White Evangelicalism Going to Hell

Here’s a startling bit of data. “In one survey of Christian attitudes, for example, 43 percent of evangelicals said they did not believe in the divinity of Christ.” Um, huh?

This is from Trump has changed what it means to be evangelical by Shadi Hamid in the Washington Post. The link in the quote goes to a page that compares current evangelical beliefs with basic Christian beliefs. This site claims that 43 percent of evangelicals recently agreed with the statement “Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God.” I agree with that statement, of course, but I’m not a Christian.

I’ve complained a lot in recent years that the Christian nationalist movement seems largely populated by people with little understanding of Christianity. I grew up in a hotbed of ol’ time religion. Just about everyone in the Ozarks was some kind of Evangelical, mostly Southern Baptists, or some kind of Pentacostal. But back in the day if you talked to these folks they had a reasonable grasp of Christian theology as their churhes interpreted it. These days the loudmouth politicized Christians I see on television seem to not know the Beatitudes from Beetlejuice.

Note also that the white and black evangelical churches live on different planets. What’s being said here is about the white churches.

Last year I read Tim Alberta’s book The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism. I wrote about it a bit in this post.

Evangelical Christianity in the U.S. has long had its freak show elements — think snake handling — but they used to be tucked away in rural America. But now the freak show is televised, and getting freakier. Alberta went around the country reporting on churches large and small, and part of the story he tells is that evangelical church-goers are leaving “traditional” Christianity and flocking to churches that offer a heavily politicized Christianity that conflates Christianity with America and Jesus with Trump. Or else they want one with big entertainment value.

One very poignant story he tells is about a pracher who had built a hugely successful megachurch near Kansas City. And then at some point he “found Jesus” and realized what he was offering was spiritual junk food. He began to preach sermons that were based on actual Christian theology, and his parishoners deserted him. Now he gets a handful of people to show up for service in his huge, empty church, when he used to get thousands.

Alberta’s main point was that politics was pulling white evangelicalism away from Jesus’ teachings. But this was the first I’d heard that so many had abandoned the doctrine of Trinity. Part of what seems to be happening is that there are people who have never been particularly religious but who now identify as “evangelicals” because they are Trump supporters. They are “claiming the label as a badge of partisan identity,” Shadi Hamid wrote.

In other news:  Politico has a news story about a Democratic party “power broker” in New Jersey who has been indicted by the state AG for racketeering. I have no particular insight into this situation except that it doesn’t surprise me. I’ve lived a large part of my adult life in New Jersey and New York but never clearly understood how politics “works” in either state.  The NY and NJ state governments are not as utterly useless as the state government of Missouri. (They should just fire everybody in Jeffereson City and hire a troop of Girl Scouts to run Missouri; the girls would do a better job, or at least be less annoying.) But there are nagging problems in both states (affordable housing, anyone?) that go on for years and years and never get addressed. It’s been pretty clear that old patterns of cronyism and corruption get in the way of good government. Maybe Trenton will be cleaned up a little, anyway.

16 thoughts on “White Evangelicalism Going to Hell

  1. The combination of political aspirations with religious fervor turns two powerful elements into an explosive and invariably destructive new political substance, lacking the potential of any spiritual benefit. 

    Catholicism (and I'm a recovering Catholic) has been at it's worst an evil despotism. I include the pre-reformation periods of history but the Spanish Inquisition lasted almost to the time of the US Revolution. There simply aren't records of how many people were murdered in the name of Christianity. But these were not devout clergy following the words of Jesus because there are no directives from Jesus that remotely justify what they did. 

    So WTF were they doing in the Crusades and the Inquisition and purges against "witchcraft"? I read a theory, quite unprovable, that Joan of Arc was the leader of one of the most prestigious covens in France. The masses of France (in the theory) were Catholic by day and practitioners of a pagan religion by night. They had to be Catholic because the church controlled politics and economics but the "Old Religion" had their hearts. So when Joan of Arc decided that the war against England was a cause for the nature-based Old Religion, the people, including rank-and-file soldiers  routed the English quickly. Which scared the crap out of the church elders who realized that if the leaders of the Old Religion united against the church, the christion church might not survive. So Joan was turned into toast and the Old Religion, which the church had ignored, became the church of the devil and all followers deemed satanic. 

    Forgive me for taking the long way 'round the barn. The modern Evangelical is as bound to the teachings of Christ as the medieval Christians who feared the strong woman. The modern Evangenital is obsessed with sex, particularly as practiced by independent women. He's obsessed with money. And he wants political power. The church was a prop, like a fake Hollywood facade with nothing behind it, to justify obscenities against those who might rise against the corruption. 

    Regarding not acknowledging the divinity of Jesus, somebody noticed that what they want to build their church on is contradicted by most of Christ's teachings. So the Son of God has to be demoted.

