Monday, April 10, 2017

From Gospel to Culture War




Photobucketwar



New Republic Ran an article about the religious right, "Amazing Disgrace."[1] It talks about a young evangelical minister who  cared about the religious right (RR) but was also someone who took Jesus seriously. Russell Moore a leader in the Southern Baptist convention. He was initially like so many  convinced Trump's presidential hopes were not serious and would fizzle. He knew Trump was no Christian, but when the evangelicals supported the Foux President by 81% Moore was agast.



The church of Jesus Christ ought to be the last people to fall for hucksters and demagogues,” Moore wrote in Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel, a book he had just published at the time. “But too often we do.”
 As Trump continued gaining ground in the polls, Moore began to realize that the campaign represented nothing short of a battle for the soul of the Christian right. By backing Trump, white evangelicals were playing into the hands of a new, alt-right version of Christianity—a sprawling coalition of white nationalists, old-school Confederates, neo-Nazis, Islamophobes, and social-media propagandists who viewed the religious right, first and foremost, as a vehicle for white supremacy. The election, Moore warned in a New York Times op-ed last May, “has cast light on the darkness of pent-up nativism and bigotry all over the country.” Those who were criticizing Trump, he added, “have faced threats and intimidation from the ‘alt-right’ of white supremacists and nativists who hide behind avatars on social media.”
 The article goes on to make the point that the religious right was really more motivated by the the quest for temporal power than by any Gpsoel message or love of Jesus. First it was not abortion that triggered the founding of the RR initially n the 70's, "... the movement was actually galvanized in the 1970s and early ’80s, when the IRS revoked the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University and other conservative Christian schools that refused to admit nonwhites. " Posner argues that "Moral Majority co-founder Paul Weyrich has acknowledged."[2] By openly embracing the racism of the alt-right Trump drew out the latent racist tendencies that lay dormant or disguised in the RR. Moore tried to steer the fundies away from Trump in the beginning but he was reduced to ineffectual status by Trump's mocking.

Now we have the phenomenon of alt-right Christians both with in and out of the Church. To my way of thinking that's a contradiction in terms. There are these new alt right types who identify with Christianity culturally but not doctrinally, it;s sort of tribal. [3] "
To alt-right Christians, Trump’s appeal isn’t based on the kind of social-issue litmus tests long favored by the religious right. According to Brad Griffin, a white supremacist activist in Alabama, “the average evangelical, not-too-religious Southerner who’s sort of a populist” was drawn to Trump primarily “because they like the attitude.” [4]

In The Atlantic Peter, Beinart writes about the crunched set of Christian identified Alt right types. [5] There's a large portion of the unaffiliated (the "nones") now at 22%. Most of those believe in God but have no truck with organized religion. I do not see in the article what percentage of those are for Trump but apparently a sizable number, Trump led Cruz by 27% among unchurched conservative republicans.[6] Pew Research show 26% of those responding to affiliation as "nothing in particular" are Republican.[7] Social robotics had theorized that lessening of religious affiliation would create more tolerance among the nones. In fact Beinart shows that it has had the opposite effect, with violence increasing and conflicts emerging in classes between left and right. It has made for more tolerance of Gays but a re-emergence of racism. It seems that without euchres constantly telling then that racism is bad their true colors emerge. [8] Drawing upon Pew Beinart points out that this represents a tripling of non-churched republicans and that was a critical factor in Trump's securing the nomination.

The problem with both of these articles is that they don;t explain why the church going republicans flocked to 'trump? They backed him 81%, they were the one's keeping the racists in check why would they go for the same guy the racists were going for? NBC news cites research indicating that there's a media problem ,Black evangelicals are lumped into "the black vote" while young evangelicals who tend to reject Trump and reject racism are not politically  adept or motivated.[9] In other words the older generation has had 30 years to be brain washed by flashy preacher men. While Christianity today cites Pew research showing that White evangelicals did not like Trump but saw him as the lessor of two evils (55%+).[10] But that just opens the question why would they be willing to accept the philandering racist as the lessor of two evils?

