The Politics of Jen Hatmaker are Influenced More by Leftism than Christianity

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The 2016 election cycle has definitely cultivated an interesting and divergent compendium of Christian and evangelical appraisals concerning the respective candidates running for president.

Donald Trump’s unconventional and unexpected campaign that earned him the Republican nomination has forced conservative evangelicals into a fratricidal conflict that has and will change the context of conservative Christian political witness going forward.

While the friction has at times been exaggerated and pharisaical, generally, it’s a good thing.

The public bickering among evangelicals has been awkward to watch but the separation and potential divorce between religious conservatives and the GOP is long overdue. This is a necessary step to salvage and redeem the religious and theological character of evangelicalism. This renovation project is indispensible to the moral integrity of Christian socio-political testimony.

The same can’t be said of so-called Christian Progressives.

There is very little internal disagreement about the moral conflict of supporting Hillary Clinton in light of her repeated and predictable tendency of systematic corruption and dishonesty. Many on the Christian Left have simply rationalized and compartmentalized Clinton’s unrestricted character flaws- not so much as the lesser of two evils (though there is some of that)- as a political and moral obligation to support her. By default, they also support other progressive social policies of the Left.

And they’re using every opportunity to say as much.

Christian author, public speaker and reality-TV personality Jen Hatmaker granted a short interview to Religion News Service to discuss her perspective on the 2016 presidential election, her views on homosexuality, abortion, and Black Lives Matter.

In the interview- filled with half-truths and straw man positions, Hatmaker began by addressing and glossing over Hillary Clinton’s wretched character, admitting that she’s still open to voting for Clinton come November.

She then criticized Donald Trump’s behavior as unfit for the presidency; here, I don’t necessarily disagree with her. Donald Trump continues to do and say numerous things undeserving of the Executive Office.

But I think Hatmaker erred in repeating the mistake of oversimplifying who and why people support Donald Trump. There are, to be certain, “deplorable” people backing Trump. Anti-Semitic, ethno-nationalist white supremacists fit this distinction. But I think it’s a mistake to dismiss and unfairly generalize those, Christians included, who reject this kind of disgraceful racial populism, but still maintain support for Donald Trump.

Hatmaker then discussed her free-thinking views on gay marriage and LGBT community. It’s no surprise what she believes with respect to this issue. She says,

From a civil rights and civil liberties side and from just a human being side, any two adults have the right to choose who they want to love. And they should be afforded the same legal protections as any of us. I would never wish anything less for my gay friendsNot only are these our neighbors and friends, but they are brothers and sisters in Christ. They are adopted into the same family as the rest of us, and the church hasn’t treated the LGBT community like family.

Whether gays are our neighbors or friends- it’s not about choosing whom to love- that has never been the issue. People are free to choose whom to love without restriction. It’s about reinventing marriage as a social justice concept.

Moreover, marriage isn’t a “civil right,” or a “liberty,” nor is it found in the Constitution. No one, gay or straight, had the “right” to marry until the Supreme Court created one specifically for gays and lesbians.

And what about the civil rights of Christians who’ve experienced discrimination because of this newfound LGBTQIA “right”?

Wanting to follow the Supreme Court’s lead, Jen Hatmaker wants the church to make special considerations for gay/lesbian Christians that we shouldn’t (and don’t) make for other Christians. Gay Christians may be kinfolk in Christ, but that doesn’t necessitate Christians excusing sin, twisting theology, and upending the divine ordination of man-woman marriage for a false display of religious compassion. Like many other groups- the church is defined by orthodoxy- designated by what it believes just as it’s defined by what it doesn’t. Loving our neighbor and treating them in ways we seek or desire to be treated doesn’t entail compromising the comprehensive nature of biblical teaching and church tradition.

Hatmaker then discusses her expanded understanding of being pro-life when she says,

…my pro-life ethic has infinitely expanded from just simply being anti-abortion… pro-life includes the life of the struggling single mom who decides to have that kid and they’re poor. It means being pro-refugee. It means being pro-Muslim. My pro-life ethic… has expanded. 

