John Fea on U.S. evangelicals and a sorry history on race relations

The Tulsa Race Massacre (1921)

Today, I would like to direct your attention to John Fea’s overview of American white evangelicalism’s history of entanglement with racism. Fea is Professor of American History at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania, where he has taught since 2002. His current book is Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump (Eerdmans, June 2018).

READ: How the history of white evangelical racism has led to Donald Trump’s election and continues to shape support for his presidency

Here is the basic outline of Fea’s points in his blog post:

One: Fea begins with the missionary efforts of white churches in the South to help quell the threat they feared from black slave uprisings.

Two: Next, Southern ministers developed a biblical and theological defense of slavery based on what they saw as a literal, commonsense reading of the Bible.

Three: “Evangelicals thought that the South’s social order, and its identity as a Christian culture worthy of God’s blessing, was grounded in a proper reading of the Bible.” Thus, the Civil War was characterized as a battle between the faithful Christian slaveholders and the atheistic, progressive thinkers introducing modern concepts of freedom and rights for slaves.

Four: Southern evangelicals also feared the mixing of the races as the means by which the “white republic” might be overthrown.

Five: The Union victory and subsequent Constitutional amendments granting rights to blacks only reinforced Southern evangelical racism. Fea finds a classic example in the opposition to ordaining freedmen in the Southern Presbyterian Church.

Six: Northern fundamentalists did little to confront racism and failed to see how their approach to the Bible actually reinforced it. He also gives examples from the Tulsa Race Massacre (1921), the worst incident of racial violence in U.S. history, of how white ministers put the blame on black agitators and called for more law and order in its wake.

Seven: In the mid-20th century, evangelicals had a mixed record when it came to racial issues. But they were not particularly involved in the Civil Rights movement, and in fact, used it as a way of beginning to criticize what they saw as a more active federal government.

Eight: “This relationship between race and evangelical opposition to ‘big government’ intervention into state and local affairs is best illustrated in the evangelical response to two Supreme Court cases. Green v. Connally (1972)… [and] Bob Jones v. United States.”

Nine: “Historian Randall Balmer contends that it was this fear of big-government interference as it related to desegregation of institutions like Bob Jones University and Falwell’s own Liberty Academy that prompted the formation of the Christian Right.”

Ten: Fast forward to 2017, when evangelical leaders such as Robert Jeffress who implicitly and explicitly approved President Trump’s statements of moral equivalency between white supremicists and those marching against racial inequality in Charlottesville.

One thing John Fea doesn’t mention, but which I think merits attention, is how the election and presidency of Barack Obama, a black man, mobilized and hardened the white evangelical and conservative communities against what they see as the evils of the “the Left.” Discomfort with Obama’s race can hardly be a coincidental factor in the backlash that became Trumpism. Whereas some of us saw the election of a black man as a happy confirmation of true American ideals and a sign of genuine progress, many saw it as something close to the final straw in an uprising to dismantle white America.

Fea concludes his brief but suggestive overview with this admonition:

It is time that white evangelicals take a hard look at its past and stop trying to “Make America Great Again.” It is time, as theologian Jurgen Moltmann once said, to “waken the dead and piece together what has been broken.” The operate word is reconciliation, not “renew,” “restore” or “reclaim.”

160 thoughts on “John Fea on U.S. evangelicals and a sorry history on race relations

  1. Thanks for the added details. When it came to world writeups, I tried to have it “make sense” scientifically and have its conditions “make sense” based upon their characteristics of the planetary system, star type, etc.

    I am sure have read the short story and/or novel Nightfall. Some folks have attempted model its stability using the various laws of planetary motion, etc,:

    https://planetplanet.net/2018/02/02/real-life-sci-fi-world-11-kalgash-a-planet-in-permanent-daytime-from-asimovs-nightfall/

    Click to access 1407.4895.pdf

    Still a cool story regardless…

    Like

  2. Lets just say you gotta look hard to find them.

    I’m in a year-long dry spell now, but I’ve been publishing articles over at the online game-zine Freelance Traveller off-and-on for several years. Starship designs, rules tweaks, equipment and world writeups…

    Like

  3. I never could get into Superhero RPGs (burned out too much on superhero comics as a kid) but my old DM was very much into Champions for several years.

    Do you remember the first Superhero RPG, “Superhero 2044” (locally known as “S-44”), several years before Champs? My DM would try anything once, and he did. I immediately got known as the player who ran the most hard-luck supers in Inguria. 40 years later, I still remember some of the weird “war stories” from those games.

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  4. That seven-mountain talk is likely ‘christian’ dominionist talk, heavy into ‘Christian Nation’ stuff that fires up white supremacists who claim to be also ‘Christian’.

    “Just like The Turner Diaries, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”

    Like

  5. Thanks for the additional backstory and details. That game was something my gamer friends used to play every so often over beer and pizza.

    But are tabletop RPG or other board games even around much with all the World or Warcrack and other online multiplayer games?

    Like

  6. I was never into the Magic Card game. Me and my old school pencil/paper/dice gamer friends saw it more as something to kill time until the rest of the gaming group shows up. Then the cards get put away and the real enjoyment and fun begins.

    Champions is good (I usually played a the skills out the wazoo/well-connected/ ex Special Ops guy character). I also remember when 2nd Edition AD & D came out and we used a hybrid called 1.5 with our own in-house tweaks.

    Most interesting AD & D character I played was a specialist necromancer Wizard who was basically a Van Helsing type. He learned the arts to destroy the undead and equally as personable and driven as Van Helsing.

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  7. Hey don’t knock the Sunk Cost Fallacy completely. That is how we got the Concorde SST airliner.

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  8. According to several news feeds copied over to YouTube, “Tik Tok”ers bought close to a million tickets, selling out the venue without intending to show up. Headlines like “Millenials Pwn Trump Rally”, “Young People Troll Trump”, “No Show Protest in Tulsa”.

    And The Anointed One’s response was predictable.

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  9. WIth the fan-made “British Illuminati” supplement in Space Gamer where all the cards were based on Monty Python skits, including the Ministry of Silly Walks and The Spanish Inquisition. The latter’s special ability was they always achieved Surprise — because “NOBODY EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION!”