It's obvious there is some segment of the church that has been harboring racism, What's worse is that there is a segment that is willing to utter false prophesies m the name of God imn order to procure power and acceptance in the church, Bob Eschliman, writes: "Stephen Powell, one of the newer voices of the prophetic movement, has shared another word from the Lord regarding not just President Trump, but how his presidency is reforming politics in America:"
I hear the Lord saying, "This man [Trump] is unstoppable because I'm unstoppable. My kingdom is unstoppable, and this man has a mandate from heaven; he has momentum that is not his own. His movement will not dissipate, it will grow, and it will reach beyond the borders of American governing. It will inspire; it will stir up a nest.
"As the eagle stirs up the nest, so the Lord will do through this man. People are laughing at him, saying that his plans are too bold, his ideas are too big, that his plans will not work because after all, what president has been able to do these things before without gridlock?
But the Lord is saying, "This president shall not be in gridlock, for his strength is not his own. I have put a spirit of breakthrough on this man and on this land, and he will do things that will be monumental for the generations to come. I will use him to stir up the nest and cause this young generation of young eagles to soar."[11]

The right wing fundamentalists seek to expropriate the mantle of Prophet in pushing their political. agenda. In so doing they tag as divine a set of values that contradict everything Jesus taught, I don't think the major criticism is that his plans are too bold, too stupid maybe not too bold. God told Israel to give the alien among them the same rights and protections as they enjoyed. (lev. 1934) Of course we know that we are called protect widows and orphans (James 1:27), to sacrifice for those who can't help themselves. Through the Bible we are told help the poor, defend the cause of the poor.
(Isaiah 1:17, Luke 4:18-19, Romans 12:13) When I have posted my list of 45 passages saying help the poor evangelicals quote verses about don't be lazy. It means nothing to them at all that the overwhelming message of the bible is pro poor,There is nothing consistent between these values and the discrimination and loathing for welfare and social programs the seeking to destroy every form of social progress made in the 20th century seen in the agenda of Trump. There is no way that Trump's anti-progress agenda is divinely mandated. Not to mention the Brown shirt effect, the massive awakening of racism and antisemitism we see in the wake of Trump's influence.[12] 

Now don't get me wrong I am not saying that Trump is not working his political agenda as a result of some kind of divine mandates,I think this mandate is in the bible.I think it is clearly foretold in the Bible: Matthew 24:24: "For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect." The value system that he teaches is certainly not ordained by God. God might be using Trump in the same way that he used Tiglath-Pileser III (Pul) and Shalmaneser Vto destroy Israel's Northern Kingdom, but this was not an endorsement of their value systems. Yet when we turn to modern secular thinkers we find no solace because they take the former as poof that the Christian value system is not worthy of emulation.

The holy Spirit Jesus likened unto the wind. It blows where it wants to we do not see it,we see only its effects. We cannot be sure where it is blowing. We pin our hopes upon intuitions and upon men. The actions of those entities are easier to follow, even though they are also often deceptive. Obviously the Evangelical Church harbored a secret tolerance for racism all these years, although there are penalty of evangelicals who truly reject it. Evangelical leadership took over a ital, spontaneous move of the spirit that was workings itself out in the lives of all kinds of people,mostly lonesome, lost, listless  kids , the 60's counter culture, the 70s disillusioned hippie, and working class families. The Spirit blew through main stream denominations and Pentecostal churches alike. It was a beautiful time, Sometime in houses, dealing with people where they were hurting, people finding life and freedom in Jesus and knowledge of God. Relaxed informal settings. lt was beautiful. I was in on the tail end in 1979, the woman who led me to the Lord, Judy Romero, (still the strongest Christian I've ever known), ministered extensively to the "Jesus freaks" in Taos NM; her own faith she found at the height of the Taos Hippie wars around 71. I identified myself as an evangelical for several years and charismatic. I was driven out of that in the 80's by Reaganism. I still believen in Jesus and imn themve of the 
spirit.

