an accrediting body. As I would define a “certified evangelical” it is one who seeks to advance the Christian faith. There is no litmus test, no qualifying political correctness to it. One does not have to believe in any creed or political position, It would mean to have a sort of evangelical fervor and he certainly does.

  • According to David Gushee, who has a set way of reading into Frances FitzGerald’s book, following is “how evangelicals (have) lost their way”. After quoting him, I’ll just insert my 2¢ worth of comments where called for – because, hey, it’s just his opinion after all and everybody else is entitled to theirs, and since only God’s judgment matters at the end of the day, Judgment Day, that is. So, Gushee, how in UNIQUE ways have these American “Evangelicals very badly lost their way” – i.e. UNLIKE the obviously never-straying Non-Evangelical ones, like yourself, for instance (… yeah, right)? Oh, you mean in these UNIQUE ways?

    (1) “Their gospel stopped being about the love of God in Jesus Christ, demonstrated most profoundly at the cross”? NOPE. That’s not UNIQUE to “The Evangelicals”. Non-Evangelicals’ gospels are no different.

    (2) “Their gospel … became a reactionary jeremiad about saving America by electing Republican politicians and fighting culture wars.” NOPE. That’s not UNIQUE to “The Evangelicals”. Non-Evangelicals, too, are into the same thing, involving not just “Republican politicians” but Democrats and Independents as well.

    (3) “By 2010 … (their) version of ‘Christian’ politics is even more morally compromised and less recognizably Christian”. NOPE. That’s not UNIQUE to “The Evangelicals”. Non-Evangelicals’ politics, too, has become non- or anti-Christian.

    (4) “The Christian faith … is fundamentally about nurturing a community of human beings who will faithfully follow Jesus. This is where American evangelicals went wrong.” NOPE. That’s not UNIQUE to “The Evangelicals”. “This is (also) where American (non-)evangelicals went wrong.”

  • Thank you so much for this. Many who try to say this are threatened with “not being Christian”. Enough is enough!

  • The evangelicals hit the gas pedal so hard going the wrong way they tore through the bottom of the car.

  • NOPE. That doesn’t make “The Evangelicals” UNIQUE in that case, Debra Byrd, because Non-Evangelicals, Anti-Evangelicals, and Ex-Evangelicals, too, “hit the gas pedal so hard going the wrong way they tore through the bottom of the car.”

  • No, evidence and biased opinion are two different breeds of cat. Kinda like the onus is on you to present something other than emotion and ramblings about “subjugation”. You don’t come off as sounding terribly “subjugated” in any way 🙂

  • There’s no lack of Christians “qualified” to tell other Christians which Christians are Christians. I suggest Christians threatened by other Christians weigh their threats against their qualifications.

  • There you go waxing logical again, Ben. Now I’ve got 2 fallacies to keep track of, and I can’t remember the first one. Memories…?
    “All CPU, no RAM.”

  • Pardon me while I expose my ignorance (yes, I’m aware it’s gasp-worthy)…
    What is the difference, if any, between “evangelism” and “evangelicalism”?

  • Perhaps not, but then again the age category you describe, if they attend church, are enamoured with hypercalvinism and group think, neoreformers more dastardly than the “fundamentalists” you fear

  • Curiosity Question: Were you the person whose comment was deleted earlier? Not that I really care, but I never got a chance to see it.

    I did read.your comment or rant here, though. Since I’ve already said “Criticism is fine”, I don’t really see a need to say much more. Seems to be a lot of “I-hate-Christianity” there, and of course you’re not alone in that situation.

  • You have no clue of the deep, corrosive level of pro-gay, anti-
    Christian cruelty (not to mention falsehood) that such a statement entails, within the context of the Stutzmann case.

    That’s why some of us Christians feel compelled to at least speak up a little. Might not make any legal or media difference, but we don’t care. Speaking up is enough.

  • Well, you can always count on me to oppose racism, whether it’s coming from the white straights down in the Deep South’s KKK-Cult, or the white gays up in Philadelphia’s Gayborhood-Cult, or the black straights & gays in the Black-Lives-Matter-Cult.

    All three Cults are messed up in the noggin.

  • I posted it to the wrong person and another commenter corrected me. The message above is the original, just deleted and reposted.

  • Why don’t you say the sweetest things? I’ve worked hard for 40 years to get that vile, noxious poison out of my soul. It’s nice of you to say that I have made progress.

  • No, what makes Evangelicals UNIQUE is the amount of force they have exerted on others to make sure they got their way, and the resulting damage and dead bodies piled at their feet.

  • NOPE. That doesn’t make “The Evangelicals” UNIQUE in that case, Debra Byrd, because of “the amount of force” that Non-Evangelicals, Anti-Evangelicals, and Ex-Evangelicals, too, “have exerted on others to make sure they got their way, and the resulting damage and dead bodies piled at their feet.”

  • Her position has nothing to do with her religious affiliation. Plenty of Christian churches affirm their LGBT Brothers and Sisters. Her actions, and those of “some of us Christians” have nothing to do with their religious affiliation. There is no right to violate another’s civil rights over prejudice, which is what she did.