There’s something incredibly disingenuous about a Christian community that screams about abortion, but then refuses to support the very programs that are going to stabilize vulnerable, economically fragile families that decide to keep their kids. Some Christians want the baby born, but then don’t want to help the mama raise that baby. 

The Christians she refers to are caricatures she created- meaning she oversimplifies the issues to embarrass Christians.

This view of what it means to be pro-life, though accurate, is falsely used to marginalize Christian anti-abortionists. The Christians she refers to are misrepresentations. Hatmaker uses the superficial talking points of the Left to malign and deride fellow religious pro-lifers. It’s inappropriate, especially for a Christian and she discredited herself by doing this.

Additionally, what pro-lifer/anti-abortion Christian is against helping poor single moms? Or supporting programs to help those in need (rather than grifters who seek personal gain through exploitation)? Jen Hatmaker lied about pro-life anti-abortion Christians presumably because they disagree with an expansive and corrupt welfare state that encourages dependency and compromises human dignity.

What does being “pro-refugee” mean? Sounds good, but it doesn’t mean anything because Hatmaker doesn’t define it in real terms.

Same with her being ‘pro-Muslim’? What does that mean, exactly? Supporting all Muslims, even the ones who believe it’s Allah’s will to maim and kill nonbelievers and all those who refuse to submit to specific religious convictions?

Hatmaker finishes by highlighting her racial justice cred, saying she supports Black Lives Matter based on “evidence and documented research.” She also voices concern over the potential (inevitable) treatment of her adopted black son by police in the future.

The church is AWOL on racial unity and reconciliation and it has outsourced its moral obligation to lead onto racial and social justice warriors. In my mind, there’s no doubt about that. But the void created by the lack of Christian presence and spiritual leadership should not prompt Christians to support a corrupt outfit like Black Lives Matter. Period. It’s a movement methodically based on lies and deliberately diverts attention away from more pressing issues- like black criminality, high black abortion rates, fatherless black families, high black unemployment rates, and substandard education- that would actually establish that black lives matter.

As for evidence and research– both completely undermine the foundation Black Lives Matter is built on. And she would know this if she actually looked it up rather than trying to be right on all the right issues.

These positions are intellectually dishonest and intensely foolish. I’m not sure what happened to Jen Hatmaker but this exemplifies the irresponsible quality of thought on the religious Left. Religious progressives should follow the lead of their conservative evangelical brethren and divorce themselves from progressive politics to salvage what’s left of their religious and social credibility.

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Book Review: The End of White Christian America

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The End of White Christian America, by Robert P. Jones. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2016. 309 pages

According to Robert P. Jones, the founder and CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), White Christian America- “the most prominent cultural force in the nation’s history”- is dead.

Jones’ new book, The End of White Christian America, which narrates the historical development and decline of this religious and national phenomenon, functions not only as a eulogy for the once prominent majority but also the obituary of what he refers to as White Christian America. Though the exact time and date of death is somewhat uncertain- Jones speculates roughly 2004- the cause of death, according to Jones, is obvious. The factors that inevitably led to the demise of White Christian America included the changing racial/ethnic demographics, increasing religious disaffiliation among Americans- particularly younger Americans, and the inability of White Christianity to maintain relevance in a shifting cultural environment that welcomed and approved the redefinition of marriage to include homosexuals.

Who, then, is White Christian America?

According to Jones, White Christian America overwhelmingly consists of white Mainline Protestants and white Evangelicals. Jones argues that the political activity of Evangelicals in the latter part of the 20th century forced white Christian America to expand and integrate Catholics and Mormons into their tribe in hopes of expanding its political influence resulting from a shared partisan expediency and potential socio-political objectives.

Historically, White Christian America traces its religious roots to northern Europe (30-31). In America, Jones chronicles three distinct waves of its cultural influence and growth: the Roaring 20s, World War II, and the political ascendancy of the Religious Right in the 70s and 80s (7). Though viewed as a whole, geography and theology distinguished one half of White Christian America from the other. The theologically liberal, mainline Protestants were headquartered in New England and upper Midwest while the more conservative evangelical Protestants were (and still are) entrenched in the South and lower Midwest (31).