    Incidentally, the Discordian Society was a real organization — a bunch of fringies in the Bay Area who did NOT take themselves seriously. (Sort of a half-baked Golden Dawn by way of the Church of the Sub-Genius.) Their greatest achievement was “The Rule of 23”, where they picked the number 23 at random and started hyping it up as having Great Occult Significance (as well as an Illuminati reccognition code). Pretty soon EVERYBODY began noticing “23” everywhere. (This is the reason “23” appears as often as “666” in those game cards.)

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  10. As an Old School pencil/paper/funny dice gamer, I remember the Magic Card Extinction Event. And Magic the Obsession, Magic the Addiction, and Magic the Personal Bankruptcy.

    Guys having to wheel their killer decks around in handcarts. (Stories of one who needed a U-Haul truck.) Black Lotus cards peaking at almost $1000 each. Guys walking around with suitcase-sized killer decks accosting everyone they met with “Do You Play? Do You Play? Do You Play?”

    Next year’s DunDraCon, in the words of my old DM:

    “I go to the snack bar and there’s Magic games going on but there’s also a D&D and Champs [Champions, superhero RPG] so it’s not that bad. Then I walked into Open Gaming… The Horror… The Horror… The Horror…”

    “Do You Play? Do You Play? Do You Play?”

    Either that DunDraCon or the year after, the feeding-frenzy riot in Open Gaming when a “Mr Suitcase” emptied out his suitcase full of Magic cards onto a table and announced “All cards a buck apiece! I WANT MY LIFE BACK!!!!!”

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  11. He actually let Eagle’s latest post (referencing al-Jazeera on Christian Nationalism) go for an hour or two before TRVTH-Squadding it.

    Including the lines “As long as your loyalty is to the United States of America…” and “We have some seriously disloyal Americans here.”

    LOYALTY, LOYALTY, LOYALTY – sound familiar?

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  12. Emptysburgh Address?

    Spend more talking in the really about the saga of the ramp and trying to prove he doesn’t need a sippy cup to drink than on Joe Biden.

    You know at least Daleks can handle ramps….

    But apparently Jeff Sessions thought it was awesome:

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  13. Don’t foget the Discordian Society, The Gnomes of Zurich, etc.

    HT: To a very old Steve Jackson game.

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  14. I remember going to Dragoncon in Atlanta in 1990 when some guy named Garfield was playtesting and introducing his card game called “Magic: The Gathering.”

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  15. The 7 Mountains/Dominionism also ties into Wagner and all the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) false teahing and heresy. Brian Houston of Hellsong is big into this as well.

    Case in point some months ago, a pastor in FL had a service in defiance of the local shutdown and was fined. His name is Rodney Howard-Browne and he is big time NAR / 7 Mountains guy. He was also a big player in that so-called Toronto Blessing and Brownsvill Revival nuttiness in the mid 1990s. You know, where Christians barked like dogs supposedly under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

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  16. seems to me there was an ancient Christian heresy where the ‘believers’ claimed they had some secret inside information that no one else had; but the Church rejected that whole scene and stayed with what had been received from the Apostles and handed down ‘intact’

    “Gnostic” is Koine Greek for “He Who KNOWS Things (smirk smirk).

    The Inner Ring of Illuminati, privy to the Speshul Sekrit Knowledge (“OCCULT Gnosis” in Koine), who alone know how the Universe works and what’s REALLY Going On.

    Overlaps with Magick, where that Occult Gnosis (in the form of Magick Incantations) allows the Illuminatus to force his will on the Universe both Seen and Unseen.

    Gnosticism Resurrected equals ‘the Q Conspiracy scene’

    I assume by “Q” you mean QAnon and not the resident Mad God of “New Testament” Star Trek.
    is this not the foundation of much of fundamentalism/evangelicalism ?????
    It sure was for the End Time Prophecy/Rapture Ready crowd.

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  17. Clay, Will’s vitriol must be at maximum.

    “Because his is the authentic voice of today’s lickspittle Republican Party, he clarifies this year’s elections: Vote Republican to ratify groveling as governing.”

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  18. I do not intend to vote 3rd party in this cycle. The stakes are TOO HIGH. The stakes were too high in ’16 — just didn’t realize the extent to which at the time. At this point just about any adult within the first 1000 names in the phone book is preferable to the Cheeto Man Child presently in office too close to the launch codes.

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  19. Been thinking about him. I offered to bring him a couple In and Out burgers when he last posted but didn’t hear anything. Prayers he is comfortable and well taken care of.

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  20. Hello DAVID,

    🙂 If more people realized that the forces who engineered the heavy attacks on HRC were Russian security forces, I think they also might have seen things your way.

    Why the Russians wanted was to destroy HRC, as she would have been a terrible challenge to Vladimir Putin, who had OTHER plans for her rival, who had ‘history’ with Russia (business dealings and ‘such’)

    Strange how it turned out. DT has played the part of the loyal Putin fan, shamelessly in front of the world’s press. A lackey extraodinaire. A useful fool.

    So few realized that these heavy unrelenting attacks on HRC were sent all the way from Putin’s forces, to spread lies, to belittle, to shame, to mis-inform, to ‘reveal’ emails’ contents supposedly, to shore up the opposition in service of the demagogue Putin, who is NO FRIEND of the USA and never will be. He and his oligarchs have robbed the Russian people blind.

    I voted for her too, but then, I was up on what the Russians were trying to do. They succeeded. She lost. Trump won. And in Moscow was heard “Washington is ours”

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  21. That seven-mountain talk is likely ‘christian’ dominionist talk, heavy into ‘Christian Nation’ stuff that fires up white supremacists who claim to be also ‘Christian’. Very strange cultic thinking there, far from the usual Southern Baptist ‘we’re saved’ hubris and more deeply embedded in a more aggressive and strident scene bordering on the Candidate being ‘Annointed By God’ . . . creepy stuff, oh yeah

    It seems to me there was an ancient Christian heresy where the ‘believers’ claimed they had some secret inside information that no one else had;
    but the Church rejected that whole scene and stayed with what had been received from the Apostles and handed down ‘intact’

    the ‘Gnostics’ gloried in their ‘knowledge’ in those ancient days and they took many captives into their influence, but as of old, there will always be those who claim ‘special knowledge’ coming from secret places by which the recipients of this special knowledge grow prideful and self-important and smug

    Is the rise of ‘Q’ not also a remnant of the gnostic poison of ancient days?

