Progressive Christians to “Take Back Their Faith” After Disappointing Election

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A week after the election, the Huffington Post published a blog in which Progressive Christians suggested what like-minded Christians should do in order to “take back their faith.”

Still reeling from the election in which Donald Trump was elected president, several progressive Christians pondered the necessary steps to draw a stronger contrast between their brand of kindhearted progressive Christianity, and the kind of conservative, evangelical Christianity that helped elect Donald Trump.

The responses were predictably representative of left-wing Christianity, which centered on re-emphasizing social justice issues and identity politics as the “loving,” compassionate, anti-Trumpian counterpart to the hate-filled Christianity of the right. Also predictably representative was the tone of unearned moral superiority in the responses of the progressive Christians interviewed- and progressive Christians in general.

For example, Rachel Held Evans said,

We’re about to witness firsthand what happens when the established Church compromises its moral authority and sells out the marginalized ― refugees, immigrants, religious and ethnic minorities, sexual assault survivors, the sick and those with disabilities, and LGBT people ― for the promise of power. It won’t be pretty.”

Rev. Jacqueline Lewis, a New York-based pastor, and activist added,

“I’m going to fight for people to have jobs, for everyone to have enough. I’m going to fight against racism and xenophobia. I’m going to fight for black lives. I’m going to fight for LGBT rights… I’m going to fight for love.”

Lewis added-

“Maybe what’s happening is progressive people of faith are finding ways to connect around our shared beliefs that all people are children of God … All of those people are joining together right now, we’re… plotting and planning how to resist together… to me is a new religion, the new Christianity.”

Benjamin Corey suggested that, “This election revealed that a far larger branch of Christianity has been married off to political power than we previously thought,” emphasizing that the religious right is more concerned with political power than the actual gospel of Christ.

Jim Wallis, the founder of Sojourners and author of America’s Original Sin, claimed, “White Christians voted just like white people in America did, and being Christian didn’t matter much. So how do we teach white Christians, white evangelicals to be more Christian than white? That’s the issue going forward.”

Wallis- reflecting on Jesus’ counsel regarding the relationship between treating a ‘stranger’ and treating Jesus, suggested that pastors allow their churches to become sanctuaries to protect illegal aliens from deportation.

To an extent, there’s some truth about the concerns of progressive Christians. Corey’s observation regarding evangelicals having become too cozy with political power, which has muted the volume, consistency, and effectiveness of their prophetic political witness, is a legitimate concern.

But where’s the moral balance and condemnation of progressive Christians for having done the same? What about Episcopalians, Presbyterians (USA), a segment of Methodists, and other left-leaning Christians who’re guilty of preferring political power and cultural cache to the Christian gospel. Whether one agrees or disagrees, at least conservative evangelicals can be praised for attempting to clarify- or redeem- what it means to be an evangelical and have a responsible and biblically articulate political witness in the age of Donald Trump.

Moreover, why doesn’t the Christian Left (or Right) consistently condemn black Christians and black churches for sacrificing Christian principles in favor of political expediency and influence via an unholy marriage to Leftism and socially progressive causes? This shifting standard of morality is but one issue that persistently undermines the Christian Left’s political witness.

Likewise, and echoing Wallis with a twist, can’t one say with moral clarity that “Black Christians voted just like black people in America did (especially in 2008 and 2012), and being Christian didn’t matter much. So how do we teach black Christians, black (progressive) evangelicals to be more Christian than black? Why isn’t that ever an issue going forward?” And it is an issue. Black Christians should be more Christian than black. One can and should argue that the covenantal relationship between black Christians and Leftism is much more challenging than the partnership between evangelicals and the political right.

However, there’s little truth to Evans’ suggestion that evangelicals who voted for Trump sold out “marginalized” groups for political power. How is she in a position to know the minds, hearts or reasoned intentions of voters who sided with Donald Trump? The charge is not only silly but it isn’t true. It’s meant to dismiss as evil her fellow (white) Christians by projecting a social pox (sexist, racist, xenophobic, homophobic, etc.) upon those who voted against her preferred candidate. Framing it in a simple moral dichotomy that dismisses nuance, and that divorces Christian support for Trump from caring about “marginalized” groups allows Evans and her sympathizers to claim a superficial unmerited moral purity to dismiss everyone who disagrees with them as not only wrong but immoral.