The power and influence of White Christian America were seen not only among institutions that shaped and reflected its culture- The National Council of Churches, the National Association of Evangelicals, The Boy Scouts of America, the Girl Scouts, the Young Men’s Christian Association, denominational colleges and seminaries among others- it was demonstrated in the kind of architecture that defined both halves of this Protestant empire. Jones notes that the (mainline) United Methodist Building in Washington, D.C., the Interfaith Center in New York City, and the (evangelical) Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California- reflected the respective cultural prominence of white Protestantism in its heyday.

Recounting the decline of White Christian America, Jones provides very good data from sound sources including the General Social Survey, American Values Atlas, the Pew Foundation, and data derived from Jones’ organization, PRRI. The gathered data suggest that religious plurality; ethnic plurality, the increasing decline in self-identified religiosity, and the graying of White Christian America all contributed to its decline. For instance, Jones highlights that 2008 was the last year on record in which Protestants, regardless of color, represented a majority of the country(50). The estimated white Christian share of the 2016 electorate is only 55 percent and Jones predicts it will make up 52 percent of the electorate come 2020 (47).

Considering the decline of white Christian presence in the country and electorate, Jones contends the election of the country’s first black president was both a symbolic repudiation and conquest over the long dominance of this cultural force. The reaction to the first black president, argues Jones, resulted in the “politics of nostalgia” for White Christian America- specifically by evangelicals- anxiously or angrily pining for a time of recognizable religious and ethnic homogeneity (85). Though he doesn’t mention the current election cycle, one is immediately drawn to the “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan of Republican presidential hopeful, Donald Trump.

Has White Christian America lost its cultural and political influence? Unequivocally, Jones says absolutely. He notes the political strategy of marshaling and depending on white Christian voters- a successful plan of action for re-electing George W. Bush in 2004- is a losing political strategy going forward, resulting from the declining citizenry of White Christian America. Appealing to a wide berth of data, including the 2013 Growth and Opportunity Project commonly referred to as the “GOP Autopsy” report, Jones is certain that if the GOP wishes to remain politically competitive in the future, it needs to abandon the once-dependable strategy of appealing only to white Christians (110).

I couldn’t agree more.

Sociologically, the end of white Christian dominance precipitates a broader demographic change with social, cultural, political, and economic consequences. Even still, the book focuses on this phenomenological passing through a political and cultural lens and that shouldn’t be avoided or minimized. For example, a portion of Jones’ autopsy, as mentioned earlier, is focused on “gay marriage” and what “acceptance” means for White Christian America and its decline. Though he conflates “gay rights” (doesn’t define in detail) with “gay marriage,” Jones acknowledges that the agenda of homosexual activists was to directly challenge the religious sensibilities and theological principles of White Christian America in pursuit of social acceptance and legalization of “marriage equality.” Further, Jones says that widespread acceptance and legalization of same sex marriage is additional evidence of the end of White Christian America’s cultural dominance. This is a bit concerning, as widespread acceptance of same sex marriage (more specifically, redefining marriage to include anyone) is a rejection of the orthodox Christian teaching and practice concerning marriage, regardless of color or ethnicity.

Jones’ claims that the refusal to bend to cultural trends and accept gay marriage (which he labels antigay) puts the evangelical portion of White Christian America at odds with younger Americans (132-137). There’s a subtle suggestion that evangelicals should follow their mainline brethren and bend or reject traditional Christian biblical and theological teaching on marriage as a strategy to broaden its appeal to younger Americans.

Lastly, Jones maintains that White Christian America has a race problem, evidenced both in the opposition to Barack Obama, and the reaction to cops killing “unarmed black males” (147-148), which he claims establishes a lack of sympathy for blacks and their feelings about blacks who’ve died in police interactions (155). As it pertains to the election of Barack Obama, there might have been some who held anti-black feelings that motivated and animated opposition to him. But, and what Jones doesn’t consider, is that considerable opposition to Obama had less to do with his skin color and more to do with his progressive ideological convictions that contradicted his professed Christian religious beliefs, and the traditional Christian viewpoints of his detractors. To say that all or most white Christians who opposed Barack Obama did so because of racial animus, without evidence, disingenuously disparages a large group of people with a very little consideration.