    That seven-mountain talk is likely dominionist talk, heavy into ‘Christian Nation’ stuff that fires up white supremacists who claim to be also ‘Christian’. Very strange cultic thinking there, far from the usual Southern Baptist ‘we’re saved’ hubris and more deeply embedded in a more aggressive and strident scene bordering on the Candidate being ‘Annointed By God’ . . . creepy stuff, oh yeah

    But people who ‘manipulate’ others by claiming to have secret knowledge from ‘Q’ also do not necessarily believe in what they are using to mis-guide others . . . . it’s just another form of ‘fake’, ‘made-up’, ‘mysterious’ INNER CIRCLE claim of knowledge that has no foundation in reality and certainly no real connections to ancient Church.

    Gnosticism Resurrected equals ‘the Q Conspiracy scene’

    people fall all over themselves to be among the ‘chosen’, the ‘elite’, the ‘in-group’ while others, the ones they have contempt for are excluded:
    is this not the foundation of much of fundamentalism/evangelicalism ?????
    I believe it is. What is old that was wicked is new again. A new mask for an old heresy, you bet

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  22. can’t imagine any major evangelical leaders who support Trump having the integrity and the courage to go down with the Trump-Titanic in November

    the rats will desert the ship in search of new golden calf idols

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  23. seems to me there was an ancient Christian heresy where the ‘believers’ claimed they had some secret inside information that no one else had;
    but the Church rejected that whole scene and stayed with what had been received from the Apostles and handed down ‘intact’

    the ‘Gnostics’ gloried in their ‘knowledge’ in those ancient days and they took many captives into their influence, but as of old, there will always be those who claim ‘special knowledge’ coming from secret places by which the recipients of this special knowledge grow prideful and self-important and smug

    Is the rise of ‘Q’ not also a remnant of the gnostic poison of ancient days?

    People who ‘manipulate’ others by claiming to have secret knowledge from ‘Q’ also do not necessarily believe in what they are using to mis-guide others . . . . it’s just another form of ‘fake’, ‘made-up’, ‘mysterious’ INNER CIRCLE claim of knowledge that has no foundation in reality and certainly no real connections to ancient Church.

    Gnosticism Resurrected equals ‘the Q Conspiracy scene’

    people fall all over themselves to be among the ‘chosen’, the ‘elite’, the ‘in-group’ while others, the ones they have contempt for are excluded:
    is this not the foundation of much of fundamentalism/evangelicalism ?????
    I believe it is. What is old that was wicked is new again. A new mask for an old heresy, you bet

    Like

  24. His 2020 strategy seems to be Whip the Base to ever-greater heights of Fanaticism and ignore everything else. Let the Fanatics of the Base carry it all.

    The GOP Party strategy (outside of their Messiah figure) seems to be summed up in three words:
    “COMMUNIST Chinese Virus”. i.e. the John Birch Strategy.

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  25. Dr Roger Olson on Patheos has written lately about his memories of what characterized Evangelicalism when he was growing up in it. Politics was “worldly” and not of great concern except in limited ways, none of which impacted their daily lives much. I remember this from talking with my various Ev. friends when I was a kid. Lots has changed in the last 50 years.

    Dana

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  26. I think Evangelicalism is where Q-Anon comes from, and his bile is not that far removed from what I believe in my heart of hearts, that both the Republican and the Democratic flavors of statism as offered to us every four years are enthusiastically building the temple of Antichrist, and for the very noblest of motives.

    As Fr Stephen recently pointed out on his blog, when you’re dealing with politics, it’s not easy to discern between the human agents and the demonic.

    But Empire is so damned comfortable. It’s kept me from having to scratch the ground with a stick for a few pods and seeds.

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  27. I offer Brazil as an example that racism doesn’t have to be entrenched and virulent.

    Brazilians can be racist, but all in all it seems to be a kinder, gentler sort of racism than that encountered in the USA.

    Also, excoriating Evangelicals for being racist to the core ignores the fact that Evangelicals are, as they should be, late adopters of social trends and movements. A hundred years ago, when my grandparents’ generation was making its way into positions of power, the idea of equality between white and black men was not widely diffused at all. I offer Harry Truman, who signed the first Civil Rights legislation into law, as an example.

    Kind of like how every noble protagonist from before the Civil War (I’m looking at you, Little Women and Sleepy Hollow has to be an Abolitionist, when in actuality Abolitionists were scarce and the ground and most people thought them more suited to a noose than to a political office.

    I’ve always maintained that the North abolished slavery more in vengeance against the South than out of any high-minded motives

    Kind of the way

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  28. The Republican party of 1976 has been dead for some time. Trump killed Reagan’s party, and is well on his way to killing his own presidency.

    He really doesn’t have a party. He was always the expression of a grumble.

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  29. I think that’s true with regard to many mainline Protestants as well, they are functional evangelicals in ethos and culture, but with this difference: their theology is evangelical as well. I know that’s true in the Lutheran church we are currently members of —- the operative theology of many of the laity is very evangelical, and they have little real understanding of the distinctiveness of Lutheran theology, despite having been Lutheran all their lives.

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  30. I cannot bring myself to vote for the man this cycle, and I am angry that the only alternative is to vote for someone bought wrapped and delivered to Big Pharma his entire adult life.. I will stay home unless one of the following three things occurs:

    1) Joe Biden selects Tulsi Gabbard for his VP
    2) Trump openly spouts QAnon rhetoric
    3) Biden is polling within 4% of Trump in this state (Georgia) and there is a real chance of throwing those electoral votes to Biden.

    In which case I will vote for Tulsi, I mean Dotty Ol’ Joe.

    The last time I went to an evangelical church, the Q-speak was everywhere, mixed with New Apostolick-y Seven Mountains trash.

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  31. But with my mother in law born and raised in southern Germany in 1928, it’s hard not to use her life in examples. 🙂

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  32. Although I did like George Will’s essay on this. We must destroy the current R party is his basic tenet.

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  33. I was firmly convinced that HRC would have been a terrible president. And still feel that way. Which is why I voted for her.

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  34. Again, HRC was not perfect, but she was a functional adult. Sometimes, that’s the best you can do.