    • I could be wrong but as I recall the Office of the Inquisition at the Vatican was not closed until the latter half of the last century.  I'll try to check on that.

    • The best I could come up with was a date of 1965 when the office dropped the word inquisition from its name.  Access to records is quite the tough ticket to come by it seems.  I suppose your Latin skill would be tested along with all other hurdles to weird to mention.  I was shocked to find that freemasonry was a crime under the inquisition, and they liberally applied the death penalty for that and the more normal crimes of witchcraft and heresy.  

      The inquisition was not kind to the Jews, and they were relegated to near slave status.  

      It does not take too many clicks to get to weird torture devices and some for sadist only art.  

      I quit when I ran into the Surgeon General's Warning that I was risking my mental health if I continued (a literary fabrication on my part) but you have to worry what strange ads might start to appear with that search.

    • At first I thought "Evangenital" was an incredibly clever typo, now its my new favorite word!

  2. Going OT: It looks like Alex Jones and Bannon are going off the air. Bannon is required to report to prison. Jones is at the end of his rope on bankruptcy. He's losing control of the media company that is his platform. It's not clear yet if he'll be able to continue. 

    Rudy is also nearing the end of his rope. There's a good chance a trustee will be appointed because Rudy has been a deceptive sack of cow poop for a long while. 

    It needs to be said loud and clear that there's a price to be paid for hitching your wagon to Trump's train. These people are ruined in various ways and degrees but Trump is not and can not save them.

  3. The thing at the WaPo was just too stereotypically Murc's Law with

    Democrats have had many opportunities to stem these shifts. They could have done more — and still can — but haven’t.

    Democrats didn't ask for the votes of goofy ignoramuses who would never vote for a Democrat because they hate the Democrats' core constituencies, and this is why religious polarization is a problem. Right.

  4. Except for the babbling incoherently part it doesn't look anything like the evangelical christianity I Wandered a Way from so long ago

    Though maybe I didn’t wander so far …

  5. "Evangenital" and "the loudmouth politicized Christians I see on television who seem to not know the difference between the Beatitudes and Beetlejuice"

    These are the people who claim to know the instant God installs a soul and makes some cells into a human.  

    Michelle Goldberg writes of the republican party feasting on their own in Indiana of all places.  Here are samples from the NYT article today:

    Beckwith’s elevation is the latest sign of a conflict splitting Republican parties nationwide, as G.O.P. activists demand ever greater levels of purity and belligerence from their leaders. 

    In other words, Beckwith’s nomination is an example of the MAGA revolution eating its own. On the podcast he co-hosts, “Jesus, Sex and Politics,” Beckwith explained why he doesn’t feel bound by what Ronald Reagan called his “11th commandment”: Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican. “Remember,” Beckwith said, “Republicans back then weren’t champions of Communism. 

    Trump is the bifurcator in chief even when out of the White House.  He has the whole republican party talking in tongues none of which are inspired by any spirit other than hate.    

  6. The trinity doctrine is not in the Bible. The apostles did not believe in it. Peter and Paul didnot believe in . So am I to understand some evangels finally getting it righr

    • The trinity doctrine is not in the Bible. The apostles did not believe in it. Peter and Paul didnot believe in . So am I to understand some evangels finally getting it right

      Irrelevant, and note that I am no Christian so I don't personally care. But I know church history. The evangelical denominations are all Trinitarian and accept Jesus as one of the three "persons" of God. A couple of generations ago all self-identified evangelicals would have known this. It's an example of how self-identified evangelicals don't know their own tradition. 

  7. From the "Ruling Class" starring the legendary Peter O'Toole:


    I knew I was God when, during one difficult day, I got on my knees to pray and realized I was talking to myself.

  8. My mom was thrown out of the Catholic church when I was a tot, she committed the mortal sin of divorcing an abusive husband who tried to kill her a couple times, can't have that. So I was not raised as a christian. My first experience with "evangelicals' was as a private in the Army. I had a long philosophical discussion with a "Chaplain" he informed me that I was doomed to hell for not accepting Jesus as my lord and savior. I asked why it didn't matter what sort of life I lived, if I was a good person why was I still going to hell? He said the only thing that matters is if you accept Jesus. I told him that it's a good thing there is no heaven or hell so I aint going nowhere anyway and neither are you, goodbye!


    • IMO there is absolutely no excuse for a chaplain in the US Army pushing any one particular religion on soldiers serving in that army. 
      I doubt that anyone on the planet can cite any historical situation where a tight combination of religion and the military resulted in anything but atrocities.

      • It was 1982 so a different time, I wouldn't think that discussion would fly now. We had multi-denominational service that this chaplain led but obviously he wasn't buying anything but the Jesus sky wizard!

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