Jones asserts that the reality of systemic racism and homogenized social segregation validates his claim that there’s no social institution positioned to resolve problems stemming from racial discrimination (156). For Jones, this is simply a continuation of the historical patterns of racial discrimination by white Christians- particularly by evangelical Protestants (Southern Baptists). Mainline Protestants are almost given a pass- congratulated for their contribution to social justice work both historically and presently (177-78).

Coming to terms with the end of White Christian America has come in phases. Jones acknowledges that the weakening influence of mainline Protestants has been occurring since the 60s and 70s, so mainline Christians have had more time to experience the stages of grief, denial, anger and acceptance (200), though there continue to be some holdouts. Jones ostensibly scolds the Institute of Religion and Democracy (IRD) in its mission to hold the mainline denominations religiously and theologically accountable to orthodox teaching, practically condemning its persistence in its refusal to accept the consequences of demise of White Christian America (200-201).

Evangelicals are on a different timeline and are presently, though reluctantly, coming to terms with their diminishing authority and influence, which Jones claims is the source of the angered outbursts (the Tea Party, and one assumes, support for Donald Trump) in refusing to accept the inevitable.

One cause for celebration about White Christian America’s declining political clout is that evangelicals can return to the biblical obligation of making Christian disciples, rather than trying to make political ones.

Yet there is some very noticeable but subdued cheerfulness by Jones for the end of White Christian America and one gets the sense that he’s not alone in his excitement. The celebration and joyfulness, though, should be measured.

As White Christian America has lost its strength both in real numbers and in cultural, moral, and political influence, something predictably rises to fill the vacancy. What that “something” is, isn’t always predictable. In this case it very much is. The social values and “virtues” of Leftism, has replaced the space and institutions once dominated by White Christian America. As we’ve seen in the academy, where religion- particularly Christianity- has been shamed into public silence and private expression, the receding influence and presence of “white” Christian America has allowed the academy to degenerate into a moral gutter. The same is true regarding the debased nature of the arts and entertainment, which have occupied spaces where Christianity served as a bulwark against its culturally corruptive influence. Is that a good thing, and if so, how and why?

No one, or at the very least, very few people maintain the idea that White Christian America was perfect. They missed the mark on some pretty important social issues because of their culturally homogenized, whitewashed, biblical hermeneutic. Despite Jones’ underlying tone, the values of White Christian America- specifically Judeo Christian values- provided a semblance of unity against the proven destructive nature of pluralism that lead to the many damaging effects of relativism.

Despite the not-so-subtle excitement for the culmination of Christian influence on American culture, the analyses provided by Jones makes The End of White Christian America worth reading.

 

Another Episode of Black Moral Chaos

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What’s been allowed to happen in Baltimore is a moral and cultural abomination. Once again, so-called activists, a large number of them black, have been allowed to attack and assault police officers in addition to destroying public and private property. These so-called demonstrators claim anger over what happened to 25-year-old Freddie Gray who died in police custody, allegedly from three fractured vertebrae and a crushed voice box. Specific details are still forthcoming and if the officers are in fact guilty of negligence, they should be fired, they should lose their pensions, and be prosecuted.  If found guilty, they should be punished.

Just like many incidents prior- notably Sanford, Florida and Ferguson, Missouri- protestors have decided to rob, loot, damage and destroy the city of Baltimore as an expression of justifiable outrage. Rather than comporting themselves with dignity and respect, and waiting for the details to be released in regards to how and why Gray died, these degenerate “protestors” and “demonstrators” are acting like wild animals who have escaped their natural habitat, wreaking havoc and terror on civilized society.

After all, nothing says “justice” like out-of-control blacks attacking random whites and causing chaos as they burn, damage, destroy buildings in addition to looting stores- making off with liquor, televisions and shoes- while inconveniencing thousands of city residents who had absolutely nothing to do with Gray’s death.

Aside from the ‘soft bigotry of low expectations’ that allow and excuses bad black behavior in such socially destructive ways we don’t dare allow from any other racial group, once again this despicable behavior unfairly stigmatizes those blacks who condemn and are embarrassed by such conduct.