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  35. Those two parties have enormous support networks, full of very deep pockets. They are like immense weeds that strangle any healthy growth that shows itself in the garden.

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  36. It’s not going to die from scattered individual write-ins. It’s going to take massive organization and mobilization to displace the current two parties.

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  37. I would still suggest that evangelicalism *does* bear the lion’s share of the responsibility, because it has set the tone for Christian expectations and culture in this country. Most Catholics I have met, for example, are functional evangelical Protestants in ethos and culture, if not always in theology.

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  38. Yes, Iain. Somehow the two-headed political monster that America has created needs to die, or at least form more heads.

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  39. A vote for a third party is not necessarily a wasted vote: if for example, a lot of formerly Democrat voters are voting Green in elections, then the Democrats will be pressured to do more about environmental concerns to try and woo them back again, or if a lot of Republican voters switched to third parties if the Republicans put up extremist or racist candidates, then the Republicans would be more careful to pick a more moderate candidate next time to keep their supporters on board.
    The issue is whether a protest vote aimed at in the long term nudging the political discourse in a new direction is worth sacrificing one’s influence on which candidate is elected this time. Rick Ro is an example of this:as I understand it first time out he wanted to register his disapproval of the two main candidates in the hope this would persuade the parties to put up better ones next time; having seen Trump in action, getting rid of the [expletive deleted] now takes priority over everything else.
    (It’s a stupid system that forces this choice on people – second preference voting or having a second round would make this issue moot.)

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  40. Clay Crouch, thanks for your concern about my wad. I have not fired it yet as the ball has not been rammed home. Your in depth analysis and thoughtful commenting adds a lot to the discussion. Headless Guy, how about a Hal Lindsley reference and a Jack Chick tract quote to make it a more substanial discussion. Again, we must all remember , Its All Going To Burn!

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  41. Someone like that is no doubt just full of anger and ready to be offended and antagonistic. Indeed, a sad waste of life.

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  42. “Like he’s camping out on the blog, constantly sin-sniffing.”

    What a sad waste of life.

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  43. The topic is why evangelicals went Trump. My point is that they didn’t necessarily “go Trump “, more stayed “(R)” despite his fairly obvious appalling flaws. I am saying that a lot of the reason a lot of people voted Trump is not because of his policies or behaviour or indeed blatant racism, but because tribal loyalty trumps (sorry) everything else. You vote for the party that is “Us” against the party that is “Them”. Of course, it’s still about racism, since how you define “Them” is “different from us” and, perhaps not always consciously, race is a big part of how you decide who is “different”. Even for those who were and are enthusiastic about Trump I suspect by and large it is the partisanship that’s the big draw, in that his rhetoric is taking the gloves off and “sticking it to the enemy” in the way that other Repubs don’t.
    Fundangelical Christians are particularly vulnerable to this kind of partisanship because of the theology: they are the saved and for God, everyone else is of the damned and in league with Satan: as Trump himself said, he could murder someone in broad daylight and they would still vote for him because he, simply by virtue of being on their side, is God’s candidate and the other one is the devil’s.

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  44. The issue is where is it wearing thin. Because of the Electoral College system, if it is not thin enough in the right places, those crucial swing states, he will be reelected.

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  45. You mean the huge Praise & Worship Revival Meeting (and COVID superspreader event) originally scheduled for Juneteenth?

    (Reads like something out of South Park!)

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  46. The Baptist model was wildly successful if the standard is number of churches and butts in pews.

    “Butts in seats” was also the justification for all the pro wrestling angles & gimmicks cataloged over at WrestleCrap.

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  47. Using ‘the bible’ to affirm slavery was a strange thing for a denomination that for a time celebrated the freedom found in Christ,

    Sounds like a case of “Freedom for ME, NOT THEE!”

    and now, with the ‘support’ from Trump for ‘there are good people on both sides’ and his many dog-whistles to the Christian far right…

    Like that photo op with The Word Come in the Flesh holding up The Word Come in Print?

    …for many of us we cannot fathom WHY the white evangelical community in so many numbers bows down before Trump . . .

    “For God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a Lie.”
    — all purpose putdown/explanation I heard during my time in-country

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  48. Once the “Whatabouts” start, it always ends with “Hail Trump!”
    No matter what the Whatabouts are about.

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  49. I’ve been attending SF (and other types of fandom) conventions since NASFIC 1975, and I can’t remember any convention panels that stayed on topic. Some were even hijacked by non-panelists, SF author David Brin being the most blatant type example in my experience. Twice at local San Diego cons the guy just walked into a panel he wasn’t on, sit down in front like he was on the panel, and changed the topic to Himself. That sort of stunt comes across as “as full of himself as Asimov”.

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  50. And in such posts — such as today’s — seems to be the first to post.

    Over at Wondering Eagle, the regular Trump-Fanatic troll usually posts within a couple minutes of any hint of Anti-Trump Blasphemy. Like he’s camping out on the blog, constantly sin-sniffing.

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  51. Trumpista Syndrome.
    Can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.
    Like a Furry Fanboy who keeps shifting the subject back to FURRREEEEE!

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  52. Why did non evangelicals voted for Trump , my simple question.

    Because in 2016 both major parties succeeded in nominating their WORST possible candidate.

    Vote for one:
    Cersei Lannister
    Benito Mussolini

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  53. Or Professor Fea’s blog.

    (Regarding Professor Fea himself, I’ve wanted to meet him face-to-face on one of my trips to the East Coast; he lives in the same vicinity as my burned-out preacher writing partner. Was hoping to do so this July, but COVID intervened.)

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  54. All I know is that he has finally recognized that the man is unhinged and far from being what a Christian looks like.

    “By this time, there could hardly have been a citizen in Rome who did not yearn for the death of Caligula, or would not have willingly ‘eaten his flesh’ as the saying goes, but to those Germans [barbarians, Caligula’s personal bodyguards] he was the most glorious hero the world has ever known. Ad if he dressed as a woman; or galloped suddenly away from the army on the march; or made Caesonia appear naked before them and boasted of her beauty; or burned down his most beautiful villa at Herculaneum. this inexplicable sort of behaviour only the more worthy of their worship as a divine being. They used to nod wisely to each other and say ‘Yes, the Gods are like that.'”
    — Robert Graves, I, Claudius

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  55. Current polling suggests that Trump’s support is showing some wear and tear around the edges, even of his base.