But big tough men "of God" with big ideas saw a chance to grab political power. They began controlling the minds of the new fragile faith with temporal power. They took control of the new converts and the Jesus movement and drove it into the ground, They turned it into a right wing organizing tool. First they sowed a doctrine of brain washing that centered on fear of the modern world. Secular humanism will usher in the anti-Christ and destroy all truth and kills us all. It worked just like an anti-communist witch hunt, secular humanism can be anything it can be everywhere we mus fear all. The only way to combat it is to b totally sold out to the authority figure and vote Republican no matter what. The recipient of this was Reagan, the great "ma n of God" ordained to save us from the 60s counter culture and liberalism.

One of the major movements spread among this gospel was"Shepherding," taught by a group called "The Fort Lauderdale four:" Don Bashum, Derek Prince, ob Mumford, and Jaun Carol Ortiz.I remember through research I did in the 80s I found a link between Ortiz and the fascist group "Tradition,Family, Property." The major point was control by a big spiritual dude at the top who would have a thousand flunkies doing his bidding in the name of Gd and supposedly getting spiritual maturity and brownie points. The movement itself was highly criticized bit for many reasons the doctrines spread in a watered down form and fanned lot through the Church. [13]

If we look at the kinds of things being taught in the 80s, the political agenda woven into the Church we can see it involved racism and cruelty and murder. It embodied a riht wing politicl agenda. Take me example, the case of Guatemalan dictator Rios Mont. He was installed through a coup. Pat Robertson propagandized his regime bill mg him as a" born again Christian," he proceeded to murder 200,000 Indians,[14] He said:I am not killing Indians I'm killing demons." The Indians were crucial to revolutionary forces. That makes teem demons in the right wing mind. Robertson's support was crucial in getting Mont the backing from  US congress. [15]

Most of the media figures and televangelists who who took over the Charismatic movement were from the American south. So it should not be so surprising that they had fascistic and racist tendencies. I say this as a product of the American south. The basis of of gospel values was undermined by the formulaic imposition of right wing politics. In the 90s evangelicals began to talk about not spreadimg the Gospel but fighting the culture wars, But even in the 70s it came to be about the values of southern white culture Masquerading as the vales of Jesus. My brother Ray analyzed t as a culture war way before anyone was using about that term. It's more than just culture clash. The Gospel of Christ is undermined, because the Gospel should be transforming society and instead the Evangelicals have transformed the Gospel into a reflection of cultural values. Something larger is happening that has nothing to do with religion and religion is just being sweep up in it. That is Marcuse's One-dimensional man. But that's for Wednesday.



Sources
[1] Sara Oisner "Amazimg Disgrace," New Republic (March 20,2017) On line version URL:
https://newrepublic.com/article/140961/amazing-disgrace-donald-trump-hijacked-religious-right?utm_source=social (accessed 4/7/17)


[2] Ibid
[3] Ibid
[4] Ibid

[5] Peter, Beinart, "Breakimg Faith: The culture war over religious morality has faded; in its place is something much worse." The Atlantic (APRIL 2017 ISSUE)  URL
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/04/breaking-faith/517785/?utm_source=atlfb
(accessed 4/7/17 )

[6] Iid

[7] Michael Lipka, "U.S. Religious Groups and Their Political Leanings." Fact Tank, Pew Research Center, (Feb 23, 2016)
http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/02/23/u-s-religious-groups-and-their-political-leanings/
(accessed 4/7/17 )

49% Democrate

[8] Beinart, "Breaking Faith..." op cit,

[9] Alex Johnson, "What's Behind Evangelkocal Sipport For Donald Trump? Less Than you think."   NBC News, (Oct 16,2016)
http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/what-s-behind-evangelical-support-donald-trump-less-you-think-n666146
(accessed 4/7/17 )

