The folks who fell for Pressler and Patterson in the 1980s are the same folks who voted for Trump in 2016. They all live in the same bubble.
Sarah and I don’t agree on much, but we both grew up Baptist, so I know what her childhood looked like and why she became the woman she is. Michelle Wolf and I share the same politics, but I’d rather spend an evening with Sarah Sanders. Jesus might be the only thing we had in common, but he’d be enough.
I wept because I knew where this kind of religion led Jesus and where it led Clarence Jordan, and where it led Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and where, in the fullness of time, it might lead me.
The form of religion we have inherited was packaged for mass appeal. It can still be sold to the Boomers, but the Millennials aren’t buying. And that’s a blessing.
Donald Trump’s victory suggests that the influence of white conservative Christians extends far beyond the borders of evangelical culture. Not everybody outside the white evangelical camp is bashing that tribe. Especially in the South and Midwest, white evangelicals are valued as custodians of traditional sexual ethics by white folks who attend Mainline Protestant or Roman Catholic churches.
In his formative years, my father encountered two religious options. One was forward-looking and optimistic, hoping for better days ahead; the other was nostalgic and pessimistic, resigned to the imminent end of the world. Like most North American Christians, my father was a product of both visions: one influenced his religion, the other his politics.
The central claim of our faith is: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.” Don’t let the poetic familiarity of the language fool you, this is an audacious claim. Christians believe that God looks and loves like Jesus.
For many Americans, the flag stirs emotions far deeper than anything God inspires. Have we created a national religion in which the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, the sacrifice of soldiers on the field of battle, and the invincibility of American firepower are practically indistinguishable?
You can read David Gushee’s “Still Christian: Following Jesus Out of American Evangelicalism” in an evening or afternoon. You can and you should.