    But the remaining base will just double down and become more fanatical.
    And the most Fanatical of Trump Fanatics, the Faithful Core of the Base, are the Christians.
    “He is LORD!”

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  56. They could turn back. But that would mean admitting that they were wrong – and have been wrong for decades.

    Sunk Cost Fallacy, the con man’s best friend.
    Especially when that Sunk Cost is in intangibles like Reputation instead of just money.
    Double especially when that Reputation is involved with Righteousness and Godliness.

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  57. +1,000. “There’s no difference!” == “I cannot bother to pay attention”.

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  58. I see what you’re saying, although I was still gainfully employed on Barack Obama’s inauguration day. I was laid off not too long afterward and was out of work for much of Mr. Obama’s first term despite a diligent job search. When I finally found work, it was for roughly half my previous salary. I’m doing only slightly better now in terms of base salary, largely offset by a significant increase in my out-of-pocket health care costs thanks to the so-called Affordable Care Act.

    As for white evangelicals and Donald Trump, I’m not convinced their support for him was anywhere near as enthusiastic as the media have depicted. Given that both major parties nominated seriously flawed candidates in 2016, I suspect much of Mr. Trump’s white evangelical support was on the basis of “lesser of the evils,” so to speak.

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  59. Robert F. Thank you for a very insightful and honest response. I appreciate it and your constant approach to what you believe.

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  60. Agreed. It’s like leaving the 99 to go find the 1 stray. There are times when it’s okay to move away from the norm to illuminate something that’s broken.

    Just… don’t end up living there, I guess. Which is what feels like evangelical Christians have done. A danger, for sure.

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  61. Eeyore, of course , The very foundation of the largest , SBC , is rooted in slavery . Two of the post Civil War SBC leaders were Confederate chaplains . Every country that has 2 different races will have a racist problem. We can watch the evolution of race relations in homogenous countries where different races are migrating. I appreciate Fea scholarship and his documentation but really it is a given that evangelical churches had a racist history , that needs to be addressed. Unless one is in denial that is pretty evident. Are many modern evangelicals trying to acknowledge the past and change the culture, I would say yes. History must be told truthfully and with an appreciation that history is well, history. Times change and conditions change.

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  62. As Richard John Neuhaus once said, sometimes a measured cursing of the darkness is called for, if only to remind ourselves that we should not feel at home in it.

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  63. Fair enough. Especially in hindsight. Which is why I’ll be holding my nose THIS election…LOL.

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  64. This thread spun naturally out from your claim that majorities of multiple groups that you listed voted for Trump, not just evangelicals; as it turns out, you were wrong, not all those groups voted majority for Trump, and his election turned on the Electoral College, not popularity in all the groups you adduced. So you were the one at fault for starting the thread out off topic. Physician, heal thyself.

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  65. Eeyore , forgive me , but I mangled by response above at 12.11 pm , you guys are getting off the point of Fea’s article. There can be no abstract or interesting questioning or comments that do not pertain directly to the point. Let us stick to the point until there is no point. It is about the racist history of evangelicals. thanks , I hope I made my point and please stick to it.

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  66. “A case in point: many Americans, including yours truly, were a lot worse off economically when Mr. Obama left office than we were before the previous recession.”

    Said implosion of the economy happened on the very last shift of Obama’s watch, and can be laid at the feet of policies implemented by Bill Clinton’s administration. Otherwise, Obama’s policies (other than health care) were very continuous with W’s. I will fault him for going along too easily with a no-fault bailout of the financial megacoprps, though.

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  67. You guys are getting of the point of Fea’s article. It was about the racist history of evangelicals, not the electoral college. Please stick to the point. There can be abstract or interesting comments that do directly relate to the point, otherwise what is the point? The point must be observed and respected unless you are trying to misdirect . The electoral college is not the focus of Fea article and it just not in his article. Thanks for helping keep the discussion on point.

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  68. Any vote must take the likely consequences into account. If there is a narrow margin between a functional adult and a berzerk manchild, it is more socially responsible to vote for the functional adult rather than write in a “perfect” third party candidate. Yes, it’s not ideal. Neither is anything else in life.

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  69. I will disagree to the day I die that “a vote for third party or write in is like a vote for X.” No, it isn’t. A vote for X is a vote for X. Would people who are against X prefer I vote for X instead of writing in a third party? No.

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  70. The fact Trump has an R by his name makes it difficult for most long-time Republicans to shake. And that’s what I’m seeing from other evangelical friends – they’re too loyal to the Republican party (and what it stands for) to say anything bad about Trump. Maybe it was my dad’s evangelical/Christian nature that won out over his Republican loyalty. I’ll have to ask him. All I know is that he has finally recognized that the man is unhinged and far from being what a Christian looks like.

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  71. > self-identify as “evangelicals” whether or not they are actively religious, just
    > because being “evangelical” is considered to be a part of their political identity:

    Okay, the meanings of words change. Self-Identification is a way to lay siege to a word; they won.

    > A lot of the racism we see in evangelicalism may therefore just be “cultural Christians”

    No True Scotsman!

    > it’s not necessarily true that there’s something inherent in evangelicalism that inculcates racism in people

    Well, there is the problem of the history laid out in the post above.

    The word “inherent” is not informative.

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  72. Barack Obama’s election may have mobilized conservative and some evangelical communities against the political left, but I’m not sure that had to do with his race so much as with the policies he pursued. A case in point: many Americans, including yours truly, were a lot worse off economically when Mr. Obama left office than we were before the previous recession. I still haven’t come close to recovering financially, something I’m concerned about since I will turn 65 during the next presidential term. Whatever faults President Trump has, I’m sympathetic with Americans who were seeking a change in direction when they voted for him over Hillary Clinton.

    Despite my disagreements with Mr. Obama, I’m grateful the United States has reached the point where a black man has twice been elected president. Having grown up in the South during the 1960’s and 1970’s, I wasn’t sure I’d live to see that day.

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  73. Rick Ro. So it is possible that that an evangelical can change their mind and all do not worship Trump. That is good to know and thanks for the the info. Your Dad changed his mind , I presume based on the current facts as he sees them.

