My former colleague David Gibson writes up the survey that confirms what should have been obvious to everyone:
The common view that the Tea Party movement is a rebellious, libertarian threat not only to the Republican establishment but also to traditional Christian conservatives is upended by a new survey that shows a broad overlap between the religious right and voters who identify with the Tea Party.
For example, nearly half (47 percent) of Americans who consider themselves members of the Tea Party movement also consider themselves part of the “Christian conservative movement,” and among the more than 8 in 10 Tea Partiers who identify as Christian, nearly 6 in 10 (57 percent) also consider themselves part of the Christian conservative movement.
Andy Whitman at Image:
In the past few years, authors as controversial and varied as Salman Rushdie, Joyce Carol Oates, and Dr. Cornel West have spoken at Calvin, and the concert offerings have featured Muslim hip-hop artist Lupe Fiasco, atheist singer/songwriter Vic Chesnutt, barstool poets The Hold Steady, and transgendered singer/songwriter Baby Dee.
By comparison, The New Pornographers, with their bright pop music and innocuous lyrics, are relatively tame.
But there’s that pesky name again. And wouldn’t you know it, it’s that pesky name, of all the trite things in the complex and gritty and death-dealing universe, that has gotten Calvin College in trouble.
Hanna Rosin, unpacking Christine O’Donnell’s “constitutional repentance” trope:
We have come to this strange moment in American political history where the Constitution is being talked of not as inspired by the Bible or imbued with Biblical principles but as a kind of Bible itself, a holy text to be interpreted literally and treated with absolute reverence. Any kind of skepticism or critical judgment about it—or at least, the Tea Party-approved parts—is viewed as a sin.
Hanna should be familiar with this holy reverence for the constitution. It’s been decades in the making, and now it is surfacing in political candidates who are coming alarmingly close to national office. It’s just another example of how seamlessly the Tea Party blends with evangelicalism, and, in my opinion, more evidence that the former owes a great deal of its energy and groundwork to the latter.
Justin Taylor, one of the bloggers mentioned in our editorial today, posted this quote from blogger Paul Ireland, which I think goes a long way to correcting the course of the “Glenn Beck is not a real Christian” discussion we found disheartening:
In the whole discussion about Mormonism, I think we’re missing a big part of what is going on with Glenn Beck. The problem is not simply Mormonism. The problem is idolatry.
People who follow Glenn Beck may not become Mormon and reject the Trinity, but they will likely follow his Americolatry—his worship of our nation. His view of life rises and falls on the state of our country. Christians I know who follow Beck quickly get pulled into his idolatrous fervor that declares that our nation can be our savior.
I call it “Christianism,” but “Americolatry” works, too. Binding up U.S. politics with religion is bound to corrupt faith regardless of whether a Mormon or an evangelical Christian is doing it. Evangelicals, who still don’t really get this, should be far more worried about their own America-worship than they are about Glenn Beck’s theological errors.
Credit to Taylor for setting the record straight on that point.
Pence has been married for 25 years, has three children, and has served in the House for 7 years. According to Wikipedia’s summary of his political views, he appears to be a real, Tea Party-style conservative: He always votes for tax cuts, he opposed several Bush administration programs, including No Child Left Behind, opposed TARP, and of course, Obamacare. He supports unlimited engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan, opposes closing Guantanamo Bay, and opposes trying detainees in civilian court. He opposes hate crimes legislation.
My latest blog is live at the Huffington Post. In it I take a look at the recent Patheos.com series on the “Future of Evangelicalism” and question whether a future can exist for such an amorphous grouping of Christians.
Well, is there a future for evangelicalism? Click here to find out!
My opinion of Brett McCracken’s Hipster Christianity is no secret, but I must say his Christianity Today cover story is more suited to the limited task he set out to accomplish: to provide a surface overview of the “Christian hipster.” One needs only the length of a magazine feature to tell the Christian hipster trend story, and McCracken’s CT piece does it just fine. Christian hipsters add up to a bunch of evangelical twenty-somethings reacting to the last couple of decades in evangelical history. On the surface, that’s it. As I argued in my review, one would have expected a book on the subject to place this in a larger historical and political context, and explain the even deeper shifts afoot in some corners of this demographic. But you just want an overview of where these people go to church, what they believe and how they act—and a dash of requisite worry about them being too wordly—then the CT essay is all you need.
I missed this appearance by evangelical titans Tim and Beverly LaHaye on Mike Huckabee’s Fox News show, but thanks to Andrew for flagging it. It’s a dismaying reminder that the religious right has not gone anywhere; in fact, its mixture of theological gibberish and hysterical politics get substantial airtime on the most watched cable news network in the country.
One couldn’t find a more succinct encapsulation of the politics I grew up immersed in — not so much by my parents as by the Christian media we consumed — than this five-minute chit-chat. The impending apocalypse was reinforced everywhere, from hosts on Christian talk radio programs to entire sections of books in Family Christian stores. The United Nations would grow to become a one-world government, which would lead to the rise of the Beast (probably somewhere like Iraq) who would impose worldwide totalitarianism and brutally persecute Christians. This was why, they said, we have to stand against liberalism: because it was inside job by militant secularists who wanted America to hand over its sovereignty when their moment of atheistic utopia arrived. Entire organizations were devoted to monitoring this process by connecting world events with biblical prophecy and, usually, articulating a Zionism-inflected conservative politics. These delusions reached their zenith in Tim LaHaye’s bestselling Left Behind series, which fictionalized a global future many evangelicals actually believe to be in progress as you read this.
From Slate‘s Explainer today:
Pope Benedict XVI announced Sunday that he would pray for the 19 revelers trampled to death at a techno musical festival in Duisburg, Germany. Do Christians think praying can help a dead person get into heaven?
Not exactly. All Christians believe that only God can determine whether a person belongs in heaven or in hell.
If only all Christians believed that!
In a Memorial Day special on WORLD‘s web site, Lee Wishing jumps off Russell Kirk’s The American Cause to do some typical musing that results in a typical insinuation: the American cause and the Christian cause are all but the same thing.
Kirk cautions that we not make an idol of the USA, and become jingoistic and the self-appointed “keepers of the world’s conscience.” But it’s clear he thought we should work to preserve, protect, and promote the Christian ideals that make American society thrive, such as belief in an unchanging God who made people in His image and entitled to life, liberty, and the protection of their property; punishing actions that violate these inalienable rights; an understanding that mankind and societies are not perfectible through government tinkering and revolution; recognizing that leaders who think otherwise are dangerous ideologues; tolerating other religious faiths and valuing liberty of conscience; and cultivating free and orderly markets to improve the human condition.
Defending America begins with understanding her Christian foundation and that America, its faults notwithstanding, is the greatest society the world has known for upholding human dignity. As America battles foreign enemies and domestic ideologues this Memorial Day, understand, Christian, that you and I bear a great responsibility for defending this nation and we owe a great debt of gratitude to those whose graves are decorated today.
First, I’ve no objection to recognizing the ways that Christian ideas, even though they were filtered through a kind of theistic rationalism, shaped America’s political and legal infrastructure. But that admitting that fact is different than the embracing the kind of seamless blend of 20th-century evangelical Christianity, conservative economics, and national ideology on display in Mr. Wishing’s post. I feel obligated to call attention to that particular intellectual cocktail wherever I see it because it does neither Christians nor Americans any good. If anything, it prevents some evangelicals from letting their faith critique their national ideology by helping them make-believe that God and Country are one and the same.
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