Voting for Trump, directly or indirectly, doesn’t mean the voter is against “marginalized” people and Evans knows this.

The same goes for Lewis’ virtue-signaling bravery as a social justice warrior. All of the sacralized issues she raised are supported or defended without Christian influence every day, so what distinguishes her intentions, purportedly Christian, as being important or necessary? Her ‘new Christianity’ accommodates one-dimensional social identities that compete with the identity that’s required to be grounded in Christ. Lewis should be mindful of Paul’s admonition about teaching a ‘new’ gospel that differs from the one positioned in Christ.

The gospel of progressive Christians is increasingly more about the gospel of Leftism than the Gospel of Christ. Specifically, this social gospel- or social virtue- is really about disassociating oneself, or one’s group, from that which supposedly threatens the common good- what the in-group consensus simplistically defines as a myriad of trendy ‘evils’. It allows the separated to pretentiously claim a false sense of moral superiority over those who reject their definitions and moral claims.

Astute observers realize that this is more about being properly positioned and seen as against manufactured evils- how “moral” and “religious” they look to other like-minded people choosing ‘love’ over ‘hate’- rather than genuine concern for the people/groups these “evils,” it’s claimed, negatively effect.

It’s self-congratulatory virtue vanity, it’s empty, and it violates Jesus’ admonition against practicing one’s righteousness before men instead of calling those they claim to represent to a higher standard of living as disciples of Christ.

This practice of synthesizing identity politics with Christianity is dangerous because of the popular and cultural influence afforded to the Christian Left.

If progressive Christians are concerned about the future of their faith, they may want to consider what faith is really of concern- Leftism or Christianity.

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.

Who’s Racist Again?

I recently had the privilege of conducting a course for Prager University entitled, “Who Are the Racists: Conservatives or Liberals?” in which I argue against the notion that conservatives and conservative policies are racist. I also detail- while discussing affirmative action and voter-id laws- that in fact, the preoccupation with race and condescending views of blacks are held predominately by the Left. I regard this as evidence that- at the very least- the Left, including many of their positions are racist.

And as luck would have it, several recent examples involving Democrat politicians and potential politicians prove my case. The midterm elections are a week away and Democrats are hoping for the best but expecting- and already lamenting- the worst. They anticipate that voter turnout will be low, and have admitted that black turnout – or lack thereof- decides the Democrats’ political fate. Faced with the growing prospect of losing seats in the House of Representatives and losing majority control of the Senate, Democrats have resorted to… being Democrats. In these cases, they’re ginning up racial fears among black voters to manipulate- excuse me, motivate- blacks into voting for them, saving their political hides.

Of course this is nothing new for Democrats. They do it well and they do it often. Earlier this year, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel said some of his fellow Republican congressmen were racist and the GOP base was “animated by racism.”

Last year, Florida Democrat Rep. Alan Grayson distributed a fundraising flier that had a burning “t”- a symbol of the KKK, saying, “Now you know what the ‘T’ stands for.”

During the presidential election in 2014, Vice President Joe Biden- while speaking at a campaign rally attended primarily by blacks- said, “We got a real clear picture of what they all value… Look at what they value and look at their budget and what they’re proposing. Romney wants to let the — he said in the first hundred days he’s going to let the big banks once again write their own rules, ‘unchain Wall Street.’ They’re going to put y’all back in chains.”

A sitting vice president of the United States had the temerity to lie like this, publicly, as a way to frighten black voters to the polls to re-elect Barack Obama- and Biden himself, by extension.

Subsequently it’s no surprise that Democrats will manipulate and use racial fears as a political tool to facilitate their elections and re-elections. Recently, to jumpstart interest among black voters, Democrats and Democrat supporters have either played the race card or released several racially despicable political advertisements in multiple states, hoping to scare blacks into action- rewarding undeserving Democrat candidates with political victories.

For example in Maryland, black gubernatorial candidate Anthony Brown- with the help of the Maryland Democratic Party- mailed out multiple versions of pamphlets attempting to connect Brown’s political race to Ferguson, Mo, poll taxes, and to the 1963 March on Washington. An alternate version of this pamphlet has an old photo of white protestors near a poster suggesting that blacks “go back to Africa.” Rather than run on the merits of his candidacy, Brown prefers a mixture of racial fear mongering, racial empathy and racial solidarity.

brown, bs

brown, bs 2

A Democrat.