  • Giving out death threats is wrong regardless of who’s doing it. But what evidence is there of any except her word?

  • When serving the public businesses are bound by civil rights laws. Stutzman knew the consequences; perhaps she was manipulated by Mat Staver or another right-wing operative, but still she reaped what she sowed.

  • The gay Brown Shirts went after her with a vengeance to totally ruin her, to crush her, to make an example out of her, to show everyone that if you don’t follow their orders you “vill be punished.” However, if the tables were turned those same gays would be crying like little girls about how badly they were being treated.

  • Ummm…I did say gay Brown shirts in an above comment – but that was before I read yours. Do you think “THEY” are going to track me down and make me pay for my transgression? Oh, oh…I didn’t think about this: can I even refer to THEM as THEY or do I get in trouble for that too? And what about the word “THEM”? OMG! Will this madness never end?

  • The state sued her. she lost. she appealed. she lost. she appealed again. she lost. All she had to do was say, “sorry, I’m booked. Please Call so-and-so.” But she didn’t.

  • “We have been a little surprised to see that gays or liberals have been against what we are doing.”
    Curt Freed, in an interview talking about the lawsuit brought against Stutzman. Before making the statement Freed and Ingersoll explained that their reason for the suit was to make sure what they experienced didn’t happen to anyone else. They said that decision was reached after much soul searching.
    Stutzman after describing her relationship with Rob Ingersoll and explaining her reasons for not providing the services that were requested said she felt a ruling in her favor would be, “promoting good things, reason, fairness, and mutual tolerance.
    Personally I think you can promote those things and provide the service that was asked of her. She would disagree with me. Had Freed and Ingersoll chose not to sue after much soul searching it would have promoted good things like reason, fairness, and mutual tolerance. My opinion.
    In the end what happens when we settle disputes this way is, we teach people how to legally, not promote good things like reason, fairness, and mutual respect. And we also teach people to become entrenched in their views of others.
    Those liberals and gays who don’t agree, and those, conservatives and christians who don’t agree with their respective sides might be on to something.

  • How did evangelicals lose their way? Easy answer – they were unfaithful to their Lord. Hard answer – not enough space in which to answer.

  • And all they had to do was say, “No problemo, we’ll give our money to someone else.” That fascist State is a bully who will crush people who don’t toe their line. Time for a revolution out there.

  • So you believe that discrimination on the basis of religious belief is ok, and outlawing it is fascist.

    Got it.

  • Here’s a short history for you, Debra Byrd, of the deadly roles of proto-progressive liberal Christian clergies and churches in World War I and II, as I’m sure from there you can figure out “the damage” and “the bodies” on your own:

    (1) Prominent liberal theologians exulted over World War I and supported the imperialism and militarism of the Kaiser. His policies were signed by them. Cf. Philip Jenkins, The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade (HarperOne, 2014).

    (2) “Abwehr (was a) Nazi counter-intelligence agency … (Dietrich) Bonhoeffer became a civilian member of Abwehr and was exempted from the draft, becoming a ‘double agent’ of sorts … Many were weary of Bonhoeffer and his activities while he worked as a double agent in Abwehr. He was able to write, travel, meet with people, go to movies, restaurants and live a life of relative privilege and freedom while others were put in positions of moral compromise, suffering and dying. … His Letters and Papers from Prison … show that he compromised and cooperated with the Nazis. (Joseph Keysor, ‘Two reasons why Dietrich Bonhoeffer has nothing to say to American Christians today’, Hitler and Christianity, December 2012)” (Thaddeus M. Maharaj, “Dietrich Bonhoeffer – Pastor, Theologian, Spy, Martyr, Evangelical?”, WordPress, Liberating Lions)

  • And so you think it is ok for the State to crush a little old lady b/c she doesn’t sell you what you want based on her religious convictions?

    Got it!

  • It’s the law. Render unto Caesar, ya know.

    This “little old lady” COULD have said “sorry, I’m booked. Call so and so.” She COULD have obeyed the two laws governing her, not insulted two long terms customers, acted like a smart business person in an industry where being perceived as caring and polite is paramount, not offended a good portion of her customer base, not chosen to take it further up the court ladder when she kept losing, and stopped insisting that her christian religion granted her a position of authority without any responsibility.

    But she didn’t.

  • “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.”
    This is what the gay activists in association with the intolerant liberal fascist State is becoming.

  • In short, you are incapable of actually answering the quite valid points I made, and prefer to come back with hyperbole about how you poor Christians are victims of the big bad homosexuals and liberals, because acting like decent man beings and smart business people is beyond you.

    All right then. Carry on. Have a nice evening.

  • Scripture takes you around in circles. There is no where you can move upward. You”re stuck in the fantasy of a savior and an afterlife. And in the 21st century!
    Life is not a circle going around and around. It is a spiral that moves upward to self actualization, which is an acceptance of life on life’s terms. The sorrow and the joy.

  • You are delusional. People in government are smarter, have more education and knowledge of the Constitution. Unlike the ignorant and superstitious .

  • And God has brought down is wrath again for the millionth time on the people HE created imperfectly. Is that it?