Why has the mayor of Baltimore allowed these reprobates to cause this kind of damage to the city? And she did allow it, which is why Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is partially responsible for this citywide mayhem. She directed the Baltimore Police Department to “give those who wished to destroy space to do that as well.” Rawlings-Blake went on to say, “We work very hard to keep that balance [between free speech and destructive elements], and to put ourselves in the best position to de-escalate.”

Idiot. Moron.

What political leader in their right mind directs peace officers to stand by and watch as hooligans are given the chance to engage in violence and destroy property? You don’t cater to a mob made up of thugs who distrust and dislike law enforcement, and give them an outlet for their behavior-letting them vent- as if once these degenerates have gotten their misplaced anger out of their system, they’ll clean up their mess and quietly go home.

Because of the mayor’s failure to act quickly and appropriately, the Baltimore Police Department is in need of the National Guard to come in to help restore order in Baltimore after the Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency.

Scenes of burning and chaos in Baltimore are reminiscent of Gotham’s chaos in The Dark Knight Rises and Rawlings-Blake did her part to facilitate it. Her city is being destroyed and it shows- aside from the stupidity of allowing thugs an opportunity to start their demolition of the city she presides over- just how incompetent she is. It also shows just how stupid the policy of allowing blacks- the only group this low standard applies- to act in such disgraceful ways, just and only because they’re black.

For this reason, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake should be forced to step down. She’s obviously demonstrated a clear lack of leadership and competence. But she won’t be forced to leave, because she’s a woman, black and Democrat. But not just a Democrat, but a member of the Democratic National Committee.

Ah, affirmative action.

And for those who’re complaining that the people demolishing Baltimore aren’t residents- who cares? That’s not the point. What matters is the damn behavior that’s being allowed and which lends itself to scorn and condemnation- the riots, the fires, the looting, the attacking police, regardless of what geographic area these pieces of scum hail.

Unfortunately what we’re seeing is the culmination of what began with the Trayvon Martin circus. This is the environment that Barack Obama, Eric Holder, Al Sharpton, the grievance industries, and the mainstream media helped create and nurture. Racial divisiveness, mixed with healthy and consistent doses of ‘blame whitey’ and ‘white privilege’- in addition to too many people excusing bad black behavior and justifying it under the guise of acceptable “anger” has created this environment.

More to the point, this behavior is precisely what happens when people completely embrace the idea that they’re forever victims of social, economic or racial injustice. Blacks are convinced- against any and all evidence to the contrary- that the “system” is “racist” and intentionally set up against them. Forget the idea of personal responsibility for one’s actions. When you’re a victim, you have grievances; when you have grievances, it’s always someone, anyone or everyone else’s fault. People who’re convinced that their identity is that of victim feel justifiably entitled to act in the way we saw in Sanford and Ferguson, that we’re seeing in Baltimore and which I’m sure we’ll see again very soon.

And where does this kind of damaging mindset of victimization and perpetual grievance come from? Leftism. Leftism in all its forms has done a tremendous disservice to blacks, having poisoned their minds and hearts, leaving them perpetually angry and racially paranoid. Though I still lay the blame on Obama, Holder and company- all Leftists, by the way- all of this anti-social behavior is the culmination of what the Left has done to blacks since the 1960’s. White progressives have made perpetual children of blacks, whose temper tantrums- which continues to be the only way blacks are able to articulate their frustrations- must be endured as proof of a still racist county absolving itself of its past racial sins and other injustices.

And the resentment this creates and nourishes among mainstream America might be too large to overcome.

That black people continue to humiliate themselves like this is disgusting and I’m sick of it. White people are too frightened to tell the truth about bad black behavior for fear of verbal and physical reprisals. Blacks are too afraid to speak out against criminal behavior that lends itself to black stereotypes because of racial empathy and racial solidarity.

