Protestants & Politics 1/20/21

Christian nationalism; Proud Boys; Trump prophecy; white supremacy, the South and white American Christianity; polarization and Church attendance; violence against the government; immigration

News

Militant Christian Nationalists Remain A Potent Force

"It was pastors who led the way in colonial times to encourage our country to shake off the totalitarian regime of the king of England," Knappen said in a Jan. 9 Facebook message to his Minnesota congregation. He was referring to the "Black Robed Regiment," a name given to those ministers who supported the Revolutionary War effort.

"I was tempted to wear my black robe today and cover up my AR-15 beneath it," Knappen said from his Cornerstone Church sanctuary in Alexandria, Minn., "but I thought that would be way too graphic for all of you and for Facebook to allow. But I would be part of that movement back then, and I may be part of that movement today."

‘A place to fund hope’: How Proud Boys and other fringe groups found refuge on a Christian fundraising website

A review by The Washington Post shows that the self-described Christian website has become a refuge of sorts for outcasts and extremists, including fringe groups such as the Proud Boys as well as conspiracy theorists who seek to undercut the results of the presidential election by promoting debunked claims of fraud. Some of the users claim to have been booted from other crowdfunding websites for violating terms-of-service agreements.

The Post’s review also found that more than $321,000 has been raised through GiveSendGo for funds that promote conspiracy theories about the presidential election.

For some Christians, the Capitol riot doesn’t change the prophecy: Trump will be president

The high-octane, emotional fight for Trump makes sense for these believers, who take the stories of Christian scripture literally and see daily life as a visceral struggle between God and the devil. Spiritual warfare is constant. Signs and wonders are everywhere. So as time passes and Trump’s options disappear, God’s move to keep him in power will be even more spectacular — evidence even more likely to spark a religious awakening or revival.


Opinion

Trump Ignites a War Within the Church: After a week of Trumpist mayhem, white evangelicals wrestle with what they’ve become.

One core feature of Trumpism is that it forces you to betray every other commitment you might have: to the truth, moral character, the Sermon on the Mount, conservative principles, the Constitution. In defeat, some people are finally not willing to sacrifice all else on Trump’s altar.

The split we are seeing is not theological or philosophical. It’s a division between those who have become detached from reality and those who, however right wing, are still in the real world.

Hence, it’s not an argument. You can’t argue with people who have their own separate made-up set of facts. You can’t have an argument with people who are deranged by the euphoric rage of what Erich Fromm called group narcissism — the thoughtless roar of those who believe their superior group is being polluted by alien groups.

When Pragmatic Politics Goes Bad: An Apology to the Never Trumpers

I am writing to offer an apology. The short version is this: I severely underestimated the threat posed by a Donald Trump presidency. The never-Trumpers—who never seemed to stop issuing their warnings and critiques—struck me as psychologically and emotionally weak people with porcelain-fragile sensibilities. It turns out their instincts were significantly better attuned than my own.

White American Christianity Needs to Be Honest About Its History of White Supremacy

I believe the mob at the Capitol has radically misunderstood the teachings and life of Jesus. But it is an absolutely logical conclusion of white American Christianity.

But there can be no healing without this direct confrontation. You cannot cure cancer by pretending it is not there. The white American church can’t pretend that the mob at the Capitol is not part of us.

It is us.

To have any hope of healing, we must acknowledge that fact. We must admit our own ignorance. Our own apathy. Our own discomfort with people who are different from us. Our own desire to believe that we’re better than everyone else. Our own willingness to take things that are not ours, and keep things we did not earn. Our profound bent to lie about ourselves. Our willingness to do violence to get what we want. Our willingness to turn away when violence is done to others, because it benefits us.

Where Does the South End and Christianity Begin? Understanding the role of shame/honor culture in the roots of Christian rage.

In the South, this conflict between Gospel truth and human rebellion is reflected in the debate as to whether much of the South is merely “Christ-haunted” as opposed to “Christ-transformed.” There is no question that the South is religious—often very religious. But how much has that religion changed human hearts? As Howard notes, when the church in the South has failed, it failed because it was “never sufficiently counter-cultural.”

Now, let’s make this more concrete by referring to recent American Christian outbursts, especially the otherwise-inexplicable outbursts by two of American Evangelicalism’s most prominent voices: evangelist Franklin Graham and Christian financial-advice guru Dave Ramsey. In two separate instances last week, when they or their tribe was challenged, they responded exactly the way southerners respond. They punched back, hard. 


