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.

 

Immigration, Capitulation and the Death of the GOP

The Republicans in Congress are eagerly intent in participating in their own demise.  Since November, when the Republicans lost an election that was theirs for the taking, the so-called Grand Old Party has been listening to- and taking advice from- their political adversaries on how to make themselves more appealing to Hispanics.

I’ve said and written elsewhere before that the Republican party needs to employ a new generation of messengers to deliver their message if they’re to be successful in expanding the political influence of their party.  These messengers are preferably admitted conservatives and under the age of 50; they don’t wear check pants or wingtips, they’re not members of country clubs and aren’t pasty white fellows who reek condescension.

And though the Republican party has a number of people who fit that exact description, they purposely neglect to use them.

Instead, they’ve chosen- beyond comprehension- to listen to Democrats to formulate their strategy in expanding their appeal and influence to minorities (specifically Hispanics) and young people. What sense does it make to listen to one’s political opposition when creating and implementing a plan to expand political influence?  Only a party that lacks common sense, credible leadership, and who would rather play ‘not to lose’ than to actually win does something as noticeably and embarrassingly stupid as this.

How stupid?

Motivated by a combination of Democrat deception and the lack of testicular fortitude to practically engage this serious issue, Republicans in both houses are intent on passing a so-called comprehensive immigration bill that would have the effect of normalizing more than eleven million illegal immigrants. Though the devil lay in the details- in tandem with Democrat party credibility- the bill amounts to what many consider to be nothing short of amnesty prior to closing the borders, which would thwart more would-be illegals from taking advantage of congressional stupidity.

And increasing the numbers of Democrat voters.

In other words, Republicans- led by the Gang of Eight- foolishly believe that offering a relaxed path toward legality or citizenship to a group of people who willingly and knowingly broke the law will endear them to Hispanics, increasing Hispanic support come midterm elections in ’14 and in the presidential election in 2016.

Morons.

How breathtakingly naive is the GOP in their foolish attempt at courting Hispanics?  According to Census Bureau data, Hispanics only accounted for 8.4 percent of the electorate in the 2012 election.  8.4 percent.

As a parenthetical, blacks accounted for 13.4 percent of the electorate. The fact that Republicans are willing to fall on their political swords for Hispanic amor when blacks represent a greater percentage of the electorate is indicative of the lack of political capital blacks have as a result of their unquestioning loyalty to Democrats (even at the expense of  their own self-interest).  It’s a major reason why Republicans won’t take the time to create a credible strategy to improve their messaging among black Americans.  They’ll simply continue their half-assed attempts in appealing to blacks, which many will argue is a justified course of action, considering.

Returning to the incompetency of congressional Republicans. They are willing to commit political suicide for 8.4 percent of the electorate.

One of the captains of the sinking ship Republicans refuse to abandon is Marco Rubio.  At one point, Rubio was seen by many as the potential (conservative) savior of the Republican party.  He’s bright, articulate, he’s an effective communicator and seemed to possess the necessary qualities of leadership.

Not anymore.

Rubio, either through political naivete’ or an inflated sense of importance from reading his own press, has allowed himself to be irrevocably attached to- and politically cornered by- this sham of an immigration bill.  As information began to leak regarding how bad this bill was becoming, Rubio chose to double down on his support for the bill rather than take a stand against the detrimental changes.

When more information became known regarding the infinitely flawed bill, rather than admitting the error of his ways and dropping his support for the bill- potentially salvaging his political future, he’s confusingly maintained his support for the bill further souring his name in the mouths of many of his previous supporters.

Whatever the case, Republicans are engaging in their party’s self-destruction by attempting to legitimize this bill.  I’m not sure if they’re bright enough or care enough to know that this bill isn’t meant to pass.  It’s simply a political tactic used by Democrats to expose their vulnerability (toward Hispanics) and politically neutralize them in the upcoming elections.

Since Republicans are complicit in their own self-destruction, I created a video to celebrate their achievement.