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  74. The problem with that line of thinking is that, apart from a massive plurality of voters going third party, any such write-in is a wasted vote. If either major party candidate is at least a functional adult, that’s fine. But last election was between a functional adult and a berzerk manchild. There WAS a clear choice. Sorry, but I won’t accept the “they were equally bad” argument.

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  75. Tone deaf? That’s rich. Enough already with the what-abouts. You shot your wad of obtuseness two weeks ago with your screeds about protesters.

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  76. VERY good analysis. But it seems to me you missed the step to modern Evangelicaism’s “making it all about things OTHER than Jesus Christ.” To me, that’s the mindset of many evangelical churches these days, or at least many of my evangelical friends. “Right theology” might have been first, followed by planting the flag against unmarried people living together, then homosexuality and abortion, etc. etc.

    (Heck, I guess you could say that’s a danger now with those of us now somewhat apart from evangelicalism yet still a part of Christ’s body: that we’re making it about things “other than Christ.” Lord, have mercy on us all.)

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  77. –> “It is really to the point I am beginning to want nothing to do with organized Christianity at all.”

    There are pockets of Christians who do not follow the evangelical trend. In my church, I’ve found I am not alone. It’s a good feeling.

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  78. “It’s just that you have shown a consistent pattern of late, where you always post comments and links that attempt to divert the conversation away from any criticism of evangelicalism’s support of American cultural sins.”

    And in such posts — such as today’s — seems to be the first to post.

    –> “And given the current situation, we’re less inclined to indulge that kind of diversion.”

    Except, I guess if today is any indication, we’re not so less inclined…LOL.

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  79. Last presidential election, I saw both Trump and HRC as poisons. Back then, I couldn’t hold my nose and vote for either of them, so kinda did the same as you (wrote in a name, actually).

    This presidential election, I see both Trump and Biden as poisons, too. But this time, I’m gonna have to hold my nose and vote for the poison that is unknown, rather than the one that is currently killing America with his non-stop divisiveness, his bullying, his vindictiveness, his mean-spirited rhetoric, his angrily-charged words, etc etc. The man seems incapable of bearing ANY fruit of the spirit.

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  80. My dad — an eternal Republican, a Trump voter, and up until a few weeks ago even a Trump supporter — has at last seen the light and declared Trump unfit for office. If you, as a Republican president, start losing people like MY DAD… Look out.

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  81. In my post yesterday I highlighted the role of the Dutch Reformed church yesterday. The Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran etc churches were against apartheid for decades. But it is when the church that held the biggest sway with the ruling party turned against apartheid that things started cracking.

    Now which major evangelical leaders will turn around and said segregation was a sin, the Confederacy was a sinful enterprise, and celebrating the confederacy and uttering racist things are sin?

    The affect the church’s turnaround had was huge. The old National Party had huge winning margins throughout the 80’s. Then came the 1990 announcements. Due to pressure, de Klerk announced a nationwide referendum on his reforms, held on 17 March 1992. White South Africa voted to support it, 68.73% to 31.27%. This would have been unlikely had the church not thoroughly renounced the racist past.

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  82. “(James) Madison acknowledged that while a popular vote would be ideal, it would be difficult to get consensus on the proposal given the prevalence of slavery in the South:

    ‘There was one difficulty however of a serious nature attending an immediate choice by the people. The right of suffrage was much more diffusive in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of Negroes. The substitution of electors obviated this difficulty and seemed on the whole to be liable to the fewest objections.'”

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Electoral_College

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  83. A real problem in our system is the Electoral College. HRC received more votes than tRump but lost the EC.

    I may be mistaken, but wasn’t the EC instituted to protect “rural interest”, aka, Southern Slave holders?

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  84. “it’s not necessarily true that there’s something inherent in evangelicalism that inculcates racism in people”

    But neither is there much in it (at least historically) to deter racism either.

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  85. While it’s true that evangelicalism has always had racism running through it, part of what we’re seeing in Trump is the opposite: Trump supporters will tend to self-identify as “evangelicals” whether or not they are actively religious, just because being “evangelical” is considered to be a part of their political identity:

    fivethirtyeight.com/features/americans-are-shifting-the-rest-of-their-identity-to-match-their-politics/

    In other words, it’s not necessarily true that there’s something inherent in evangelicalism that inculcates racism in people. We like to think that a person’s faith ought to be the primary influence on their moral character, but most people are primarily shaped by their culture, and then seek out a faith that conforms to their culture, rather than the other way around. A lot of the racism we see in evangelicalism may therefore just be “cultural Christians” who do not have a deep enough relationship with God to truly be transformed by the Spirit – or people who have lost that relationship because their culture led them down the path of idolatry.

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  86. Given the history and current situation, it hardly seems possible for ANY criticism of evangelicalism is unfair.

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  87. “To many of you here, are you so tone deaf and wrapped up in wanting to validate what you believe that there can be no other questioning?”

    Not at all. It’s just that you have shown a consistent pattern of late, where you always post comments and links that attempt to divert the conversation away from any criticism of evangelicalism’s support of American cultural sins. And given the current situation, we’re less inclined to indulge that kind of diversion.

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  88. I would add a couple of historical notes to this discussion. When we talk about “Evangelicals” today this is not quite the same group as “Evangelicals” in the mid-19th century. The tranche of northern non-fundamentalist Evangelicals were reclassified in the mid-20th century as “mainline.” This is why Methodists, or at least most Methodists, aren’t considered Evangelicals today, despite Methodism being the Ur-Evangelical movement in the English-speaking world. What we call Evangelicals today is a combination of the early 20th century Fundamentalist movement, which was a subset of Evangelicalism, plus the early 20th century Pentecostal movement, which was something else entirely. This was an unlikely merger, brought about by Billy Graham, who was a Fundamentalist but lacked the xenophobia typical of Fundamentalists. Once the non-Fundamentalist Evangelicals were reclassified, this allowed the Fundamentalists to claim the word Evangelical as their own, redefining “fundamentalist” to mean “those crazies over there, not nice people like us.”