Research

Does Church Attendance Help to Reduce Perceptions of Polarization? Not Among White Conservatives

White evangelicals epitomize this finding. In 2012, 46% of them saw the Democratic Party as very liberal. By 2020, that had jumped to 60%. At the same time, the share who saw the Republicans as very conservative stayed steady at around 10%. The pattern for atheists is even more exaggerated with 68% of atheists seeing the GOP as very conservative in 2019, but less than 10% seeing the Democrats as being very liberal. For both white evangelicals and atheists, 80% of them see the political world as polarized.

For non-white respondents, though, polarization is lower. A non-white evangelical was half as likely to see the either party as extreme in 2019, and 42% of non-white Catholics see the political world as polarized in some way.

For white conservatives, their likelihood of believing that the political world is polarized is completely unfazed by church attendance. Said another way, 80% of white conservatives who never attend church see at least one political party as extreme, and that same figure is true for white conservatives who attend more than once a week.

For moderates and liberal whites, that’s not the case at all. Church attendance for both these groups makes them *much less* likely to see the world as polarized. For liberals, that decline is over 35 percentage points going from from a never attender to a weekly+ attender. For moderates, it’s about 20 points.

What Americans believe about violence against the government

Clearly, Democrats are less supportive of violence than Republicans at all levels of church attendance. And, as Democrats attend church at higher rates, that propensity toward violence goes down even more. 

But the same is not true for Republicans. Church attendance doesn’t have a statistically significant impact on their support for violence against the government. 

Measuring Religion in Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel

Researchers have long known that surveys in which live interviewers ask respondents questions about their frequency of attendance at religious services produce overestimates of the share of U.S. adults who attend services in any given week. This is partly because while questions about religious attendance ostensibly ask about a behavior, some respondents may interpret them as questions about identity. Respondents who do not actually go to religious services every week may nevertheless think of themselves as regular worship attenders, and so describe themselves in the context of a survey interview as weekly religious attenders.


Odds & Ends

Ryan T. Anderson to Become Next EPPC President

The board of directors of the Ethics and Public Policy Center takes great pleasure in announcing that political philosopher Ryan T. Anderson will become its sixth president on February 1, 2021. Dr. Anderson will succeed Ed Whelan, who has served as EPPC president since 2004 and who will continue his scholarly work as EPPC Distinguished Senior Fellow.

Video: Faithfulness in a Time of Fracture, with Justin Giboney and Russell Moore.

EVANGELICALS JOIN BROAD CALL FOR BIPARTISAN IMMIGRATION REFORM

Prominent evangelical leaders and organizations are urging Congress and the incoming Biden administration to work together on bipartisan immigration reform.

Individual evangelical leaders and the nine organizations that make up the Evangelical Immigration Table are among more than 180 American businesses, organizations and individuals who signed a statement in support of reform that was released today.

Christian Nationalism - A Conversation with Mark Tooley and Andrew Walker - BreakPoint Podcast

Civil religion united America in the past. However there is a movement afoot that seems to cloak itself in civil religion with the hope of establishing a Christian nationalistic ideal.

Following a recent exchange on Twitter, John Stonestreet called on Mark Tooley and Andrew Walker to discuss the current political movements and how they impact Christianity.

Tooley and Walker discuss the future of America in a post-Christian, pseudo-Christian context. The pair believe there needs to be a resurgence in building institutional Christianity instead a social movement towards evangelicalism.

Together they call for a greater unity in the Church to provide stronger discipleship in online relationships. They both believe there needs to be better thinking in political involvement, sharing that we’re likely giving Washington way more of our attention than it deserves.


Events

Division, Decadence, and Renewal, with Ross Douthat

On Friday, January 22nd in partnership with The Institute for Human Ecology, the Harvard Christian Alumni Society, and the Catholic Information Center, we are delighted to welcome author and New York Times columnist Ross Douthat.

In Douthat's book, The Decadent Society, he provides an enlightening diagnosis of our modern condition which, he says, has been characterized by decadence. Douthat argues that many of today’s discontents and derangements reflect a sense of futility and disappointment—a feeling that the future is not what was promised.

Almost a year after its original publication, we are keen to hear from Ross on what the events of the past year have revealed about our condition and how we might serve as agents of renewal in a divisive and decadent time.

Jan 22, 2021 01:30 PM Eastern

Politics, Science, (&) Faith in the Era of Covid-19

Speakers:
• Kayana Jean-Philippe
Healthcare Consultant and COVID-19 Vaccine Clinical Trial Participant

• Reverend Stephen Ko MD, MA, MPH, MDIV
Senior Pastor of New York Chinese Alliance Church

• S. Joshua Swamidass, MD, PhD
Associate Professor, Pathology & Immunology
Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering
Washington University

Moderator: Rasool Berry
Teaching Pastor at The Bridge Church in Brooklyn, New York

Jan 21, 2021 07:00 PM Eastern