[10] Pew research cited in Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra, "Most Evangelicals Will Vote trump, But Not For Trump," Christianity today, (July, 13, 2016)
http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2016/july/pew-most-evangelicals-will-vote-trump-against-clinton.html
(accessed 4/7/17 )


[11] Stephen Powell quoted by Bob Eschlisman, "Prophecy: Donald Trump Is Unstoppable Because the Lord Is Unstoppable," Charisma News (2/1/2017)
http://www.charismanews.com/politics/issues/62737-prophecy-donald-trump-is-unstoppable-because-the-lord-is-unstoppable (access 2/28/17)

[12] Poverty Law Center Says Hate Groups om the Rise,"Washington post 
https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/southern-poverty-law-center-says-american-hate-groups-are-on-the-rise/2017/02/15/7e9cab02-f2d9-11e6-a9b0-ecee7ce475fc_story.html?utm_term=.e39450060733

According to the SPLC*, the number of American hate groups has been climbing steadily for most of the past 30 years, but the new arrivals to the SPLC’s list in 2016 were predominantly characterized as white nationalist and anti-Muslim groups.
“By far, the most dramatic change was the enormous leap in anti-Muslim hate groups,” wrote the report’s author, Mark Potok, an SPLC senior fellow. The report says hate groups in the United States nearly tripled, from 34 in 2015 to 101 last year.
Nearly 50 of those new additions are local chapters of ACT for America, an anti-Muslim activist group that claims Michael Flynn, who this week resigned as Trump’s national security adviser, as a board member.
Potok argues that Trump’s rhetoric throughout the campaign — including calls for a ban on immigration from some Muslim-majority countries, proposals for ideological vetting of those seeking entry to the United States, and accusations that American Muslims harbor terrorists — stoked popular fears in the aftermath of terrorist attacks in Europe, California and Florida. Potok wrote that Trump’s rhetoric has helped fuel a spike in anti-Muslim sentiment, a view that is shared by several other civil rights advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

[13] The Shepherding Movement," Unsettled Christianity, ( )blog URL: http://unsettledchristianity.com/the-shepherding-movement/ (accessed 4/9/17)

[14] Bill Berkowitz, "Guatemala's For,er Leader Charged With Genocide, Pat Robertsom Enabled it." BuzFlash,  (march 1, 2012) oline URL:
http://www.truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/guatemalas-former-leader-charged-with-genocide-pat-robertson-enabled-it
(accessed 4/9/17)

[15] Ibid.







6 comments:

Kristen said...

Some of the Republican Christians I have talked to saw Trump as the lesser of two evils because they believed the right-wing vilification of Clinton as more corrupt, while they were not exposed to a lot of the articles that showed the lies of Trump.

Joe Hinman said...

sure but my question is looking at the values of each of the two how could one decide Hillary is the grater evil? There is a problem with Christian values, as they are understood by some. I do know good people who voted for Trump.

Kristen said...

You're quite right. They have allowed the issues of abortion and gay marriage to swallow up every other consideration. These are the two big prior assumptions that they cannot question for fear of being kicked out of evangelicalism. And the anti-liberal stance that comes out of this, causes their view of Hillary vs. Donald to be skewed. "Liberal" = evil. Given that, there's no way Donald could be perceived as less evil when he's supposedly on the "right" side.

Joe Hinman said...

they dumbed down their party so much, it;s alarming. The election came down to Ohio,Pennsylvania and Michigan we should nave careered them.

JBsptfn said...

Joe they dumbed down their party so much, it;s alarming.

Good point. For example, J.P. Holding debated some of these people (presumably Republicans) on this political board once about the corrupt Rick Scott, the Republican Governor of the state in which he lives. In the debate, he said that a lady told him that God told her to vote for Scott.

Joe Hinman said...

good point JB