  • So you don’t have any actual criminals, just a dubious example from 100 years ago and one of the millions of people who were coerced by the Nazis. No murderers, rapists, pederasts, extortionists, or fraudulent con artists.

  • “Nazis” = “murderers, rapists, pederasts, extortionists, or fraudulent con artists”. No exception. One no more UNIQUE than the other. You’ve just proved that point. Thank you.

    Ergo: “Non-Evangelicals, Anti-Evangelicals, and Ex-Evangelicals” = “Evangelicals”. No exception. One no more UNIQUE than the other. And so my original comment stands – contrary to this book review’s take on Evangelicals. That’s all the point here, which you obviously want to go beyond. No thanks.

    You sure, though, that “dubious” Nazi-thing about Bonhoeffer, the Progressive Christians’ hero and idol, didn’t shock you?! Me? That there were and are and shall be “murderers, rapists, pederasts, extortionists, or fraudulent con artists” among Evangelicals?! Why do you think I ain’t no EvenJelly-cal or Fundie?! Or Prog for that matter?! Because of Jesus!

    Have your final say, but that’s it for me. Happy – no, scratch that – Godfearing Easter to you, sister Debra Byrd.

  • Thank you for offering up one of my favorite examples. Yes, the Nazis were murdering, raping, fraudulent conservative Christians.

  • I have to disagree on two fronts, Mary. First, it’s been my observation that beliefs, whether theist or nontheist, tend to magnify whatever is in the human heart. Second, I don’t believe in making up stories about strangers and their character.

    My parents were good examples of both of these points. Far from being foolish, cowardly, or unaccepting of life or death, Mom and Dad had a wealth of common sense as well as formal eduction. They had more than their share of experiences that demanded uncommon bravery and inner strength. They joyfully, respectfully, and humbly lived their own faith rather than telling others how to live theirs. And in their final year, they took great comfort in their Christianity; it gave them peace.

    I believe in “Getting to Know You”. So when it comes to knowing the wisdom, guiding values, and worldviews of strangers, I believe it’s better to ask than to tell.

  • My but you are a superstitious little lady – you believe that people in the govt. are smarter (oxymoron alert!) (having more education and being smarter are not necessarily the same thing), and knowledge of the constitution – actually you prog libs hate the constitution because it puts limits on your greed.

  • You don’t know anything about religion as anyone can readily tell by reading your whackadoo comments.

  • Good analysis. Well thought out. I would add that evangelicals have assimilated the culture of greed and materialism. Instead of transforming the culture they have become part of it. On this point I am reminded of Revelation 3:15 “I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.’ You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

    Sounds like 20th/21st America.

  • I know that the Catholic church has an ugly history of torturing non believers ; and in the present day priest sexually assault children with impunity. Similarly the Mormons have a history of abusing women and children proclaiming it is God’s will. The church persecutes homosexuals in the same way that Christ was persecuted and murdered. The highest order. Of hypocracy you will find among so called Christians.

  • As Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew bow their heads in pretentious prayer for political effect, let us remember what Billy Graham said after many years of deep involvement in politics, that he would not repeat what he considered that grave error.

  • Actually, I love the constitution, because it puts limits on the interference of religious people by using the civil law that governs all of us to promote your purely theological concerns.

    But you obviously believe whatever you need to believe about people you don’t know and know nothing about,

  • Actually, you prog libs love for your activist judges to create law from their benches instead of interpreting the law. Eg. finding abortion in the constitution. Even lib judicial experts now say Roe v. Wade was badly decided. And don’t lie about you “loving” the constitution when you and your ilk constantly try to find ways around the constitution.

  • Well if you originated that line. .you could tell me it is yours. Or you can give credit to who said it you would use quotation marks.

  • And apparently, you have a history of making wild unsubstantiated accusations.
    1. The Catholic Church also has a history of loving people who are unloved by society.
    2. The Mormons also have a history of service as well.
    3. The church persecutes homosexuals in the same way Christ was persecuted? Please tell us what church just crucified a homosexual.
    4. Last time I checked hypocrisy is not a character flaw exclusive to Christians.
    Seriously, Mary, you should get help for your bitterness.

  • Interested people might also want to read: ‘When Slavery Was Called Freedom: Evangelicalism, Proslavery, and the Causes of the Civil War’ by John Patrick Daly (2002).

  • Always, as it is improper to use someone else’s wisdom words and not quote and deliver the Author’s name.

  • Mary, Mary quite contrary…ooops! “Mary, Mary, quite contrary…” (there we go)
    And by the way, I’m not aware of a style manual that covers comments.

  • This is the story of both the Old and New Testaments! You’d think we would have figured that out by now. Disobey the Creator– chaos.
    (side note – it is my opinion that the teaching of OSAS is partly to blame)
    (Book Recommendation for your Library — “He Offered Himself; or Priestly Sacrificial Atonement” by Malcolm Lavender. You could pick up a copy at http://www.lavendersnewtestament dot com)
    Peace. 🙂

  • My sister and her husband are currently reading this book and this came across their computer screen yesterday. “This is how you will observe this warning sign after reading the book Evangelicals.msg” Did anyone else receive this message?

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