One of the more disgraceful, racially provoking attempts to frighten and lure blacks to the polls is a flyer distributed by the Georgia Democratic Party invoking the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. The emotionally-manipulating flyer details the shooting of Brown- whose “body [was] left in a pool of blood in the street for four hours”- by officer Darren Wilson. The flyer then notes the racial demographics of Ferguson- 67 percent black, juxtaposing it against the racial makeup of the mayor, city council and the police force being predominately white. The flyer then asks, “What are you going to do about it?”

demflyer3 Georgia

Really?

To be sure, Ferguson has nothing to do with Georgia’s elections. Period.

Further, the two people who this ad is intending to benefit- the Democrat nominee for Senate, Michelle Nunn, and Democrat gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter, grandson of former president Jimmy Carter- are both… white. Thus the Georgia Democrat Party wants blacks to do in Georgia what they reject in Ferguson.

Gotcha.

More to the point, the flyer is reprehensible because it uses the images of two black children holding signs that read, “don’t shoot,” referring to motto “hands up; don’t shoot” used by Ferguson protestors falsely attributed to Michael Brown in his encounter with officer Wilson. It also uses a photo, presumably of a Ferguson protestor, of a person on his/her knees with hands raised- again in the ‘hands up; don’t shoot’ mold with the caption “Vote; it’s up to you to make change happen.” Again, that the Democrat party in Georgia views this as acceptable- improperly connecting Ferguson to Georgia while inappropriately playing on racial fears to generate needed black turnout- is a clear indication of their anything goes, ends-justifying-the-means mentality. Rather than supporting the merits of Democrat policies past and present, and the candidates that hold them, the Georgia Democrat Party would rather employ scare tactics of the lowest sort- in this case, making the election about race/racial discrimination rather than the substance of the candidates.

demflyer1 Georgia

demflyer2 Georgia

These are Democrats, not conservatives.

Another repugnant example of Democrats racially manipulating blacks is in North Carolina. Democrat nominee Kay Hagan is in a close race with Republican nominee Thom Tillis to be the next U.S. Senator from North Carolina. To persuade blacks to vote for Hagan, flyers were distributed to black churchgoers that contained a picture of blacks being lynched with the inscription “Kay Hagan doesn’t win! Obama’s impeachment will begin!”

lynching photo

The flyer in Georgia is no doubt intentionally disingenuous and inappropriate. But this flyer is not only misleading, it’s disgusting. A group calling themselves Concerned Citizens of Cumberland County is responsible for the ad. I suspect that the members of this group aren’t conservatives.

It’s just a hunch.

Though Hagan claims no knowledge of this group saying, “I don’t know anything about the group or flier. We don’t coordinate with outside groups,” she hasn’t to my knowledge, denounced the flier as repulsive nor shamed the group for creating and distributing the flier. Hagan also hasn’t distanced herself from it either, which directly impugns her character. A person who doesn’t immediately condemn tactics like this is unfit and undeserving to be leader anywhere, especially in the U.S. Senate.

Another Democrat.

More still, a Democrat political action committee (PAC) linked to former aides of Sen. Harry Reid, has created an ad in support of Hagan’s campaign, that- among other things- blames her opponent for the Trayvon Martin shooting.

More Democrats.

I could do this all day. It should be more than obvious that Democrats are the ones preoccupied with race- who will use any tactic that emotionally manipulates blacks, racially inciting them to the polls and hoping for a political payoff. The charge that conservatives are racist is a very bad joke when compared to the outright, shameless attempt of Democrat politicians and their supporters to play various versions of the race card in an attempt to achieve and maintain political power.

But what is breathtakingly shameful is that Democrats are trying to link conservatives to the disgraceful, racist history of the Democrat party as proof that conservatives, today, are racist. It was the Democrat party that legislated Jim Crow segregation with its accompanying poll taxes and other intentions to suppress the black vote. It was Democrats who engaged in and approved of lynching. It was Democrats who created, and supported the KKK- up to and including having had a former Klansman, Robert Byrd, in the U.S. Senate up until four years ago. Blacks marched on Washington because it was Democrats who prevented them for accessing and experiencing equal access and socio-economic opportunity.

Democrats were and still are the racists that blacks need to be concerned with, not conservatives.