    The second point goes back to the late 18th and early 19th century. The frontier was thrown wide open after independence, with settlers streaming westward. The religious character of the various regions derived from the eastern ecclesiastical response to this new reality. The big, established churches were slow off the mark. Partly this is due to institutional inertia, but partly also because they had standards for their clergy. A seminary education is expensive and takes time, and heading into the howling wilderness is a hard sell for many graduates. The Baptists became the default rural church in many parts of the country simply by virtue of having no educational requirements. They could therefore commission lots of frontier missionaries quickly and cheaply. The Methodists, with stricter standards, tended to follow, setting up shop in the towns that sprang up. Similarly with the Presbyterians, with the addition that in some regions they were the ethnic immigrant church.

    The Baptist model was wildly successful if the standard is number of churches and butts in pews. But the way this inevitably plays out is that the successful preacher is the one who tells people what they want to hear. This in turn is culturally determined a recipe for syncretism. This was not a problem for the Baptists, since their whole shtick was that there was virtually no such thing as Baptist theology: local freedom and all that. The creation of the Southern Baptist Convention in support of the institution of slavery was the inevitable result.

    Put all this together and you have modern Evangelicalism.

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  89. > Why did the majority of other religions or the non religious vote for Trump?

    They didn’t. Trump only received 46% of the popular vote, and white evangelicals are the only religious group he received such a high margin in. 61% of Mormons and 60% of white Catholics voted for him, and 58% of other Protestants. Non-Christians voted overwhelmingly against him:

    http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/11/09/how-the-faithful-voted-a-preliminary-2016-analysis/

    So if you’re looking at the religious breakdown, white evangelicals stand out as being much more strongly in favor of Trump than any other group. Although people who identify as evangelicals but rarely or never attend church were a lot more likely to vote for Trump than those who attend church every week – in other words, some of those “evangelicals” may simply be claiming that label because it aligns with their political identity, even if they’re not committed followers of Christ:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/03/29/where-is-trumps-evangelical-base-not-in-church

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  90. Also because seeing a woman in the White House would be even more threatening to some people’s egos than seeing a black man there.

    Different American subcultures have very different scripts for masculinity, and if you’re operating on the script that says that “boys shouldn’t act like girls” (as opposed to the one that says, “men shouldn’t act like boys”), you’ve been taught your whole life to see women as less than men and yet simultaneously to expect them to defer to you to prop up your own ego. A woman who displays traits that, according to your script, are “masculine” – leadership, confidence, independence, etc. – will therefore feel like a threat to your own masculinity.

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  91. She clearly was below average in the sense of getting votes. Below average in the sense of how well she was prepared to execute the duties of the office is another matter. For the former, there are two factors. The mainstream press, which we are assured is very, very liberal, had spent a quarter century vilifying her. This created a baseline of uneasiness with her in the populace, and set the stage for the obsession with her failure, like many other senior government officials of both parties, to follow best email server practices. Note that the similar, or worse, failures by the current administration is only a minor story. The second, of course, is her regrettable surplus of X chromosomes. Whatcha gonna do?

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  92. Current polling suggests that Trump’s support is showing some wear and tear around the edges, even of his base. I doubt that it will be any great numbers, but the entire foundation of Trumpism depends on absolutely support from his base. And even if these people can’t bring themselves to vote for a Democrat, staying home is half as good.

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  93. To many of you here, are you so tone deaf and wrapped up in wanting to validate what you believe that there can be no other questioning? I think Fea makes some excellent points and his studies/writings are worthy of serious consideration. To me it is a given assumption that most here would agree with Fea almost without reservation. Not trying to change the subject, trying to elaborate on it which I guess is unacceptable so many here can concentrate on commenting affirming Fea article. I think that it is a very valid question. Mr. Fea explained in great detail and documented the history of racism in evangelical and tied it to the reasons evangelicals voted for Trump. So other than going Amen to Fea, why not consider a valid question. Why did the majority of other religions or the non religious vote for Trump? Are the same reasons the evangelicals attracted to Trump the same reasons the non evangelical are attracted?

    Again, to those not sure where I am going with the question that is where I am going. So Fea is 100% correct and has exposed the history of racism in evangelical circles and we all agree pretty much. How about the Catholics for example , why did they vote for Trump. However, it does seem like some are indeed afraid if a different idea or question pops up.

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  94. He feels that this blog unfairly picks on evangelicals for racism, when its beef is really with the average American quite apart from religion.

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  95. The only reason I have anything to do with organized Christianity is that my wife is organist/choir director in a mainline church. Apart from that, I would be disaffiliated from Christianity as an institution. But I’m different here; I started out Roman Catholic, and only had a brief flirtation with evangelicalism before I made my way into mainline Protestantism. I’m disillusioned with all of institutional American Christianity, and indeed with Americanism.

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  96. Evangelicalism is firmly rooted in Divine Violence. Shoot first, ask questions later. And, a large percentage of the American population has the same ingrained mentality. This country was founded on violent rebellion against what was deemed tyranny (which it was but nothing new) then baptized in Gawd syrup. The same could be said of how the settlers (including the Puritans) dealt with the indigenous peoples.

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  97. Yeah, 9/11 was the rocket fuel that finally pushed me to escape velocity; the Evangelical response was a three ring circus of crazy and ignorance.
    And, yikes, the landscape down there has only gotten worse.:(

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  98. It’s more complicated than that, Iain. I for one would never vote for Trump. I voted Bernie in the primary. Seeing as how HRC became the candidate I voted Green Party. Many Dems seemed to have done the same, or many who were Bernie supporters, especially in the upper Midwest then switched to Trump.

    However, your point about the percentage voting changes from cycle to cycle is correct.

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  99. > Let us assume that Fea is right on and Trump get 100 percent of evangelicals,

    Not necessary,

    > the non evangelicals who vote for Trump on the same page as the evangelicals?

    Not the point.

    > Why the obsession to explain

    “obsesssion”? It’s a BLOG post among hundreds and hundreds others featuring an incredible array of topics.

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  100. > These polls are misleading in that they ignore the nearly 50% of people who didn’t vote

    Correct, it is always an easy error to make, seeing these numbers as indicating a static pie; but the pie is different every time.

    > why non evangelicals turn out for Trump may simply be that he had (R) after his name

    This question leads (deliberately?) away from the topic of the post.

    Nothing about Racism, Misogyny, or Nationalism is **isolated** to Evangelicalism; but, again, besides the point,

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  101. I have not considered myself an Evangelical for a long time, especially since they sold their birthright for a bowl of political porridge to the Cheeto Jesus we have in the White House now. It is really to the point I am beginning to want nothing to do with organized Christianity at all.

