Protestants & Politics 5/25/21

QAnon & churches; Russell Moore; Church & Covid restrictions lawsuit; Evangelicals & vaccines; Caring for immigrants; White evangelicals, Trump & 'big lie'; Faith groups' media divide; New secular age

News

QAnon is spreading in churches. These pastors are trying to stop it [Video]

Two pastors on opposite sides of the country, one dangerous problem: QAnon spreading in their congregation. CNN Business' Donie O'Sullivan reports on how they're trying, and often failing, to stop the lies.

Russell Moore leaves Southern Baptist leadership, but denomination’s troubles remain

Moore is gone, taking a job with Christianity Today, but expelling a nettlesome dissenter hasn’t solved a raft of serious problems. At the denomination’s annual meeting in Nashville next month, the leadership will face conflicts over race, the role of women in the church and the unsettled question of how to deal with sexual abuse.

Harvest Rock Church ‘Wins’ Lawsuit: Restrictions on Houses of Worship Banned, State Must Reimburse Church Legal Fees

Under the settlement, California may no longer impose discriminatory restrictions upon houses of worship. The governor must also pay $1,350,000 to reimburse attorney’s fees and costs.

“Although Defendant continues to dispute Plaintiffs’ claims, Defendant as well as Plaintiffs wish to resolve this matter now and hereby consent to entry of judgment in favor of Plaintiffs, and to entry of a permanent injunction and order of dismissal,” according to a court document.

Why Grievance Studies Hoaxer & Atheist James Lindsay Wants to Save Southern Baptists

Over the past two years, Lindsay has been on a crusade against what he sees as a “woke” invasion of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.  

Through online videos, conference speeches and a relentless Twitter feed, Lindsay has warned that discussions about race and sexism in the SBC are really a Trojan horse, designed to destroy the church from within. In particular, he’s taken aim at Bible teacher Beth Moore, SBC President J.D. Greear and Baptist ethicist Russell Moore — all of whom he claims are part of a woke agenda infiltrating the SBC.


Opinion

Our Fellow Evangelicals Need to Get Vaccinated

But American evangelicals are historically prone to ambivalence toward dominant secular institutions. In fact, a posture of critical evaluation is built into the fabric of our faith. Evangelicals interpret Jesus’ teaching that his followers are in the world but not “of the world” (John 17:16) to mean we should engage with secular institutions with a certain measure of wariness. Some amount of caution is healthy for all communities, not just for evangelicals. No institution is infallible, and critical thinking can be a civic virtue.

Unfortunately, in recent years, the evangelical approach to engaging with secular institutions has morphed from caution into outright fear and hostility. Three forces have exploited this inherent ambivalence toward secular institutions. First, conservative media has mastered the art of sowing evangelical suspicion of the establishment to increase ratings. Second, politicians — some Christian and some not — have used evangelicals’ distrust of so-called elite institutions to gain our votes. Third, conspiracy movements such as QAnon and antivaccine campaigns have targeted evangelicals, conjuring fictional enemies intent on destroying our values and, in the case of the vaccines, our actual bodies. All of these forces shape how large segments of the evangelical community perceive the Covid vaccines.

White evangelicals after Trump: What now?

All of this begs a historical question: Which is the real evangelicalism? The liberation evangelicalism of the 1970s? Or the White supremacist-misogynist evangelicalism that emerged in the 1980s and became so painfully obvious in the Trump years?

I'd like to say that the liberationist form is the real evangelicalism, and the authoritarian one an aberration. Most historians, I suspect, would have it the other way around.

Truthfully, White evangelicalism holds both possibilities and has since the 18th century. When evangelicalism was first birthed in the American colonies, it was an egalitarian spiritual movement that attracted mostly the poor, women, and the enslaved. Promising spiritual freedom, it threatened more conventional forms of church. Eventually, evangelicals traded their radicalism for social acceptance and political power, and they assimilated into White Southern culture. But the radical form never quite goes away. Every other generation or so, it reappears, followed by a reassertion of hierarchical authority. As a result, for nearly three centuries, White evangelicalism has vacillated between two visions -- that of a liberating Jesus and that of an orderly Lord.

Christians and “the Other”: Why We’re Called to Care

A 2019 Lifeway Research study reveals that among Protestant pastors 70% are in favor of an immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for those who are currently in the country illegally. Three-quarters of pastors (76%) also say Christians have a responsibility to assist immigrants even if they are in the country illegally.

Similarly, a 2016 Lifeway Research study found 86% of Protestant pastors believe Christians have a responsibility to sacrificially care for refugees and foreigners. Yet, pastors say their churches are twice as likely to fear refugees than help them, with 44% saying their congregation has a sense of fear of global refugees coming to the United States.

What drives this hesitancy to help from some Christians and outright fear of refugees from others? Some of the most common justifications are worries about an increase in crime, strain on U.S. taxpayers, and a fear of the “other.”


Research

The “Big Lie”: Most Republicans Believe the 2020 Election was Stolen

White evangelical Protestants (61%) stand out as the only religious group among whom a majority agree that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump, followed by 46% of Mormons who also hold this belief. About one-third of white mainline Protestants (37%), white Catholics (35%), Hispanic Protestants (34%), and other Protestants of color (34%) also agree that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. [1] Fewer Jewish Americans (24%), members of other Christian groups (22%), Hispanic Catholics (20%), and religiously unaffiliated Americans (18%) agree that the election was stolen. Members of other non-Christian religions (13%) and Black Protestants (6%) are the least likely to agree that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump.

Survey: Faith groups showcase media divide

Most faith communities express majority support for mainstream news outlets — which PRRI classifies as a combination of CNN, MSNBC, broadcast networks (NBC, ABC or CBS), local news and public television — as their trusted news source. Black Protestants in particular overwhelmingly (79%) said they looked to mainstream news outlets to provide accurate information about politics and current events, the largest by a significant margin. They are followed by Hispanic Catholics (67%), other Christians (63%), Jewish Americans (61%), white Catholics (54%), other non-Christians (51%), the religiously unaffiliated (51%) and White mainline Protestants (50%).

But there are notable exceptions: White evangelicals (30%) and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (28%) are the least likely to trust mainstream news.


Events

Is America entering a new secular age?
May 27th, 2021 at 1:00pm EST

Rapid growth of secular identities and beliefs in America is transforming the religious and political landscape. “Secular Surge: A New Fault Line in American Politics” (Cambridge University Press, 2021) documents the rise of the country’s largest “religious” group and its distinctive set of beliefs and preferences. The authors investigate the political causes and consequences of this secular surge, drawing on unique survey data, including interviews with members of the American Humanist Association.

After a brief presentation, AEI’s Daniel A. Cox will moderate a discussion with the book’s authors — David Campbell, Geoffrey C. Layman, and John C. Green — AEI’s Ross Douthat, and Michelle Boorstein of The Washington Post to explore what the growing secular perspective means for the future of American religion and politics.

CCCU: 2022 International Forum, February 11-13, 2022, Dallas, TX

Join us for the largest gathering of Christian higher education professionals at our 2022 International Forum in Dallas, TX. We will convene as the Christian higher education community for three days of keynote speakers, relevant concurrent sessions, and time for worship, prayer, and connection with campus leaders from across the country and around the world.

Every four years, in lieu of stand-alone peer group conferences, the CCCU hosts the International Forum, which gathers campus representatives spanning all levels of leadership, from presidents, cabinet members, and trustees to student development, campus ministry, academic affairs, communications, advancement, enrollment, and financial aid leaders.

Together we will tackle some of the most pressing trends and issues facing Christian higher education and highlight the invaluable role of Christian colleges & universities as we look towards the future.