But, those blacks that choose not to condemn these lawless actions- largely a product of the black underclass, but increasingly adopted and justified by blacks in the middle class- that sit silently on the sidelines out of fear and/or racial solidarity and empathy are, in my opinion, traitors to their race and their country. Their silence condones this behavior. Their lack of justifiable outrage for unjustifiable black lawlessness in cities across America sends a clear message that the jungle behavior that destroys our nation’s cities is an appropriate way to air one’s grievances, real or imagined. Black silence in the face of vandalism and continuing anarchic riots betrays everything their cultural ancestors achieved. Silent blacks are guilty of undermining the achievements of abolitionists and freed slaves, of undermining blacks who fought against insurmountable odds to prove to former slave owners and other whites who were suspect of black humanity that blacks were every bit as dignified as they were; of damaging the legacy of blacks who successfully fought their way into the American mainstream though legalized discrimination fought back. America isn’t perfect, but black silence is complicit in unnecessarily betraying a country that has given blacks every material benefit and social opportunity their forebears could only dream of.

Blacks will never- never– get ahead, or be taken seriously, as long as we endorse this kind of behavior- our silent complicity telling beleaguered onlookers that this kind of conduct is acceptable and must be endured.

This behavior shouldn’t be endured. The behavior we saw in Sanford, Florida was inexcusable.

The behavior we saw in Ferguson, Missouri was inexcusable.

The behavior we saw in New York City, where marchers chanted anti-police slogans including “What do we want? Dead cops. When do we want it? Now,” was inexcusable.

The behavior of the so-called ‘black lives matter campaign’ characterized by stopping traffic on city streets and freeways, screaming at restaurant patrons or taking over department stores in multiple cities while annoying and inconveniencing people… this kind of petulance aside from not endearing people to their message, was and is, inexcusable.

And of course, the behavior in Baltimore is inexcusable.

Rev. King once said that, “non-violence is the most potent weapon available to the Negro in his struggle for freedom and justice. I think for the Negro to turn to violence would be both impractical and immoral.” King also added, “I would hope that we can avoid riots because riots are self-defeating and socially destructive.”

Having forgotten King’s message of civility and non-violence, the nation is once again witness to the reasons why more and more people increasingly have such a low opinion of blacks in general, and why moral expectations of blacks are so low. With behavior like this, we’ve earned every bit of the condemnation and ridicule we get. Racist, out-of-control cops, emblematic of a racist country aren‘t to blame.

We are.

To say black priorities are out of order is a tremendous understatement. The overwhelming majority of these black suspects killed by police were attacking the cops or resisting arrest (Freddie Gray ran from police after he made eye contact with them), or had criminal histories. These men aren’t martyrs and black reverence for them reveals our broken moral compass. In addition to making saints of slain black suspects- and completely ignoring any and all facts relevant to every situation in which this occurs- blacks set out to destroy their own neighborhoods while calling for “justice.” No wonder the ghetto is the ghetto- an economic and social wasteland. This is why property values, which are already low, continue to decrease in value. It’s why people with any sense, don’t invest in black neighborhoods- too much risk, too little reward. It’s why those who can, leave the ghetto the moment the opportunity arises.

More so, our skewed moral compass is even more recognizable for this very reason. Regardless of how many black suspects who’re killed by police, it still pales in comparison to the numbers of blacks killed by other blacks through abortion and black-on-black criminality every year. Shockingly, blacks can’t find the time to riot over that. Blacks aren’t burning businesses over it either. Blacks aren’t holding vigils and demonstrations over the injustice of black genocide. This reality goes completely ignored when compared to what happens when a black suspect with a rap sheet is shot and killed by police. Like I said before, when you’re a victim, it’s always someone else’s fault. When you’re a victim- or in the case of blacks, the victim- the notion of personal responsibility doesn’t exist. And as long as blacks embrace this destructive identity, black chaos will continue.

People, regardless of color, need to stop making excuses for black violence, criminality and chaos. Blacks need to take responsibility for themselves- and this starts by blacks publicly and consistently denouncing such poor, socially destructive and irresponsible behavior. The shame and embarrassment that accompanies victimization, which has permeated and debilitated black culture, must come to an end. It’s time for blacks to consistently demonstrate that we’re not second-class citizens who’re incapable of living up to the standards we expect of everyone else.

The only things at stake are black self-respect, dignity and our reputations. I mean, black lives matter, right?