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  102. They could turn back. But that would mean admitting that they were wrong – and have been wrong for decades.

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  103. “The prophets give false prophecies, and the priests rule with an iron hand. Worse yet, my people like it that way! But what will you do when the end comes?” – Jeremiah 5:31

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  104. And if the groundswell of protests translates into voter turnout… The Republicans are in trouble. DEEP trouble.

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  105. Using ‘the bible’ to affirm slavery was a strange thing for a denomination that for a time celebrated the freedom found in Christ,
    so even in the time of the slaves, some in the evangelical Church suffered from attempting to use religion as a crutch to shore up an unconscionable evil;

    and now, with the ‘support’ from Trump for ‘there are good people on both sides’ and his many dog-whistles to the Christian far right AND to those entities that embrace white supremacy, for many of us we cannot fathom WHY the white evangelical community in so many numbers bows down before Trump . . . . I mean four years ago, people ‘knew’ what he was in part, but NOW, they know him in full for what he is and what he is not; so now the ‘support’ of many white evangelical people seems frantic and dependent on agents like Fox News, on Conspiracy theories, on right wing talk show hosts, and the stranger up and coming right-wing news shows now appearing on line, in order to shore up their own ‘faith’ in this ‘leader’ for whom they see as ‘the great white hope’. . . .

    But it won’t work. We know more now. And circumstances in this land have changed rather drastically and not for the better . . . IF Trump wins, it will be with help from those who by right have no say in our electoral process; and also it will be because of active voter suppression which is now already openly being planned (forbidden mail-in voting?). The ‘gerry-mandering’ of districts has done its thing which just adds to the grimness of trying to hope for a fair election and voting machines are known not to be working openly in many districts.

    The stage is set. The format going forward is full of storm and thunder. November. We shall see the white supremacists soon walking.again in our land because Winter is coming.

    But now the streets belong to our people for a summer. Many walking together, of all races, openly. And these younger people will remember the ‘videos’ of a man’s murder and seek to change what led to it and they are not abandoning their cause . . . . but their parents shelter at home and listen to the old recordings from the sixties and early seventies . . . and their parents are fearful for them, remembering the plaintive refrain:
    ‘FOUR DEAD IN OHIO’

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  106. These polls are misleading in that they ignore the nearly 50% of people who didn’t vote. The assumption is that everyone votes and the “swing” percentages are people shifting from Democrat to Republican. It seems to me equally likely is what we saw was a tranche of voters turning out for Obama but staying home for Hilary Clinton.
    Some maths:
    Let us assume 30% of people reliably vote R and this doesn’t change much.
    In the previous election, say 32% turn out for Obama and the remaining 38% stayed at home.
    The actual vote therefore splits 52:48 for Obama.
    In 2016 the Rs 30% turn out like clockwork, but only 28% turn out for Clinton, with 42% staying at home.
    The actual vote therefore splits 52:48 for Trump.
    It looks like a 4% swing from D to R, but no-one has actually changed their political allegiance – a bunch of leftish voters have just decided Clinton was a bit “meh” so they stayed at home this time.
    The answer in the main as to why non evangelicals turn out for Trump may simply be that he had (R) after his name: maybe a bigger question is why did Democrat-leaning voters not bother turning out for Clinton.

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  107. I’m not quite sure where you are going with your question as it seems to be something of a distraction from the main point of the article which was about links between evangelicalism and racism?

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  108. Yes, a lot of Roman Catholics voted for Trump too, dan, I think a majority in fact. And that’s because many Roman Catholics have been caught up in the same culture war, the same mythical “greatness of America” mentality as evangelicals and even some mainline Protestants. They also wanted conservative judges appointed who would rule against abortion rights, and protect Christian subculture prerogatives against advancing and expanding liberalism/progressivism as represented by Obama’s presidency and the values he supported. And they believe, along with evangelicals and some mainline Protestants, that racial justice has already substantially been achieved in the U.S., in fact that reverse racism against whites is now occurring. Along with that, they believe that liberal/progressive whites and Blacks are exploiting chronic social and economic problems in the African American community, problems that are not the result of systemic racism, to further the liberal/progressive political agenda, which they see as antithetical both to Christian and American values. This blog was founded to address the experience of bad religion among those alienated from the evangelical world, which includes the way culture war mixes religion and politics; and it continues to consciously keep that emphasis. But it sometimes leaves the impression, in posts like this one, that evangelicalism carries the lion’s share of responsibility for how American Christianity has been implicit in the current crisis we are experiencing right now, which is not accurate. American Christianity as a whole is complicit in this problem.

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  109. “Why would they vote for Trump”

    it was supposed to be “‘judges”,
    but now they can’t turn back, they have sold their souls

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  110. –> “Why did non evangelicals voted for Trump , my simple question.”

    Because Hilary Clinton was a below average opponent.

    My guess is we’ll see some non-evangelicals vote Trump (or other) because Biden is a weak candidate, too.

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  111. https://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/

    I think Professor Fea offers a good insight into the history and knows the subject he addresses quite well. He is a good scholar and brings forth valid facts and information. His contribution and writings offer great insight into the history and mind set of evangelicals. I say that to affirm that his teachings carry great weight and call for careful consideration.

    My question that perplexes me is this. Evangelicals comprise anywhere from 22 to 25 percent of the American population. That is why I linked the Pew research. That leaves about 75 percent of Americans who are not evangelicals. We know that 81 percent of evangelicals voted for Trump. So Trump must carry a large percent of voters who are not evangelicals. Why would they vote for Trump. Let us assume that Fea is right on and Trump get 100 percent of evangelicals, he still cannot win without the “others”. Are the non evangelicals who vote for Trump on the same page as the evangelicals? Why the obsession to explain, analyze the evangelical vote compared to the Catholic vote. Let us assume that we all agree with Fea and the evangelicals due to their beliefs, history, teachings and whatever are for Trump without reservation. Why do those not evangelical vote for Trump. Are they afraid of change, are they racist, are they trying to restore “old America”, are they culture warriors. It seems to me the evangelical vote for Trump has received a major amount of study, reporting, analysis and critical review from 2016 to now. Why are the other voting blocks for Trump not given the same scrutiny , is my question.

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