Sunday in Whitewater will see scattered thundershowers with a high of 74. Sunrise is 6:55 AM and sunset 6:31 PM for 11h 35m 40s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 10.5% of its visible disk illuminated.
On this day in 1990, the German Democratic Republic is abolished and becomes part of the Federal Republic of Germany.
David French asks Did Donald Trump Make the Church Great Again? (‘How unchurched Evangelicals are helping create a God-and-country lifestyle brand’):
From the very beginning of the white Evangelical embrace of Donald Trump, there have been a series of raging debates about how that embrace would affect the church. Will the about-face on, say, the importance of character in politicians alienate people from the church? Will the policy gains from a Republican president be “worth” the partisan anger?
But here’s a question that wasn’t asked quite enough. Will Evangelical devotion to Trump change the nature of Evangelicalism itself? Studying American religion is a complex exercise, one that requires sorting through vast amounts of data.
But setting aside the instances of individual conversions, what seems to be happening at scale isn’t so much the growth of white Evangelicalism as a religious movement, but rather the near-culmination of the decades-long transformation of white Evangelicalism from a mainly religious movement into a Republican political cause.
Why do I say the transformation is political and not religious? A key metric here is church attendance. An increasing number of self-described Evangelicals go to church rarely or not at all. The numbers are remarkable. Here is Ryan Burge with the data:
It is vitally important to understand these distinctions [between kinds of self-described Evangelicals], in part because it can explain why Evangelical political action can be so cruel and often so disconnected from biblical ethics. Why? One answer is found in the simple reality that not only are vast numbers of white self-described Evangelicals unmoored from scriptural truth, they don’t know biblical ethics at all.
An amusing Twitter anecdote illustrates the point. On Thursday, Beth Moore tweeted this:
She clarified that she was referring Philippians 2:1-18, which famously begins like this:
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Russell Moore replied to Beth:
I know these are anecdotes, but it is still absolutely, 100 percent the truth that politicians and activists who seek to mobilize white Evangelicals are trying to mobilize millions of people who do not know or believe scripture and are thus not persuaded by appeals to scriptural principles.
French’s whole essay is worth reading — highly recommended. He offers a detailed analysis of how Trumpism has turned parts of Evangelical belief into an ignorant ‘lifestyle brand.’ (I’m a mainline Protestant, not an Evangelical, and attend a church well outside the city. I admire French for his steadfast oposition to Trumpism even from within Evangelicalism. At the least, those who comment on public matters should have a basic grasp of major political, religious, and secular groups. Not all of these groups are, themselves, homogeneous. Many groups have a poor grasp fundamentals, let alone of what other groups truly believe.)
Of law and politics, they lack an understanding of basic terms, concepts, and history. Of morality, they’re impulsive, mendacious, malevolent nativists.
Behind the Trumpists, one finds a widespread failure of religious and secular instruction. Failure to teach properly is first a teaching problem; failure to lead properly is first a leadership problem.
There is a particular irony: educators in schools and colleges who have failed to teach properly now often shy from correcting their own educational failures. Instead, they ask others — in the very name of education — to accept the consequences of their own negligent instruction and administration. (In this request, they display a decidedly (Local) Fear of a Red Hat.)
No and no again: failed teachers, administrators, or clergy are not owed deference for their self-serving insistence that we should respect all ‘opinions’ and ‘choices’ equally. Horse paste is horse paste, anti-vax is ignorance, and complaints against the curriculum and safe spaces are infringements on liberty and equality.
Whitewater deserves better.