That this has to even be said is indicative of how effective Democrats have been in slandering and vilifying conservatives and how utterly ineffective conservatives have been in not only defending themselves against such baseless charges, but demonstrating how the Democrats repeatedly use race as an instrument of manipulation to solidify and maintain political power and influence.

It’s always and everywhere, at the expense of blacks.

To be sure, racism exists above and apart from politics.  As long as we’re on this side of heaven, racism will always exist.  However, the Left and the policies that those on the left support are by far, more racist and condescending to blacks than even the mere charges of racism that’s projected onto conservatives.

* Update.

Yet another Democrat has joined in the raced-based, fear mongering and political manipulation for votes, strategy.  Mary Landrieu told Chuck Todd that among other things, the South is an inhospitable place for blacks or women. This is definitely a curious statement considering that Landrieu herself has been elected numerous times during her 30-plus year career in… Louisiana. It’s also curious that the her state has an Indian American, Bobby Jindal, as governor. And what about the all the black mayors Louisiana has? How do inhospitable people continually vote for the very people that they take umbrage with?

Again, this charade is stupid, it’s based on lies and it’s immoral. If the substance of Democrat politicians and their policy positions had any political or intellectual capital whatsoever, or had net benefits to the states in which they’re from or the country at large, these sorry politicians would be trying to defend the merits of what they’ve accomplished over the last several years.  But they aren’t.  They’re trying to appeal to blacks through the lens of “racism” which is a very clear and tacit admission that not only do the policies they support stink, but they have failed and will continue to fail.  Which is why they’re silent in regards to them.

America, we can do better.

*Update no. 2.

Even more Democrats have joined in the cynical, race-baiting, exploitation of blacks in ever more transparent and cynical efforts to scare blacks to the polls on Tuesday.

Alabama mailer, racist

In Alabama, fliers were distributed in black communities that tied lack of voting to land “being given to extremist groups to honor klansmen.”  Again, the Democrats are trying to tie the KKK- long known to be part of Democrat political history- to Republicans.

This reeks of desperation.

If this is all that Democrats have, as I said above, doesn’t this acknowledge that there’s no real reason to vote Democrat?

Another flier in Milwaukee shows a picture of three black men- Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Dontre Hamilton- who were killed by police officers (sans Martin), with the caption reading “Don’t let anyone silence your voice. Vote Nov. 4th.”

Milwaukee flier, racist

Wow. No words.

But as PJMedia says this is particularly troubling and misleading because,

All of this comes against a background of rising chaos in the inner city: killings have risen sharply, along with all of the urban pathologies which feed and fuel them: drug and alcohol dependency, homelessness, joblessness, a failing school system (the only one in the state of Wisconsin to receive a failing grade from the state Department Public Instruction), and so on.

The reason that this particular flyer, which obviously seeks to portray the Democrats as the saviors of the urban community, is a perversion of reality in Milwaukee in particular is revealed by one simple fact: The last Republican mayor of Milwaukee left office in 1908. Since then, the city has had a succession of Democratic mayors, broken only by the times that Socialist mayors have been elected (the last of these, Frank P. Zeidler, left office in 1960). So, even if the Socialists were benign in the city’s history, the Democrats have owned Milwaukee, and with Milwaukee, all of Milwaukee’s ills, for an unbroken 54 years and counting.”

Pitiful.

*Update no.3. 

What would race-baiting be without Rep. Charlie Rangel’s (D-NY) thoughtless input. The morally-corrupt tax cheat who’s been charged by the House of Representatives’ ethics committee with numerous ethical violations, weighed in on the gubernatorial race in New York. True to form, Rangel accused Republicans of not only hate, but racists who still believe slavery continues (it does, actually- in Africa).  Rangel said, “They [Republicans] don’t disagree — they hate. They think if you didn’t come from Europe 30 years ago, you didn’t even make it. Some of them believe that slavery isn’t over, and they think they won the Civil War.”

What? Can anyone decipher Rangel’s verbal, intellectual, ahistorical mishmash? Only a dumbed down society can elect and re-elect a charlatan like this. Rangel is who he is- rotten to the core, but this is a very poor reflection of the New Yorkers who re-elected him after knowing about his lies, tax cheating and corrupt politicking.

No wonder people demonstrate such cynicism and apathy with politics and politicians.